How to Become Dehydrated on 96 Ounces of Water a Day

First of all, I’m all right. 

Secondly, you guys lucked out and didn’t have to deal with this. 

At four o’clock the morning after we had our meeting and our dinner at the Olive Garden, I woke up with a severe leg cramp and the worst set of physical sensations I’ve ever experienced in my life.  The objective symptoms were dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, a drenching cold sweat, and an intense need to void.  The internal sensation is much harder to put into words.  My best descriptions so far are “something is terribly wrong in my body” and “I’m going to die, sitting right here on the edge of the bed.”

We dialed 911 and said I was having a possible heart attack.  Why?  Because woman (and men less frequently) have asymptomatic heart attacks with no pain.  My mother had one.  Heart attack was the only thing I could think of that suggested the severity of my symptoms.  I knew it would get the paramedics rolling.

The meeting we arranged with the ambulance on Davis Road between McNeal and our home went off without a hitch.  As Dan hustled us toward the hospital in Douglas, Martin (accent on the last syllable–don’t know how to do that yet) did the usual hooking up of blood pressure, cardio, and oxygen saturation instruments.  Everything looked fine, though I still felt awful.

Martin did me an enormous favor.  Based on what I told him about the amount of water I was drinking as part of my kidney treatment, he suggested that I was DEHYDRATED.  Right away, the stuff I read about this twenty or thirty years ago kicked in, and I knew he was right.  All that water without added electrolytes had flushed the potassium and other salts out of my body.  I had already suspected dehydration because of the muscle cramp and intense thirst I had after the worst of the attack passed.  Our sensation of thirst is triggered by a drop in blood pressure from not having enough fluids in the bloodstream.

At the emergency room, they ran some tests that confirmed Martin’s suggestion.  The rest of my results were well within the normal range.  They gave me some potassium and a list of things to do to get my electrolytes up and sent me home. 

Ross later mentioned that this is why runners drink electrolyte drinks like Gatorade.

So . . . 

Ninety-six ounces of FLUIDS a day may be fine, but NOT ALL STRAIGHT WATER.  I’ve started with diluted fruit juices, especially those with plenty of potassium like bananas.  Dennis is on his way to the vitamin supplement store in Douglas for a couple of things, too.

The moral of this post is DON’T BE STUPID, AS I WAS!  I’d forgotten part of the picture about how the body works.  Fortunately, I lived to learn.  And to come to another Cochise Writers meeting!

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One comment on “How to Become Dehydrated on 96 Ounces of Water a Day

  1. rossblampert says:

    Well, whodathunkit? But yeah, it makes sense: distance runners who drink too much straight water and don’t replace electrolytes get a condition called hyponatremia–too little salt in the body fluids. That’s why they drink Gatorade or PowerAde instead of/in addition to water.

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