I’m cold intolerant. Absolutely can’t handle it. My body locks up and the pain goes all-body and through the roof.
Can’t take too much heat either; makes me weak and foggy, and can trigger POTS symptoms (in my case, that’s mostly nausea, bloating, dizziness, weakness, lethargy.)
My body temp drops so much when I sleep that I’m cold to the touch. A housemate woke me once when she touched me affectionately as I slept, then found I was so cold that she shook me awake — she wanted to be sure I wasn’t dying. That’s how cold I was.
My first massage therapist, a good friend of mine, insisted I try the hot/cold plunges at Harbin Hot Springs, which happen to be 47 F and 118 F.
I told him that was completely insane and did I need to explain dysautonomia again?
He kept at it, and I finally went there for a few days. I was in bad shape, one of those times when I think I’m not going to live for long because there’s so much that’s so wrong and there’s so little energy left. So there wasn’t much to lose, as far as I was concerned…
|At least it’s not an ugly place.|
Took two and a half days to work up to it, starting with cool bath/dry sauna, working up to going between intermediate baths, dipping in the really hot for moments, splashing arms then trunk with cold. Eventually I could go for the full plunge. I did 2 full exchanges, and was all right. In fact, I was pretty good. Felt crisp, not chewed.
I went back later and did at least 5 or 6 more (I lost count, truthfully.) By then, I could FEEL my hands and feet as I couldn’t remember having felt them before: exactly where and what and how they were — which was, keenly alive.
I had no pain, no pain anywhere at all, everything was the right color — only a much better shade than I’d seen in years, and my head felt as sparkly as a diamond.
I don’t like to sound over the top, but it was such a feeling of absolute, perfect, poised and healthy ecstasy that words simply fail in the face of that experience.
Being totally pain-free makes us CRPSers high, but this was more than that. Everything worked, from the tiniest microvessel to the least drop of chemical messenger. My cells sang with the bouyant joy of it.
|I copyrighted this image… kinda cool. Think I’ll use it as a logo.|
I went out to the main pool, actually enjoying the cold roughness of the path on my unharmed feet, and drifted into the “quiet zone”, that is, the temperate pool. Although it’s not etiquette to contact strangers there, an awful lot of people turned to look at me and smile the sweetest smiles. I can only imagine how radiantly happy I looked. I felt that I was glowing brightly enough to light the whole space.
According to my online research, there aren’t many hot springs that have contrast baths at all, let alone to that extreme degree. If they do, they’re awfully coy about it…
I have hopes of a particular roadside hot spring at Yellowstone National Park that runs into a chilly stream. In winter, which it nearly is, that could be worth trying, though it would take a bit of effort.
I’m not sure how slippery it is, what the currents are like, or what sort of work is involved to get from hot to cold. I do have to be mindful of physical damage, until I can really find that cure I’m convinced is just around some corner on my winding path.
We shall see what comes up. I know this is something to add to the repertoire, one of the ingredients to combine into a cure, or something like it.
One more piece of the puzzle… a twitchy, morphing, complex, incredibly irritating puzzle, but one I’m rather stuck with until further notice.