Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Beware of the Cold


A friend tells of a skiing holiday he had many years ago when he was in his 30s. The sun was shining and he didn’t see the need for his hat. He set off with his friends and all was well until he inexplicably felt the need to sit down in the snow. Fortunately his friends recognised this as the beginnings of hypothermia and cajoled/supported him back to the hotel.

We all laughed at the anecdote and I thought nothing more about it until last week. Our boiler broke at the start of one of the coldest weekends we’ve experienced in a long time. British Gas couldn’t send anyone out for two days [We pay monthly into their Service Plan too. Outrageous, isn't it!] and so we were left to cope. It was miserable but at least we had a gas fire to huddle around.

The snow fell continuously. The temperature dropped to -5. Every surface of our old, drafty house froze beneath my fingers. After 24 hours I felt strangely detached. I didn’t want any lunch. I didn’t want to move out of my chair. I didn’t want to do anything. I thought about old people living alone. How easy it would be to continue doing nothing, to allow the cold to enter my bones, to slip into a chilly sleep. Fortunately for me, Mr A was there to cajole and so, with hands that wouldn’t quite co-ordinate and oats tumbling to the floor, I made myself a bowl of porridge.

It was only a brief incident but I can’t stop thinking about the detachment and the way my hands couldn’t open an ordinary packet of oats. It was scary and so if our heating fails again [and I do hope it won’t] I’ll try and do something active [or book into a hotel!] while I await those elusive British Gas people because you don’t have to be old to suffer from hypothermia.
I decided to include a photo of today's view from my writing den. It may be pretty but it's also cold and inconvenient. Roll on summer!


32 comments:

  1. We had a very cold few days last week and I also spent a lot of time sitting still and not wanting to move, which is very unlike me. Thankfully it's a little warmer now.

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    1. Wish it would hurry up and get warmer here too.

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  2. Oh that's awful Ros,just as well you had hubby to make you do something,why didn't he make the porridge? I'm glad your house is warm again but as you say if you live alone it can be a killer.

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  3. I recognize the photo. Looks like my yard, too. Don't mean to morbid you out, but I've heard the most painless way to do yourself in, is to drink a bottle of booze and sit out in below zero weather.
    I'm happy you had the presence to realize what was happening and anyway, you forgot the booze.
    Love and a warm fire

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    1. Manzanita! That is an awful thought and after you were so kind to that cold flute player too!

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  4. Your story brings home the real danger of hypothermia. It's been snowing lightly here in outer London all day. I bless the central heating and don't know how I'd cope without it.

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    1. It's not snowing again is it! Can't remember it being so bad for years.

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  5. Hi Ros .. I hadn't realised the effects of not wearing a hat .. I thought I just got cold ... I don't think I've felt like that - but it's very useful to be warned and to be aware.

    How very unpleasant that wait must have been .. I hope you're cosy now ... and as you say - you'll be more proactive next time!!

    Brighton is still icy and snowbound ... we're just damp and cold 20 miles east in Eastbourne ... and then the west is deluged in the white stuff ..

    Nearly time for a cup of tea - methinks ... I have one here!! Cheers Hilary

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    1. Cheers. I might even join you in a cuppa. Keep wearing that hat!

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  6. Ros, that's a bit frightening. It shows how quickly hypothermia can set in. I'm so glad you are warm again now, but as you say, it reminds us of old people who get cold more easily anyway. No wonder they just slip away. Keep warm and well! It has snowed quite heavily over here too, but now it's just freezing and the snow is like concrete. I loathe and detest it. I know I would not do well if left alone in the cold.

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    1. Snow set like concrete is definitely not good. You keep warm too.

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  7. That is scary. With central heating taken for granted, many homes have no alternatives. I urge you to invest in something else, even if you only use it once a year - and threaten to sue British Gas for not sticking to their contract with you!

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    1. Unfortunately in the small print of our service agreement we have to pay extra to get guaranteed next day service! It is VERY small print I might add!

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  8. You make a good point here. It seemed very cold here in Los Angeles a week or two ago but it was only in the 40's and 50's--cold for us, but not really cold when considered aside climes like yours. Yes, the cold becomes a distraction at first and eventually we just concede to it and try to be comfortable. I was running my heater--something I rarely do. At least my heater was working.

    Lee
    Wrote By Rote

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    1. I just had to do a search on conversions to find that 40f is about 4c degrees. It's not exactly warm but at least it's in the plus.

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  9. I chose not to put my heating on today because I was the only one in the house and I'm trying to economise. I was wearing a very thick hat my mid afternoon, jumping up and down in the kitchen, AND did the ironing! I'm glad your husband was there to look out for you.

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    1. Annalisa, that sounds like a crazy thing to do! I hope you've not repeated the experiment!

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  10. Hypothermia can be so scary, and it's always sad to think of those who are older who get caught in that. You're right in that it doesn't have to be someone older for it to get you. I hope you have no further problems with your heating, and I'm glad you weren't alone.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

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  11. Yikes! I'm so glad you and Mr. A are okay - that's pretty scary stuff. We've been in a real cold snap here for the past week too. Including the wind chill, the temps have been hovering around -35. Brrrr!

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    1. -35 really is cold! How can you even breath outside in those temperatures, Jemi?

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  12. wow - that would be scary to succumb to cold and not realize it. Glad you are okay. You need to visit us in Texas - a very unusual January - today was 76 F. No coat and sunshine. Take care and bundle up

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    1. It's a tempting invitation, Joanne. Being able to walk out in the sunshine would be much appreciated today.

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  13. Do hope the weather - and you - warm up very soon. (With regards to British Gas, I ended my contract with them after hearing too many tales like yours, and now have a plumber-round-the-corner who understands emergencies as well as doing regular servicing. and it works out cheaper than British Gas ...)

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    1. Yes, Jo, we're considering a local plumber once our year with British Gas is over!

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  14. Oh, you poor thing. Our furnace once went out during a cold snap, too, but luckily, we have a fireplace. I'm glad you're nice and toasty again.

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    1. Thanks, Susan. I'm guessing that what you mean by a furnace is what we would call a boiler. (Love those differences in our language. Bit like our garden is your yard :-)

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    2. And your biscuit is our cookie... (Yummy, no matter what ya call them!)

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  15. Wow, what a scary story. I will remember this and take heed as the cold often makes me feel this way.

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  16. Worrying, isn't it! I think as we get older, this does become a focus of concern. I was (pace tweeting the Gas people) quite scared for you both! Thank goodness it got fixed!!! But awful to contemplate those poor families who cannot afford to heat their homes!

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  17. I didn't enjoy that cold snap at all last week, especially as the roads were so slippery. What a beautiful view from your writing den-I did enjoy the photo opportunities though. Sorry to hear about your boiler Rosalind-what a time for it to break down. Hope it's all fixed now. Did you still make it to pilates on Tuesday?-I missed it last week, but returned today. Never want to go, but am always glad I did.

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