Question Time: How do you cope with the weather?

Question Time is a series in which we open up the floor to you, commenters. We invite you to share as you feel comfortable.

Well, we’re getting well into winter here and different bits of me are aching. Winter is not my fun time. My questions to you are: do you have problems with the weather, maybe excessive heat or cold or rain? How do you deal with that?

If you have suggestions for Question Times, send them to chally at disabledfeminists dot com.

27 thoughts on “Question Time: How do you cope with the weather?

  1. The mild Australian winter (although I am in one of coolest parts of the mainland!) gives me minor trouble with my arthritis, but it’s summer than really does me in. Even mild dehydration or overheating (which is common with my thyroid medication) sets off the vertigo, which results in a lot of lying on the floor while my girlfriend drapes me with coldpacks and icypoles, which we then eat!

  2. I had to get out of Melbourne because the winter was doing my head in. Physically though, I was probably better off than when I moved to Darwin. What a choice – depression or fatigue?! I think I prefer fatigue over depression, personally. And the heat _is_ better for my back. The dry season is okay, but the buildup and wet really suck my energy. Can’t do much about it except to not move too much, and turn the air con on when I’ve really had enough. (I still get heat exhaustion pretty easily though.) I also managed to get myself a little 500 buck bomb and that’s been a BIG aid to mobility, though it would be better if and when I can afford to get its air con fixed. Sadly, I notice the cold down south really does seem to improve my energy when I visit for a short time, but the long-term gloom doesn’t, so yeah.

  3. My main problem, no matter what the season, is heat. Though for a brief time in Spring and Fall, I do okay.

    I am almost always overheated.

    This summer has been wicked – very humid, drizzle that makes it worse, just ugh, close the blinds, keep the sun out, I’m a vampire!

    The heat makes me very uncomfortable at the best of times, irritates my skin in the middle… and nauseates me, makes me feel like I’m choking (mostly heaters – the smell is so bad, and there’s no ventilation!) It doesn’t make the pain worse by itself, but it makes it harder to calm down when you’re so hot nothing can touch you.

    I remember in September ’07, my skin was so irritated that I started bleeding in class. From the back of my upper thigh. Probably the worst words for a male professor to hear from a female student – “I’m bleeding.”

    Anyways, I keep cool with water and ice pops and water and fans. The ceiling fan in the living room is always going, along with the one in mom’s room. And we’ve got two stand fans, one right next to my bed. And the AC of course.

    But when it went out early this summer, I cooled down a bit by just laying flat on the floor under the fan.

    I also wear very thin clothing (okay, so they’ve been worn so much there are holes and they are threadbare – but they keep me cool!) and in the winter, I wear shorts when indoors – going so far as to keep shorts in my backpack and change before class because classroom heaters are the worst. As are car heaters – blech.

  4. The heat causes me real problems, we’ve been having a very hot summer here this year, it’s been raining lots this week but unfortunately this doesn’t seem to have cooled the temperature significantly. The heat makes my rheumatoid arthritis considerably worse. I feel really exhausted throughout the summer, my energy levels are considerably higher in the winter. I don’t really have coping strategies, sadly the UK is notset up for the heat, AC is quite rare and we certainly couldn’t afford it for our house, luckily our house is quite shaded so it tends to be the coolest place to be which is pretty convenient! Ice lollies are a good short term strategy, fans are too noisy for me, plus when it’s very warm they tend just to move the warm air round rather than actually causing the temperature to drop. I have a very low tolerance for central heating in the winter, I can only have it on for a short time before it becomes too hot, I also hate having it come on first thing in the morning as it means I usually wake up aching badly, unfortunately my partner gets very cold if the heating’s not on when she wakes up, so, hard to get the balance right.

  5. Heat is not my friend, I tire out twice as quickly in the heat, even with my time-honed heat management strategies brought to bear. I’m limiting my time outside this summer with a vengeance. It makes me sad, because sitting in the sunshine is so enjoyable, but I just can’t do it any more.

    But worse than the heat itself is the thunderstorms it brings with it. It stormed all night here, and now I’m freshly awakened and all of my joints are screaming before I’ve even managed to get out of bed.

  6. Heat is what really gets to me. I get grouchy and irritable and sleepless, which kick-off all sorts of other problems and I suspect added to the 6 day migraine I just managed to stop. My body has never been overly good at self-regulating my temperature and things like my thyroid condition don’t help.
    The other weather thing that gets me is when the barometer changes. All of my scar tissue reacts leaving me with all sorts of different pain, and the occasional migraine.
    The good news is I live in a cooler apartment in a cooler part of the country. And I always have a heads up (or down, as the case may be) when the weather is about to change.

  7. Winter, rain and humidity are what seem to cause the worst problems for me. They all make my joints hurt, especially my right shoulder from an injury in the past year. They also make me stiff and it’s hard to move, and sometimes my legs act up because of it. And unfortunately, there isn’t really anything I can do to alleviate it.

    What I do manage to do is wear warmer clothing during cold days, because being cold and shivering will only make that pain worse for me by causing tension. Especially for my ribs. If my body temperature starts to drop too much, I make some tea or coffee to drink to help keep me warm. And I avoid moving around too much if I can, making simpler meals or during the winter, on warmer days or days when my body is less cranky with me I’ll make a meal with plenty of leftovers so I have something to reheat.

    Also, I am in love with Epsom salt baths. (just don’t tell my boyfriend!)

    Air pressure changes suck too. I can’t fly because of them. Ascending and descending result in massive waves of pain that hit me too hard and too rapidly to be able to cope with well, even if I have prior warning. So I’m just avoiding it from now on.

    Heat I can manage with for the most part, so long as it’s dry and I can escape to a cool area if I start to overheat. Overheating makes my brain go fuzzy. But it’s easier to manage than the cold.

  8. Bleh, I seem to have something or another throughout most the year. Here in Illinois you get these really awful, humid summers with temperatures in the 90s F and little relief if any when rain comes. Humidity triggers my allergies (not a disability per se, but it’s miserable), and my desire to be away from it makes me a bit of a shut-in often makes me bored to the point of anxiety. And while going to college in upstate New York has made me a total wimp when it comes to the heat, it has gotten me adjusted to the cold better…yet I still have SAD. The worst time of year for me when it comes to that is what I call the “unseason”—that time in February and March when there’s no snow but everything just looks bitter and gray and dead, and my mood, which has always corresponded to the weather, reflects that. I’ve really come to love my journal, and the sunlamp by whose lamp I write, during that time, especially since at that time last year was when I first broke down from OCD and got hospitalized and put on leave. Springs and falls are far better in Ithaca than in Springfield, especially the spring since you don’t get the severe storms so common to the Midwest; although I seem to have mostly overcome my tornado phobia I still get considerably tenser when a large front is passing through, as if with every large thunderclap I’m scared to hear it followed by the storm siren.

  9. One thing that’s annoying in the heat is the use of heating pad. It helps with my pain, but then I get so overheated. So I throw it off, put it on, back and forth.

    I’ve lived in Memphis for 15 years. Why am I not used to the heat yet?

  10. Best (worst?) heat story in my life – I’ve just started Lupron, which put me in chemical menopause to try and stop the pain. It failed at that, but either through the power of suggestion or just summer heat, I was one hot mess. (You can’t have hotflashes if you don’t have cool moments in between, right?)

    So we go to my aunt’s house in Nebraska without central AC.

    One night I slept on the floor vent to get some relief.

  11. I do better with heat than I do with cold. High temperatures are uncomfortable, but winter is a bigger problem for me. I have to dress heavier to keep warm. Long underwear is out of the question so I try to use thigh high socks or stockings, or even legwarmers. My skin dries out from wind exposure and lack of moisture in the air. My fingers get tiny cracks and cuts in them from dryness. I get minor colds more frequently in the winter.

    I’m starting to think I should get evaluated for SADD. I’m noticing a pattern with seasonal blues or depression in the winter. It’s been like that for several years.

    In the summer time I can wear skirts. I have air conditioning where I live now so I can usually stay cool.

  12. i live in chicago, and this hot, stormy summer is making my wrists absolutely miserable. not only do they ache almost all the time, but they swelled up so badly i had to soap off my rings and put my watch on my keys for two days. and it’s too hot to wear fingerless gloves over my elastic braces, which hurts my vanity.

  13. The Melbourne winter is terrible for my leg and back, and also for my depression — I don’t know if it’s pressure-related, or temperature, or a lack of light, but I always end up severely depressed through the winter, no matter how my medication and life are at that point. I have to use a walking cane in the winter but can usually manage without through summer.

  14. I moved to LA in 2006, in part because the moisture and cold in DC were sending my pain levels through the roof. Now I’m worse than an LA native about rain/chill as my condition has gotten progressively worse.

    Any significant moisture aggravates the swelling, but too dry and I get nose-bleeds and sore throats. So on rainy days the space heaters are almost always on, and I stay inside, but we keep bowls of water on top of both and have two fountains as well. The goal is just moist enough.

    And until the temps are over 90*F or so, I’m always cold in my legs/feet and hands. I find that cotton knit or cotton velvet fingerless mittens and thigh highs are the best solution; my core body temperature is usually decent, so if I keep my hands/legs/feet in something warm I’m pretty good.

    In the winter, I also wear floor length skirts/dresses/nightgowns and if it’s too cold a pair of fleece footie/slippers. Plus there are lap throws and fuzzy robes as layers whether I’m dressed or in sleepwear.

    Finally, the space heaters are set for at least 80*F, and hot showers or a soak in the hot tub if it’s not too cold to run out to it make a big difference. Hot soups, tea, and cooking warm the apartment and me as well.

  15. Layers, layers, layers. Sudden changes in weather/temperature mess with my joints more than particular hot or cold unless it gets really bad. So going out in a T-shirt, with a button shirt over it and a hoodie in my bag means I can play with layers and lessen the effects. Which is a lot of hassle (I go out less summer and winter than spring and autumn) but much better than nothing.

    Also, carrying as much water as I can carry. In summer I overheat and in winter I get all dry from the artificial heat. Dehydration is spoon-sapping.

    *gets back to knitting wrist warmers*

  16. I don’t deal well with heat. Even in the winter I can overheat while walking (perhaps more unpredictably in the winter: walking in a heavy overcoat, sweater and longsleeve shirt can be too much), so in summer I try to be really careful. I keep a box of ice lollies (popsicles) in the freezer and often when I return to the house I dive for one (or two, even). It’s the fastest way I know of getting my temperature down fast, short of jumping under a cold shower, which tends not to be so practical for various reasons.

    And like someone said above, I find it really annoying when I need to use a hot water bottle for pain, but the weather is just too hot for that to be comfortable. If it’s daytime I’ll compromise, but at night under bedclothes it’s too much….

  17. Static Nonsense – “Overheating makes my brain go fuzzy. But it’s easier to manage than the cold.”

    How do you manage to stay cool and avoid being overheated?

    Because I’ve always found cold easier – I can always wear one more layer, but even naked, I’m still overheated. And then there are the pesky laws…

  18. Do y’all have any idea how nice it is to hear other people say that they have issues with overheating? Seriously, this is a recent thing (past couple of years, seems to be a side effect of a medication) for me, and I’m still adjusting. Doesn’t help that every time they up the dosage it get’s worse! And I try to keep popsicles (I can’t even buy them here! I have to make my own) on hand for just that purpose, Ang! There’s no air conditioning here (Germany), much, either. *sigh* I never thought I’d miss air conditioning, which we didn’t have until the last five years I lived in the US.

  19. cold weather hurts. rain hurts. heat wrecks me too. and moving air on bare skin — say from ceiling fans or car air conditioners — hurts. i can’t find a solution that works for me especially living with another person who is prone to feeling hot. i try accommodating her with the a/c and the fans and just putting more clothes on but she feels rejected because i’m wearing so much.

    (why yes she does take my conditions personally a lot of the time and golly is it ever frustrating.)

  20. The Bald Soprano – it is *so* refreshing (though not as refreshing as an ice pop, jeez I’m sweaty) to hear that for me, because at the best times, I think the living room is okay.

    But my mom and sister are FREEZING while I’m overheated. I’m used to that in the winter – when the heat got to me, I’d run down the block in shorts with no shoes just for some air.

    But in the summer?

    I think the synthetic thyroid was supposed to take care of the overheating… but I started that in 2003.

    And my mom reminds me that she grew up without AC (in New Mexico) and people lived down here just fine without it and some still don’t have it*… but I’ve always had it!

    *I love those programs for people without it where places are open so people can get some relief – and the local power company is very generous, and won’t cut the power during the extreme months (winter or summer) if you talk to them first about a medical problem. They’ve been lenient with us at times – did you know that having a sick kid who has to go to the doctor every week can deplete your finances?

  21. Heat messes with me bad – dizzy and fuzzy and yuck. It doesn’t help that I live in the desert. Cold makes my joints stiffer, but it’s preferable to blacking out. Heat+humidity=I can’t stand up without help. Here in the states there is air conditioning (though I get yelled at if I turn it up high enough that I can think straight). When I was in London with my partner and it got hot, extensive use of window fan and minimal clothes and wet washcloths was made, and on weekends we went to museums where they have AC.

  22. Cold is what I have problems with. It makes me think slower and get brain fog. As well as making fatigue and asthma much worse. And making my jaw ache. I have trouble staying warm – like I get to the point where I’m putting out less heat than is being sucked out of me faster than most.

    I wrote a post on ways of dealing with it. Here it is:

    But I’ve also noticed recently that one particular item of clothing is particularly important: scarves. Well scarves and/or hats or those fleece vests that zip up your throat I’ve managed to take much longer hikes without asthma or fatigue and without my jaw feeling like ice-cold pliers are there – by wearing a hat and scarf.

    I’m glad I live in a generally warm place.

    Shiyiya – man it must suck for you. You have my sympathy.

  23. @Kaitlyn

    For me specifically it’s just a matter of my body deciding that its temperature regulation wants to be a butt. When that happens and I’m overheated because of it I can usually just get away with drinking something with ice in it or being around fans or AC while wearing short sleeves. My body’ll react to the slight chill present just as much as the slight heat that triggered the overheating and sort of balancing me out. It doesn’t always work but for the most part it does.

    It also probably helps that my body is super-sensitive to cold drinks. It’s super-sensitive to cold anything, really. Funny really, having lived around the frigid cold and through ice storms for over 10 years and still not being used to the cold.

  24. @Kaitlyn: Funny, the thyroid replacement is what CAUSED my problem with overheating…

    @Static Nonsense: I should try that (drinking something with ice in it) in the winter when I come inside and am suddenly sweating (and we keep our thermostat at about 67 F).

    We’ve JUST had our heat wave break. Finally! three weeks of 90+ weather, not normal for around here. There was something like 4-5 days in a row of blood-temperature-or-higher weather, plus humidity.

  25. Static Nonsense – I’ll try that when the heat hits me in the winter. My issue now is just constant bleh… I can’t believe that fan is on the highest level! Also, I didn’t know other people referred to things being stubborn or just agh! as “butts”. “Mikey is such a butt, he won’t go outside.” “My body is being such a butt, doesn’t it know I don’t want to be in pain today?”

    The Bald Soprano – Oh man, that sucks about the thyroid. And thanks for giving us your heatwave – we’ve got 100s (F) for the next few days and then hopefully Bonnie’s remnants will give us some rain and relief.

    Does anyone else with temperature issues (cold when it’s hot, hot when it’s cold, etc) keep a small thermometer around?

    I snatched the round one from the porch for my room a few years ago to see if it was me or if the room was really that hot. Now it goes to my dorm, so when the heater is too high in winter, I can give them numbers. “It’s really hot” vs “It’s still 80 degrees (F) after leaving the window open and the fans running all night.”

    Right now, it’s perched on the mantle in the living room so we can look at it and go, yes it’s just 72 F, everything electric is working, it’s just our bodies.

  26. @The Bald Soprano, @Kaitlyn: Go for it! Hopefully it’ll help. 😀

    @Kaitlyn: I haven’t done the thermometer thing yet, though maybe I should. It would be incredibly helpful. I used to keep a thermometer around but not for that reason – but that is a really good idea. I’ll have to make sure to buy another one.

    And yeah, “butt” is an interesting descriptor that I don’t hear very often. I usually use expletives, but “butt” makes for a good substitute when those would be inappropriate 😉

  27. In hot humid climates, relative humidity needs to be taken into account as well as temperature to get an accurate picture of heat stress on the body (the heat index, which sports events etc. use). I use a combined thermometer / hygrometer, these are pretty easy to get hold of, mine was just from a department store as part of an alarm clock. Also, in Australia, relative humidity and human-perceived (as well as actual) temperature are tracked every 15 minutes or so for most fairly-densely-settled parts of Australia online at the Bureau of Meteorology site, if anyone is curious in working out how humidity affects them. Fans, dehumidifiers and air-cons counteract the skin heating effect of humidity, in different ways, with differing levels of stress on the body.

    I use a couple of hot water bottles for pain, which is pretty funny, considering how HOT it is. (I got strange looks bringing them to Thailand too.) Lucky I can cope with it if I don’t move.

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