My solar clothes dryer is the way to go, even with CAD fatigue

Even simple chores must be scheduled around my need for rest

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by Mary Lott |

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Shielding my eyes from the bright sun, I set the laundry basket on the ground and select a few shirts. I sling them over my left shoulder and get started on my task. I have always hung my laundry out in the sunlight and fresh air to dry. To be sure, I also use a machine to dry my clothes when one is available. Here in Papua, Indonesia, I do not have such an indulgence.

I have a system involving several lines. The boys’ clothes are hung on two lines, separating shirts and pants. This makes folding much quicker. My clothes have one line, while the hub’s clothes have another.

It takes less time to do it this way than to explain it. I am all about time-saving, and this method seems to have shortened the time spent sorting and putting away the clothes. The challenge I face is having enough energy to do this job at all. I also have to keep an eye on the weather, as rainstorms develop quickly here.

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Letting it all hang out

Drying clothes this way necessitates at least two hours of sunlight. Once dry, the clothes have to be gathered, folded, and placed in the various rooms. It is not a strenuous activity. At times, though, when I’m finished hanging out the clothes, I sit down and rest. This is because I have cold agglutinin disease (CAD).

CAD is an autoimmune hemolytic anemia. Specifically, at low temperatures, certain antibodies known as cold agglutinins bind to my red blood cells (RBCs) and cause them to clump together. The red blood cells die and are subsequently excreted. Fewer RBCs means less oxygen is carried to my muscles. Without that oxygen, I get tired.

Several clotheslines are strung up in a lush yard. A handful of various clothing items are hung up to dry in the sun.

My solar dryer at work on a relatively light wash load. Sometimes the laundry takes up all five line. (Photo by Mary Lott)

I try to schedule any activities around my need for rest. This is why I become tired after spending 10 minutes hanging the laundry. I hang the clothes out early in the morning and often bring them in around 3 p.m. I spend the interim time writing, working on websites, or doing other sedentary work.

As I find my physical activities being diminished due to my fatigue, I’m glad I can still contribute to the household by doing at least one chore. When it rains, or I’m too tired to deal with it, my husband hangs the clothes in the laundry room to dry overnight, without complaining. He always performs the more strenuous chores in our household.

I don’t think I’ll be able to leave the laundry on the line all day today, as I’m seeing clouds move down the side of the mountain with an ominous blackness. The clothes have been outside for one hour, so they won’t be dry yet. If the rain holds off for 60 more minutes, I’ll be spared a mad dash to gather them before the raindrops put them through another rinse cycle.

Why I use my solar dryer

The upcoming National Hanging Out Day, observed each year on April 19, lets me know I’m not the only one who appreciates sun-dried clothes. There are a lot of arguments for it: It’s better for the environment, it utilizes the disinfectant power of the sun’s rays, and it conserves electricity. I just plain like it.

I have always enjoyed the smell of air-dried clothing. Sheets dried in the sunshine bring a delightful crispness that I cannot replicate by other means. It’s an indulgence I am loathe to forgo.

Note: Cold Agglutinin Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cold Agglutinin Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cold agglutinin disease.


Lanie harkin avatar

Lanie harkin

I always enjoy reading your articles as I too have CAD. We moved to Florida two years ago to live in a warmer climate. I thought New Guinea was quite warm but do you still feel like your RBC’s are being destroyed?
I do have less fatigue being in temps above 50-60 degrees, like it is here most of the year. I also have reynauds so it is hard to tell which is which!
Even in the warmer climate there are some days I am very tired and have trouble making it through the day.
Thank you, Lanie

Mary Lott avatar

Mary Lott

Yes! At times I do feel as if my RBCs are being destroyed. I’ve learned that hemolysis can be started when the complement system is activated during a fever. I have even had acrocyanosis here when my hostess had thoughtfully turned her AC on full-blast and I was positioned underneath. New Guinea has highlands with even a glacier so there are cold areas. But I’m on the north central coast and stay warm. I think it has literally kept me healthy (for the most part). Even so, I have to be careful. Right now, I have quite a bit of fatigue; I’m being affected by something. PS When I’m in the States, you know, I am just a wee bit north of the panhandle.


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