So it’s that time of year again- SUMMER!! WOO! Okay so I’m two weeks too late with posting this… Who doesn’t love lying in the sunshine, going for day trips to the beach and picnics in the park? *raises hand* When it comes to it, there’s always the part of me who dreads Summer. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence, but it’s always sun’s out, tubi grips out, as my joints tend to massively swell and flare up if it gets too hot. Not so WOO. Recently, as London been’s blessed with sunshine and a heat wave, it probably won’t last that long , my wrists and ankles have become very swollen. It’s common for me to be asked “you must love the warm weather because of your joints?”. It couldn’t be further away from the truth. Yes, I do love the warmer weather, it’s so nice not to have to lug around a jacket, scarf, gloves and hat. And yes, it is true that in the winter I am generally more stiff because of the cold, meaning it’s harder to move my joints, but I personally find it a lot easier to warm up than to cool down. In winter, my joints only then swell up when I’m having a flare up whereas in the Summer I wake up with swollen hands and ankles. My fingers in particular swell up a lot making it harder for me to move them. In fact, my middle finger on my right hand swelled up so much that I couldn’t get my ring off!
How do I cope with the summertime swelling? Discovered by pure chance this has changed how I relieve pain in summer. On a holiday a few years ago I popped some freeze gel on my joints and went into the swimming pool, because I was impatient I hadn’t waited for the gel to soak in fully. But the coolness of the gel provides a numbing and soothing effect. And because it’s freeze gel it makes you hour joints feel cooler, reducing some of the swelling which is caused by the heat and not my arthritis. I certainly don’t have a pool at home so I instead just jump into a cool shower after applying freeze gel to my affected joints. I haven’t tried the expensive branded deep freeze gel, I tend to just purchase it from Poundland because I get through so much of the stuff, and it works for me. But let me know if it definitely is worth paying the price. When it comes to the smaller joints, like my fingers and toes I find even just soaking them in a bucket of cold water helps so much to reduce the swelling or placing a wet, cool flannel on bigger joints such as my ankles and knees also helps.
Dressing in the Summer also becomes a lot harder, you can no longer easily cover up and tubi grips and supports when you’re wearing shorts and a t shirt. In winter, I find that with every layer you put on, you mask your arthritis more and more. It’s not that I mind people seeing my tubi grips, I now feel confident in answering any questions people have such as “have you injured yourself, are you okay?”, I am now confident enough to explain how I have arthritis, what it is and how it affects me. But, still I just really don’t fancy the double tube grips on my knees look. Its not a look I’ve seen on the catwalks, and I’ve seen quite a few questionable looks walking on there. I’ve had to wear tubi grips on both of my knees befor, with a matching tubi grip on one of my wrists, on the way back home from a family holiday in Thailand. The hot weather certainly had taken its toll on my knees, I guess the walking there didn’t help but it was the only way to get around the markets. It did look a bit odd and you do receive a lot of attention from passers by. I guess it’s because I probably looked like I was about to go rollerblading or something, or experimenting with a new trend in teenage fashion. Fair to say that trend didn’t catch on.
I also used to be really self conscious about my toes, I have always been aware that they aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing and other children in class have pointed out that my feet look different, especially at swimming classes. So when I was younger I used to always cover them up by wearing trainers and avoiding flip flops at all costs and wear splints every night to try and straighten them up although this caused so much pain in the mornings. But now I have a different mindset. I am more confident with wearing sandals and wedges, exposing my toes. And now I am no longer ashamed of them, why should I cover them up? Everyone is different so feel free to stare at my odd looking toes. Top tip for any of you who are also blessed with bunions: try and go for sandals which have a large strap at the front so it will cover your bunions. I also have another pair with a fringed front which makes my bunions less obvious. But of course sandals will expose your toes, everyone can see my bunions. sun’s out, bunions out! Summer is a tricky season for me and my Arthritis, whether it’s swelling or deciding what to wear. If you have any tips please let me know! Be confident this summer folks and don’t let your arthritis get you down! x