Friday, October 21, 2016

WHY I FELL - The Risk The Doctor May Not Mention

Many decades ago, a doctor wrote a scrip for Great-Aunt Blanche:  Buy a case of Vernor's Ginger Ale.

They couldn't really afford the gas they burned to drive across the state line to a Vernor's distributor, but at least she had something important to talk about for weeks:  Dehydration.

I remembered that story a few years ago at work, when a fabric rep refused my offer of coffee: "I only drink it in the morning now; coffee is just too dehydrating - it ruins your skin."  (And his skin is fine, worth pampering.)

Not too long after that, at a company outing to a fabulous evening open house, I suddenly felt weak, sunk gracefully to the sidewalk, and passed out for a few seconds.  I was outside in crisp, cool air and hadn't had any symptoms before I fell. The fire dept. EMT made me drink a bottle of water; I got up and walked to the car with no more symptoms.  Turns out half a tiny plastic glass of wine had been no protection against dehydration.  You'd think I would learn.

My writing ritual was always a cup of coffee right next to the computer (part of my inner image as the busy writer, or at work, the busy computer jockey.)  But I don't have the habit of drinking enough water.

Fast forward:  A couple of weeks ago, I felt a bit dizzy and tired at the keyboard, put head between the knees, and all.  Suddenly I knew:  dehydration..  Since my recent bout with pre-diabetes, ginger ale is not an option, so I drink all the coffee I want instead of the water I need. Adding my green tea from the dental protection regimen should make me drink even more water.  Ugh.

I was lucky to have those symptoms.  Aunt Blanche apparently didn't notice symptoms, but her doctor did.  (One thing I'm learning; different writers from the same big hospital may have slightly different opinions on a subject like dehydration.) Alas, several of them agree that getting older may add to the danger; we may not notice thirst and may not eat foods that bring in moisture.

Today I learned that dehydration could also be a factor in my (expletive deleted) chronic eyelid disease!

Why am I telling this:  With summer ending, school will start, days will get colder in most places. Coffee is warm and kind while water is just ... water.  Grownups will head to a place with hot coffee. We will forget summer warnings to drink enough water.  We may get dehydrated from so much caffeine.  Osteoporosis, taking more medicines than usual, or just being sick may increase our danger of falling.

Writing this really makes me want more mid-morning coffee,  It should come with a glass of water. Secretly, I'm buying bottled spring water, but so far not putting it in the coffee maker.  The big pint-and-a half bottle makes me aware of how much I drink.  Or don't.  I need to get some squatty little water bottles that fit perfectly under the dash in my car.  And I must not keep them in the fridge - a splash of icy water on my leg when I brake could cause problems at least as bad as dehydration.

As for the day recently when I felt a bit dizzy at the computer..(and my need for noon naps):

Signs of dehydration in adults include
  • Being thirsty
  • Urinating less often than usual
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Dry skin
  • Feeling tired
  • Dizziness and fainting"
And of course, I'm in TX so summer warnings still apply.  

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