Sunday, July 13, 2008


It's that time of year when heat exhaustion and its serious calamity, sunstroke can happen. Well it happened to me and that was not pleasant. It was a shocker and even a day later I still feel the effects.

All I did was decide to mow the lawn, which had grown very high after all the rain, especially that nasty two-foot tall grass I hate that resembles Johnson grass. So after about an hour of slow going, lots of restarting the engine, I get tunnel vision. Silly me, trying to mow the grass in the middle of the Texas heat. So I left the mower and wandered like a drunk up the stairs to the porch, totally incapacitated, on the floor, shaking, hyperventilating, and nauseous.

According to the experts I was one step away from the hospital or even the grave.

After about 15 long minutes of down time I seemed fine, and being manly shook it off like "wow that was a trip, I'll never do that again!" But I was still dizzy, confused as heck, irritable, and couldn't eat dinner. My muscles were cramped and burning. The air conditioner which blows like ice cubes felt hot. I had been had.

Thanks to some locals and the Internet, I learned this is a very dangerous thing. It is not only dehydration, but rather lack of electrolytes and salt in your system that causes the real shock. So now I know that stuff like salt and Gatorade are what you need - and to not get so over-heated.

So all you neighbors, I'll be mowing the grass at eight o'clock in the morning or at night, and that's just my bad.

Editor - I fixed this up a little and wanted to mention that the best cure for heat exhaustion is to jump into the surf, and chill-out.


Rob Nixon said...


I am going through a gallon of water a day at work right now!

Be careful man

Sam said...

No big deal Rob, just that the side effects were kinda surprising.

I think it happens like when you're feeling exhausted and not getting enough water - coffee and beer are the two worst things you can do. Taking medicines like for allergies and stuff is also not good.

Must be getting old. I used to be able to work on roofs for 8 hours on commercial jobs when I was younger.

Bryan said...

This is my first post but I've been reading your blog since you started posting comments on Sphere.

Thanks for relaying your experience with heat stroke. Being new to TX and the heat, I don't think I've given enough thought to the risk. Neither am I very willing to concede that what I could do at twenty is not what I can do at more than twice that age.

PS. I'm looking forward to getting my family down to SPI next year. I recall you recently posted about the best times to visit, something about after something happens and before the college students arrive, or something like that. Care to repeat it?

Sam said...

Oh, the tourists seem to vanish after Labor Day except for some weekends. By November it's pretty darn slow here (I like it then). That time in between is the best because the water is still nice and warm. It's called the fall shoulder season. The leaves turn colors on the leaves up north, and down South here the water is still maybe 78 degrees.

Forgot what I said last time ... there's another sweet spot after Easter and until a few days before Memorial Day.

Everett said...

Hi Sam, Yeah! You WERE bad! Glad you are okay now.
Heat stroke, or sunstroke, and heat exhaustion are two different problems, and the visual symptoms are both markedly different. Heat exhaustion is what the guys down in the engine rooms used to get on Navy and other ships where it was really hot. They would be pale, have clammy skin, and be disoriented. Heat or sun stroke is what the deck apes, guys working up on deck in the sun would get. They would be red of face and neck, and in the last stages of sweating out all their excess water. It can and did occasionally kill a person. To prevent it, they always insisted that we take up to four salt tablets every day and keep on drinking water constantly! Now pay attention to your salt and h2o intake "ole feller"!

Sam said...

Thanks Everett - I guess you were on the BI rescue team for years in addition to the military so you should know. I feel like such a dummy about that, but wanted to share because sun and heat are equal opportunity slayers!

I talked with a boy that just got back from Iraq yesterday and he said it's a big problem, heat and sun stroke, since they got all that body armor and all. Said you had to cool off slowly or you could "stroke-out" and die. Ice water and cold showers would go from one extreme to the other.

So I'm still learning. Drink cool water, not ice water if you're getting over-heated. -sam

Joni said...

My husband warned me that I should visit in the summer before I decided to move here wince I always complained about the humidity in New York, on Lake Ontario. But did I listen...? Coming from Colorado humidity seems to knock me flat - and the last two days here have shown me what it can be like.

I know beer is not the answer, but after meeting on the construction site, and after the BOA meeting last night I just couldn't think of anything else that would hit the spot.

Thank goodness there is air conditioning (a luxury my 300 year old farmhouse did not have) and thanks for the warning. You won't have to tell me twice to avoid working in the heat!!!

Sam said...

Ah, beer, proof that God loves us (Ben Franklin, paraphrased).

It's even OK on the beach if you have shade - I like the folding square cabana things. Feel hot, jump in the 80 degree water. Be sure to pack some snacks and lotsa water. Best during the week before the Friday crowds descend.

If you work 4 hours in an air conditioned house or business and then run outside and work furiously, well, that's what happened to me. Sounds like you're back, Joni, and good to hear from you. -sam

Everett said...

Hi Sam,Just thought of an old adage about treatment for heat exhaustion/sun stroke. I t goes like this: "If he's pale, raise his tail,(feet), If he's red, raise his head". Then comemmence to stuff him with the COOL water and then the salt tabs or equivalent.
It hit the 90's up here today an the mainland and about 85 out here, but by noon we were beginning to get the afternoon onshore breeze from the SW. Must be some of yours working it's way up here. Hope you are all well by now.

Sam said...

Thanks Everett, I think I can remember that. We miss BI sorely and I wish airline tickets weren't so darn high now, or we'd come pester ya and have to take the tour of your family's new "hotel." And 85 is cool, man!