Last summer I went through a period of time when I could not stay hydrated. It was pretty tough – dehydration is no laughing matter. There’s vomiting, dizziness, exhaustion and really just a desire to do nothing at all. The summer was hot, and like any normal kid (I still like to consider myself a kid) I like being outside when there isn’t a cloud in the sky, but I was not bringing in enough fluids. I found myself in a seemingly never-ending cycle. First, dehydration would set in, then my energy supply would disappear, followed by a loss of appetite, and finally, before you knew it, I was sick as a dog heading into the hospital for IV antibiotics. Just like that, two weeks of my summer were ruined because of the IV therapy. It felt like I was doing IV treatments all summer, and it would never end. All in all, I spent a total of 10 weeks hooked up to the IV, on and off, from May through August.
Being constantly sick was new for me. I really do consider myself a relatively healthy CF patient, but for the first time in my life, I was unable to complete an entire summer recreational hockey season. Of 15 possible games, I think I played in three. That was unacceptable.
Obviously, I don’t contribute my little dehydration issue to being sick all summer, I think having just graduated college played somewhat of a part (you’ll find out all about that soon), but it definitely was a major problem.
The root of the issue was that I was losing salt faster than I normally do and also, I was not bringing in enough electrolytes, which was somewhat shocking because I LOVE Gatorade, probably more than I love myself. I spent a week trying to keep tabs on how much fluid I was bringing in. It turns out I really wasn’t drinking enough water or Gatorade. I was around three or four bottles per day, and that was simply not enough. Unfortunately, I was paying for it in a bad way. So, towards the end of August, and through September, I had to sort of adapt since I am a football coach and am outside every single day regardless of the heat. Gatorade, or any sports drink, had to be the drink of choice for me. The reason being is because Gatorade contains both salt and electrolytes. I’m no scientist, so, for now, we will leave the amount of salt and electrolytes at, “a lot.” Like I said, Gatorade is unrivaled in my opinion, especially the Lemon Lime flavor, so I have had no problem increasing my intake. I had to at very least double the amount I was taking in. The only issue with Gatorade is the amount of sugar, so for diabetics it’s not really a great option. Also, in the eyes of my mom, it really isn’t the greatest option either, but I digress.
Now, this is where I can cheat a little. For those of you keeping score I home, you may know that I have a G-Tube (see the previous blog!), otherwise known as a feeding tube. For those of you who didn’t know, well now you do. I love the thing, it’s like a little toy, and it’s great for moments like this. Somewhere along the line last August, my mom had a brilliant idea, and that was to give me Pedialyte. I hate to say it, but we’re all thinking it; Pedialyte tastes awful. If you are someone who says it tastes good, I call you a liar. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you look at this), though, for me, anything that goes through the G-tube is tasteless. I usually get the 1L bottles of Pedialyte at the drug store and mix in a teaspoon of salt. Like I said, I don’t have to taste it, so who cares if I am making it worse. If there is a hot day, I’ll run half of the bottle through my G-tube over a couple minutes and then carry on with my day.
Obviously, water is totally fine to drink also. We’re all told over and over that we need to have what seems like 97 cups of water per day. Regardless, I have noticed a major improvement in my health since I have taken a conscious effort to fight off dehydration. Gatorade and Pedialyte are my two go to drinks to keep my “pee clear,” as they say. Keep in mind, as I have been writing this, I’ve also been eating a burrito and drinking a Coke while it’s hot, hazy and humid just outside my window, so, there’s that.
Please note, it is also more than worth it to watch fellow CF patient Jerry Cahill’s “CF Wind Sprints” podcast concering hydration at the following Link