From California to Florida: My Psoriatic Arthritis Climate Experiment

When it comes to living with psoriatic arthritis (PsA), it's essential to understand that the pain and discomfort experienced can be highly influenced by the climate in which you reside. As someone who has battled this condition for over 20 years, I've always cautioned fellow patients against comparing their PsA symptoms and pain levels with those of others. My PsA symptoms have differed significantly based on the geographical locations in which I have lived. Recently, during a ten-day getaway to Walt Disney World, I had an eye-opening experience that made me reevaluate the prospect of moving from my California home to sunny Florida.

How did my psoriatic arthritis pain locations change?

One of the striking observations I made during my stay in Florida was the dramatic shift in my PsA symptoms, particularly regarding pain location. Back home in California, the scorching summer temperatures often exacerbated the pain in my feet and hands, making them my primary areas of discomfort. I would constantly find myself massaging my fingers, trying to alleviate the aches. However, the moment I stepped foot in Florida, something remarkable happened – my hands and feet felt remarkably better. It was almost as if they didn't require any attention at all. On the flip side, my knees mostly tend to swell up only during strenuous activities in southern California. But all it took were Florida's storm clouds looming overhead to feel like my knees were on the brink of exploding. The contrast in pain locations was both fascinating and perplexing.

How will this impact my retirement?

My husband and I had entertained the idea of retiring in Florida for years, drawn to the allure of its sunshine and balmy climate. However, after enduring ten sweltering and humid days in the Sunshine State, we decided to remove it from our list of retirement possibilities. The irony was not lost on us when Walt Disney World cast members enthusiastically commented on the improved weather due to the humidity dropping. I shudder to think about what it was like before our visit. The prospect of dealing with daily storms and oppressive humidity became unbearable for me. While we are planning return visits to Walt Disney World, they will be strategically scheduled during Florida's cooler months to mitigate the challenges posed by the climate.

Which is the lesser of two evils?

Living with psoriatic arthritis presents a challenging problem – there is no location where I can escape pain entirely. Some places may trigger more pain than others or affect different parts of my body. It's essentially a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils. For the time being, that choice is California. However, should circumstances change, such as family members moving to Florida, I would adapt and make the best of it. But with the majority of my family residing in the southwest, staying in California keeps me close to my support network.

How were my visits to California and Florida different?

Before relocating to California, we frequently visited Disneyland both before and after my PsA diagnosis. During those vacations, with the exception of one memorable visit that included an emergency appendectomy, I consistently experienced less pain. In stark contrast, my recent trip to Florida was quite challenging. I spent an entire day and a significant portion of three others bedridden due to the debilitating pain caused by PsA. Fortunately, we had wisely planned our vacation with extra days to accommodate my need for rest without feeling like I was missing out on everything. By doing so, I only missed visiting one of the parks.

Has PsA impacted where you live?

Living with psoriatic arthritis entails making tough choices, and climate can be a significant factor in determining one's quality of life. It's essential to be mindful of how different locations can affect your symptoms and pain levels.

Have you ever dreamt of living in a particular place but reconsidered after visiting and experiencing its impact on your PsA symptoms?

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