Heat is bad

It seems that no matter how much I might want to, I should never live anywhere hot. Turns out I am incredibly temperature sensitive, which either makes me more of a wuss for being temperature sensitive, or less of a wuss because I had reason to whine about hot weather as much as I have in the past. I had plans to be camping this weekend. I drove up to site with some friends, planning to meet other friends and stay overnight. The friends I had driven up with were only day-tripping and planned to go home after dinner.
It was already hot when we arrived, at about 9 in the morning. Dee arrived a few minutes after we did, and we set to unpacking the cars and getting camp set up. Dee’s pavilion only takes a few miutes, so we did that one first. Then we set about putting up the sunshade. We got the ends staked down and one pole up and it was time to take a break in the shade. Then three more poles, and another break underneath what we had already put up. 15 or so minutes later we put up the last two poles. Usually the sunshade takes 10-15 minutes to put up. In the heat, it took us almost an hour.
There were classes going on, but in the heat we had little to no motivation to leave the shade or our chairs. I was there to participate in a cooking competition and we had to pick up our ingrdients at 1pm. One of our ingredients for the competition was a chicken, which was still mostly frozen. “I get to hug the chicken” was the quote of the afternoon. That frozen chicken was almost worth fighting over, and it was sad that we had to thaw it. People called us crazy for cooking on a stove in that kind of heat. We didn’t know the exact temperature, but it was HOT. Sticky, sweat pouring off in rivers HOT.
A group camped next to us went on an ice run and brought us some gatorade. Then they went to the movies to get into air conditioning. We kept cooking. Everyone was drinking a lot of water, trying to keep ourselves hydrated. Just before 4pm we cracked open the orange gatorade. Gatorade used to only taste good when you needed it. Now, to sell more, they’ve made it so it’s good even when you don’t need it, but when you do need it, it tastes like heaven. The bottle tasted to me like orange gummi bears- that was how badly I needed it. A few minutes later I looked a my friends and said “Should I be worried about the fact that my heart is racing even though I’m sitting still?”
Both of my friends turned and looked at me with faces full of concern, as in unison they said “YES.” Thankfully the site had a shower that was very close to our campsite. They told me to go get in a cool shower and stay there until my heart rate went down. I walked over there, slipped off my leather sandals and stepped into the shower stall; underwear, bra, cotton dress and all. It took about 20 minutes for me to feel cooled off. I walked back to camp, hair and dress dripping, but feeling much better.
I didn’t know it, but the rapid pulse I was feeling was heat exhaustion, which could have quickly led to heatstroke. Had the shower not been available, I would have been taken to the hospital. When Dee returned from her class, she told us that someone’s thermometer read 115 degrees. Mairghread’s meat thermomter (which we had to use to check the internal temperature of the stewing chicken) read 103 degress, despite having been in the shade, inside a bag all day long. The eggs we planned to use to make custard had been in the shade as well, but were hot to the touch. (We swapped out those eggs for eggs we had brought with us that had been in the cooler.) At another point Mairghread picked up a bottle of water and said it was hotter than she likes her tea. Ew.
I made the decision not to camp, but to go home when my friends i had driven up with left. While it was significantly cooler at home, it was still warm enough to make sleeping difficult. I had to fight Julie for the spot on the bed in front of the fan. When I woke up in the morning I googled “heat exhaustion painful arms” and found the part of the CDC’s website that lists the different types of heat emergencies: sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The pains I was having in my arms were heat cramps; caused by potassium depletion which is common with dehydration. It also said that if they lasted more than an hour to consult a physician. Since my arms had been hurting for about 12 hours by that point, I called my doctor’s service and had her paged. When she called back she said that coming home had been wise, to stay inside and drink gatorade, and to stay as cool as possible. If that didn’t work and my arms were still cramping by midafternoon, to go to the ER and have my electrolytes checked.
I installed myself downstairs in the coolest room in the house and had a fan going, and managed to stay relatively cool until about 4:30 when our power went out. By 5:30 I was sweating and could feel my heart rate starting to rise so I called my friend Laura and she came and drove me to the ER (the ache in my arms was bad enough that I didn’t trust my grip on the steering wheel). They got me checked in and installed in a room, which turned out to be the same room I was in the last time I was in that ER two years ago. The doctor came in and asked me some questions, and ordered a blood panel and an IV of fluid. Lucky me.
**(Warning- If you’re squeamish skip this paragraph)**
I’m generally okay with needles. I don’t love them, but they don’t freak me out either. I was dehydrated enough that the nurse had a heck of a time finding a vein, and when she finally thought she had found one in my left hand (after trying my right and giving up) she said to me “no promises Ladybug, but we’re going to try this one.” That’s never something you want to hear, and it was all I could do not to flinch as she dug around with the needle. Laura came and took my other hand, and I was able to squeeze her hand while silently repeating an order to my left arm and hand to totally relax. She got the vein though and was able to get the blood for the labs, and got the IV started. I had my eyes closed but could feel her wiping my fingers with alcohol pads but couldn’t figure out why. Turned out something had happened with one of the test vials or something and I ended up with blood all over. She got it semi cleaned up, but there was still a good bit left. (I did have Laura take a picture, but haven’t been able to get it off the camera yet.)
Two and a half hours, two blood draws (the cells from the first draw were damaged so they had to do a second one) and 2 liters of saline later they said I could go home. My headache and nausea were gone, the pain in my arms was still there but had subsided a lot, and I was actually hungry, which was a good sign. They said I’d have some residual muscle tenderness in the arms because they had been cramping for so long, but that they should be back to normal by tonight. 2 liters of fluid is *a lot*. I was shocked that I could be that dehydrated, because I really had been drinking a lot on Saturday and was following my doctors instructions with the gatorade prior to going in.
I treated Laura to dinner for doing me the favor, and finally got home at 10. Our power was still out, as was everyone on our grid, which seemed to be roughly 20 square blocks. I went up to my room long enough to change into pjs and refill Julie’s water bowl, but it was an oven up there. The temperature outside had cooled significantly, so I opened the windows and Julie got up on his cat bed that is attached to one of them, so i didn’t woory about him overheating. I grabbed my purse, my laptop and some pillows and headed back to the cooler downstairs. The power came back on about 11, so the fans all kicked back on, but I stayed downstairs until 6am or so, then went up and slept another hour and a half in my bed. I’m exhausted, and would really rather be sleeping than working, but the office has AC and home doesn’t.

2 thoughts on “Heat is bad

  1. Brad

    Woah, that’s hot stuff! I’m glad you’re ok now. Plan ahead next time for your SCA event with a cooler full of ice and gatorade. And pre-hydrate by drinking a lot the day before.

  2. kat

    I’m glad you ended up going to the ER–you must have been INCREDIBLY dehydrated. Two liters? Yikes.

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