Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Dangers of Dehydration

Last weekend I called 911 because I couldnd't stop my husbands bleeding. Stan had come into the house to tell me he was bleeding. That was an understatement ! He was bleeding so much I couldn't see where he was injured.
I first tried to stop the bleeding but there were multiple injuries. So I called 911 and the paramedics were here in a few minutes.

The paramedics weren't as concerned about the blood as they were about his state of mind. They began asking him questions and having him perform simple tasks. I recognized immediatly that they were checking for stroke. He passed all those tests but was confused and didn't know what day it was, how he got hurt or who the President was or the fact that he had run 10 miles that morning. They informed me they were lifeflighting him to the Herman Hospital Trauma unit in Houston because of a possible brain injury. They declared his loss of memory and unexplained loss of consciousness was their concern.
Stan had been using a ladder to repair a board on the house. But he had givn up and put the ladder back. He stores it on it's side in the garage. Our observations indicate he passed out and fell on the ladder, a metal extension ladder.

The whole incident was treated as a life threatening incident. They brought a stretcher into the house, wrapped his head and arm in bandages, strapped him on a backboard and put him in an ambulance. He was then driven to a nearby church parking lot and was loaded into a helicopter for his trip to the Herman trauma center.

Amazingly, I was quite calm in all of this. I knew what had happened. He was tired from his 10 mile run, the 60 mile bike ride he had done the day before and the 10 miles the day before that. He had then gone outdoors to do some repair on the house.

After the paramedics had taken Stan to the helicopter, I drove to the hospital, taking a change of clothes etc for Stan (They cut his shirt off... so he had no shirt). Having never been there before it was quite an experience driving to the Houston Medical Center and finding the RIGHT hosptal and then finding my husband.

I asked questions of everyone I saw. I was on a mission. WHERE Is My Husband?? Help came from the information man in the emergency entrance. He took Stan's name and told me he would find him. I then had to find where to park my car. When I came back, this same man told me, he knew where Stan was and took me to him. Stan was in a trauma emergency room having already had a CT, x-rays and who knows what else. The Dr. was getting ready to sew him up. He had several cuts on his face. Good news was no stroke, no blood on the brain. no broken bones. But the doctors wanted to find out why he passed out. He was given an IV for rehydration, and an EKG. From the EKG they ran four additional tests looking for heart irregularities. The only thing they found was an athletes heart and dehydration.
After several stitches, (His confusion was gone but memory of the accident will probably never come back),and after treating of some bad looking arm wounds, he was released.

Lesson: 2 % loss of fluid in your body can result in a 30% loss of performance. But your athletic performance is not the most important thing. 5-6% loss of fluid causes grogginess and headache, further loss of fluid in your body can result in dizziness. Loss of 10-15 % can result in death.
Stan was probably dehydrated when he started his run that morning. He drinks a lot on his bike rides but he is a heavy sweatter. For every lb. lost in sweating you need to replace that fluid with approximately 2 cups of water.
Thirst is NOT a good test of dehydration. By the time you feel thristy or get that dry mouth feeling you are already starting the dehydration process. As we age our sense of thirst is diminished and we already know thirst is not a reliable test of fluid loss.
It doesn't even have to be a hot day and you can lose fluid when you are swimming.
An interesting observation.... when a dog runs and plays hard he follows up with a huge drink of water, replacing all that fluid right away.
We should be as smart as the dogs.
Fluid loss is not something to be concerned about only when you are exercising. Dehydration can occur to anyone, anytime, anywhere. If you lose weight after exercise, it's not fat loss. It's water loss. Replace it right away.
Those in my family have learned an important lesson. Hydrate all day, every day.