Cabin Fever: Reality Or Myth?

Reader Contribution by Bruce Mcelmurray
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We have lived remotely in a mountain area and in a fairly small cabin which we heat with a wood stove for over 16 years. Prior to recently I would have stated without hesitation that cabin fever is purely myth. We live in S. Colorado where even during the winter with many feet of snow on the ground we are still able to get outside in the environment and either work comfortably or enjoy winter recreation. Our winters are long and sometimes encompass up to 7 long months so if anyone was inflicted with cabin fever we should know if it is reality or myth right? Well, for the past 16 years I would clearly have voted for myth and concluded it is simply mind over matter. Occupy yourself with something outside you enjoy or do and you will be safe from the ravages of cabin fever. 

Exactly what is cabin fever anyway.  I found a dictionary definition that seems to summarize it in the simplest of terms.  Cabin Fever: noun, ‘Boredom, restlessness, or irritability that results from a lack of environmental stimulation, as from a prolonged stay in a remote, sparsely populated region or a confined indoor area’. Hmmm, I do believe that may be specifically what is currently happening to me. Living in a remote sparsely populated region and confined to an indoor area without environmental stimulation. Normally I would be outside working in the fresh air and having fun doing it. Now I am keeping my foot propped up and walking around with modern day aluminum crutches to keep stress off my ankle. As an aside I want to say that crutches most likely were invented by some sadistic foul tempered person that had a grudge against people foolish enough to injure themselves in a moment of carelessness. Swinging like a pendulum between two sticks that catch on things (including a flat floor) which constantly throw you off balance seems a cruel way to recover from a simple broken bone. 

Obviously it is apparent that it would be highly foolish to take my cabin fever frustration out on my care taker companion less I risk not be taken care of during this frustrating recovery time. Hence it is all the crutches fault for being so awkward and not having sufficient brakes to stop a person swinging between them when their momentum carries them past the very place they intended to go.  I might also mention that crutches do not possess a suitable reverse direction either. In fact when you catch one on something to keep from falling again you end up doing fast little circles with one crutch planted firmly in place in order to regain balance. This maneuver is carried out by futile attempts to try to slow your spinning body down with these torture instruments, while also trying to protect your injured extremity.  I am so bad on these instruments of torture that when I get up to move anywhere in the house the dogs all run for cover or hide behind something. Dogs are clearly much smarter than the operator of these dangerous sticks of destruction. One side benefit to using crutches is that I have developed an entirely new language which I will not elaborate on in this article since I would like to see it published. 

So suddenly after all these years of living remotely and in a sparsely populated region and confined indoors for a few weeks, cabin fever has suddenly become a vivid reality. I can say without doubt it is quite real and I am working on a cure presently with very little success. So evidently there is such a condition as ‘cabin fever’ as I have developed what I hope is not a fatal case. However it is sufficiently serious enough to suffer considerably. Now having been forced to acknowledge that there is such a miserable disease I look forward to the day when recovery is complete and I can get back to what is my form of normal once again. 

Also sufficiently recover to when I won’t get snow packed in the toe of my air cast when I go outside to try to initiate the recovery process. It seems as though when you swing forward on those miserable crutches you need to accurately control the effected leg so it doesn’t scoop up cold wet snow and compact it in the toe of your cast which you are helpless to remove while balancing on those sadistic sticks. For anyone suffering the same fate I can tell you with emphasis that you do not want to use a crutch to knock the snow loose from the cast unless you have an extremely high tolerance for pain. Hence I have been cooped up inside reading every magazine twice, studying the labels on products, watching some of the most boring television shows known to mankind and exerting tremendous effort to utilize mind over matter in overcoming this disease called cabin fever. Apparently for an outdoor person it doesn’t take much to contract cabin fever. I had no idea I could be so susceptible to this malady. My biggest goal presently is that I can soon write a follow up on how I have discovered a cure and how to defeat CABIN FEVER!  It seems to be a disease that targets your happiness and general sense of good humor and view things in the most negative sense.

 So the analysis of cabin fever is that is clearly is a reality that strikes without warning and something to avoid at all costs by utilizing prevention such as not wearing flat soled shoes outside when there is ice on the steps.    

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