This $25 Alligator Conquers Cramps (and Sadness)

Graphic by author.

Warmies sells a menagerie of heating pads that combine comfort and cuteness. Its alligator is my latest obsession.

Laparoscopic surgery is an increasingly popular technique for operations in the abdominal area (like gall bladder removal) that is meant to be minimally invasive. Typically, a surgeon pumps a patient full of carbon dioxide gas so a laparoscopic camera can transmit quality video to monitors in the operating area. The patient is left with tinier scars than would result from traditional “open” surgery.

And the aftermath fucking hurts! As someone no longer in touch with her gall bladder, I would recommend a massive, stomach-spanning scar literally every time! Unfortunately, my ability to discuss the finer points of surgical practice was severely hindered by the gall (sorry) of the aforementioned organ trying to kill me last autumn.

Post-surgery, the leftover gas roamed my body (with a particular vendetta for my left shoulder) and resulted in searing pain. If it weren’t for the hospital gift shop, I would’ve sought out Hans Christian Jacobaeus, the first person to perform a laparoscopic operation on humans, in the afterlife for a duel to the (second) death. Lucky for that dead dude, my family bought me a stuffed manatee.

Not just any stuffed manatee! This one was filled with flaxseed and came with instructions to toss it in the microwave for up to two minutes before placing it on your body. I’ve used heating pads before, though never in the form of a mostly herbivorous sea cow. Maybe it was the pain medication and two weeks without food, but I fell in love.

The manatee retired after months of dutiful service (my dad claimed it smelled) and I sought out a new friend to kill my cramps, keep me warm in the winter, and provide a portable weighted-blanket-esque comfort. With zero desire to return to the hospital gift shop, I did some internet-sleuthing and located the Warmies website. The store sells a manatee, although it doesn’t look exactly like my manatee. As I write this, I feel like one of those pet owners that swears up and down that their golden retriever is unique. Alas, it was temporarily sold out.

And that’s how I met Alligaytor (of course I named them). Sage green and lengthy, this little dude makes working from home bearable, warms my bed at night, and gives my dog a break from my constant need to cuddle. My “goal weight” is my weight plus the whopping two pounds of Alligaytor on top of me.

I’m not the first to sing the praises of Warmies. TikTok user Georgia Coose made another one of the stuffed heating pads (the polar bear) popular in 2019 as a remedy for menstrual cramps, according to Health magazine. The store boasts dozens of stuffed animals like raccoons, sloths, and kangaroos in the form of 9 to 16 inch plushes, each scented with lavender. Warmies also sells things like boots, eye masks, and neck wraps. The animals and pads can also be popped in the freezer to use as ice packs, but as a perpetually freezing person, I have not tried that out yet.

Anyone can create a makeshift heating pad by throwing rice and dried herbs in an old pillowcase (I’ve done it) or revamping an old stuffed animal. But nobody wants to do needlework when already suffering from soreness or cramps. Thankfully, Warmies has 26 years of experience and a “hassle-free” return policy. I’m begging you to let these adorable critters into your life.

Note: I am not compensated for this recommendation. See ya later, alligator!

This blog is part of a series called Fashion IS Function, where I write about the necessity of style and design in keeping misery at bay. It draws inspiration from the late fashion historian Bill Cunningham who said, “Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life.” If you have an idea for FIF, reach out to me on Twitter.

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