I hate to be stuck inside my house.
I’d rather be outside walking or biking. There’s always something new to discover. The magnificent mural at Millstone Park. A rabbit or turtle on EKU’s woodchip trail. Flowers blooming at Million Park. Different breeds of dogs walking their people.
My intolerable imprisonment isn’t caused by COVID-19. No, the 90-plus-degree heat in July was the culprit.
Along with high humidity.
Both make me sweat profusely when I step just one foot onto my porch. I have to hustle back inside before I melt into a puddle.
I feel like a caged animal, eyeing the outdoor thermometer, waiting for it to drop low enough to at least sit outside in the shade.
I can handle walking on snow-covered sidewalks. Through puddle-stricken streets. Or leaf-laden paths. But the heat wave has deflated me. Driven me indoors. Where I stare longingly out the window, watching the squirrels hang precariously from the bird feeder, while the birds scold their gluttony.
I often wait till late-afternoon to walk along shady paths — at McConnell Springs and the UK Arboretum in Lexington, and White Hall Park and Camp Catalpa in Madison County. I tote a water bottle packed with ice to stay hydrated. But that quickly turns into warm water, which wets my whistle, but doesn’t quench my thirst.
Even waiting to venture out at 8 p.m. can be a challenge. My clothes are still drenched within minutes.
Sweat stings my eyes.
And I sometimes start to see disturbing wavy lines fluttering in my peripheral vision.
So I don’t stray too far from home and a water source.
Although I’ve been careful. Taken precautions and slowed my pace. I never took water breaks too seriously. Until recently. When our son was hospitalized briefly for severe dehydration.
He’d been on a nearly 10-mile run one Sunday afternoon in 93-degree heat.
He felt his muscles cramping.
But, he was close to our house, and his own apartment just a few blocks beyond that. He thought he could power through, drink some water at home and get his second wind.
However, his head started hurting. He felt dizzy. And each step became more painful until he could no longer run. And could barely walk.
He called us with a cryptic message that he was having trouble breathing. And he needed help. He didn’t give his exact location — just near home.
The rest was moaning and groaning before the call abruptly ended.
We were about 15 miles away. So, we called his siblings who began a car and foot search. When we got back to town I hopped on the bike while Mason drove up the hill, where fortunately he found our son, nearly unconscious in a neighbor’s yard.
I arrived right when the ambulance pulled up.
A Good Samaritan had called 911 and even ran to a nearby convenience store to get a bottle of water for our son, who managed to take a few sips. We didn’t get the person’s name, but we are forever thankful for his kind and quick actions.
It was scary to see our son writhing in pain.
Shaking. Clenching his hands, which he couldn’t unclench. Having muscle spasms.
And unable to stand up.
Fortunately he was lucid. He knew his name. Where he lived. And what day it was.
The EMTs were convinced we were dealing with severe dehydration and not the more worrisome heat stroke. They transported him to the hospital where an IV was waiting to replenish his lost fluids and provide immediate relief. The staff could monitor his blood pressure, heart rate and other vitals, along with the alternating sweats and chills.
After six hours, our son was released. He felt better, but wasn’t fully recovered.
That was going to take several days of home treatment, meaning large doses of coconut water, Powerade, ice pops and even dill pickle juice (go figure!) to replenish electrolytes and sodium as well as fluids and bananas for potassium.
He spent the night with us to make sure he didn’t have a relapse. And, he lost a day’s work because he could still hardly walk from achy muscles.
We’re all wiser about overexertion that can affect everything from mood to memory to motor control. Effects occur with as little as a one-percent decrease in total body water lost to exercise. When that number climbs to 15-25-percent, you might have seizures, brain damage or ultimately death.
So, be sure to drink half a quart of water for every 30-minutes you exercise to replace lost fluids, and avoid physical and mental complications.
Our son’s back to running now— but more mindful of when and how far to go, and how often to hydrate.
And I’m less grouchy about being stuck indoors on hot days, which beats an ambulance ride to the hospital.