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e_moon60

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Heat and Age [Aug. 31st, 2016|10:26 pm]
e_moon60
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[Current Mood |thoughtful]

As I've said before (as you know Bob) I grew up in a hot, often humid climate.   I was a healthy kid, outdoors a lot, and though I certainly didn't enjoy the sticky hot nights before my mother put in a window AC, I could play hard outdoors in the summer without a problem.  Through high school, college, and even moving back to Texas after leaving the military, I was pretty much heat-proof.  Hiked, rode horses, lived once again in un-airconditioned houses, gardened, etc.  Even after we moved here, the first years we didn't use air conditioning and I went on--often uncomfortable, but not having real problems with the heat.

The first time I had a problem,  it was on a long afternoon walk on the land we'd bought the year before--a hot, humid day with little wind.  We came out of the creek woods into the fierce sun, and partway along the south fenceline I felt bad enough I had to lie down.  But I recovered fast and walked back to the house without a problem.  We had begun to use AC by that point, finding that we couldn't sleep on the hot, breathless nights without it.  Years later, I had another bout.  A few years after that, another.  Once per summer, perhaps, but not every summer.  I became more careful about hydration, about moving more slowly, resting here and there in the shade before moving on.

I resisted the notion that heat is harder for an older body to handle...not MY body.  Not the "grew up in the heat" body.  I wasn't having that.  Never mind that decades had slipped by, and that we now routinely used AC in the summer.   Never mind that due to earlier illnesses through the spring and part of the summer, this year, I was far out of condition anyway and no longer riding my bike 45-60 minutes a day most days.  But...denial will catch up with you, and today it did so again.   Hot, humid, breathless.   I needed (I thought) to walk up toward the highway to plant wildflower seeds in the squishy ground after several days of rain.

And--long story short--I walked myself into a solid case of heat exhaustion--soaking sweat, nausea, faintness, and all.  In hindsight, I could have known within a hundred yards that this was a bad day to go out in field clothes (jeans, long-sleeved shirt with the collar up, heavy socks and trail shoes, backpack, camera, binoculars, water (not a bad idea, but adding weight), etc.   I went on.  Walked down the near meadow to test the water depth and clarity at the secondary drainage (too deep to walk through in those shoes), back up the slope and around the near meadow to the west, then back east along a ditch, around clumps of trees, farther and farther, until blocked by more water running on the land and a trail that had grown up in head-high switchgrass (a favorite hot-day resting place for a rattlesnake.   Back to toward the first crossing...but still determined to plant the seeds decided to climb a low rise and get into some woods, go through, and come out the far side to plant them in another field.  I wasn't feeling great, but I'd come that far...  Blocked once more by a long pool of water deeper than my shoes were high.

At that point, I turned back toward home, but that put the sun in my face (even with the big hat) and I realized how rotten I was feeling.  Down the slope...and then came the classic nausea, spots before the eyes, realization that I had a problem and I had made it myself.  Luckily...cellphone.  Luckly...husband was in the house and his cellphone was on.   Before he was able to get the lawn tractor going, and down to where I was, I had to get down on the ground or pass out.  He helped me up, after a bit, and onto the tractor, after another rest, and I drove slowly back up (around the end of the near meadow, because straight across it would bog down in the low spots--our experience)  stopping in the shade of one tree to cool off a little.  Recovery has been complete (after a half hour or more in the kitchen in front of a fan on high) but the lesson was unpleasant.  Yes.  As you get older your temperature control doesn't hold as well, and if you add deconditioning to that...heat exhaustion will find you.

On the bright side (there are several bright sides) I got a great picture of a saddlebags dragonfly and some Scheele's setaria (a grass) and some switchgrass while I was out there.  The big bluestem picture was not as good.

Saddlebags-dragonfly-8-31-16
Luckily, many dragonflies will return to a favorite perch if you just stand still long enough.

Scheele's setaria 2
Scheele's Setaria flowering/seeding

This grass is uncommon to rare--a native grass, but picky in its demands.   Does not return every year in the same spot.   The inflorescence, as you can see, is particularly attractive.   I wish we had more of it, and this is the best picture I've  gotten so far.  Worth a bit of sweat and misery just for these two pictures...if I'd stopped after the dragonfly shot, I might have made it home without help!
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: saare_snowqueen
2016-09-01 06:48 am (UTC)
You are going to see your doctor, please. Blood pressure, pulse rate etc... At our age these symptoms are more potentially dangerous than when we 'horses' were younger. Please go and have a check up.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2016-09-01 07:08 pm (UTC)
I am fortunate to have in-family backup. Pulse & respirations & so forth were certainly checked, both in the field and back home.
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[User Picture]From: muaddim
2016-09-01 07:03 am (UTC)

Well,you probably know,that having water and not drinking it is the same,as don't have it at all ????
Btw,i do carry water with me in the summer,but  drink it only when in shadow,or in AC'ed place,so i will not get sweaty .

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[User Picture]From: ann_mcn
2016-09-01 09:00 am (UTC)
Glad you both had cellphones with you and turned on. Heat is sneaky, and all the willpower in the world won't change it.

I've worked at the GA Renaissance Festival for over 20 years, and our shop is in the back, on a hill, so when folks come in, they've been hiking in the sun and drinking beer. Or not drinking anything, usually women who don't want to use privies. We have water in the back, and urge it on people with That Look on their faces. Nearly every season, I have to call the paramedics to fetch someone who have pushed too far.
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[User Picture]From: Susan H Beaty
2016-09-01 01:15 pm (UTC)
I grew up in Port Arthur, Texas, which is really hot and humid. We didn't get air conditioning until I was 15, and I too remember how much nicer the nights were. But it seems like the older I get the less I can deal with the heat. Even though I moved to Maryland nearly 20 years ago, I find that I avoid going outside in the heat of the day because I find it so unpleasant. Maybe that's a blessing in disguise, but it sure puts a crimp in any gardening I might want to do.

Glad you're okay. Please do take care.
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[User Picture]From: thewayne
2016-09-01 05:26 pm (UTC)
My mom and dad in Phoenix were born in Texas and Las Cruces, NM, respectively. Both in their 80s. Yet when I went to help them out when dad was diagnosed with cancer, the house is at 82 or above. And while I spent over four decades in Phoenix, I can't handle the house at that temperature, so there's an almost constant juggling of the thermostat.

I'm very glad you know the signs and react appropriately and quickly. How heavy is your outdoor shirt? Eddie Bauer, and I'm sure others, have light long sleeve shirts with an SPF in the 50s, I use them all the time when I'm outdoor shooting and there's lots of sun.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2016-09-01 07:12 pm (UTC)
This was a lightweight medium-light-blue denim shirt over a thin T-shirt (so I could unbutton the front and get some breeze, but with sleeves buttoned. We use denim a lot because it's not expensive to replace when the inevitable happens in contact with barbed wire, thorny vines, etc. Though I did get husband something supposedly tougher for Christmas last year (nothing you can stand to wear really stands up to working with or around barbed wire.)

I will look up the Eddie Bauer shirts, though. This was really more about deconditioning for both heat and exercise, though, I think.
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From: (Anonymous)
2016-09-01 07:48 pm (UTC)

heat stroke

Please be careful. I am 71 and do not hesitate to us A/C in both the car and in my bedroom.

Getting old is not for sissys.

Jonathan up here in NH.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2016-09-01 10:56 pm (UTC)

Re: heat stroke

I'm trying.
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[User Picture]From: mrs_redboots
2016-09-01 09:53 pm (UTC)
The converse holds true, as well. I don't know if it ever does get very cold where you live, but here (UK), where it occasionally does get cold, when it does, we are reminded to check up on our elderly relatives and make sure they are warm enough. And pensioners like us (and my parents - feels so odd to have two generations of pensioners in one family) get extra "cold-weather payments" if the winter weather is really extreme.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2016-09-01 10:55 pm (UTC)
We rarely get extreme cold, but we do get below-freezing weather, and yes...we need to turn the heat up to stay warm. Even in several layers, I can feel cold, in part because our house wasn't built with good insulation, and though we've added it, the windows still leak. Also, writing is sedentary work, and when I sit still for a few hours, I'm not generating the heat I would if, um, housecleaning.
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From: ozdragonlady
2016-09-01 11:34 pm (UTC)
*shakes head* Bad Momma! At least your cell worked and R was able to help. And you are ok :)
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[User Picture]From: gifted
2016-09-02 12:19 am (UTC)
Glad you recovered.
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From: 6_penny
2016-09-02 04:50 pm (UTC)
One of the times when cell phones are a wonderful invention. Now if only I could remember to keep mine charged ....
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[User Picture]From: klwilliams
2016-09-02 09:30 pm (UTC)
Yes, heat has definitely become a problem for me as I age, too. My husband, on the other hand, gets cold. We're quite the Spratts in this regard.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2016-09-02 10:40 pm (UTC)
I have a narrower "comfort" (or performance) range than I used to. It's kinda like aging vision--you can lose your very near focus and not improve your distance focus that much if at all. So I can easily get cold in cold weather, and now easily overheat in hot weather. If I'm coming down with something, or overtired, my feet and hands get cold and I have to put on more clothes or go to bed under plenty of covers. An hour later, when I've had a little sleep, I may be sweating and too hot.

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[User Picture]From: filkferengi
2016-09-06 03:28 am (UTC)
Thank you very much for sharing your experiences; they're warnings we heed. We're taking lots more precautions & doing lots more mitigating/preventative things. Just that insight on the narrower temperature comfort zone is very useful.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2016-09-06 03:50 am (UTC)
Aging bodies can still acclimate to seasonal changes in temperature, they just do it slower, and the change in activity level needed is greater. For instance, I can deal with cold if I'm active--more active than I used to have to be, and wearing more layers. The converse is true in acclimating to summer heat--I have to be less active at the same temperature than I used to have to be. But if I can get outside safely and build up the exercise tolerance, I can still do things in hot weather (but not super-hot weather).

The more conditioned I am, the fitter I am, the easier it is to handle the temperature changes. Right now I'm not fit, and the combination of illness, need to stay out of the sun because of medication, heavy rain early in the summer, and sudden heat meant I have not been able to regain fitness for outdoor stuff. Yet. I'm not content to stay where I am.
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[User Picture]From: filkferengi
2016-09-06 03:58 am (UTC)
If you want to get fit, you're welcome to come move books at my house.

[color me cute when helpful. ;)]
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2016-09-06 04:31 am (UTC)
(hysterical laughter)

Considering the books, boxes, and papers that need to be moved here, the housecleaning that needs to be done, etc., etc. my exercise options are, um, quite sufficient.

And I seriously need to get a fall garden in, too...
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[User Picture]From: filkferengi
2016-09-06 12:56 pm (UTC)
You mean you have a gracious plenty? [a favorite southernism.]

Just as long as you remember, the fall garden is where you get grub, not where you fall. It's easy [but no fun] to blur the distinction.
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