Body heat

11 Feb

Remember when they taught you in First Aid that the best way to warm someone hypothermic is to give them skin-to-skin contact?  It really works.  Not that I ever doubted it, but yesterday was the first time I actually had to use the technique.

We’re finally out of our 3-week deep-freeze (-40 for most of it) and yesterday it warmed up to a beautifully sunny -20° C.  We’d had a wonderful morning hosting a brunch for The Big Band, and we decided a family outing would be the perfect way to cap off the afternoon.  Tim and Christiane joined Michael, Jade, Nanuq, and me, and we headed for Ice Lake, Michael pulling the sled with Jade, blankets, firebox, and other goodies.

I haven’t had Jade out much at all over the past few weeks, and even before the crazy weather, I never took her out for more than about 60 minutes, maybe 90 tops.  She started crying not too long before we got to Ice Lake and kept it up for most of the time we were there making a fire in the firebox and making bannock-on-a-stick.  I even breastfed her for about 10 minutes because that was pretty much the only comforting thing we could figure out (and that’s the kind of thing that makes me reluctant to quit, although I’m definitely getting there…).

As the sun started its descent, it was getting markedly colder and we hurried to pack up and head for home.  Michael went on ahead with Jade to get her there as quickly as possible.  We weren’t sure if the trouble was hunger, poopy diapers, cold, or just boredom, but Michael figured he’d run a bath for her when he got back, which is a great idea given it can take care of poops, cold, and boredom all in one shot.

I think I got back about 5 minutes after he did and I could hear the water running and Jade wailing.  After peeling off my outer layers, I headed straight for the fridge, heated up some milk, and brought a bottle to Jade.

She was kneeling in the tub of warm water, her hands red, her whole body shaking.  Michael said her hands and feet had been warm when he took off her boots and mitts, but as soon as he undressed her, they turned ice-cold.  I took one look at her shaking — which gave me the most miserable feeling in the world — and knew I had to hold her.  I said to Michael, “I’m just going to put her right on my body,” stripped off my multiple tops, and yanked her out of the tub.  With a towel wrapped around behind her, the calming effect was almost instant.

Michael went to warm up the sauna, and we retreated there while Jade sucked on the bottle and Michael made a terrific supper.  Jade was giggling and happy within a few minutes.  I still felt pretty terrible that we’d let her get so cold; her little body can’t retain heat for very long, even with two pairs of pants and socks, snowsuit, and blankets.  But I was pretty happy that I instinctively did exactly what Jade needed; makes me feel like I could maybe get this mothering thing right once in a while.

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2 Responses to “Body heat”

  1. shannon February 15, 2008 at 7:22 pm #

    wow – what a story!!! it gave me shivers!!! 😛

    PS: i really really really really want a sauna. i wonder if your brother-in-law could build one for me? 🙂

  2. Bill April 4, 2008 at 12:18 pm #

    I found some interesting information about hypothermia. Check it out!

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