Keeping an Eye on the Ups and Downs of Summer With Vasculitis

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by Allison Ross |

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Summer is a fun time of year. Spirits are high, the pool is open, and the social calendars are full. Without the burden of driving in inclement weather, it’s simpler to go about our daily routine. In the Midwest, you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who prefers the stresses of winter to the breezy, warm days of June through August.

I’m fortunate that I’m a middle school teacher for part of my work, so my schedule lightens up considerably after May. It’s a huge relief to see space on the schedule that wasn’t there a month ago and to know there is time to sink into the rest I need.

Of course, the flip side is how uncomfortable and hot some days can be. July in the Midwest can be brutal. Kansas City, Kansas, temperatures last week rose to almost 110 degrees, virtually guaranteeing that no one went outdoors more than was necessary. In this climate, it’s difficult to gather any motivation to be productive even when you’re healthy — let alone with medications that might interfere with your work ethic.

As with most aspects of life, I view the summer season through the lens of a vasculitis diagnosis. There are things about sun and high temperatures that someone with a chronic illness needs to consider and a healthy person doesn’t. If I don’t take precautions to make sure I’m ready for the heat, I’ll spend the nicest part of the year being miserable.

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To Drink or Not to Drink? That Is the Question With Vasculitis

Prednisone already makes us sweat and have hot flashes. It also often carries sensitivity to sunlight, making patients more susceptible to burns and heatstroke. With these symptoms, it’s no wonder steroids are more difficult to take in summer. Prednisone remains the drug we love to hate for good reason.

Warmer weather can also mean a tighter calendar. Between graduations, barbecues, road trips, vacations, and other celebrations, it can feel stressful to try to keep up. But a hectic schedule is also an opportunity to connect with the people we care about and who support us best.

Nonetheless, there is one aspect of summer that makes it a better time of year for mental health than the rest of the year: natural light. If you struggle with chronic depression as I have, it’s wonderful to see the sun shining for more days out of the season. Moving from the overcast Great Lakes region to the sun-drenched plains of Kansas, I noticed an immediate uptick in my mindset when I woke up each morning. Sure, there are still days with clouds or rain, but they’re easier to tolerate when they don’t outnumber the sunny ones.

As with any time of year, there are seasons of health that reflect the changing weather patterns. There are times our illness is under control, and other times it feels as though we can’t predict what’s coming next. The key is learning to take care of ourselves regardless of external circumstances — including what it feels like when we step outside the front door.

Something as simple as brewing a glass of fresh iced tea can be a boost to our diet and mental health at the same time. Or maybe a dip in the pool is just what we need to cool off on the worst days. Things that healthy people do as recreation may act more like therapy for us, and it’s OK to think of it that way.

In a mindset of conquering vasculitis, it can feel discouraging to enter a particular time of year knowing the challenges that lie ahead of us. We already struggle to feel well many days, and when the weather isn’t ideal, it only exacerbates existing issues.

So in the hottest days of summer, I simply remind myself to enjoy it while also taking care of my body and keeping an open mind to the many details of my condition. With proper measures in place, I can thrive in any weather — even when the thermometer reads triple digits!


Note: ANCA Vasculitis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ANCA Vasculitis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ANCA vasculitis.

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