The hot weather has arrived and with that comes all kinds of worries: sunburn and dehydration top my list. Despite being of mostly Italian descent, I am a pale gal and I burn to a crisp. But that is a story for another day. We all hear every summer that we need to stay hydrated (and being a nurse, I am constantly pushing fluids on people and educating them on the importance of it), but do you know what dehydration looks and feels like? I consider myself somewhat of an expert on dehydration and rehydration (the rehydration part is generally not fun for you if you’re seeing me for it at work).
That was until my son, who was 9 or 10 at the time, came out to me one night at about 9 PM crying and telling me that he had the worst headache he had ever had in his life. He’s not a kid who complains, so I knew it must be serious. And being a nurse, I just wanted to make it go away so I gave him Tylenol. That didn’t touch it. I had no idea what else to do; he was literally grabbing his head and crying. I paged his pediatrician who, knowing my son’s lengthy medical history, sent us on our way to the ER. The ER is a nightmare, as you all know.
After several hours, labs, and much crying the diagnosis was……dehydration. WHAT??? Surely, they were kidding. I’m a nurse. I know all about dehydration and how to prevent it. Except that he had been at his summer program all day and it was hot. There was no AC and despite my constant lectures on drinking enough, he just hadn’t. I had never seen it present this way and it a real eye opener for me. So the next summer when we were on vacation and spent the day at Hershey Park and he started to complain of headache and became irritable, I knew what we were up against. Now when he gets aggravated with me constantly reminding him to drink, I remind him of that awful headache.