Frozen: Ice Pack Princess

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ice pack supplyLittle blue ice pack friends

Roo still sleeps with stuffed animals – actually today there’s a more dignified word for them: plush toys. Since the plush characters are soft, he doesn’t mind that they take up most of his bed. With an ice pack, it’s a different story: more like the fairy tale Frozen.

Ice packs are my companions day and night. I clutch them far more than Roo his plush! I hug them with my hands, against my elbows, knees, shoulders, ankles, and jaw! I lay them along my spine and press down into them. I rest my feet on them to relieve the big swollen lumps under the base of my toes.

They are my best friends – delivering frozen goodness that reduces inflammation and pain right before my eyes. But it wasn’t always so.

“The cold never bothered me anyway”

mini fridge for ice packs

Like Princess Elsa, there was a reluctant journey to come to accept the role of cold in my life. I’ve had thyroid disease most of my life so my skin is often cold to the touch; fans and air conditioning can set me to shivering – complete with uncontrollable teeth chattering. So I’ve always hated ice packs.

Grudgingly, I would admit how much ice helps. But now with lower prednisone (another story I’ll tell you soon), ice packs are absolutely essential. I have a mini fridge near my bed with a separate freezer compartment filled with ice packs!

Freeze warning

I’m more careful now, but I need to pass on a warning to any other Frozen princesses (and princes) who read this: direct contact with ice packs can burn the skin. Be careful. I learned the hard way:

shoulder burns from ice packLast summer the joints on my thoracic spine were so inflamed it not only hurt to breathe (the usual) but I also had a hard time sitting up at all. In the mornings, I’d lie directly on the ice packs until the inflammation went down enough that I could move. One day helping me change clothes, KB saw peeling skin and scabs on my back. It took me a while to realize it was from the ice.

Then last month my shoulder froze up the way it has for 30 years (before I was diagnosed with RD, I had shoulder “flares.”) The shoulder pain is so bad that Lortab doesn’t help, and there was no time to try to get a doctor’s appointment for an injection, so I reached straight for the ice packs. After about 36 hours of ice packs, my shoulder went back down to it’s usual awful (pain level less than 7). I was delighted it was like a shot with no shot. (But the skin was bruised.)

To avoid ice burns: place a cloth between the ice pack and the skin until the ice pack is partially melted and just “cool.” Or move the ice pack frequently to different locations.

How friendly has ice been to your joints?
frosted over ice pack

NOTE: Please read this BRIEF UPDATE WITH REQUEST FOR HELP. “In some ways RA Warrior (RAW) and the #rheum community that grew from it have been like family to me and to one another. Many lasting and close friendships…” keep reading.

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Kelly Young. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted on Monday, November 9th, 2015 at 6:50 am and is filed under Living with RA / Managing RA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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