Immediately after my brain injury I was constantly freezing. It didn’t matter what the temperature actually was, or how many layers I wore. Resembling the Mitchelin man I piled on clothes, had the thickest socks and still felt like I was in an industrial freezer.
Fast forward two years, and that has moved on. I’m no longer a walking ice cube. But instead I can very easily over heat. I can tell the air temperature isn’t abnormal, it’s just me. My face will flush and sweat runs down my face and neck. I’ve got to be honest with you, it’s not the most attractive look. Before anyone asks, yes I’m female but I’m only 34, so this isn’t the menopause. My brain is just re-calibrating to decide what is the accurate response.
We need to keep our body temperature around 37 C or 99 F. A part of the brain called the hypothalamus sends instructions to the skin via the nervous system to keep things in order. If it thinks we are cold the hairs on our skin stand up. This traps air next to our bodies, offering some extra insulation. Or if we are hot, the sweat glands produce liquid so the evaporation process will cool us down.
All very clever. But if your internal thermometer isn’t working right all of this can be an overreaction.
It can be pretty embarrassing
Having a flushed, sweating face can make it look like you are nervous. Liars when questioned can typically have this involuntary response. The police are trained to look out for this when they are interviewing suspects. So I would hate to think that people got this impression of me.
Just to be clear, it isn’t anxiousness or nervousness that is doing this to me. I can be at home and it happens. I think it’s more an overreaction to slight changes. Light exercise can cause it, tiredness, almost anything. And then when I start taking layers off, or go out in the cold to cool down, suddenly I’m freezing. Maybe that’s when my brain has realised it made a mistake and wants me to reverse my actions.
Everything takes planning when you know this could happen
So we all have stood there looking at our clothes thinking “what should I wear today?” You consider the weather, and occasion you might be attending and try to decide what is going to best suit those factors. But when you have to take account of you could be freezing and boiling on the same day you need to put extra thought into it. I’m always having to think about layers which can quickly be removed, whilst thinking if the layer underneath will be creased, or I’ll just look fat.
I know in the grand scheme of recovering from a brain injury this is a minor grumble. But it’s still irritating nonetheless and adds to life’s complications.
Do you also struggle with temperature regulation? Are there any tips that work for you?