I've never experienced true heatstroke before and I can tell you, I never want to again. I didn't realize what was happening until it was unfortunately too late to avoid being rushed to the emergency room and eventually checked in to be treated for a longer stay due to severe symptoms and dehydration. In case you haven't experienced this either and want to avoid the "vacation" I took this weekend, here are a few symptoms to look out for:
I am still recovering but here are three things I've learned the hard way. To all my IBD and other chronic illness survivors, to anyone with little kiddos or other health concerns, please keep yourselves safe in the heat of this summer. I learned the hard way but you don't have to.
So here are a few tips I wish I could go back in time and give myself!
1. If you don't have central Air Conditioning, get your hands on as many units as you can and turn them all on. All day.
We tried to save a little in our budget by having AC just in the livingroom and bedroom but not the kitchen or any adjacent rooms. Huge mistake. Kitchens are often the rooms that gets the hottest in a home and or us, it's adjacent to the bathroom and a short hallway from the bedroom so we were fighting an impossible battle in the two main rooms that every human being needs to use several times a day.
That one or two hundred we had saved on not installing an air conditioner in the kitchen ended up costing us four or five times that in emergency room and hospital bills, not to mention the hell it put my body through. If you've ever had actual heat stroke you know what I'm talking about, it feels like you're heart is beating out of your chest and the rest of your body is on a terrible carnival ride. Beginners mistake. Yikes.
2. No matter how much you're used to pushing fluids, double it. And keep an eye on the clock.
I am used to drinking about three liters (about twelve 8-oz glasses) of water per day. I was shocked to find that this healthy practice still left me severely dehydrated when the temperatures spiked over 100. Then when I really became woosey from the heat, I wasn't able to monitor my water intake as well which became a vicious cycle.
Again here I definitely recommend the motivational bottle I've written about before but if you're not into the price or style I would recommend using tape or a permanent marker to mark off lines on your regular water bottle for every hour and make sure that you are consuming the full amount to that line each hour and refilling regularly.
3. Keep ice packs around your neck and at your wrists and replace them regularly.
This is something that really helped me once I got to the hospital and my neck and head were like a furnace. One nurse actually jumped when she felt the temperature at the base of my neck. Not a good sign.
If you're not into ice packs or they aren't convenient for your lifestyle, I would recommend these microfiber cooling towels or neckerchiefs which will help keep you comfortable and last about as long. I actually think the Kool Tie neckerchiefs are cute but if you're not into them, as you'll see below, 14 hours in the hospital is even less cute than a funky neckerchief.
To all my spoonies and chronic illness survivors and to anyone with little kiddos, elderly loved ones, or a job that keeps you outdoors this summer, I hope you find ways to put your safety first. I had never had this experience and I don't plan to have it again.
Also, remember these if you're traveling to a warmer climate for vacation or holiday this summer. I've known way too many friends and family who've suffered heat related illness on trips that were meant to be fun so stay cool and enjoy the sun!
Lots of Love,
So often we hide these brutal times and I believe that perpetuates the myth of "Invisible Illness." When people see me day to day I often look fresh and bright, but below you'll find the face of chronic illness that many never see. The suffering, the struggle, the bruised and bleeding arms from five attempts to place an IV. The pain and sadness and horror. This is what we so often hide and for those of us suffering with autoimmune disease, IBD, Genetic and Blood Disorders, Metastatic Cancers, and so many other illnesses that don't manifest on the outside will never show you.
I post images of my illness not to shock or bother but to educate, to say to those suffering, You are not alone,
And to say to those loving someone who is suffering, There is way more to this than you see at a casual get together, visit, or short trip.
And to those at the bedside, There is hope. What you're seeing your loved one go through is not all there is to life. This moment will pass and there will be other, better moments, even if the illness never leaves, we can have happiness, we can have joy, we can have comfort and love and peace in the fight.