We have entered into a new month and unfortunately this month is riddled with daily dropping temperatures, frost, and incredibly dark mornings. I have been creaking and cracking out of bed each morning forcing myself to move this body in some fashion very morning. I know that colder and darker mornings are on the horizon with each passing month and in Maine we have a long time to endure these cold months. However, this is just the start, therefore, the stiffness and soreness I’m dealing with is still bearable but a real reminder what I’m faced with for several months ahead of me. Everything about MCTD is magnified as the temperatures change and although I know that living in warmer climates would help reduce these symptoms, but we are not committed to making that type leap just yet in our lives. Anyone with MCTD that is sensitive to cold knows what I’m talking about but there are also people dealing with MCTD that the warmth does the same thing to them and they actually feel better when the temperatures drop. Science is very specific that when things are warm they swell or expand and when cold they contract. Think of wood as a specific species where this is very prevalent. Now think about your digits, do your digits seem less swollen in the winter time and more swollen in the summer time? For me my fingers are extremely swollen this time of year. I actually increased my prednisone by another mg in hopes of reducing some of the inflammation I’m feeling. Sadly it hasn’t helped and I feel like these hands are more obstacles than they are tools.
As my body shifts and gets more used to the cold weather it will normalize and hopefully these hands will go back to normal. However, I’m also obviously aware that with MCTD there can be real permanent changes that don’t get better and over time the size of your hands and fingers can become bigger causing real shifts that don’t go away. Every year during this time of year I wonder if I’m facing permanent change or a short term dilemma. Either way I keep my hands as warm as possible, increase my use of Niacin, and now I will increase my time in the Bikram studio.
The natural heat of the Bikram studio is not hot enough to cause me to flare at this point and this is the time of year when Bikram is exactly what I need. Ever since I started running again my body is tight. The postures that I used to flow right into and hold so gracefully are complete killers at this point. I feel my hamstrings burn, I feel my knees stretching in pure agony and I feel my hips protest with every stretch I put them through. Granted, they would be tight regardless of running or not based on my MCTD but when I was doing 5 days a week of Bikram I was staying loose most days. Now I have decreased my amount of time in studio and increased my muscle tightening exercises which is causing double tightness. After 90 minutes in the studio I wish I could say I was loose but it takes more than that for me.
I am so worried about flaring in general but really I don’t want to flare at the gym, in the yoga studio or at work. I will be entering the Bikram studio more often in the winter months and watching how I feel and if any signs of flare creep up I will have to re-evaluate yet again. Life is all about daily evaluation with or without MCTD.