The Bitter Cold is Bitterly Painful for My Psoriatic Arthritis

Here in the Chicago suburbs it's been bitter cold, which can been bitterly painful for psoriatic arthritis! Temperatures dip into the negatives in the winter months here. Bundling up is required if you intend to go outside even for a few minutes. As a Chicagoan I have a real fear of frostbite. Psoriatic arthritic joints will swell and are painful due to the bitter cold.

How are my joints responding to the cold morning?

Today I am taking my daughter to the emergency room. She is fighting off infection. She is running a fever, vomiting and experiencing intestinal issues. The trek to the hospital is about 30 minutes, but it is -7 degrees. We are both in sweatshirts and sweatpants. Our second layer is winter jackets gloves and hats. My daughter is bundled in a fleece blanket as well. My car is warmed up but still very cold inside. As we drive, the temperature in the car is a little warmer but I can feel the pain in my joints. A bitterly painful burning.

How is my daughter's arthritis responding?

Once we arrive, my daughter is seen right away. The doctor has decided to treat her with IV nausea medications and an antibiotic. Both her arthritis and my own are active. Her body is hurting from being ill but her arthritis is causing her hands to hurt. When the nurse takes her blood and adds her IV, I see how the nurse inserting the IV has caused my daughter to jump. She smiles at the nurse, but I can see the pain in her face. After the nurse goes, she says, "My hands are tight, mom, from my arthritis." The nod of my head tells her I feel it too. 

How has my walk to the car worsened my pain?

Four hours have passed and my daughter is now well enough to finish making the rest of her recovery at home. We are leaving with prescriptions. In order to ensure my daughter is going to be warm enough, I plan to go out to the car to start it and bring it to the door. I bundle up again and go out through the door. Once the wind hits me, I can feel the bitter cold effect on my psoriatic arthritis. It's bitterly painfully. I feel pain shoot from my toes to my shoulders. There is a sharp pain on the outside of my knee as I start across the large parking lot another 15 feet to go to the car.

About halfway across the lot, the wind picks up even harder and I am forced to turn around and put my back to the wind. I stop in place. My breath is caught as the cold fills my nostrils and I can feel my nose hairs freeze. Sure wish I had my warm scarf. I press on waddling in pain. Now that I am at the car, I get the door open and insert the key. The ignition doesn't want to turn over. Apparently the cold has now caused the car not to run. 

Is our psoriatic arthritis agreeing with the waiting room?

Seeing as we can no longer leave, I leave the car and go back inside. This is the point I find out it is -11 with a windchill of -33. No wonder the car won't go. We are released, but are going to have to wait in the emergency room waiting area for a family member to come get us. Sitting in the chair, I look outside and my body shutters thinking about the extreme bitter cold. Both my daughter and I are glad we are warm but are struggling with the seating in the room. The doctor's waiting room and ER chairs are the same and are not meant for long term comfort. Irritating swelling in my spine causes almost the same bitter pain I felt in the cold. We keep changing positions to try to find a way to sit that is not so painful. Finally, our ride arrives.

What else does the cold of winter bring?

Unfortunately, another effect of the bitter cold is that it usually brings illness. So as my daughter recovers from her food poisoning, I start experiencing a very sore throat. Worrying about my daughter and having been in the bitter cold, I am now running a fever! My entire body is super heightened in pain. When my daughter returns to the doctor for her hospital follow-up, the doctor looks at me and says come here so I can check you. He leaves the room and asks the nurse in for COVID, RSV, and strep throat testing.

We have a winner...I have acute strep throat. Now I am on similar antibiotics as my daughter as I go home to recover. Strep throat is known for causing a flare of arthritis and psoriasis in my body. Now I am waiting to see if my body will break out in plaques and if my joints will get worse because of the infection. I will need to have blood tests in a few days to make sure the blood markers for inflammation will go back to normal.

Have you experienced anything similar? Do you notice pain and ache in the bitter cold?

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