While we all know how much the weather affects our mood and body, it also can have a big effect on our immune system. Although I have expressed how much I dislike winter, spring is the most challenging season for me as a Pompe disease patient. It seems to be the season that everyone gets sick, including me. I can hide from winter because I can stay inside with the heat on and dress warmly when going out. Spring is a little more tricky. The temperature is nice, but somehow I end up getting a cold eventually.
While Pompe disease makes us prone to respiratory infections, it’s very easy to go from a minor cold to pneumonia. Doctors have an interesting way of trying to pinpoint our infections. Is it a bacterial infection or viral infection? And how exactly did I get the infection? The mystery of getting sick is not knowing exactly how you got sick.
Doctors may be brilliant but patients are also brilliant. As I’ve mentioned before we know our bodies very well and when you have a rare disease you learn certain patterns. I’ve learned how my body reacts to the weather. If you ask me my favorite season I would say summer, but sometimes I can’t deal with summer because a lot of heat becomes overbearing and I find myself struggling to breathe and getting dehydrated. Ironically, I would rather deal with that than catching a cold and getting sick.
So how do I prepare for seasonal changes? The winter cold freezes my muscles, during spring I catch respiratory infections, summer fatigues me, and autumn is flu season. The truth is I don’t prepare myself.
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You can’t really prepare yourself for something as unpredictable as the weather, the only thing you can do is take precautions. But you know you have to pay attention to your body to learn the proper precautions. I want to convince myself that I can handle the weather just like everyone else but that’s not my reality. It’s not about me having a poor immune system because I’ve gotten stronger. My Pompe disease doesn’t allow me to be strong enough to handle the weather like everyone else.
As beautiful as spring is, I always manage to get sick even if I don’t leave the house. How is that possible? Well, I can’t sleep when I’m hot so I end up sleeping with a fan on and because spring mornings are cold, I wake up coughing and struggle to breathe with chest congestion. I end up spending my mornings trying to clear out my chest. I work my way through it. Most of the time I’m only sick for that day because I learned how to treat myself for minor things that haven’t gotten too bad yet.
I find the most challenging thing is just being around everyone. I usually assume anyone that’s sneezing is dealing with seasonal allergies when sometimes they are dealing with a cold. That transition from winter to spring is a transition that our bodies have to adjust to.
The best way I prepare for that season transition is to just be as safe as I can and eat healthy foods that will boost my immune system. I can’t stay away from people because I need people to help assist me with things.
So I have to learn how to understand my body and learn how to treat it early. In my mind, everything is germ-infested, and I live in Ohio where the weather is unpredictable and the air quality is sometimes poor. I’m proud of my body and the white blood cells that do a great job fighting infections, but for someone like me, who reacts strongly to changes in the weather, I want to eventually make that bold decision of moving to a state where the weather is nice all year round just so I can live more comfortably without the worry of getting sick from cold and unpredictable weather.