Even though I had yearned for warmer weather, last week’s heat wave hit me like a ton of bricks. With the humidity weighing me down, I became lethargic, even to the point of taking a several hour nap every afternoon (such a respite; to snooze away any effects of the heat.) However, even with the naps, every movement of my arms and legs took a great deal of effort. It felt like my movements were choreographed by a puppeteer, awkwardly moving my right arm to get the television remote, and moving my trembling fingers over the buttons to get to the Netflix channel. Normally I would have hopped, skipped and jumped my fingers to excitedly choose a new movie to watch, but last week my normal enthusiasm waned.
My mouth was uncomfortably dry, and if anyone else came into the room they would have certainly suffocated from my bad breath. The unremitting dryness remained even after I brushed my teeth, used a mouthwash, and I gently sipped on my cup of hot tea.
About halfway through the Netflix movie, a gripping headache took over my cranium. Not normally one to take pain medication, I found myself downing Tylenol every 4 hours. It was disconcerting that the headache remained.
I surmised the flu must have taken over my body when my stomach started to ache. I was unable to eat anything without feeling nauseous, (dyspepsia, I learned it is called.) Between the headache and the stomach churning, laying down for another nap seemed to be the only way to go.
Halfway through my blissful sleep, a sharp pain in my calf awoke me. Anyone who has had muscle cramps can sympathize with the unrelenting, stabbing pain for which there is no remedy. For a horrid eight minutes, I gasped with the throbbing ache, tears rolling down my cheeks. It was a huge relief when it stopped abruptly.
For the first few days, Hubby tried in vain to encourage me to get out and do something with him; take a walk down Rocky Point, go have clam cakes at Iggy’s, or just walk around the block. When I turned my nose up at outside activities, he suggested we go to the pool, the mall or to the movies where it would be cool. Sitting in my comfy living room chair, I listlessly shrugged. The truth was, I felt too depressed to go anywhere. (Me? Depressed? It just didn’t make any sense.)
By the third day, despite taking Tylenol and Tums, my symptoms worsened. Additionally, when I stood up, dizziness overtook me, and sitting back down was the only comfortable option. So, I sat there in my chair all day, listlessly flipping through the television channels.
By the fourth day, the dizziness had not subsided, and was accompanied by confusion. (Me? Confused? It just didn’t make any sense.) My short-term memory was shot; I would leave a sandwich forgotten on the kitchen counter, next to it a glass filled with ice but no liquid. Severe depression overtook my mind, and the only relief was when I again went in for a nap, a long nap. When hubby came home, he was appropriately worried about my regression. He tried to force feed me to no avail. When he tried to get me to drink a glass of water, my mind was suddenly clearly in focus and I snapped to attention. In the heat of the week, with the excess sweating and loss of body moisture, it was suddenly readily apparent that dehydration had taken over my body! I quickly downed the glass of water, and then asked for another. Google on my iPad was actively searching for “effects of dehydration.” Lo and behold, there I was; dry mouth, bad breath, excessive tiredness, severe mood changes, headache, muscle cramps, dizziness and confusion. For four miserable days I had been innocently blaming my symptoms on outside forces when, in reality, it was all my own doing. To prevent dehydration, it has been recommended that a person drink eight eight-ounce glasses a day (a half gallon) especially in hot weather. My allowance of water daily had dwindled down to one cup of tea.
The good news is that as soon as I started drinking more water, my symptoms all went away! Drinking that much water a day has been a challenge, so I often disguise liquids as something yummy; making frozen lemonade, chicken and rice soup, celery and cream cheese, and watermelon. And, of course, I have replaced my beloved Diet Coke with a refillable water bottle. I only need to live through that experience once to learn the importance of keeping hydrated.