The Calm Before the Storm

Christina Cordaro avatar

by Christina Cordaro |

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Let’s talk about what to do during the “calm before the storm.” And no, I am not talking about going to the grocery store during the holidays to fight through fanatical crowds for butter, milk, and eggs. I am talking about how to take advantage of calm days to prepare for Mother Nature’s winter brutality.

Depending on where you live, the holiday season could be partly definable by bad weather like snowstorms and nor’easters. I live in Philadelphia and need to put extra time and considerations into my strategy for braving the cold weather before exiting my apartment, thanks to Friedreich’s ataxia challenges.

Below are five tips for maintaining well-being and safety during extreme weather conditions:

1. Keep track of the weather: It is important to keep up with your local news stations’ forecasts even if the weather seems fine in the morning — bad weather can strike spontaneously. I hate being at work all day and getting ready to leave, only to find out it’s unexpectedly snowing outside and I’m not prepared. I would rather be safe than sorry by having my winter coat, shoes, and Buffalo Bills hat in the office to keep me warm!

2. Wear proper weatherproof shoes: When I moved to Philly six years ago, I quickly realized how brutal the winters here can be. After surviving my first winter in the city, I invested in Sorel winter boots. At the time, I was walking without an assistance device, other than using a cane occasionally. I went to an athletic store and told a worker that I have a neurological disease that causes me to lose balance and that I needed a good, sturdy snowshoe to navigate around the city. He recommended Sorel. I still have the same boots, in great condition, to this day! I now use my rollator on a daily basis and I feel safe when walking outside when I have on my Sorel boots. Also, I recently bought duck boots from Lands’ End for when the weather is rainy, slick, or sleeting.

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3. Practice de-stressing: When I stress about something, including weather conditions, anxiety can easily conquer me. This can prevent a good night’s sleep. Anxiety is not good for anyone’s health, especially with the hardships of battling a disease, so I try to eliminate stress before it grows too strong to control. I focus on the fact that the weather is out of my control. I can’t fix what is “broken” in this instance. I lessen stress by focusing on what I can do — prepare.

4. Set up transportation methods: I try to avoid driving when there’s extreme weather so I don’t get worked up with stress. My husband Justin helps me tremendously by taking me to and from work every day, and when there is bad weather, he takes extra care and precaution. If he can’t help me due to being at work or away on a business trip, I find other ways of getting around, like public transportation or Lyft. By using social support and public transport, I can go wherever I need to without the fear of driving in bad weather.

5. Let employers know that safety is a priority: I’ve had to miss work a few times because weather conditions were too unsafe for me to venture out of my apartment. At first, I would get down on myself because I felt like I was letting FA win. Then, I realized my health and safety is more important and it isn’t worth getting hurt or having my anxiety shoot through the roof, so I let my employers know I need to stay home.


Friedreich’s Ataxia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.


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