The image isn’t me but that’s a good representation of what I currently look like in my house while typing this. Funny but true 😀
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM HYPOTHERMIA.
Last year I somehow survived winter with no heating in temperatures of 8 degrees inside the house. You get obsessed with temperature and you become an expert on knowing what the temperature is even without looking at an instrument, your body is finely attuned to it. It was tough last year and found myself with several layers of clothing on and a duvet wrapped around me as I sat at the PC job searching and applying most of the day, every day. It wasn’t enough to keep warm so I also had a hot water bottle which changed positions from my lap to my feet often, fingerless gloves as I typed on the keyboard. It still wasn’t enough when sat for long periods like that the cold would set in to my bones and my skin would feel like an icy liquid and my entire body would stiffen up and it became difficult to move, hard to be flexible, painful as the chill froze your bones.
Apart from that the constant breathing in of cold air 24/7 (as I discovered) can cause Asthma in those who’ve never suffered from respiratory problems. That began with me coughing and thinking I just had a common cough but it also felt like there was a phlem like thing blocking the back of my throat which I couldn’t cough up, like a lump stuck in my airway, this made me wheeze and my chest tighten and my heartbeat race faster. Having difficulty breathing makes you panic but you know panicking only makes your heart beat faster so you have to try and remain calm as possible or you’d be experiencing an asthma attack and a panic attack at the same time. It’s a frightening experience.
Coughing all night comes with it’s own problems of keeping you awake when you should be asleep. I relied heavily on a bottle of cheap chesty cough medicine by my bed last year when it got really bad. I found myself reaching in the draw for it hoping there was still some left over from last year just a few days ago when I couldn’t sleep from coughing, there was a spoonful left and it worked a treat. I’ve only had one bad attack of it since then and it was while walking over a step bridge I found myself struggling for breath. I am not an unfit person, I’m active and in summer will walk 8 miles in the country but the Asthma like attack a few days I had while on the railway bridge gave me a flashback to my childhood. I am the youngest of 8 children, my parents were wealthy but not without problems and they divorced when I was two years old which plunged my mom and us in to poverty, homeless and what not for a few years, anyway, being the youngest my mom was older than other moms of my peers and what flashed back to me was one time while walking over the step bridge (a different one) with my mom to visit my older sister (who was married with children my age) she couldn’t climb the steps without puffing and panting and it took about half an hour or more for us to get to the top, her taking one step every few minutes, gasping for breath, clutching to the hand rail, it was horrible to see your mother suffer like that and be helpless, I just remained by her side, silent and patient. If I was 9 years old she’d have been 45 ish, similar to the I am now. What was discovered some years later was lung cancer, Emphysema*. (I don’t think I have lung cancer – there is more about the circumstances of my mothers lung cancer in the foot note).
So anyway I made an appointment at the doctors thinking an inhaler might help in such circumstances. I had no such problems in summer, this is definitely cold air related, but we’ll see what the doctor says too, tomorrow.
So last year was a tough winter and I didn’t want to endure another and have done everything short of prostitution and thieving to prevent the same endurance this year, because again I can’t afford heating so preparation is key here and the most important lesson I’ve learned is:
DON’T ALLOW YOURSELF TO GET TOO COLD IN THE FIRST PLACE.
Put as many layers of clothes on as possible, the temperature in my house is currently 8.5 degrees and I am wearing:
BOTTOMS 1 pair of cotton legging, I pair of fleece leggings, I pair of cotton jogger bottoms, 1 pair of polyester pajama bottoms, I pair of linen trousers. (5 PAIRS OF LEGWEAR)
TOP 1 cotton vest top, 1 long sleeve cotton t-shirt, 1 short sleave poly-cotton snug fitting thick t-shirt, 1 polyester jumper, another polyester jumper, 1 lambswool jumper, 1 padded gillet (bodywarmer). (7 LAYERS OF TOPS)
FEET 1 pair of socks and a pair of thermal snowboot things but my feet are still cold.
My hands are also cold, but my body is OK for now. I don’t need a duvet wrapped around me with these layers on at 8.5 degrees. BUT..
I know from experience if I don’t act soon it will become an emergency to address my hands and feet and it then becomes very hard to warm them up, it gets painful and they get numb and then it’s very, very difficult to get them warm again, I CAN’T STRESS THIS ENOUGH it can take hours and hours, even a day to feel your feet again, it is disabling and will render you incapable of any activity. It can take a day to stop the pain of the cold once it’s set in. So it’s crucial to act and either put a direct heat source on them like (a shower, a bath, central heating, a fire, a hot water bottle) or if like me you can’t often access a direct heat source because you’re on electric rations and boiling the kettle too often for a hot water bottle means the electric credit will run out before you get access to money again then you have no choice but to get your ass up and move around and get the blood circulating, doing some star jumps, jog on the spot, anything to get the blood flowing to those far ends of the body before it’s too late and you’re unable to move without massive effort and in much discomfort for too long. So still you feel like a frozen chip that might break if you attempt to move, that’s what the cold is like when it sets in.
The hands and feet obviously suffer most in the cold as these are furthest away from your heart and your body is working to keep blood circulating around vital organs to keep them warm and functioning, this means not much warmth is getting to the extremities of the body like fingers and toes. And on that note. I’ll have to leave it there and go and do some star jumps myself because my bloody fingers are freezing.
But will just end on this last tip 2 HOT WATER BOTTLES ARE BETTER THAN ONE. Even sharing the same amount of hot water between the two as would be put in one makes a huge difference. Huge..
Thanks for reading.
Here’s a tip from Ray Mears on how to survive the extreme cold.
*Emphysema – my mom was born before the war, I’m not sure of year but she worked in a cotton factory before having children, this has been linked to lung cancer. Where we eventually settled there was an electricity box station building at the back of the house, about 50ft away, I’m not sure what they’re called, it was an unmanned square brick building about 15ft high and wide with a tall wire fence around it saying ‘Danger, risk of electrocution, keep out’.. Because of disproportionate amount of people with lung cancer found in those who lived in throwing distance of this power station it was suggested that was the cause.