Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Lessons in Dehydration

There are some lessons you have to learn many times before they set in.

For me, the lesson is in dehydration.

You know that part of the Breakfast Club when Molly Ringwald goes: "I have a very low tolerance for dehydration." And Emilio Estevez counters with: "I've seen her dehydrate, sir. It's pretty gross." Yeah, that's me. But when I get dehydrated, it's not so much gross as cranky.

My biggest dehydration debacle was years ago when I was doing an Outward Bound in Canyonlands National Park. It was in the desert and at elevations of 4000 to 7000 feet. Enough to make a sea-level living girl like myself lose water like crazy. But when I started to cramp up, I settled that problem by taking ibuprofen. And when my stomach started cramping and I didn't feel like eating or drinking, well, I didn't. Did I mention I was carrying a 50 pound pack? On my 106 pound body?

Yeah, well, somewhere into day 5, I was hiking up out of a canyon with my fellow hikers, watching a pack of coyotes in the distance. I noticed a lone coyote that had separated from the pack and was coming quite close to us, checking us out in that skittish way that coyotes have. I said something about it to one of my trail mates who got excited and said "Coyote? Where?" Which was strange, since the coyote was about 10 feet away from us. It seemed strange that NOBODY in my group saw the coyote that was in clear sight, nor did they notice the entire pack which was a bit further away but still clearly visible. "Oh, I guess it ran away. It was just here" I said.

Shortly thereafter, I started hearing people calling out my name from the top of the canyon. Which was also strange, since we were essentially out in the middle of NOWHERE! By the time we made camp, I was swearing at people and crying and I yelled at my pack for being too heavy. (I'm sure everyone was super happy that I was along on this camping trip!) The trip leader walked up to me and said "How much water did you drink today?" I answered "Not enough. I think that's pretty F***ing clear, don't you think?" And then he made me drink 2 liters of water and eat ramen soup with extra salt.  Feeling much more like a human, I turned to everyone and said "About my behavior earlier...."

After an experience like that, you'd think that I'd be more astute about staying hydrated.

You would think.

But I've passed out on the beach, collapsed running bleachers, and cramped up during long runs.

And then there was last weekend.

I'm pretty sure I was dehydrated before I even left to go to New Hampshire. (New England winters and all with that super dry forced-air heat at work) Plus I was at 1000 to 3000 feet of elevation. Not Lake Tahoe, but enough to make a sea-level living girl like me lose water. And we were outside all day in the snow. And I didn't drink enough water. I don't think sitting in the hotel hot tub for 90 minutes helped matters any. Or the margarita at dinner.

Anyway, let's just say that Sunday was pretty rough. As I cruised back down to sea level, I consumed two big bottles of Sobe Lifewater and two big bottles of regular water. Plus a couple glasses before bed. I still woke up with a pounding headache on Monday morning.

Once you get behind that hydration curve, it's so hard to catch up. I think I finally caught up today. On Wednesday.

What can I say? I have a very low tolerance for dehydration.

And thank God for ibuprofen.

4 comments:

me said...

I just learned that some people who have mitral valve prolapse can also have an accompanying autonomic nervous system component where their blood pressure is often low and can have have trouble regulating -- the thing that stood out for me was that somehow the body interprets the blood volume as being at 80% of normal, and so staying hydrated for those folks is really important. The thirst mechanism doesn't work properly so they almost have to force themselves to drink when not thirsty. Do you have a heart murmur? If so, it may be part of why you didn't realize you were dehydrated. Glad you got some water in you finally! -spleeness

Carolina John said...

oh yea man. I have a tough time with dehydration too. put me in the ER once getting 2 bags of saline in an IV. nasty stuff.

Drink more!

geekhiker.com said...

This may cross the line into TMI, but I learned my lesson the hard way: kidney stones. And surgery resulting from said kidney stones. Not a path I relish going back down.

Haven't had a problems since, though...

Amanda - RunToTheFinish said...

I think I've always drank more than enough water, but I didn't realize that I was actually flushing my system of electrolytes and that was just as bad!