@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
It was my brother who was describing how he was just in the throes of a shiver attack. My cousin, an ER nurse, stared at him wide eyed.
“A shiver attack? That’s not a thing. You mean shivering?”
“No,” my brother says, “there’s shivering, and then there’s a shiver attack.”
“You’re making this up,” my cousin insisted, “in nursing school or in the ER, I have never seen or heard of a shiver attack. You’re talking about shivering.”
Laughing, I chime in, “I know what he’s talking about. I know about shiver attacks.”
“Are you shitting me?” my cousin looks to me, usually for reason in such discussions.
“There’s a difference between shivering and a shiver attack,” I’m not defending my brother but agreeing with him.
“You Palminteri’s,” my cousin says, shaking his head.
“You don’t understand,” my brother says, and he’s right, our cousin does not understand, “it’s like when you’re shaking so hard and you can’t stop and you have no control.”
“Yeah… like shivering,” my cousin persists.
“One time,” my brother says, “I was having such a bad shiver attack my girl friend had to pile blankets on me and lay on top of me.”
“It doesn’t have to be that cold to have a shiver attack. I’ve shaken in my bed for a long time even though I didn’t even feel cold. No one has ever laid on top of me to stop my shiver attacks, however,” even is someone was around, I probably wouldn’t want them to. It should be noted here, too, that my brother and I both have high anxiety. This could have much to do with it.
“Sometimes I have to go into a hot shower to get it to stop,” my brother adds.
“You have to go into a hot shower?!” My cousin is in complete disbelief. He thinks we’re both idiots.
“Another time,” my brother goes on, “I almost died from a shiver attack.”
This time I had to jump in, “Okay, no. You didn’t almost die from a shiver attack. That’s quite dramatic.”
“Well… I felt like I was going to die.”
“There’s a big fucking difference,” my cousin is agitated with us now. He is certain he is right, but he is outnumbered. “I see people die all the time, I’ve never, not once, seen or heard of anyone dying of a shiver attack. Which isn’t even a thing.”
Before this moment, I never labeled a shiver attack a “shiver attack.” I simply saw it as another level of shivering. An awful level that does hurt your whole body, and your muscles convulse out of control. This, I assumed, is because I’m a pansy when it comes to the cold. Always have been. The cold is a bitch to me. I’m easily made cold, plus, I have Raynauds disease so my hands and feet are easily cold to the point where they turn a purplish blue, and sometimes will go white/numb all together (which is dangerous as this can lead to nerves dying which could lead to amputation). Many times this winter alone, I take off my boots and socks and look at my feet. They don’t look like they belong to a young person or an old person. They look like they belong to a dead person.
My brother and I fear living too long over dying young. But we both have stipulations to that. Because there’s a long list of ways you do not want to die. One of my brothers biggest fears is not dying in a plane crash, but surviving the crash and ending up in cold water. Basically, sinking on the Titanic only to freeze to death in below freezing seas would be his biggest fear. Of course, no one is for this way to go, but I think one of the reasons my brother and I shiver at the thought of falling through ice is because we’re surfers.
I have surfed in 50 degree water in full gear and it’s still painful as fuck if you have to go under more than one or two waves. The brain freeze is terrible. My brother has surfed colder waters. Even worse than surfing cold waters is having to take your wetsuit off. After peeling off a wetsuit, drenched, a cold north wind going through you, right to the bone marrow, I have sat in my car, shaking violently due to a shiver attack. I cannot physically drive until my shaking subsides. It would actually be very dangerous if I drove in the midst of a shiver attack.
It doesn’t take much for me to shiver either. My teeth chatter, my knee caps shake uncontrollably, but still, this is not like a shiver attack, which may or may not be a thing that my brother and I made up.
My cousin is still not convinced.
This is probably the first conversation I’ve ever had about shiver attacks and whether or not they are a real thing and/or different from actual shivering.
But I guess if I had to explain the difference, I will use an orgasm as the antithesis of a shiver attack. An orgasm makes you shudder in pleasure, all over, even to the extremes of blue toes. In a good way. In a way that feels great.
A shiver attack is the opposite. It makes you shudder all over in a very bad way. It hurts all your muscles and the more you try to stop it the more it hurts and gets worse. You have to ride it out. It feels like your body/flesh/muscles are trying extra hard to warm your bone marrow along with your nerve endings vibrating unpleasantly. Shaking, uncontrollably hard.
“This is stupid. I can’t believe we’re even having this conversation,” my cousin says, “are you guys fucking with me?”
My brother and I laugh. It wouldn’t be unlike us to say something totally outlandish and stick with it to see what happens for our own entertainment. A characteristic we inherited from our father. Did our mom or dad have these so called “shiver attacks?” I’m not at all sure. But we’re not fucking with him. We are serious, even though we are giddy with laughter. Doubled over, cackling almost; maybe because we’re a little not sober, maybe because it’s the first time my brother and I are realizing that a shiver attack is ridiculous, or maybe we are in the throes of a laughing attack.