Hot and Cold (02.01.2019)
I blogged last week about freezing rain, so will tie into winter weather again today. It’s a frequent topic of conversation in my area these days, even though our winter season only officially began on December 21st. Less than 2 weeks ago.
Today’s topic is temperature, in terms of the weather, a particular rare disease, and fever. Let’s start with the easy part – the weather! So far our forecast doesn’t call for any freezing rain this week (yay!). Instead, today we had a beautiful sunny day. But with an “exteme cold warning” from Environment Canada.
Our high Windchill or RealFeel temperature today was only -20 Celsius (that’s -4 Fahrenheit, for my American friends). It didn’t feel so cold in direct sunlight at mid-day, but it was really cold out there when the sun wasn’t at its strongest.
This kind of temperature is horrible for people suffering homelessness, and for those who have to work outside. And, as I found out last winter, for folks with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) – or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) as it was called until a few years ago. You can read my post from almost exactly a year ago, on the same topic, at: “CRPS and extreme cold”.
As with last winter, the only place my CRPS-affected joints seem to be relatively ‘happy’ is in the dry sauna at my gym. Lucky for me, use of the sauna is included with the gym membership, as I’ve already been in there a few times this winter – and the season just began! These photos of my hand were taken this morning, in the sauna. My husband said they looked kind of creepy, so of course I thought it’d be fun to post them!!!
Of course I can’t just stay in the sauna all day, and in any case the rest of my body isn’t happy in that high temperature. Until being struck with CRPS, I never used the sauna; I just wasn’t partial to that kind of deep heat. I guess that’s an example of one of the smaller lifestyle changes that I’ve made, in my efforts to adapt to this disease.
The final type of temperature I want to talk about is fevers. Even though we both got the flu shot (vaccination) again this year, my husband still caught the flu. But because of the vaccine, it wasn’t as severe as it could have been. And apparently it didn’t take him as long to get over the flu as it takes people who haven’t had the shot. So we’ve already decided to keep getting our annual flu shots!
His flu came on suddenly on Saturday December 22nd. Within hours he had a fever, chills, aching bones, headache, and a horrible cough. He felt exhausted, and weak, and had a sore throat for a few days. With all those symptoms, this was definitely influenza – the flu – not a cold. To avoid spreading this nasty virus to our loved ones, or even to strangers, we cancelled all of our holiday plans.
We put ourselves in a kind of self-imposed isolation, all through the holiday period. I knew that I could spread the virus up to 24 hours before having any symptoms myself. So even though I didn’t have symptoms, I didn’t go anywhere either. When I had to go to a grocery store to pick up some fresh food, I made a list so I could go directly to what I needed; to limit my time in the shop.
And I kept my mittens on and left my scarf over my face in the food store – it didn’t look that odd, because our weather was so cold and I just went in for a few items! One of the items I picked up a lot of was no-salt-added chicken broth; so I could just add pre-chopped frozen vegetables and quickly make him chicken soup whenever he got hungry. Having CRPS in one hand means I still can’t chop vegetables, so those bags of frozen veggies are now my go-to foods for soups and stews. Another little adaptation to this pesky disease.
But spending almost all my time staying home, with my flu-drenched husband, made it very likely that I’d catch it from him. I’d learned, while working in a hospital years ago, that a single cough can carry the flu virus up to 6 feet away. So I more or less hounded him into the habit of coughing into his elbow, to avoid ‘spraying’ the bug throughout our home. We don’t have a dishwasher, so I’d quickly hand-wash any dishes he’d touched; and I’d wash my hands before and after touching the dishes he’d used.
It all sounds so paranoid, I know, but I’m not even done yet ‘-) Every morning and evening I’d wipe down everything he would likely have touched – with the little alcohol swabs I keep in my first aid kit. (They’re not very expensive; I buy the kind sold at pharmacies for people who have diabetes and need to inject insulin.) I’d use a new little alcohol swab to wipe down each light switch, doorknob, handle (even the one to flush the toilet!). And the microwave control panel, the kettle…
It got to the point where I’d watch him during the day, to see what he touched – just so I could wipe it down when he took a nap or went to the washroom! And I washed my hands constantly, despite all the alcohol wipes. Well, my flu-paranoia paid off, and I didn’t come down with the illness myself.
The down side is that we missed dinner with his family on Christmas Eve, then my family’s Christmas Day dinner. We’d planned to get together with friends, as we both had time off over the holidays – but who wants to give the “gift of the flu” for the holidays?! Not us… His fever finally broke, just in time for us to host a big New Year’s Eve meal for his sister and dad; luckily it’s a small get-together, as we hadn’t been able to prepare anything in advance. I didn’t want to cook anything for guests, while he was still sick.
So our plans for the New Year are to catch up with the friends & family we weren’t able to see during the holidays. And to rest up, after over a week of his non-stop all-night coughing…
I hope you had a better holiday time than we did, and hope that that you’re already off to a great start for 2019!
If you or a loved one is also struggling with CRPS, or any other health condition, I hope they can feel your love and support throughout this new year – and beyond.