Wool Saved My Life: Part II
So here I am, standing with one boot on, on an abandoned dock with no one around for miles.
I am out of the water but I am not out of the woods. I ran up to house to which the dock belonged and did my best to kick down the glass door on their back porch with my ski boot. They must have had some beastly installation because my kicks did not even make a dent. I looked around and saw some distance away another cottage, and made my way.
I recognized that my time was running out. That the body can only handle so much, and soon if I could not get warm, or get help, my organ systems might begin to fail. Lucky for me, this house was not as nice as the first out and I punched through their window on my first try, cutting my hand wide open in the process. I looked for a stove (the gas was off), I looked for a shower to run hot water (the pipes were frozen), and I even found a fire place that was miraculously stuffed with dry wood and newspapers (but unfortunately my fingers were to frozen to work the lighter to ignite said fire). Maybe there was a blanket in the house.
There were all of these plastic bins around the summer cottage. I tried to open them, but again, dead fingers, so I began to smash them open. (In the freezing cold, everything shatters). And of course, each and every bin that I destroyed was filled with beautiful pillows and it was not until that last bin that I found a large blanket to wrap myself in.
OK, now what?
This is where I sat down and began to lose hope. I have no way of reintroducing heat to my body. I had a vague idea of where I was, but no letters of address to be found, and my phone was soaked through so how would I even be able to call out… and that’s when I saw it. Jammed under a desk, piled on some dusty phone books was a little piece of crap phone that looked like it came out of a 1970s office space. This was it. Life or Death.
I picked up the phone.
I called 911, and even though the phone was not in service, you can always call in an emergency. Always. Oddly enough the man on the other end of the line was a good friend of mine’s father. He kept asking about how I used to play football with Bryan in High School to keep my mind off of what was going on as my temperature continued to drop.
The EMTs found me shivering violently on the phone with Mr. Fidd, wrapped in a white quilt, and covered in my own blood. They put me on one of those bright orange gurneys and I distinctly remember how clear blue the sky was, and how tall the trees were. It was very apparent that this was a serious situation, and they shredded the clothes from my body and put me in a sort of incubator suit with heat pads on my fingers and toes.
Even after making it to the hospital and being put in warm blankets with hot air coming in, I did not stop shivering for several hours, but it looked like I was going to be OK. My vitals were all stable and my extremities had the proper blood flow. The doctor came in and spoke with me, and told me that I was stupid for skiing alone in conditions like that, but very smart for figuring out how to survive.
I had never really taken Wool vs. Cotton into consideration before. It was pretty much all the same to me. But this doctor let me know:
“Wool keeps you warm even when it gets wet. If you were wearing cotton, it would have frozen and then you would have had sheets of ice stuck to your body. The wool helped save your life.”
I ended up losing all sensation in my hands for several months, but considering how it could have gone, I count myself as very lucky to have chosen wool that day, and continue to wear wool today. If it saved my life, there is a chance it could save someone else’s too.