DENVER (CBS4) – The dramatic drop in temperatures Monday is a reminder of the challenges for people living on the streets to stay warm and avoid serious conditions like frostbite that can develop quickly in the cold.
“I was sleeping under a bridge,” Steven Williams recalled the day he developed a mild form of the condition. “It got real cold, the temperature dropped real fast overnight.”
Williams got frostnip, which is treatable and does not cause permanent damage like frostbite, but he did experience severe numbness and pain. Doctors gave him medication to treat the symptoms, but he said at one point he could not feel anything in his feet, even if they were bleeding.
He says he first noticed the condition in November after the weather warmed up, but his feet did not get any better.
“My feet froze essentially, I couldn’t feel them,” Williams said. “Having your feet in a bucket with dry ice.”
He said the swelling continued and the pain remains two months later. Part of his recovery was walking as much as he could to help get back to his regular condition, but it was painful even to move his feet.
He still has numb toes and still does not have complete feeling back in his feet.
“You’re on fire and ice, you’re on fire and ice 24 hours a day, and it is painful,” he said. “I had to go to the hospital because my feet were so damaged.”
Williams participated in Denver Rescue Mission’s Next Step program. The service lasts 50 days and gives people experiencing homelessness to stay in the downtown Denver shelter. It helps them get back on their feet.
Williams used that time to help him recover from frostnip. He hopes others will learn from his experience and seek the assistance they need before they develop a similar condition.
CBS4 and Denver Rescue Mission are joining forces to help Spread the Warmth. Williams is an example of the need to help all winter long providing food and shelter. A donation of $10 can help someone get a place to stay for one night and three warm meals.
“Do not take the cold weather for granted under any circumstances whatsoever,” Williams said. “You got to get out of the cold, you got to get out of the cold.”
CBS4 has partnered with the Denver Rescue Mission to Spread the Warmth this winter. We’re bringing the community together for Coloradans experiencing homelessness. Find out how to help at CBSDenver.com/SpreadtheWarmth/.