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Adrienne Dellwo

Warm Weather Checklist for Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

By March 22, 2010

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A change in the weather can mean changes in symptoms when you have fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, and it pays to be prepared for the changes ahead.

Spring, for most of us in the Northern hemisphere, means:

  • Warmer temperatures, and the temperature sensitivity that goes with them,
  • Seasonal allergies,
  • Brighter sunlight, which is tough for the light sensitive,
  • Gardening, which means lots of physical work and exposure to allergens.

Altogether, those things can really have us feeling lousy!

I'm sensitive to both heat and cold, so I have to pay close attention to keeping myself within my narrow comfort zone.  This time of year where I live, it can swing from hot to cold really fast.  Layering becomes a must, and I'm planning to put a blanket, hoodie and a pair of socks in my car along with some cooling products, so they're available if I need them.  I also splurged on prescription sunglasses so I don't get that impaled-through-the-eye feeling on a regular basis.

I'm not a serious gardener, but I am in the process of getting my yard in shape (it was far too ugly when we moved in 5 years ago, and I've been making slow progress.)  Along with working in small doses, I try to keep the things I need available:

  • A good, sturdy trowel can save you a lot of effort,
  • A kneeling pad is a must,
  • I have a little garden caddy (like a wagon with a lid) that I pull around so I'm not hauling things all over the place,
  • I keep my asthma inhaler in a pocket and wear gloves to help minimize allergies,
  • I make sure to wash my hands, arms and face really well every time I take a break,
  • I wear a sun visor to shade my eyes,
  • And I take a large water bottle with me to help me stay cool and hydrated.

I also put my kids to work, and they're right at the age where they're actually able to help and still want to.  I'm hoping that lasts a few more years!  And the really heavy work goes to my husband, who doesn't like yard work much but is willing to help me out.

What problems do you encounter this time of year?  What helps you out?  Leave your comments below!

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March 22, 2010 at 9:50 am
(1) Sherrie Sisk says:

Hey Adrienne – interesting viewpoint! I’ve learned to anticipate the advent of spring with some glee (ooh, reminds me – Glee returns next month, another reason to love spring!) – because the cold weather really does a number on my pain levels.

But you’re right, though – the extremes of weather are just as damaging as the experience of snowy days in winter. I’ve never tolerated heat well, less so in the ten years since my diagnosis w/ fibro.

Since I have the brownest thumb imaginable, the gardening tips are lost on me, but I wholeheartedly support anything that might get some fibromites back into the garden, if that gives them joy.

March 22, 2010 at 12:45 pm
(2) Courtney says:

Thanks so much for being a wonderful resource. It is another reminder that we are not alone! These are such helpful tips for living with this difficult disease and not simply existing.

March 22, 2010 at 9:23 pm
(3) Mary says:

What an excellent article. I can sooo relate.

These articles are so helpful. They help normalize hard situations, meaning you don’t feel so alone when you read these articles. Thanks….and thanks again.

I will be so thankful to the researchers when they can prove more and more in the brain what happens to us when we react to many different stimuli.

March 23, 2010 at 2:05 am
(4) Richie D says:

Here’s another tip. Get up early for gardening when it’s hot.

Trust me, I know how tough that can be, but you will thank me if you try it for a while. Take a nap in the afternoon if you need it, but don’t mess yourself up by working in the hottest part of the day when you don’t have to.

March 23, 2010 at 8:10 am
(5) Madelaine says:

My allergies hit before it got even remotely warm this year, I was not amused. I also have a very narrow comfort zone when it comes to temperature, and the same with light sensitivity – in winter, I get miserable and lethargic because there’s not enough sun, but if it’s too sunny I just get dizzy, fainting spells and migraines! Apparently there’s no winning with CFS! Still, I am glad it is getting warmer and brighter for the time being. Once I have all my allergy meds and so on, spring makes me quite hopeful.

March 23, 2010 at 9:43 am
(6) JoAnne Schmidt says:

Boy I learned the hard way last Spring/Summer that sunscreen is a must. Because of a failed back surgery along with FM/CFS I have to sit on my butt and kind of scoot around to do my gardening. I didn’t realize I was getting burned until the next day when my whole right arm and face were beet red, hurting and of course peeled. I love gardening. It has always been my “therapy” and I resent these health problems that now interfer. Now instead of having the beautiful yard that people used to stop their cars and come tell me how beautiful it was, I’m lucky if I can just keep up with the weeds!

March 26, 2010 at 5:48 pm
(7) Crystal says:

Here in Southern Calif. our spring is a yo yo of weather hot one day cold the next so definately have to plan ahead…Allergies for me started last month..to say the least fibro/cfs makes life interesting….

March 26, 2010 at 5:57 pm
(8) BJ says:

I recommend taking an antihistamine BEFORE working in the yard or garden if one is allergic. I also sometimes use a saline nasal spray before going outside, just to make sure I don’t have dry nasal passages that will get irritated. A third idea is to wear a mask over the mouth and nose–not fun, but it helps a lot if one is allergic to mold. This is also good for jobs like cleaning out the attic and/or garage.

March 26, 2010 at 7:52 pm
(9) LISA says:

I am not glad you are both heat/cold sensitive BUT I am glad to know I am not the only one! Everyone I talk to hates the cold but never complains about the heat! You have some great ideas that I also use already BUT just for anyone that is interesting in still being able to garden a little if nothing more than to grow a few fresh tomatoes and such, I am hay bale gardening. I found it on line a couple years ago, last 2 years I have grown tomatoes and this year we are trying a few more items such as cukes, peppers, squash. The hardest part is getting the help with hay bales, someone to unload and set them where you need them after that it is pretty easy, no need to weed, hoe, stoop, etc. IT IS GREAT! I was so missing raising a garden( I just can’t do it anymore!) I found this and it has been such a joy. Also found growing flowers in containers works great also, you can get large ones and plant several different types of flowers and place around your yard in your beds and still have the flower bed look while still being able to care for them.
I know I am leaving out something I wanted to share…when the fog lifts I will post again!

March 28, 2010 at 3:12 pm
(10) Sita says:

I’ve lucked out that Spring and Summer in the PNW is usually pretty mild and I do the best in Summer.

That said, last year was horrible. We got record high temps (highest was 107!) and I’ve learned that in extreme heat I do just as bad. I was pretty confused because I usually do a lot better in heat, and strangely humidity. So I always over do it during the hot but not extremely hot summers here because I try to cram 6-9 months of missed socializing into 3 months of summer.

April 1, 2010 at 3:16 pm
(11) lynn says:

I do horrible in the cold, snow and whenever it rains. It seems I do the worst when it rains though and it does not matter what season it is out. But if it is cold and raining I am down for the count in bed until it is over. :-) The pain throughout my body I have learned is just not worth getting up and trying to do anything so I stay in bed and read or watch tv or catch up on some of my needle crafts I have left by the wayside.
I always try to get up early every day and keep myself busy regardless of my pain and I do have it every day like all of us. I am a big believer of making lemonade out of the lemons and just don’t want to be one of those type of people who complains all the time so I try to do things during the day and if it is just one thing, well that is okay too. Being a Type A person I beat myself up for this for a long time and now I accept where I am due to my illnesses and pace myself and take care of myself. I love the thinking ahead of what all you will need before the task of going into the garden. I am at that point now having just learned to pace myself in the last year and now I think before hand, now what will I need for me to take care of myself? And I get those things together and go about what I need to do. I just came in about 1/2 hour ago now from raking my front yard here. It about killed me. :-) It is a small townhouse yard and the landscapers were here earlier in the week working but they didn’t do a very good job. As you all know this area made records with our snowfall this winter and we have a mess to clean up. So I raked my little yard and had all my take care of me things nearby and came in when I had enough and went back out after a 20 minute break and finished. There is so much more I want to go out and do today but I know I have done enough. Sure I could go back out and push myself but tomorrow I will pay the price and I am not longer willing to do so. I have other things to do then. So I am here reading this article and talking with you all and will go lay down for a little bit and get up and do something little around the house if I can. I just started gardening last year and it is a very small one but I so need the ability to get out in spurts to be physical and have something to do. If I don’t then my body won’t get much other exercise other than arthritis water aerobics and that is twice a week and I need to do all I can for my body. I just take it easy and go slow and most important I pace myself and hydrate. I am excited about spring and summer coming and someone mentioned about getting up early to garden…that is what I do too. It is not hot out yet and a lot can be done because the heat does zap your energy as quickly. Take care all. Oh Yeah….I do take a few ibuprofen before going out too just in case. :-)

April 20, 2010 at 8:06 am
(12) Benia Zouras says:

My tip for the gardeners out there is to use native plants. They return, year after year, and don’t require any watering or fertilizing or any fuss.

My yard is 100% native plants and we have no grass to mow. :) Leaves us more time to enjoy the wildlife.

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