I Belong in a Nineteenth-Century Novel

Though today is warm, it’s been cold here lately, cold enough that I’ve been wearing two pairs of socks (dry-wick, wool) on the bike and many layers while running. Along the way I’ve developed a condition on a few toes: some purplish-red spots, which I thought came from friction of the socks and my sneakers. I’ve taken to wearing running shoes almost full-time, given the walking I do to and from our Meadowmont “village” and Lily’s school. But the dermatologist instantly proposed a different diagnosis:

Chilblains.

I knew the word, which brings to mind rag-covered Dickensian waifs, but I hadn’t ever considered exactly what it meant. Turns out it’s like pre-frostbite, caused by the cold but nonfreezing conditions. It’s made worse when you follow the cold temperatures with heat (the whirlpool, a steaming shower). It doesn’t hurt, it’s not very obvious, but it somehow seems anachronistic.

From Jane Eyre:

Our clothing was insufficient to protect us from the severe cold: we had no boots, the snow got into our shoes and melted there; our ungloved hands became numbed and covered with chilblains, as were our feet.