Another Rainy Day

When I was young I always enjoyed sleeping with my window open on rainy days. My window open onto a porch so the rain didn't come in. I remember loving the cool breeze and smell of the rain. It was like going to sleep with a gentle lullaby. I still enjoy the rain. It's been a long time since I would feel safe leaving a window open while I sleep. I currently don't have a window in my bedroom, just a door that leads to the balcony. I usually leave the door open when the weather is nice so I can watch the birds and look at my flowers.

Now in my senior years and living with chronic pain, rain also brings additional pain. Rain brings not only a change in the weather, but a drop in the barometric pressure, which is pressure against the Earth’s atmosphere. That means that the pressure against your body drops as well, and your joints and areas that are injured can begin to swell. This swelling causes increased inflammation, and we require hormones to deal with this increased activity in our bodies. Increased use of these hormones can cause depletion of them, too.

We have, nestled atop each kidney, a small gland that produces both adrenaline and cortisone. These two hormones help us with energy, mood, immune function, pain management and the famous “Flight or Fight” response. The steroid cortisone is fundamental in managing pain, immune function and energy. When cortisone levels drop, these can all become a problem. Adrenaline is famous for energy and strength. Did you ever notice how your pain gets worse at night? That’s because our bodies slow production of both adrenaline and cortisone in the evening so we can go to sleep. It’s part of our circadian rhythm. The downside is the fact that we don’t have these hormones that help us feel better.

Something similar happens when a storm is coming. Did you ever “smell” snow or rain before it came? That “smell” is a change in the electrical charge in the air. It’s been described as a “metallic” smell. All atoms have either a positive or negative charge so they can bind to form molecules. As the barometer falls, the positive charge, or “ions” increase which causes a depletion of cortisone in the body. Seniors and people who have chronic pain may experience weather changes more acutely, since their bodies don’t have the ability to overcome these changes as easily.

Even with the increased pain, I still enjoy a rainy day. The rain has stopped and I have the door open. It's a nice crisp fall afternoon. There is a strong breeze so I have a large rock holding the door open. I have learned that while we may experience storms, we have to have the rain if we are to ever witness the rainbow. Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet. Learn how to walk in the rain. Use it. Learn how to appreciate life's sometimes storms. Otherwise you'll never be grateful for all of the colors in that rainbow when it appears.

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