Sunday, September 07, 2008

Latitudes

For the past couple of weeks, I have been waking up to ache and fatigue in my body. It is the type of ache and fatigue that prompts me want to roll over and go back to bed. My head is cloudy and my throat is swollen and sore for no reason. My shoulders ache and I feel like there is sand paper instead of synovial fluid between the small bones of my feet. For no good reason, I have noticed that the tendons in my right hip seem to be telling me something. This is new. If anything, I guess they are announcing to me that they are there. Obviously, under normal circumstances, I would not be in conversation with my hips. At least, I would hope not.

Because I happen to share my body with a condition called Rheumatoid Arthritis, there are times when the arthritis decides to remind me that it can develop more of my physical real estate than I may be willing to allow. In times when the weather is changing, especially here in New England right now, my body goes into helter-skelter mode. The barometric pressure is like a yo-yo that throws my entire physical being into a chaos. Between the spikes in temperature of the hot days, which inevitably lead to dense rainstorms and very cold days, I am on a no-fun spin on the scary tea-cup ride. In these moments, the arthritis development crew starts mowing down my otherwise stable inner ecosystem in a slash and burn effort to pave new roads of pain all over my body. Drugs don't seem to help, and even sleeping soundly becomes a problem.

It sucks.

Because it is my mother's job to worry about this, I let her worry. I let her call me and tell me that the reason why I am having symptoms of this nature is because I am living at a higher latitude on earth that does not suit the evolution and design of my body. You see, my mother has a theory that autoimmune disorders like mine are a result of mankind's migration out of our ancestral homelands. According to her, modernity is the source of my body's destruction. Between my "modern" diet and various other environmental factors, I am living in a system of stress and alienation from what my body needs to be healthy. According to my mother, I am physically designed to live at sea-level on the dry side of Mediterranean. Like a solar panel, my skin is equipped to soak up the sun, for otherwise I have no other source of effectively aborbing the massive amounts of Vitamin D that my body particularly needs not to do what it is doing at the moment--eating me alive.

Honestly, I have done my reading, and I know that my mother's theory has been backed up by the smart people who study these things. She's actually right.

When I am living in the Middle East, I never feel this way. It is a place where I am under the sun and walking every day, and there is rarely such extreme fluctuations in temperature. In New England, on the other hand, I suffer from paralyzing migraines and fatigue during the build-up of humidity for rain storms, or when the temperature suddenly drops in preparation for a massive snow fall. I only get my exercise in the gym, and it is woefully never enough. In the Middle East, I eat fresh food every day. I live on olives, dates, figs, apricots, grapes, oranges, watermelon, and all of the fresh hummus and eggplant that my little heart desires. For some reason, I never seem to worry about the fat or the carbohydrates I am consuming, because I know that it will all burn off when I get up and climb the 5 km home. Although I cover up from the sun, my skin is always radiant and my hair is shiny. Here, I find that I go easy on my favorite foods of the Middle East in an effort to save myself the peril of going up a pants size. Here, I actually let out a silent yelp when I see how hummus is processed and sold in the store with added colors and chemical flavors. I do my best to stick to a raw diet of fresh veggies and fish, but even this is not enough. I can control my diet to some extent, but the environment around me cannot be tamed. Unfortunately, I cannot control the fact that the sun will hide behind the clouds all day, or that the sharp increases in humidity and barometric pressure causes my body to act out in unsightly ways.

Obviously, I am doing my best to grin and bear this. I will be living at this latitude until mid-December. It will surely become cold and snowy here well before I leave, but the good news that I will not have to physically endure another full winter in this part of the world. After spending the summer here, too, it seems like just as I was about to get my Vitamin D levels back to functioning, the days have suddenly become shorter, darker and much colder. The leaves are already beginning to turn on the trees. It actually feels like my body is acting in unison with the foliage. I'm in break-down mode. Lovely.

Of course, my mother hates that I schlep off to the other side of the world for months on end. For other, obvious reasons, she worries for my health there, too. At the same time, though, she has told me that it gives her a great sense of relief that I don't regularly suffer from symptoms there. Her preference is that the quality of my life is good and that I am healthy. If this means that I have to live half way around the world, then she seems to be dealing with it. I can't help but be very thankful for her emotional support.

Now, I just need to get through the next three months. I suppose it would help if I start with today...

Namaste

4 comments:

VJ said...

Yeah, there's something to those thoughts about RA, but still having a more favorable latitude is no guarantee that you'd be symptom free. RA is known for most latitudes. Goodness knows sunshine, exercise and a good diet of fresh foods are good generally for many conditions, but it will not stave off the ravages of time and certain chronic diseases. It'll help for sure, especially if your feeling better about the trip and where you're at psychologically & physically.

The weather and dramatic barometric changes are never quite conducive to 'well functioning' here but much of the time this is a morning phenomenon for most sufferers in the NE. I mean, most would have already migrated to the SW & South by now otherwise, right? (There used to be a vibrant sort of transit way back when too).

Here's hoping you feel better soon. I'd completely forgotten about the little devil you carry with you. And good to be reminded of 'ol crazy little momma too. We've missed her so! Cheers & Good Luck, 'VJ'

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I'm a huge fan of your blog and you inspire me to start and continue with school.

I'm currently getting my Associate's degree and am taking 7 classes while working full-time which is kicking my butt.

Have you seen an endocrinologist about your Vit. D levels?

I was losing my hair in massive chunks and couldn't lose weight to save my life but when the endocrinologist discovered my Vit D deficiency she prescribed 50,000 IU for 6 weeks and I had to get that prescription 3 times before my levels were normal. I still take supplements and have to go to see her twice a year until I die.

You don't need the sun and risk skin cancer, there are other (though less natural) ways of getting Vit. D.

Just mentioning this as an option.

Namaste said...

Ah, thanks for writing, Anon. Yes, I failed to mention that I take Vit. D, and I also avoid foods that are gluten-based because this causes inflammation in my body. I wear sunscreen everyday, but cloudy days are still not for me. :) Thank you for the insight. Much appreciated.

Congrats on continuing with school. Hang in there with the classes and the work schedule, too. For that matter, you're an inspiration to me!

Namaste

hannahjustbreathe said...

I smiled when I read this post---ironically, I am blissfully happy here in New England largely because of the weather. After nearly five years suffering through the horrible heat and humidity of Washington, D.C., I have so welcomed the cooler, lighter air here in Boston. It's refreshing, rejuvenating, relaxing.

Each to her own, though, right? At least you've found your own.