Holy Cow

I grew up in rural farm country in Western New York, and my father had been raised on a farm, so farm yard adages were part of my vernacular from the very beginning. Farm life both requires and cultivates a deep connection and rhythm with nature. Before we all had weather apps on our Smart Phones, my family used to always predict an oncoming rain storm with two signs from Mother Nature: the leaves of the trees turned over so expose the underside, and the cows laid down. As a game when driving by a farm I'd often count the number of cows laying down, and we'd turn that into a percentage chance of rain. All highly scientific. However, it turns out there's truth in it. Changes in barometric pressure just before a storm actually do cause the cows pain in their legs, so cows lay down.

During the 3 month flare up I'm currently experiencing, the realization dawned on me that I am just like the cows. I might have had a stretch of 2-3 good days in a row. You know, pain reduced to a level where I can actually think and function like a normal person. Then the next morning I will wake up so stiff and sore it's quite literally a feat of strength and determination to get my body out of bed and upright. The aching pains will feel so deep it's like it somehow impacts every cell all the way from my skin to the very center of my bones. All morning I'll move around feeling as if I'm somehow stuck traversing the day through invisible quick sand. I'll replay yesterday in my head trying to see if there was some activity I overdid that would explain this sudden change today. And then, I'll gaze out my office window at some point and realize it's raining. I have become the cow that senses the coming storm as pain deep in my body.

Once I made the connection I started paying closer attention to the timing, and sure enough, just before a storm or rainy day my pains spike. I called my mother with this revelation, and to ask her if she also experienced this (she has had the f-word for 20+ years), expecting she'd confirm this phenomenon. Interestingly, she doesn't experience this. So then I thought, "Oh god, it's just me and the cows," but I took to some investigating and it turns out I'm not alone. There doesn't seem to have been much study on the topic directly but it seems that at least many others with the f-word report a similar experience.

At least if nothing else, it gives me the fun memory of looking to the cows for the weather forecast, and now I am basically my own weather app, not unlike Karen Smith, everyone's favorite Mean Girl weather reporter.