Heat exhaustion and me: Not a love story

When I wrote this post about 12 hours after returning from Super Aqua Club, I was (obviously) in a grouchy mood. I was sitting on the couch with sweat pouring down the back of my neck. It was leaking from my hairline, from every pore in my body.

First-aider and Cub Scout leader Melani told me over the phone on Thursday that I was suffering from heat exhaustion.

“But I’m not sunburned!” I protested. “I wore lots of sunscreen! Is it swine flu?”

“Do you have a headache?”

“Yes.”

“Chilled?”

“Yes.”

“Nauseous?”

“Yes.”

“You have heat exhaustion. Congratulations.”

“Am I going to die?”

I might have, if I’d kept whining and I might have if I’d been in the sun a little longer. Heat exhaustion can progress very quickly, and you should know the signs (those above, plus profuse sweating, fatigue, pale skin and a host of other lovely symptoms; if you stop sweating, call an ambulance).

On the drive to the water park, on one of the hottest days of the summer, I had a huge coffee. At the park, I had a beer. These liquids are a couple of the world’s greatest dehydrators. Late in the day, I had a juice box. I protected my skin well enough, but I really abused my body.

Armed with Melani’s long-distance diagnosis and some Internet research, I treated myself. (I do not condone this behaviour: Always call your doctor. In Quebec, you can contact Info-Sante.) I sipped saltwater all night and stayed put in my air-conditioned seat at work. And I learned a little lesson:

Always. Always. Always pack more water.

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