Taking Heat

20 Jul

It’s hot.  It’s been hot and I can remember a time when I just loved hot weather.  Don’t get me wrong; I really like it now, still hate being cold but with my hypersensitivity, well, you can imagine how bad it’s been for me during the steamy month of July.  I’ve never prayed for rain and cloudy skies so much before in my life, anything that’ll keep the temperature over 70 and under 85, not that works for me any longer; 74 was a good temp for me but not even that helps a whole lot.  It can get over 90 degrees in here – and that’s with fans going full blast – and that’s when I reach for the A/C control… then brace for the pain the cold will bring.

Even with medication, it seems as if I suffer no matter what I do to stay cool; too cool, pain; too hot, pain – but with the additional sensation of being burned when I perspire – but only on one side.  I still find it funny that my right side and left side really don’t agree with each other, although I have the “advantage” of knowing that the two sides are aware of each other, even though the left side can’t quite figure out why the right side can’t keep up.

I’ve been in the 100+ degree days of Texas and Arizona; the stupidly muggy and soggy heat of Mississippi – I learned to take the heat, letting it infuse me with its energy; I used to play basketball, running full court games on days so hot even the insects didn’t want to be bothered with bothering you… and for hours on end.  Heat stroke?  Hell, that’s what happens to other people!

Of course, send me somewhere cold and I just wanna hibernate; never liked being cold and falling into an icy creek one winter didn’t help any back in the day.  But this ain’t about the cold – check back with me when winter sets in and you’ll hear some pretty sad – but funny – shit.

Outside of the pain, the heat never bothered me; so you can imagine my surprise when during my last doctor’s visit, he told me my BP was good but low for me – I was dehydrated and I don’t think I’ve ever been dehydrated before, well, during the summer anyway.  On the way home, I inhaled the biggest bottle of Gatorade I could get my hands on right away and I’ve been drinking like a fish ever since (even though fish don’t really drink), even to the point where I slosh when walking.

Left side says, yeah, it’s nice and hot, I’m sweaty (but not funky) and it’s all good; right side is asking for the flow of hydrochloric acid to stop raining on it.  It even feels hotter to my right side which is just so patently stupid all I can do is laugh when I think about it.  As I’ve mentioned before, it’s like one side of me knows what the deal is and the other just ain’t on the same page, almost as if I’m two different people feeling two different things.

If you were watching me, you’d see me touching my face or arm a lot; right hand touching right then left – then left checking.  It might make you think I had OCD; what I’m really doing is trying to find out what I’m feeling.  Brain says one thing; right and left side ain’t buying it.  With my right hand, I touch the right side of my face (that drives me nuts, too) and the sensory feedback tells me, say, I’m burning up.  Touch the left hand to the right side of my face and my left hand says, “What are YOU talking about?  Feels fine to me.

Right hand on left arm – same report; right side thinks the left side needs to call the fire department; left hand to right arm, well, it’s a little warm but not too bad.  It’s crazy, ain’t it?  Sometimes, if I don’t look at the temperature on the computer, I couldn’t tell you what I thought it was – and I used to be able to do that.

The heat brings along with it some scary sensations.  Two of the symptoms of having a stroke is feeling tingling and/or numbness; uh, duh, I feel like that all the time!  You might be watching me – then I start making faces, smiling, waggling my eyebrows, sticking my tongue out – even “looking” up, down, left, and right.  Make me look retarded but I’m really checking to see if everything’s working properly.

It’s hot, I’m sweaty, my right side is sending so many mixed signals on top of making me miserable.  I don’t want to be hot, sure as hell don’t want to be cold – I don’t know what I want to be.  Oh, and if my right side isn’t bathing in sulphuric acid, then it’s the numbness on top of some muscles being weak.  You normally don’t feel your muscles unless you’ve stressed them a lot; there are certain muscles on my right side that I am acutely aware of, like the musculature around my eye.  Normally, you don’t feel these working – I do… kinda.  It’s either I’m not feeling them, giving me that numb feeling, or I’m feeling them too much – the burning feeling I feel as well.  The hotter I get, the worse it feels.

Being hot has me paying attention to stuff I never used to pay attention to before.  I drink too much water, it puts pressure on my diaphragm and it feels like my chest is tightening or it triggers my reflux, both which are also symptoms of heart attack.  Check the pulse; okay, strong and steady and this new pain – which my right side can’t stand, by the way – isn’t the same as a heart attack – but it doesn’t feel good but it’s being caught between the rock and the hard place because if I don’t stay hydrated, apparently, it messes with my BP.


It might rain… just long enough to make things cool enough that steam rises from the street; then the sun comes back out and brings it’s friend, humidity and it’s cousin, more humidity.  Before the stroke, never bothered me a whole lot; after the stroke, jeez, it’s almost as if I can feel it!  Of course, I can feel breezes on my right side that I can’t feel on the left and, no, that’s not a good thing if you remember me telling you that this pain gets so bad I can’t stand feeling air on my skin.

Doesn’t suck much more than that.  When you toss in that there’s absolutely nothing I can do about any of this, well, you can guess that I’m not enjoying these hot-assed days.  The Lyrica my doctor started me on during the end of winter – and helped with the pain I feel when it’s cold – is getting laughed at in the sultry, steamy hot days and nights; it’s not quite as if I haven’t taken it – it’s just not making a big difference.  Normally, that calls for bringing out the big guns:  the tramadol and oxycotin.  But then all that gets me is hot, stoned, still hurting some and, oh, yeah, wide awake for the next day or so; really messed up to be miserable and you can’t even fall asleep to escape it.

At least now, with the Lyrica, I don’t feel the pain when I sleep like I used to.

Staying hydrated in all this stuff presents one other problem and one I’m sure everyone’s familiar with when you drink too much.  I call it, “Ooh la wee, I sure gotta pee!”  Given that I have muscle weakness (or inefficiency) on my right side, while it didn’t seem to affect my ability to breathe (thank God), it did affect my bladder.  No, I don’t have to wear Depends and it’s not like I can’t hold it… I just better not press my luck on this one.  It’s really pretty funny… as long as I make to the bathroom in time.  The only good thing is that I can go out and not worry about having an accident and, as you might imagine, it only gets interesting when I’m close to coming back in – then you’d better not get between me and the toilet because I will run you over.

I used to love the heat of summer, the nights when heat lightning arcs through the sky, promising rain but never delivering despite deep, bone-felt peals of thunder.  Ah, man, it would feel good to see the breeze come way up then to step outside and just feel so alive and cool as storm generated wind makes the trees rustle like castanets.  The fun of it is gone now because the cooling breezes hurt and bother me and if it should rain, hell, I can’t even run between the raindrops like I used to; if caught in even the shortest of downpours, I’m getting soaked and, trust me, that ain’t gonna make me feel good even when it should.

I like the sun on my face… and I can’t stand it on one side; makes me feel as if someone’s constantly slapping me in the face, with a drizzle of acid for good measure, just in case I get the silly thought in my head that there’s nothing wrong with me.  I dread the night now; pre-stroke, I could sleep through the hottest of nights when the residual heat of the day is bleeding away in the coolness of the night air.  Post-stroke, I feel the heat even more and, God, it’s just not going away fast enough.  Waking up in a pool of sweat on my pillow?  No biggie, just turn it over to the cool side, go back to sleep… but not when it’s like lying in a pool of hot water that’s just short of scalding.  Wiping my face is excruciating on the right side and it makes me wish for the bone-chilling cold of winter – NOT!  Totally different and even more painful animal… but at least I’m not suffering through the heat.

It doesn’t really sap my strength; between the heat and my inability to make the pain go away, this is what messes with me emotionally more than physically.  If it wears on me when it’s cold, it REALLY wears on me when it’s hot… and this is just July, folks.  I still have to survive the dog days of August, summer’s last call for alcohol, before the cooler days of fall, the season I was born in, rolls in and, perhaps, gives me some relief.

Oh, yeah, then I turn around later in the year and go to Miami then the Caribbean – and they don’t know what cold is, do they?  They do know air conditioning, though – oh, joy.  The only good thing about this is I get to repeat an experiment of sorts.  A couple of years ago – and before effective pain meds were found and my mind just wasn’t quite right – we went to Antigua, a place that was so hot and sunny I actually got sunburned for the first time in my life – and I didn’t even know it until I started peeling after we got home.  Loved Antigua but I realized that the whole time I was there, I wasn’t in pain until I walked into our room, that is.  I went from being outside in 90+ degree heat to a room that had been super-cooled down to a frosty 68 degrees.  A quick adjustment to the too-efficient A/C unit saved me from some horrific pain… but that was the only time I was hurting until we got on the plane – then it was business as usual.

I’m hoping that a return trip later in the year makes the pain go away; I’m thinking that the combination of tropical heat and low humidity is what made me pain-free two years ago.  It’s not going to make me wanna move to Jamaica but it’ll give me some empirical data to work with, which could call for purchasing a good quality dehumidifier.  I’ll have to remember to let y’all know how that works out.

Time to sweat and suffer one more night…

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Posted by on 20 July 2010 in Life, Living and Loving


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