I’m going to start off 2018 with an unpopular opinion: I prefer the winter cold to the summer heat.
I love the cold, well, because I grew up playing hockey.
10 out of 10 days I’d take the bitter cold over hot hazy and humid.
The Winter Olympics are far more exciting than the Summer Olympics, we get the peak season of football, hockey is in full swing and most importantly sweatshirts are always appropriate.
Quite a few people probably disagree with me, especially those living with chronic illness – hence the unpopular opinion.
I think we all fear cold and flu season, which undoubtedly comes about when the weather begins to get chilly. The fear certainly is warranted, and definitely isn’t a laughing matter, but I do think winter gets the short end of the stick as a result.
I think winter also serves as a hindrance for people who may not be accustomed to winter sports or activity. The frigid temperatures are annoying, I’ll give you that, and the lack of sunlight can also serve as a barrier to outdoor activity. Ultimately exercise is a critical part of life with CF, as I proved to myself with my recent Couch to 5k experiment, so I think a void does exist during the colder months for some people.
Is that also why people are prone to getting sicker?
For now my running has taken a back seat to ice hockey, I just don’t love it enough to chance slipping on black ice mid stride.
Aside from my work in CF, I also coach ice hockey these days, so I’m on my feet skating 3-5 times each week. I find myself EXHAUSTED pretty much everyday from November through February for that reason, but I think that’s an important piece of fighting my CF.
Staying active and engaged keeps me from harping over my illness, and I think that’s invaluable.
To that end I am able to fulfill the void that I think some people may have in the winter.
We’re experiencing extreme cold here in New York, the likes of which we haven’t seen in awhile. I am obviously taking advantage of it. I spent the entire weekend skating on ponds, playing hockey the way it was meant to be played, and I’ll do the same this coming weekend.
Sunday’s skate didn’t last very long as we were subzero in the feels like department, but I was still out there.
Ultimately I think it’s important to be balanced as far as our workouts and exercise go in CF and chronic illness. The running has become a staple for me in the warmer months, and while hockey is a year round activity for me, it definitely jumps up in the winter.
One area where I haven’t been as active as I would like is in the weight room. I think getting into the weight room is a great way to put on some pounds, and an area where I can improve lately. That probably comes down to my motivation more so than seasonal activity, though.
As far as my health during winter is concerned, I know I feel better in the winter months compared to the summer. I feel like I am able to control my hydration, stay active and avoid the heat. A lot of people probably can’t say the same. There’s no denying that the winter is a tough time simply because the common cold is running rampant, as well as a number of other serious issues.
Given that I work with high school kids I feel like I am on the front lines of cold and flu season. I take proper precautions – flu shot, sanitizer, and expansion of the perimeter of my own personal space. I doubt my hockey players even notice that I am taking such precautions, but I am.
Another thing that I do during the winter is minimize my contact with people who are sick. I play a very active role in doing that, but it’s up to my friends and family to know that they need to remain cognizant of their own health when making plans with me. I take no offense when a friend tells me that he feels the beginnings of a cold coming on and wonders if we should cancel whatever it is that we’re going to do.
I’d rather lose plans on a Friday evening than spend two weeks attached to an IV bag.
This kind of example is a difficult one for people outside of CF to understand. I hear far too many stories of people with ignorant family members who refuse to cancel dinner plans with CF patients out concern of their own convenience.
It’s okay to have some tough love with family members. If they aren’t able to prioritize your health, then why prioritize their time?
The winter is the time of year that gets a bad rap; I don’t think it should. If you’re able to prioritize your health and get involved in winter activities or exercise, then why should you shy away from it?
Here’s my reading list from 2017…. I fell a bit short of my goal of 30 – I blame it on the density of some these choices (eye roll).
1776 – David McCullough
The Antidote – Barry Werth
Brainwashed – Ben Shapiro
The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War – David Halberstam (still reading this one)
Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery – Scott Kelly
Fighter Pilot – Robin Olds
Flash Boys – Michael Lewis
Hillbilly Elegy – J.D. Vance
Genentech: The Beginnings of Biotech – Sally Smith-Hughes
Ghosts – Raina Telgemeier
Into the Fire – Dakota Meyer
The Killer Angels – Michael Shaara
Killing England – Bill O’Reilly & Martin Dugard
The Last Battle – Stephen Harding
Make Your Bed – Admiral William H. McRaven (USN Ret.)
Marine! The Life of Chesty Puller – Burke Davis
The Operator – Robert O’Neill
A Separate Peace – John Knowles
Starship Troopers – Robert A. Heinlein
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo – Capt. Ted W. Lawson
Washington’s Secret Six – Brian Kilmeade & Dan Yaeger
When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi
With The Old Breed – E.B. Sledge