Weather of misery
April 19, 2015, Sunday Peter Tan
HERE I am sitting in the living room, lethargic and restless, with the fan blowing at full blast. The cats are all sprawled out on the floor. They too are worn out by the punishing weather even though we just got out from the air-conditioned bedroom an hour ago. Thunder is rumbling in the distance. A slight breeze is blowing in through the gap of the partially-opened door. Even then, the humidity is thick and unpleasant.
It was exceptionally bad the past few weeks. I had to constantly splash water on my face, shoulders and arms to cool myself down. When the water evaporated, I repeated the process again. This I had to do every 20 minutes. Bathing would only provide temporary relief. And I did not fancy taking a shower every hour.
My body suffers from a dysfunctional thermoregulatory system. I have poor sensation and cannot feel hot or cold from my shoulders downwards due to my spinal cord injury. I have also lost the ability to perspire. Because of that I am prone to heat stroke when the mercury rises.
I suffer every time the weather turns hot and humid, which is quite often considering we are located smack in the tropics. You will never catch me out in the blistering sun no matter what the occasion. The heat will make me feel faint within a matter of minutes, and I will then need several hours to recover.
I also tend to drink more than I normally do during such times. One good thing is that the doctor has changed the medicine for my overactive bladder. The previous one caused my eyes, nose and mouth to go dry. When the temperature became too extreme, I could also experience blurred vision. The drying effects of the drug increased my urge to drink even more water and disrupted my daily routine as I had to empty my bladder frequently.
On the same note, I feel uncomfortable when it is too cold. My shivers are exaggerated to the extent my muscles would go into uncontrolled spasms if I am not kept warm. I remember shivering through an entire night when the temperature suddenly dropped and three layers of blankets were not enough. Therefore, I try to minimise my time in an air-conditioned room.
The current hot spell is making me very unproductive. Just like today, my mind was not lucid the entire afternoon. No work got done no matter how hard I tried. I sat before my laptop trying to get started but did practically nothing until I finally conceded defeat, retreated back into the bedroom, turned the air conditioner to 27 degrees Celsius and tried to sleep the day away.
Not wanting to be left out, the cats in their usual imperiousness, demanded to enjoy the cool comfort as well by meowing loudly and scratching the door until they were let in. They got their way as they usually do. Otherwise, I would not be able to get any shuteye. Cats, they own everything in the house including us humans.
The unforgiving weather is not only wearing me down physically. It is chipping away at my emotional and mental well-being. I get depressed and frustrated more easily. As I need to take extended rests, work is piling up and deadlines are looming. It is difficult not to feel hopeless and vulnerable thinking of the situation.
Despite the despondency, there is also optimism that this is only temporary. Seasons come and seasons go. The weather will change for the better. Work will get done one way or another. I have survived the same torment year after year. It should not be any different this year.
It is just that those few hours during the day when my body could not endure the heat and humidity, it felt like it was going to last forever. At times like this, I try to keep my spirits up by reminding myself to be grateful of the small mercies in life. Sometimes it works, most times not.
The rain that followed the thunder has washed away the heat and humidity. The cats have moved back to the bedroom to sleep. They have claimed their own personal spots there. I am not complaining though. Their antics are often welcome distractions. I envy them. They appear carefree. Hot or cold weather, they take it all in their stride.
My spirits are up again, for now. What began as a bad day is turning out to be just fine. It is nearing midnight. My day is going to end in a while. Whingeing about the weather may seem trivial but for my friends and I who have similar conditions, it is a suffering we can do without but cannot avoid. All we can hope for is that the next day will be more bearable.
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