Another Season of Lupus Precautions
Spring is upon us, and the warmer weather and longer days fills me and my lupus-weary body with excitement. But I also realize I cannot react to spring like a colt being let out of the barn.
Lupus may react better to spring weather versus winter temperatures and piles of snow, but it is so easy to allow myself too much sunshine (and too many activities) when I feel I have been deprived of it for the last four months.
The wolf (AKA lupus) has been howling like the winds of winter for me since late November. I have been in one of the worst flares I have ever experienced.
I hurt in places I did not know could hurt, my hands and feet randomly swell for no reason, Raynaud’s has been relentless, my face has that horrible scaly butterfly rash again, there are sores in my nose and mouth and my heart has also been affected.
I am ready for winter to leave and to take this flare with it. I am ready for a change in seasons and some improvement in how I feel each day.
If I Were a Sign, I Would Read “Proceed With Caution”
But, I realize that even if spring makes me think I am ready to take on more, I cannot let my excitement over warmer temperatures and brighter days cloud my judgment about jumping into too much activity.
Daily demands change for me living with lupus in spring. My children’s little league practice starts and this means long cold practices on a field after school until the sun starts to set.
Weekends will now beckon me to get out there and tackle all the yard cleanup that should be done following such a long, stormy winter. And there will be that urge to indulge myself by sitting on my porch steps and soaking in the warm sunlight, even though I know I will pay the price if I do.
So no matter the urge, the expectation of others, or even the increase demand from family activities, those of us with lupus must remember that moderation is probably the safest bet for the spring season.
For everything there is a season — except maybe lupus.
Spring Into Challenges
Warmer weather is not exactly carefree for lupus patients. I suffer from sensitivity to UV rays and though many people with lupus get a raging rash or an extreme and almost immediate sunburn from any exposure, my reaction may or may not include a skin reaction.
I have discovered over time that I am not the only lupus warrior who has stroke-like symptoms or severe illness from UV rays. The sun (and extreme heat) cause me to feel dizzy, have blurred or partial loss of vision, feel shaky, have difficulty speaking and articulating thoughts and feel so weak and physically sick that its seems like I am suffering from a heat stroke (or a real stroke) — except it can come on after only 20 minutes in the sun.
But, if I am facing these challenges and taking precautions, I can help my health and avoid a flare.
Consider These Tips for Managing Lupus in Spring
Stay out of the Sun
Sadly, most of us with lupus must avoid direct exposure to UV rays. I advise wearing sunscreen every day. SPF 50 is the minimum I use to prevent severe burns that can seem to happen in mere minutes of being out in the sun.
I used to blame the deteriorating ozone layer for my sudden, easily-burned skin. Now I know it is lupus.
Wear hats to shield your face from direct sunlight. Protective clothing is a wise choice too, despite your urge to run out in your short sleeve shirt and shorts. I have some lightweight long sleeve options for anytime I know I will be in the sun for long periods of time.
I also have a beach umbrella for the kids’ ball games and I seek the shade of nearby trees if that is an option. Sun exposure occurs in the car too, so try and keep your skin covered by clothing when you are on long car rides.