Where Has The Polar Bear Gone?

Winter has totally arrived here in New Mexico – as I sit here (shivering) this morning it is a mind-numbing 27 degrees outside, with the wind chill further reducing conditions to 20. The poor ancient wall heaters in our home keep rumbling into life and trying to keep up, but the fact of the matter is: it is freakin’ freezing in here. No amount of socks, sweatshirts, and jackets seem to take the edge off.

I have never in my life been this cold. Which is odd, because I have certainly been in temperatures that were colder. All my adult life, friends and family members have referred to me as a “polar bear” – I have been able to function in, if not exactly enjoy, really cold weather. So, what happened?

The problem, as it turns out, can be traced back to weight loss surgery.

Part of this is a no-brainer: fat is a natural insulator. Since I have currently lost 29% (and counting) of my weight, I should expect to be 29% colder, right? But I don’t feel like the temperature has dropped by a few percentage points. I feel like I am suffering through the heat death of the universe. So, what gives?

As it turns out, there is a second problem with the results of massive weight loss from surgery: the metabolism slows way down. Why? Because it is no longer having to work as hard in keeping blood flowing, oxygen moving, and digestive processes happening. The energy bill for a 3,000 square foot house is going to be much higher than the bill for a 2,000 square foot home. Since the metabolic process generates energy, it also produces heat as a by-product. (Think of how hot a saw blade gets when making a really long cut.) Less metabolic expenditure = less energy used = less heat generated. That’s science at work.

The end result is that we now huddle around our heaters, cursing when they turn off. We shuffle around the house in multiple layers of winter clothing, topped off with ski jackets. And at night we huddle closer to one another (which is nice) and fight over who gets to use poor Vixen as a space heater (which is less nice, especially for Vixen.) At this point, I am not even sure that the end is in sight: some say this problem lasts for the first few months after surgery, but other sources claim we will be this way for the rest of our lives. Only time will tell.

In the meantime, we will just have to shiver, bundle up, and take really hot showers on an hourly basis.

On An Ice Floe Waiting For Spring To Come,

– Hawkwind

 

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