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Saturday, 07 September 2013 18:15

When God 'Has My Back' - Heat Exhaustion in September

I had 'one of those days' on Thursday, where all of the 'what ifs' were almost more than I could take. 

It started out typically, I was giving Clara breakfast and trying to decide what we should do that day when I received a Facebook message reminding me that I'd RSVP'd to a picnic for that day, but Brian had taken the car and so I would have to bus in order to go. I had spoken to my Grandma that morning, and we had discussed the weather for the next day - when I was planning to go to her house to help with some house cleaning - and how it was only supposed to be about 28 degrees celcius, which is relatively cool and reasonable considering some of the days we've had here recently. I think I unconsciously had it in my head that it would be 28 degrees on Thursday as well. 

I checked the bus schedule and realized that I had about 20 minutes to get to the stop - which gave me about 10 minutes to throw a picnic together, get the girls in the stroller with everything else we'd need, and then 10 minutes to walk to the bus stop.  I figured I could make it. 

I threw a really simple picnic together, made sure we all had water bottles and the girls had hats. I brought along the sunscreen to put on them on the bus and while we were waiting at random stops. We made it to our stop, but when the bus showed up, I almost turned and went home when I realized that I would be taking an older bus - one that is not wheelchair/stroller accessible, and I would have to maneuver the stroller up 3 steep steps onto the bus. I got over my hesitation, however, and decided to try it anyway - luckily someone else at the stop offered to help, so I only had to carry one end while he lifted the other. 

We made it to the picnic a little bit late, but considering Clara and I were both out of our element - we're both shy - and we were there to meet new people, it was a pretty good time. We left a bit early, because Clara seemed somewhat bored - most of the children there were older than she is, and so it was difficult for her to interact - and started walking back to our bus stop.  

This time I hadn't checked the schedule, and had just left as early as we could - not knowing how long we would have to wait for the first bus.

I was glad when the bus was scheduled to arrive at the stop in less than 10 minutes.  Audrey had emptied her water bottle and was fussing considerably, so I filled her bottle again with water from the bottle I had brought for myself and she seemed happier after this. Clara was happily playing on the sidewalk as we waited - so no concerns here. The girls had been heavily sunscreened on the way to the park, and we were on our way home, so I didn't worry about re-applying. 

We arrived at the university campus - where we would need to transfer to another bus - mid afternoon, probably nearly the hottest time of day.  The signs in this bus mall showed limited information - most of them gave the bus numbers for each stop (although some were so faded from the sun, it was nearly impossible to see) and only one (that I found) showed the direction the bus would be going.  As it happens, I was waiting at the same spot I used to wait - when I attended university - to go home on the bus I was familiar with.  When we arrived at the bus mall, I was expecting to catch the bus right away, but was annoyed to see the '80' already driving away. Due to the busy-ness of the campus bus mall at that time of day on a school day, I assumed it had left early because it was already full to capacity and didn't really question it. I simply went to that spot anyway to wait for the next bus. 

As I stood there, I started to feel uncomfortable in the heat. Audrey was sleeping, and her head was covered by the stroller sun-shade, but her legs were exposed so I tried to stand in a position to shade her from the sun.  This left Clara exposed, but she had her hat, and seemed happy enough, so I told myself that everything was fine and tried not to worry too much. 

Then, after almost 15 minutes of waiting in the heat, I realized that the bus that would stop where I was would be travelling in the opposite direction from where I wanted to go. The bus mall had been moved around, and suddenly I was completely lost. I asked one bus driver where to go if I wanted to head back to my end of the city, and he said "Somewhere over there [pointing], but it will say on the sign!"

The signs were not that clear. As I said before, they had the bus number, but not necessarily the direction. 

After a certain amount of near-panicked searching, I figured out where I would need to be and joined a huge group of University students who were waiting for the bus as well. I was worried I wouldn't be able to get a spot on the bus, and with the giant stroller I had, it would be difficult to sneak into the line - that, and when I got on the bus, we would take up the space of 3-4 adults and I wasn't sure there would be room. 

I was terrified of having to wait in the sun with the girls for another 20 minutes for another bus - and none of the University students around me noticed or cared that these babies should probably have first place on the bus. 

Luckily, the bus that stopped was a double length bus, and so there was lots of room - although I struggled to get the stroller onto the bus, and a few University girls seemed not to notice me at all and tried to rush right past me until the bus driver asked them to stop.  It was a really awkward display, and I was more than a little bit stressed, over heated, and exhausted. Audrey was still sleeping. 

When we finally got to our stop - about five blocks from home - Audrey woke up and looked around for a few minutes before falling back to sleep.  Now, her head was in the sun and there was no way to move the shade to block her. I told myself that the few minutes it would take to get home wouldn't hurt her, and just focused on getting home. 

I was exhuasted though, and my mind started wondering what would happen if I just collapsed right there...

I mentally gave myself a slap across the face, telling myself not to be such a melodramatic idiot, and made myself straighten up and stop whining (inwardly). And so, I made it home without passing out, and both girls seemed completely fine.

When we got home, I pushed the stroller into our garage and instead of unloading it - took both girls directly to their room, where I turned their fan on and collapsed on my bed for a few moments.  Audrey started fussing, so I took her into my room and fed her, and then put her back in her crib. 

I should note here, that our house gets almost as hot inside as it is outside on a hot day - so, if the temperature gets to about 32 or 33 outside, it will be about 31 or 32 inside the house. We don't have air conditioning, we just try to shut the windows in the heat and open them again when it is cool and breezy, and at night. The girls' room faces north - away from the sun - and there is a row of cedar trees that blocks their view from the street, so their room is quite sheltered, and since we bought a new ceiling fan for that room after Clara was born, it remains the coolest room in the house. 

Our bedroom faces south - toward the sun - and our ceiling fan does almost nothing. Since we painted a couple of our rooms, we also haven't put the curtains back up, so there is nothing to shade the room from direct sunlight.

I took a cold bath, and collapsed on my bed. I remember hearing one of the girls making noises, but I told myself that they were safe in their beds and the next thing I knew two hours had passed and my Mother in Law was ringing the doorbell to come and pick up the girls (who were spending the night away - which is a topic for another post)

Shortly after, I was feeling nauseous and was soon running to the bathroom, wretching. 

I was reminded of Clara's illness during the winter, when she became so dehydrated that she could no longer keep fluids down. I figured I must be dehydrated, and quickly chugged two large glasses of water. In about 20 minutes, they were violently propelling themselves back out of my body.

I called a friend of mine who is a nurse, and she told me to just keep cool and take only small sips of water every 15-20 minutes.

Right. Cool. 

So, I lay in front of the floor fan in our room and fell asleep again. 

After this second nap, I began to feel much better, but going over the events of the day made my mind spin. 

What if the girls had been affected? What if they had gotten heat stroke - or worse? 

I was mad at myself for not realizing how hot it was going to be that day - or how hot it was when I was already standing in the sun. I was mad at myself for not making more certain that Audrey's head was always in the shade (she won't keep a hat on), or simply for not leaving the house at all.  And I had forgotten a hat for myself, which probably had a lot to do with it...

In the end, I realized that it wasn't me who saved the girls - I felt like I had done everything wrong, and what I had done right I had done unknowingly. I gave Audrey the last of my water, not realizing how important it might be. I could have just thought she was sleeping (which I did) and tried to get her to sleep (which was, honestly, my initial reaction - I refilled her water without really thinking about it). Despite my rush, I made sure they both DID have hats, and the stroller had the sunshade attached - it doesn't always.  When I got home, despite allowing myself to collapse in a hot room, I made sure they were in the coolest place in the house, with the fan on them full strength. 

As I had been feeding Audrey, I heard Clara cry out that she wanted her water bottle, which I had left in the stroller in my rush. By the time I finished feeding Audrey and brougth Clara her water, she had already fallen asleep. Or maybe she had passed out, I don't know. But she woke up fine when I did two hours later. 

They were ok - but the possibility that they might not have been terrorized me, and despite how glad I was that I didn't have to watch the girls while I was feeling sick that evening - I missed them terribly, and even cried that night from missing them. I just wanted to hold them forever... 

This was one of those days, when I was reminded that God 'has my back'. I am not alone when it comes to taking care of my daughters, and sometimes God actively steps in and - despite my ignorance - makes sure that everything turns out ok. I was oblivious - but He wasn't. 

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;"  Proverbs 3:5

Because seriously - sometimes my own understanding isn't worth a whole lot... 

My symptoms from heat exhaustion were initially fatigue, excessive sweating, and headache - and later became confusion and vomiting. Stay safe in the heat - even in September! Drink lots of water, wear sunscreen and especially - wear a hat! 

Take care, all!

Read 1472 times Last modified on Saturday, 07 September 2013 21:08

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