Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dehydration

This week I wound up in the emergency room of Saint Joseph's Hospital. I won't go through the whole story of how I got there, but I'd been feeling tired and sluggish and weak for a couple of weeks. I was also feeling fuzzy-headed, which was probably the part that bothered me the most. After all, my brain is probably my favorite organ. (Unlike Woody Allen in "Sleeper".)

After all the usual ER stuff (EKG, blood work, urinalysis), the ER doc came back and said, "You're dehydrated." It's a pretty easy diagnosis in Tucson, but it was something I hadn't thought of. You see, I drink a lot of fluids. I have coffee in the morning, often orange juice as well, and always drink a quart bottle of water in the afternoon. Evenings are hit and miss. I don't have a routine there. Fluid was going in and coming out.



The thing is, it's been over 100 degrees for over a week with humidity in the single digits. In those conditions, you don't sweat. Well, actually, you do sweat, but it evaporates so fast that you don't feel any moisture on your skin. There's no outward signs that you need to replace fluids. Because of the heat, I haven't been doing any yard work, when I know to bring my water bottle with me and drink often. The most exercise I'd been doing was our daily 15 minute walk in the morning and afternoon. I didn't think that was long enough to use up much of my body's moisture.

Apparently I was wrong.

When I first moved to Arizona, I made sure to drink often. My son had warned me about how sneaky dehydration was here. He and his wife had frequent headaches their first year here until they learned to drink enough water. You learn that a water bottle is as necessary when going out as a pair of sunglasses and your car keys. But I'd gotten lax in my habits. I've lived here for six years and thought I knew it all. Besides, who likes hunting down a rest room everywhere you go because you've drunk so much water?

So I have a new routine now. I drink at least twelve ounces of water when I first get up, even before I make the coffee. I make sure to drink a glass of water immediately after I get back from those fifteen minute walks. And I also have another twelve ounce glass of water in the evening. It's working. And drinking water is a lot better than feeling the way I had over the past few weeks.
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