I’m a big guy. As with most people of my size, I put out a lot of heat. I’m sure you’ve heard people say that they would sweat peeling an orange. While that isn’t, …
I’m a big guy. As with most people of my size, I put out a lot of heat. I’m sure you’ve heard people say that they would sweat peeling an orange. While that isn’t, wasn’t, exactly true of me, it was surprisingly close.
For most of my life I was that guy wearing short sleeves outside while it snows. The summer was the bane of my existence, and if I could have spent every summer of my life lounging in a pool 24/7 I would have. Yet, things have changed. As global warming makes things hotter, a combination of a loss of muscle tone and medication has caused me to become weaker against the cold. Breaking both your legs and spending 6 months confined to a hospital bed and wheelchair will do that to you.
I remember standing up for the first time only to wobble and fall back into my chair. It took months of hard work and physical therapy to be able to walk again. I still have a limp even now, one my doctor says will probably remain with me for the rest of my life. I’m proud of myself though. When I woke up from surgery no one, except my surgeon who had known she did good work, was even sure I’d be able to walk comfortably ever again.
While walking was a concern I was ready for the idea that months in bed, and the loss of muscle tissue that came with it, would affect my ability to stay warm was never on my mind. Now, I get cold so easily. Seriously, where once I’d pop out into the 90 degree heat of summer to make the 65 degree air-conditioned room I was in feel cooler upon reentering, now I have to pop outside just to warm up.
A few days ago I was literally shivering at my desk, inside a 72 degree building, not even realizing how cold I was until I stepped out the door to wait for my bus. The humid and sticky 83 degrees greeted me and, for once, didn’t bring misery but comfort. I felt myself take a breath of air, that a year ago would have made me think of hellfire, and I felt relief.
Don’t get me wrong, I still prefer the cold to the heat, but it is different now. I used to drive my boyfriend crazy by sleeping on top of the covers, holding them down with my body weight so he couldn’t pull out from under me, because it was so warm at night even in the winter, but now I am the first one snuggled up under the blankets desperate for a moment of warmth.
I find myself shivering in the middle of watching a show while he’s clearly warm and wishing the air conditioner would work more efficiently. When did this happen? It’s a complete flip of the roles we were in three, wow I mean four, years ago when we started dating. Where once I was his personal campfire of warmth, now I need him as mine. Despite this, he still gets mad when I curl up next to him and put my icy skin against his, but, like, I’m cold and I want that heat. So, I guess he’ll just have to continue dealing with it.
Muscle tone can be rebuilt. I’m working on that. However, it’s not as easy as I’d thought. My previous job, a waiter for those unaware, had me literally running around for six to ten hours a day. Even if I didn’t work out, I’d burn thousands of calories a day. Not only did this mean I could maintain my weight more steadily without trying too hard, it also meant that my calves could cut diamonds with how thick the muscles were. Now, they’re more like soft pillows. Walking was always the form of exercise I liked least and did the most. It’s not that easy now.
I can stand for about 30 minutes at a time before needing to sit. Walking is a little easier than standing still and I can walk at a slow pace for up to an hour before I have to sit. I keep trying to push myself further than that, but my doctor says I that while the muscle may build up the pain that makes me need to sit may not go away.
With several pins in my knee and ankle, I may simply be experiencing what life is going to be like from now on. Considering what I went through, it is hard to complain. I mean, I could have lost a leg or even my life. I’m honestly lucky, but confronting the fact that I may have to deal with pain for the rest of my life is a little more daunting than I expected.
Despite that fact, I’m still doing my best to maintain my positive attitude and keep moving forward.