What does Santa do to prevent a DVT?
The Northern Hemisphere gets to break up winter with Christmas, but In New Zealand, the winter months of June, July, August and September can seem to drag on. Many New Zealanders have taken to celebrating a mid-winter Christmas around this time. Sparkly decorations and traditional Christmas food work much better now, with our cold dark evenings. This post about Santa fits with the New Zealand mid-winter Christmas and also with our recent visit to Rovaniemi in Lapland, Northern Finland; the home of Santa Claus. Rovanemi is situated on the Arctic circle and at this time of year the sun doesn’t set; it is as light at 2am as it is at 10am, a strange experience and very different from the short days back home in New Zealand. Those of you in New Zealand who are celebrating a mid-winter Christmas will already be thinking of Santa, but those of you who do not believe can stop reading now!
Having just written a post about how to reduce the risk of blood clots while flying, I was keen to meet Santa to ask him what measures he takes before his big flight each Christmas Eve, after all he has been doing the same flight for hundreds of years and as far as I know he has never had a DVT. I presume he must do something particularly special as he clearly has a number of significant risk factors.
The first and most obvious is that Santa is a little overweight and it is well known that the risk of clots is higher in individuals of a more rotund physique. He also travels extremely long distance. To get around the whole world and visit every house in one night involves a journey significantly longer than any commercial flight even longer than the leg from Auckland to Doha. Although Santa takes frequent breaks at every child’s house, he doesn’t do much exercise. Magically going up and down chimneys is not the recommended exercise to prevent clots, he would be better taking the odd break to wiggly his feet up and down.
The conditions on board the sleigh also puts him at risk. The seating is a little cramped (see picture), it may be
a bulk head seat, but there isn’t much leg room and the seat definitely does not turn into a lie-flat-bed, and there do not appear to be a number of elfin like flight attendants around to look after all Santa’s needs. I also note that the sleigh is not pressurised. From my calculations the sleigh will have to fly at a considerable altitude to reach the speeds necessary to get around the world in the time available, therefore Santa will be flying in conditions where the oxygen level is significantly reduced. I guess that Santa has compensated for this by having slightly thicker blood, this would explain his constant ruddy complexion, but thick blood will increase his risk of a clot. In fact, I suspect that the air quality varies considerably at times during the flight, after all Santa is flying behind the rear-end of twelve reindeer travelling at speed. It may be the methane that makes the sleigh go so fast.
One of my other recommendations is to maintain good hydration and not to drink too much alcohol. I suspect that most children leave a bite to eat and a drink for Santa when he visits; in some cases, it may be a glass of milk but in others I am sure it will be a nip of something a bit stronger. I suspect that by the time Santa gets back to Rovaniemi, he will be feeling the effects of the alcohol and may have trouble controlling a high speed sleigh.
You guessed it. Underneath that big red suit and his big black boots, he is wearing Christmas stockings. They work like magical flight socks compressing his muscles in all the right places to keep him full of good cheer.
Happy Mid-Winter Christmas.