February 1st, 2019

Snoopy Christmas

Whining About Cold Injuries, Or: Why I laid on the couch for three days

Hey, can I whine, for just a second?

Usually when I write about some problem I'm going through, I try to do it with humor. I figure, why bring people down? Better to leave them with a laugh, or a smile, even if they're smiling at your misfortune--better to make life a wee bit better.

Especially now, when, honestly, it got so bad last week. We had a young police officer and his wife killed in a car crash, several bad fires in the region, and general misery for just about everyone, thanks to weather conditions so bad polar bears have been checking local real estate prices.

And that last is partially why I decided to whine. (The cold, not the polar bears.) I want to do a little public service announcement, which I'm naming after a guy I saw the other day wearing shorts. It was snowing, and three degrees. I call my PSA "If you freeze because of doing something stupid, it's stupid".

The title's a work in progress.

 

When I was about sixteen or so, I went out with a group of kids to play in the snow. Even back then I hated cold; but I had a lousy home life, so maybe I just wanted to get out of the house for awhile. As I recall I had a nice coat, but otherwise it was jeans and maybe some light gloves that quickly got saturated from all that snow-playing. 

The thawing out process was excruciating.

So here's my first PSA: Frostbite often sneaks up on you, especially if you're sledding or, say, throwing snowballs at other sledders. And here's my second: The damage can be permanent. (Thinking back on it now, I also had a nice case of hypothermia going on.)

Afterward, once the temperature dropped below forty-five or so I had to wear gloves, or keep my hands in my pockets. Once it got down into the teens it was hard for me to use my hands even with gloves on, and I had the same problem with my toes. My cheeks and ears would burn, and any kind of breeze would give me an earache. Whether that was connected to my sinuses' sensitivity to weather changes, I couldn't say. Basically this body was meant for the desert, as a desert rat writer friend of mine often points out.

What the heck. I got used to it. Or at least, I got used to bundling up.

But wait--it gets better. 

The dog doesn't care. He's got a fur coat.

 

As last week's cold snap arrived, my hands and feet stiffened, hurt, and even burned a little. My ears and cheeks got sore. Inside the house ... with the heat on. That pain and increasing sinus pressure sent me into a headache that lasted three days and devolved into one of my few migraines. The good news is that I was on days off (I hate using sick days), and didn't have to go anywhere; the bad news is that I missed some fire calls, and in minus teens temperatures they could have used the help.

Yes, I know I wouldn't have lasted long in those temperatures, but who can?

Okay, enough whining, here's my point: Frostbite damage can not only be lifelong, it can get worse with age. Guess whose hands tingle and burn (and sweat, which I recently learned was a thing after frostbite)? Guess who gets that pain sooner and faster? Guess who has signs of arthritis that might be connected?

No, stop guessing, it's me. Pay attention.

So my PSA: Protect yourself. Learn how to prevent all those things that begin with "frost".  Because even if you don't lose body parts (or die), you could be in for long term, and very annoying, problems.

Also, my wife wants you to yell at me if you see me outside without a hat and gloves on. She didn't say anything about pants, but maybe that's a given. 

That's my wife, bundled like insurance.