Friday, March 10, 2006


When I was a school-kid, we lived in a house trailer about 10' by 40' with an extra room built onto each entrance. There was a wood stove in one of these extensions, a propane stove in the kitchen in one end of the trailer, and a propane heater in the hallway towards the other end. None of these heat sources had any forced air circulation; the warmed air just spread where it would. The space under the trailer was closed in with plywood and straw bales to help keep the floor a little less icy, but that tactic only goes so far. Warm air rises. Arctic air masses are cold. I remember I used to sit on the kitchen table, with my feet on the seat of my chair, to get comfortable.

I don't know how many years we lived in the trailer - a couple of years at Saskairie, I guess, and then maybe four or five years at the present farm. My father was building a new house, with help from Mom and tool-fetching and board-holding by the rest of us. I think I was twelve when we moved out of the trailer. The new house was far from finished, but I had developed chilblains.

I don't remember whether my condition was really unmanageable, or whether it just convinced my parents that they had had enough of managing under conditions that were, shall we say, out of fashion. I do remember that when we first moved in, I rushed into my new all-to-myself bedroom and did a somersault on the bed, ending with my heels embedded in the wall. Fortunately the drywall hadn't been finished and painted yet.

All that was a long time ago. Still, when I felt the itch and saw the puffy redness in my toes a week or so ago, I knew exactly what it was.

Garth welcomed the excuse to turn the thermostat back up.

It has crept back downward, though, and he's away this weekend, so it's all the way back to about 17 Centegrade, and colder overnight. (C stands for Celsius, too, but as Dad always pointed out, Centegrade is much more meaningful.) My toes are complaining a little, so I'm working on self diagnosis.
Chilblains are usually caused by an abnormal reaction of the body to the cold. People who have poor circulation, an inadequate diet, or an allergic response to low temperatures are vulerable to chilblains.
An "allergic response to low temperatures"?? Yikes! I refuse to admit that I have that.

An "inadequate" diet - what does that mean? I know mine is not the best, but it's probably above average. Still, it won't hurt to work on the fruit and veggies angle.

Poor circulation. Yep. I spend way too much time on this computer chair. And while I'm here, I get so preoccupied, I don't even notice that my feet are cold. I've always had trouble with foot cramps, too - they're my nemesis while curling - so this looks like the first place to apply some effort.

What to do about it? Get out of this chair... do I have to? Okay, okay, I'll set some limits. But will that be enough?

Well, I could order a special formula of cayenne, ginger, garlic and ginkgo. Take a pill. Or I could just put more cayenne and garlic in everything, and maybe buy some seeds for the garden.

I could try some hot and cold treatments, but I'm not fond of water. Nice thought, but it just wouldn't happen. Unless I could just run around the outside of the house in bare feet and then stand on a register? Um, no. Garth's family does that for sport, and takes videos of all the screaming people in swimwear running through the snow. I watch through the window.

Nobody out there mentioned it, but I think my treatment of choice is going to be Tai Chi. Somehow I've let the Tai Chi slide over the last few years, but Garth and the folks at Pheasant Rump got me going again. I was there teaching the Tai Chi Chi Kung breathing form for almost two hours yesterday. After I left I had a bit of a headache, and then later a very hot face. I thought I was getting sick, but this morning I seem to be fine, and I'm thinking it might have been the breathing form. Got some stuff circulating, I suspect. I remember when I used to play Tai Chi a lot, there were several times while playing through the long form, I would notice one hand turning quite warm and the other icy cold. It worried me a little at the time, but I didn't notice any ill effects after that. I hope it will toughen me up so I can generate my own heat, or at least make me more aware of my body so that I notice when I need a blankie for my feet.

Of course, if I had a wood stove, I'd probably be so active cutting wood and gathering kindling that my circulation would be just fine. And the hot and cold treatments would be automatic.

But the wood stove awaits the renovations, which await the money, and I'm not sure yet where that's coming from. Meantime, more Tai Chi and less blogging.

1 comment:

jill said...

I've lost my "recipe" for foot warming powders but do know that some cayenne pepper in the socks will help warm the feet. There's more to the forgotten recipe but I do know this girls used to do it when they were papergirls.

I hope you warm up soon!