Warm Weather Hobbies
Hobbies are an important part of how I deal with my AS. Fatigue, pain, and uncertainty often morph into a strong push away from fun or exploration, toward doing only what's absolutely necessary or makes sense financially, but that's not emotionally or socially sustainable. My hobbies help me through the ups and downs of chronic illness by giving me something else to think about and look forward to, connections with other people, and new ways to challenge myself.
Warm weather hobby ideas
To keep my hobbies helpful I try to do something that makes me happy, even if it's only for a few minutes, avoid reflecting on what I might have been able to do in the past, and remain open to new ways of doing things. My primary warm weather hobbies include baseball, gardening, and cellphone photography.
Baseball has always been a part of my life, but I became a super fan in 2012, when I needed something other than my mother's untimely death to think about. I used the start of the 2012 season to take a deep dive into the game through MLB Network, documentary films, MLB Twitter, and listening to nearly every game on the radio. This commitment gave some much-needed structure to my free time and connected me with another world, a place that I'd chosen for myself. Baseball has become part of my daily routine. During the season I check the standings just about every day and usually know where the team is and when the game starts in every time zone, and have a sense of many pending roster moves.
Discussing MLB on Twitter brought me new friends and connections in other cities and connected me with new people in the Detroit area. I've even met some of my baseball friends for lunch. Sticking with my MLB routine kept me going through the constant uncertainty and stress of dementia caregiving. Keeping this commitment to myself provided a thin but very real boundary between the needs of the patient and my own need for distractions and entertainment.
Our family has a long tradition of gardening for flowers and food. I like to grow veggies, herbs, and flowers. It feels good to watch something grow and keep up the tradition. I've moved more toward container gardening in the past few years to save on physical strain. That was an adjustment, but one that brings me so much joy!
Growing herbs in the carrot family brought a host of swallowtail caterpillars for us to raise and butterflies to release in 2018. The adult butterflies come into the garden to feed on nectar flowers, and end up laying eggs on our dill, fennel, and parsley. After the caterpillars hatch and reach sufficient size I bring them into my office to go into their cocoons. I ended up successfully releasing 9 swallowtail butterflies in 2018.
Taking quick pictures with my phone does wonders for my mood and provides a ready made stream of visual to use on across my social media platforms. The casual nature a cellphone photography is better for me than more formal approaches. The light and easy vibe feels freeing. Editing them is also a great distraction when I'm not feeling very well.
Other than back pain and fatigue, what is the most common symptom that AS patients experience?