Friday, 16 December 2016

Snow is Evil: Chionophobia

Has anyone noticed that my blogging has reduced to a crawl? Probably not but it has.  Its winter.

I don’t know about anyone else but Winter is my least favourite time of year.  Don’t get me wrong I LOVE Christmas.  Spending time with family, giving gifts and eating my Mum’s turkey dinner are three of my favourite pastimes.

It's not just that my disability seems magnified from November to the end of February, the usual aches and pains are worse, my muscles stiffer and my daily routines are more difficult.  There is also the threat of my nemesis appearing.  Snow.

Snow is evil.

I have Chionophobia which is basically a fear of snow. However, mine is not a run screaming in terror phobia, such as one might get from Arachnophobia (fear of spiders) or Coulrophobia (fear of clowns).  I mean I am quite comfortable watching films like ‘Frozen’ and I can appreciate a pretty, snowy scene Christmas card but the thought of snow on the ground terrifies me.

This is not just because my wheels slip and slid on snow and ice meaning I am housebound during that time (cabin fever!).  I am fearful of being stuck far from the safety of my home. A psychologist would say it is due to my complete inability to be independent – correct!

There were two events that lead to this fear:

1.       Before I was aware that snow was problem I went out Christmas shopping alone. Upon turning a corner onto a pavement with a downhill gradient my powerchair started to slide of its own accord towards the edge of the unfenced path and threatened to send me plunging into the bushes below. I did the only thing I could (no I didn’t scream!) I wrapped both arms around a conveniently placed lamp post and hung on for dear life.  Just as I was wondering how I was going to manage getting my phone out and call for help a lady walked around the same corner and slipping on the same spot, she hit the floor with an ugly slapping sound (see not just my driving). When she had managed to gather herself, and stand I asked her if she was okay.  Staring back at me she saw someone bundled in winter clothing in a rather large powerchair, hanging desperately onto a lamp post.  She said, ‘I’m fine, but are you?’. With her help and a large dose of caution we managed to manoeuvre me to a safer path.  If said lady ever reads this I am eternally grateful.

2.       In December 2009 Reading, unexpectedly and suddenly received a severe amount of snow fall.  Reading does not usually experience this and was unprepared to say the least.  I was still working at the time the snow started to fall. 1pm.  It didn’t stop.  By 3pm Reading was covered by a blanket of snow and my boss thought it would be best for me to go home for fear of the weather getting even worse.  My car was parked just outside and covered in a layer of snow 2 inches thick.  Two of my work colleagues helped dig the car out and waved me off…into…stand still traffic!  Reading was completely gridlocked.  A journey that would usually take me 15 minutes took me 7 hours!  That’s right I was stuck, praying that my car wouldn’t die in the extreme weather or slip and crash as I saw others do.  Hoping that my blood sugar would not go down too low as I had no proper food (just mints) and trying to ignore the fact I badly needed to pee. After the first 3 hours of barely moving traffic my sister knocked on my window.  She had hiked all the way from our home to bring me food and a bottle to pee in!  She kept me company for the next 4 hours as we inched our way home, passing abandoned and broken cars and trying to avoid hills that were now closed due to them being impassable.  Before I continue my story of horror, I want to pause and offer my gratitude to the nearby residents who spent their evening clearing their road and helping people drive their cars up the incline and get home, thank you. When I finally got home, cars had been abandoned everywhere and the only space I could find was about 3 doors from my house.  Now the problem was driving my wheelchair from the car to the house in 4 inches of snow.  Doesn’t work.  My Mum and Sister then (10pm at night!) had to dig a path for me using a shovel and tray (we have now invested in a proper snow shovel). 

So, as you can see my phobia is not unfounded.  I now keep emergency supplies in my car.  Snow can stay on a Christmas card and if I even think that there might be a chance of snow, I’m going home.

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