When the Classroom and Personal Experience Collides
Not only do I race and train, but I have also been a coach for almost a decade as well been an EMT for over two years. There are times when my knowledge in one of these arena’s spills over into the others. Tonight was one of those nights.
I headed to our monthly EMS meeting and had forgotten what tonights topic would be, environmental concerns, and specifically cold weather concerns. As the powerpoint slide pulled up and we spent the next two hours discussing frostbite and hypothermia two topics I have intimate knowledge of, I just sat back in my chair and chuckled to myself.
I have experienced both. I experienced extreme frostbite resulting in less than average feeling in both my big toes while still a ski racer in college. I have permanent damage from that day in Waterville and still today remember that night trying to rewarm the tissue after it had been shades of blueish- green and yellow. I will save you form seeing the pictures. Trust me something you do not want to experience. That was about eight years ago and learned to take extreme precaution in cold weather with my feet. Thus many hours went into how I would preserve then in my prep period for WTM.
The second part of the topic and one that is still pretty raw is hypothermia. I can not accurately say whether or not I truly had mild hypothermia when I dropped from WTM as the only real way to tell would have been to stick a thermometer up a place that should be exit only. But I can say this, I was effing cold out there and lost my ability to properly regulate body heat for the better part of a week. As well I also lost the ability to really think and concentrate for almost a week. I could clear my mind for spurts but nothing for any period of time.
It was through talking about these things in class that brought me instantly back to the medical tent as the sun rose and the miles before trudging in the dark. As much as I thought it was time to move on, the memory tonight was triggered again as if it happened yesterday. Sometimes it takes a little longer for the memory to not be as raw. But at least now I can control my body temp and it’s made for a good hypothermia story to share in class.
As we rounded out the class, I just sat laughing to myself. I could have taught the class with the experiences I have had with cold. It’s been part of my job for years dealing with the cold. My one take away from the class tonight, you can be cold or you can be wet, but if you are cold and wet that’s a recipe for trouble. Haha. Who goes out and voluntarily gets cold and wet for hours in sub-zero temps?