CHAOSTOCOSMOS

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Humidity is my enemy, Volcanoes are my friends

imageRecent events seem to confirm this and, what's more, have given me a few ideas on which to ruminate ...

Now I can remember back to the one and only properly hot British summer of 1976, when I worked for North Thames Gas in Staines, Middlesex, and women were given a special dispensation to wear shorts in the office.

It was unheard of to do such things in Britain otherwise at that time and I still howl as I remember some of the ex-army khaki jobs some of them wore! Smile

What I also remember is not being able to stand the heat and constantly feeling nauseous and drained of energy by it in the humidity of the UK. Yes, I know there was a drought and a hosepipe ban, but there were also periods then and in other years, where it was just humid, uncomfortable and unbearable.

The only time I suffered worse was on a trip to Florida in 1980, because even though I was "relatively" healthy back then, I could bearly walk 50 yards in the extreme humidity there - which was given out on TV as being 97 - 100%.

With fibromyalgia that's how humidity affects me all of the time now.

This morning, the humidity here on the Costa del Geriatrico (southern UK) was also once again up at 100% and the pain in my hip was back up to screaming pitch. It's really bad when I can't even lie on it. I certainly can't sit on it nor stand on it and the pain it generated - from my waist to my toes - when all I did was walk to the kitchen, was way, way, way off the usual pain Richter scale.

And, in addition, my neck hurts so badly I can't even get that comfortable lying down with my special neck pillows, my shoulders ache, there's a pain running down the back of my arms, my knees ache, my joints feel stiff and swollen, the pain in my lower back was so bad it was making me involuntarily moan ...

It's so bad, I'm having real difficulty concentrating, but if you'd run over me in a truck, I truly could not feel more battered and beaten than I do now.

This is an enormous contrast to last week, when I managed to walk to town on Friday to collect a prescription - the humidity then had been an ideal 51% - and, on Saturday (it was 59%), I'd gone for a long stroll to the fair and back.

Normally I just would not be able to go out twice in one week - one outing would be enough to exhaust me and raise my pain levels severely for another 5 or 6 days - and I certainly wouldn't usually make it both ways.

Saturday's walk hurt - walking at all hurts because of my hip and I'd begun to get overheated as the humidity rose toward the end of the day - but it only made me pleasantly tired the way you want to feel after a nice long walk.

In fact, I felt so relatively pain and symptom free after those outings that I wondered if my enormous super-mega fibromyalgia flare - that I've been suffering pretty much ever since I set foot back on UK soil in 2008 - might have finally abated, but this turned out to be merely wishful thinking.

On Tuesday this week, when weather was getting back to normal British humidity levels, I only went as far as the local corner store and that was utterly exhausting, as though I'd struggled through a vat of molasses, dragging a 1 ton weight. When I got home, I had to lie down and was asleep very early.

Last week, there were three things helping me; my walking stick, which helps my balance as well as making me slow down, a new pair of comfortable shoes, but I'm certain that the main influencing factor was the humidity levels.

How many times have we had humidity as low as 51% here?

Just that once. Which reiterates, once more, what I've been saying, over and over, for years - that the only possible way for me to keep my symptoms under some control is to live in a relatively warmer and drier climate.

In all my 16 years in Tenerife, I was never exhausted by a heat and humidity combination. In the UK, I can be overwhelmed by it and the temperature has bearly reached 15 degrees centigrade. In Tenerife, my brain wouldn't start melting until 35C and I wasn't even comfortably warm until 25 degrees.

And pain like I have today, I would only have on days when it was incredibly humid, i.e. when there were severe, monsoon quantity, storms and rain.

image This has also got me to wondering - since Tenerife is home to the world's third largest volcano and, since the warmer, drier weather here last week did coincide with the presence of the ash cloud from from the Icelandic volcano - whether the presence of sulphur in the atmosphere (which we know is drying: it's effective against mildew) might have been the reason for the drop in humidity that lead to my temporary improvement.

Maybe I should also be specifically looking for another volcanic landscape in which to make my future retirement home? (If I live that long.)

There may be more to it than the fact that sulphur / ash would dry out the air. I shan't pretend for a moment to understand the science, but consider:

  • Volcanoes spew out a lot of dust and gases like sulphur.
  • Sulphur is an essential element for life and is found in two amino acids: cysteine and methionine.
  • Cysteine's antioxidant properties are typically expressed in the tripeptide glutathione.
  • Glutathione is the food for the immune. As an antioxidant, glutathione is essential for allowing the lymphocyte (immune cell) to express its full potential. (without being hampered by oxiradical accumulation.)”

Whilst I absolutely wouldn't use the word "cure" in relation to it or fibromyalgia, I'm sure there could be something in the connection.

"Additionally, the correlation between glutathione level and morning stiffness was found to be significant.", says the results of this small study.

In the meantime, since moving back to a suitable climate is but a dream, I've added to my wishlist this Pro Wireless Weather Station with PC interface.

Heck, I need a hobby! Well, no I don't really want one, but I was thinking maybe I could plot the relationship between temperature, humidity, barometric pressure and my pain levels. Whilst I know there are other factors like stress and pollution levels, which also have a major bearing, this may help shed light on what affects me ... and help me find what mitigates my symptoms.

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