As my grandmother aged, she acquired a very useful skill—weather forecasting. Grandma was never one to complain much about anything except her knee. “How are you doing, Grandma?” we’d ask and she would answer, “I’m fine except for my damn old knee!”
I suspect she did not realize its power at first, but as time went on, she learned that the ups and downs of the weather appeared to coincide with her levels of pain. The weatherman would predict a sunny day, and Grandma would tell us her knee predicted rain. He’d say to expect clouds, and she would tell us it was going to snow. I think the science of her arthritic knee outperformed the science of meteorology.
I did not remember this phenomenon until recently. I got a shot in my hip two months ago and was thrilled when most of the pain disappeared. I could roll over in bed and get out of the car with little or no discomfort, and then all of a sudden, it started to hurt very badly again. I thought, “Oh no, will I have to get a new hip?” What an awful thought. This could not happen to me. And then as quickly as the pain returned, it disappeared again.
That is when Dad suggested my discomfort could be influenced by the falling and rising levels of the barometric pressure. Was there any truth to this, or was this just an old wives (or old grandmothers) tale?
I headed to Google, where I was directed to the National Arthritis Foundation website, which confirmed the validity of Grandma’s damn old knee prediction. This was not Fox News (who incidentally did a report but I don’t believe them as Dad knows), but a legitimate site telling me that my grandma’s powers of prediction were true. “Changes in temperature or barometric pressure…trigger joint pain though researchers are not exactly sure why.”
What is even more interesting is that the arthritis foundation’s site has a tool—the arthritis index. Put in your zip code and they will tell you your pain level based upon the barometric pressure and temperature. Arthritis Index.
Even better, if you want to make advance plans to do something physical such as climb a rock wall (on my bucket list) or run a marathon (not), at least one of the weather websites will provide this very useful information. For example, I know today not to climb that rock wall on January 8, when the risk for pain is higher, but Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday would be a better day pain-wise. Accuweather Arthritis Index
So now, whenever the weather changes, I will think of my grandma. I think I will adopt her phrase but tweak it a bit for me. “I am fine except for my damn old hip.”