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I am addicted to my heating pad. I use it every single evening when I climb in bed. No matter what time of the year it is, summer included, I crank that baby up to maximum heat under the covers while I’m doing my nightly routine of brushing my teeth and washing my face. By the time I’m finished, I climb in bed and I cozy up in a cocoon of warmth with a contented sigh. It is arguably my favorite time of the day. Unfortunately, in my 25 years of marriage, my husband has become jealous of my heating pad, as he is losing the battle for my nightly attentions.
Dinner Table Doctor has a tactic he often employs when we have a disagreement, and he is using this very method in a futile attempt to make me abandon my nightly ritual. He says it is “medically necessary” and that he “is worried about me.” This approach is how he convinced me to eat less pasta and to exercise with intensity and to add fiber to my diet. As a medically trained doctor, all he has to do is throw out this trump card to persuade me to live a healthier lifestyle. The heating pad, however, is the final straw which just might lead to our divorce.
DTD says I’m at risk for severe burns and that I should put aside the heating pad and conveniently use his body for warmth, but I’m not buying it. How is that medically necessary? He gets too hot and sweaty at night. Admittedly, I like to warm my feet under his legs, but I need that heating pad under my lower back.
Last night we had a lovely and simple supper (recipe follows). While DTD was praising my cooking skills, he also slyly mentioned that he has recently seen more than a few patients with severe burns from heating pad use. I knew exactly what was coming and braced myself for a fight.
Apparently heating pads cause quite the burns, and these burns are fairly common. DTD has seen patients with second-degree burns from heating pad use. Elderly patients are more susceptible to these injuries because they might have decreased sensation in their skin or may be limited in their movement and unable to shift if the pad is getting too hot. Most people don’t realize how quickly a second-degree burn can result from heating pad use. I am guilty of regularly falling asleep on top of my heating pad, because it has a timer. Unfortunately it goes well beyond the recommended 15-20 minute allotment, so according to DTD I have been putting myself at risk for severe burns.
Even when there is not an obvious burn from a too-hot heating pad, other more subtle yet still dangerous, conditions could arise. A skin condition called erythema ab igne is caused by repeated prolonged exposure to heat, most commonly from a heating pad. Some people call it “toasted skin syndrome.” In extremely rare cases, this can actually lead to skin cancer.
Erythema ab igne is asymptomatic except for some markings on the skin, so you may not even notice it for a while. This is particularly true if you’re like me and using a heating pad on your lower back. I haven’t seen my lower back in years! I have no idea if there are skin markings there (at least not prior to this conversation with DTD). If left unchecked, this could eventually lead to skin cancer.
I love my heating pad, though! What do I do?? DTD gave me the speech he gives actual patients, which is that heating pad use is OK if you are very careful and follow specific guidelines.
- Always place a piece of fabric between your skin and the heating pad. This is true even for the pads which already have that nice, soft covering.
- Do not crank the heating pad up to high. (Audible, exasperated sigh from me…)
- Never use the heating pad on one area of your body for more than 20 minutes.
- Try to use it on top of your body rather than laying on it, where heat is trapped and intensified.
- Use the warmth of your partner’s body if available in place of a heating pad. (I think he added this last one for my benefit only, but it was on the list, so I included it!)
OK, OK, once again DTD sucked a little joy out of one of my life’s pleasures, but he did it out of love and in the long run I am grateful. Apparently I am going to have to change my ways. I also may passively aggressively annoy the heck out of him in bed in an attempt to replace the warmth of my beloved heating pad. I will still use my pad for the allotted time, of course. Now that I’m going through menopause I only crave the heat for a few minutes anyway. The rest of the night I’m dying from heat and can’t even handle when DTD’s pinky toe is touching me, because I feel like I’m burning up. Problem solved, I guess. Thank you, menopause!
The delicious dinner we were enjoying while he crushed my spirit was something I like to call “Hodgepodge delight.” When you have a lot of stray vegetables and cheeses in your fridge that you need to get rid of quickly, you throw them into a cast iron pan with some eggs and you have an exquisite frittata you can pair with a salad and a glass of white wine. It makes for a satisfying and delectable, yet quick and easy dinner.
If you don’t have a cast iron pan, here is a link to buy one. They are indispensable in the kitchen. It will last forever. Unfortunately they are pretty heavy for a weakling like me, so I just keep them on the stove top even when they’re clean. I got tired of bending down to get them in and out of the cabinet.
Heat your oven to 350 degrees. On your stovetop, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in your cast iron pan and add some chopped garlic. After a few minutes throw in some chopped veggies. Whatever you have left in the fridge should work. Potatoes, tomatoes, fennel, onions, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, asparagus, zucchini, peppers, eggplant, carrots all work -you get the idea! Any and all can be combined. Toss them in the oil and garlic and add a healthy dose of salt and pepper. Let them soften up a bit and stir them periodically.
In a bowl, beat about 10-12 eggs with a little water and slowly pour it over the veggies. Then add some cheese. Cream cheese, cheddar, goat, feta, parmesan, or a combination work- again, whatever you have on hand and want to use up.
After you let this cook on a medium flame for around 5-10 minutes (no need to stir), you will see the edges starting to set. Then you just move the whole thing to the oven to finish. In about 20-30 minutes (depending on how packed you made it) the frittata will set and be a yummy dinner.
Place some sprigs of fresh herbs on top and you suddenly have a fancy dinner that looks impressive. Pair it with a salad and a glass of white wine and you are golden. I also like to make salads with a variety of ingredients, depending on what I have on hand. This was with oranges and grapes, celery, cucumber, and smoked mozzarella cheese. Peel and separate the orange over the bowl and let some of the juice land in there and toss in some good olive oil and a little vinegar, salt and pepper. YUM!
We had a delicious 2018 Ottella Lugana, which paired perfectly (and maybe even helped to numb the pain of the difficult conversation.) This wine from Veneto, Italy has a light golden, glimmering color and a citrus taste which complemented the savory vegetables and feta-cheddar combination. Fabulous! Also it’s only about $15 and in a colorful bottle that looks great on the counter.
After dinner I made DTD carefully inspect my back for erythema ab igne. All looks fine for now, thank goodness. If you’re using a heating pad, be careful!
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