Say it with me: “De-hy-dra-shun.” That’s it. Dehydration.
In other words, somethin’ done squoze all the extra liquid from your bod, organs and skin. Yes, Virginia, I know skin is technically an organ; however, many don’t. I include it here to inform.
Dehydration is now a part of what I call my ‘Normal’. It’s not humorous; it’s serious enough that, in it’s extreme form, it can kill if left untreated. That little ray of sunshine, however, would make most folks go, “EEeeuuuww!” and run off to find something of sufficient shallowness and an extra helping of silly.
So I offer the following things that normally occur in my life whenever dehydration sneaks in the back door.
First, though, let me ‘splain why all this occurs. You, the normal adult, have right at 21 feet of small intestine coiled inside your abdomen. It’s one of God’s super creations which, along with keeping your immune system on patrol and your bones getting all they need, is meant to gather nutrients and life-giving and -sustaining liquids into your body. That keeps you healthy.
How long is your small intestine? Say it with me: “Twenty-one feet.” Very good.
Does it make sense, then, when someone like me has all but 18 inches of mine surgically removed, I’m NOT getting either food or drink in my bod? Certainly not enough to keep me alive.
I’m a bona-fide miracle. I not only am alive, I’m able to function, to speak, to eat, to walk and drive and eat. Did I mention I can eat? Just sayin’ because it’s a huge blessing among so many. My ‘normal’ now, after being opened up from sternum to pubis 5 separate times? After surrendering what amounts to my entire small gut, gall bladder, appendix, preface and introduction?
Chronic fatigue and chronic anemia. It’s why I can’t give blood which I hate because I’d love to pay several gallons of it forward. A lot of fine people, known and unknown to me, gave blood so I could live. Because of low energy levels on my best day, I plan to get my work done in the morning. By noon, I’m pretty much toast. I plan accordingly, and thank God for the ability to do what I do do. No. Don’t go there.
I mentioned eating. I’ve been within a pound or three of 170 ever since God decided to step in and heal/keep healing me. I eat and drink everything I can, to the total disgust of my family and friends. Through God’s intervention, my tiny 18 inches of remaining small gut somehow absorbs enough proteins and almost enough liquids that I live. And live to WRITE.
- Tired-more than normal. Getting up already tired took some getting used to. I literally begin my best days with my energy indicator right on the bubble. If I start exerting any kind of physical effort, I’m instantly on the negative side of the scale. Because I haven’t the means to quickly rehydrate and refuel, it can take days – sometimes the better part of a week, to get back to my ‘normal’. I don’t bounce back; I come dragging my sorry self back. When dehydrated, I wake up already on the minus side – and it just gets more minus from there.
- My voice gets raspy. I’m unsure what this is about. I had NG tubes forced down my throat 6 different times. Those wreak havoc with the voice. Unwelcome guests, for sure. The nervous system remembers things. Perhaps that’s the reason. At any rate, whenever I begin suffering from dehydration, that’s one of the early signs.
- I don’t make sense and ramble in conversation. This, along with slurring my words, is the most embarrassing symptom of dehydration for me. I can’t not talk; that’s not an option. This symptom is the primary reason I try to stay out of the public eye and ear when I know I’m dehydrated. It hurts to see hidden smiles and, “What are you on?” or “What have you been drinking?” on faces.
- I slur my words. Again, I don’t have an explanation. I just know when it starts to happen, I try to fight through it and express myself as best I can with those who are always around me. Otherwise, I stay away from other people.
- Nothing tastes good – even ice-cold water. Nothing. This one’s tough because I have to eat and drink all the time. You’ll agree that’s problematic when NOTHING tastes good. Even water. And you know what it’s like trying to sneak something unpalatable past your tongue. Right? #gagmewithwhateverthatis
- I drag my feet, easily stumbling over objects normally missed. This, along with the next one is another reason I stay out of the public when dehydrated.
- My balance is affected; I walk into walls and inanimate objects. See above. And the crazy part? I’ve never drunk alcohol in any form. Yet I play a drunk well. I get to practice every time I’m dehydrated. What a deal! And my kids LOVE to come over and play board games with me when I’m like this. They think it’s a hoot. I play along because it IS funny to everyone except the one suffering from it. I’ll say it again: being dehydrated, especially if it’s severe, is no game.
- Peripheral vision gets spots and focus is blurred when moving from close-up reading to seeing out ahead. Pretty much self-‘splanatory. I include this so you understand: being dehydrated is nothing to mess with. Those of you with all the small gut God issued you? NEVER allow this to happen, but if it does, get liquids down you in a hurry. And good old water is still the best.
- My body aches more than normal. Again, self-‘splained.
- I’m lethargic and draggy. This really bugs me because, being already energy-negative, I feel and act like a sloth. (Yawn …. )
- NO energy of any kind. It’s tough to be creative, i.e. write well when in the throws of dehydration. Yeah, I meant to spell it that way. You’ll understand when you see the next symptom.
- Nausea. Thankfully, the hurling/throwing/upchucking thing doesn’t often happen any more. But for awhile, especially the first few years following the resect surgeries, I kept a plastic garbage container handy.
- Chills. Anyone like me with very little body fat chills easily. During dehydration, it’s exacerbated by a factor of 10 or 73. I’m layered up right now, with a space heater running and my office door closed. Buddy doesn’t like it, but, hey, tough toenails. Health is the name of the game, along with relative comfort.
- I sometimes suffer a total shut down and must have saline infused by IV. This doesn’t happen much because Brenda and I have learned what to look for, and what steps to take. But please take this to the bank. If you’re ever seriously dehydrated, you won’t be able to take yourself to the ER. You’ll be experiencing ALL those things I just listed at the same time. You’ll need somebody intimately acquainted with your issues and WHY you’re dehydrated – and who they need to call while they’re taking you where you can get several bags of saline. COLD saline. That means you need to wear very warm, comfortable clothes because you’ll be there awhile. You’ll also be receiving ice-cold saline from the inside-out. No. It’s no fun. It’s the price of staying alive and fighting your way through dehydration.
So, my friends, there it is. It’s so much a part of my ‘normal’ now that I don’t always catch it until it’s begun happening for a couple of days.
Bottom line. I hope whenever you see the word ‘dehydrated’ you don’t just shrug, switch positions and go back to checking your DVR for something interesting to watch. It’s no game. Dehydration is a very serious issue.
If you deal with it at all, please talk to your doctor about common home remedies. If you don’t, but recognized yourself as you read through these symptoms, please talk to your doctor about it.
The life you save might be your own.
Oh. By the way, I mentioned that it’s hard to be creative? Those who know me – to whom I’d send an email when feeling this way – can tell you: “Yep, I know when Dan’s dehydrated, because his typing is horrible and a lot of the time he doesn’t make good sense. He isn’t the same Dan when he’s dehydrated.”
They’re right. I’ve spent about as much time making corrections as I have actually writing this. Consider it a labor of love and caring from a guy who’s been there way too often. Fact is, I’m there right now.
I believe I’ll go read a book.
Dehydration. Don’t mess around with it.
© D. Dean Boone, February 2015