Dealing with Winter

G’day, friends and welcome to another week and another blog post!

I cannot tell you just how excited I am that we only have a week and a bit or so left of winter for another year! I have a love-hate relationship with winter; I love the cozy days at home by the fire with a big mug of hot chocolate and a book or a Harry Potter movie marathon, the warm and comforting food, and the cozy tracksuits.

However, my body despises winter. It’s like milk and orange juice! Winter and Muscular Dystrophy don’t mix!

I feel like my strength goes on a bit of a downward trend during winter. I have tried to figure out why, and I have come to the conclusion that it is a mix of sitting a lot more, which means tighter and shorter muscles and the icy weather contributes even more to the tight muscles.

I often joke that I am like a walking ironing board in winter! I feel as stiff as anything, probably thanks to my spinal rodding just as much as the cold weather.

I also usually struggle with lower back pain, especially if I haven’t moved as much during the day, but it is more constant in the colder months.

I usually feel back pain is a factor from cold weather mixed with the lower back overcompensating for the upper half that no longer has to work because titanium is working.

So when you think about it, 12 weeks of a stiff lower back causing near 24/7 pain and trying to walk with that and tight calves, it becomes exhausting so quickly. Both physically and mentally. If anyone has had prolonged injuries or pain, you know how taxing it is!

So this winter I have tried a different approach; be as warm as possible!!! Totally obvious I know, but when I mean warm I mean warm! Heater on almost all the time, wearing base layers underneath all my tracksuits as much as possible, hot drinks, and heat packs on my back if needed. I invested in an electric blanket and mini heater for my room to give my back the best chance, especially in the mornings.

It’s not just becoming a lizard obsessed with its heating rock all winter that I am trying to do. I am also stretching my back out constantly, and along the way discovered that I can crack my own back! My body feels stiff after sitting for long periods, so I will crack my back as soon as I stand up. Yes, I am still very disappointed that I crack like a glow stick every few minutes and yet I don’t glow.

I see a physio and exercise physiologist weekly throughout the year, but it becomes even more important in Winter! Trying to move as much as possible and getting the tight muscles worked on is a non-negotiable! I am the patient that will try anything they throw at me, which both physio and EP love! And if you know me I love a challenge and trying different treatments! For now the things that are working is releasing the back and posterior chain with deep massage, dry needling, and trigger pointing with the physio and a good workout with the EP in the gym.

Taking natural anti-inflammatories also helps majorly! I feel like with any continuous movement that I haven’t done in a while (like exercising or walking for extended periods) my muscles tend to get inflamed, which then also causes extra discomfort. Thankfully my naturopath put me onto Tumeric loaded anti-inflammatories, so when I am consistent in taking them (they do taste awful by the way), I notice a difference in how my body feels. I don’t feel as tight in the back, and less weighed down if that makes any sense!

Winter also brings along many illnesses, and with my lung function, I have to be more careful than others about making sure I don’t catch anything. So staying on top of vaccinations and having as much vitamin C as possible without turning into an orange or lemon is also part of the plan. Besides, no one likes to get sick (even though it means days off work and who can complain about that!?), but coming down with a cold for me can quickly turn into pneumonia. So I like to stay as healthy as possible.

I am known for saying that you have to adjust in disability life constantly; no two days are the same physically, and that is most apparent during the colder months. It is just a matter of finding ways to cope with the cold, sometimes grin, bear the pain or discomfort, and get on with life. Not to mention constant trial and error to find a combination of things that makes those more difficult days in winter a fraction easier.

We all go through winter, whether we like it or not. Unless you life on the equator, and in that case, I am envious! Some of us despise Winter, and some of us love it. I have found a way to at least get along with it. Not all days are physically sound, and some days I don’t want to move. However, by living abled my way through winter, I am finding more and more ways not to let the bitter cold take over, and I can still enjoy life!

Till next week, I am off to enjoy a large mug of hot chocolate or two (because that is also in my ‘dealing with winter’ plan….)


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