Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Heat stroke!

Even though the temperature here in Bathurst yesterday was nowhere near the hottest the kids and I have ever experienced, not by a long-shot, the lack of humidity here really knocked us for six (an Australian expression).

The temperature here mid afternoon yesterday reached 30.6 C (87.8 F), which, really, is not too bad - but we city-dwellers are used to relatively high humidity levels. Yes, that can make even a minute outside seem like an hour in an oven, however, with high humidity you tend to perspire more, and that means that your body cools itself more effectively. At this time of year in Sydney we're used to humidity levels around the 50-65% range - that's what we're used to.

Yesterday the humidity level here in Bathurst was 19%.

So, that means less perspiring, and more fluid retention - the body can't cool itself properly.

The kids spent the afternoon building their shelters for their camp-out survival night - Issie worked on her tent with her friend. It was tough going in that hot, dry environment - the kids were tired and cranky and had a great deal of trouble thinking clearly.

I watched Issie very carefully throughout the day, reducing her basal rates on her pump and only bolusing for half of the carbs she was eating - the heat was dropping her BGL's very quickly. Also, of course, keeping her hydrated.

The girls finally got their "tent" relatively secure and everyone headed upstairs for dinner. Issie was not hungry at all, but fortunately did eat a little bread. She didn't bolus for anything at all because she was starting to feel really bad and thought she might not keep her dinner down. Her face was red and really puffy, as were her hands and feet - fluid retention. She did not look good.

We made a decision during dinner that Issie was not going to camp outside. A few of the girls were not sleeping out - so this was not a big deal and she knew that she would not be criticised by her peers for making this decision. Yes, of course, she was disappointed - but she also knew she was just not well enough - and I was, of course, secretly relieved. With Issie sleeping inside, I did not have to go searching through the tents, avoiding guide ropes and tent pegs, and trying to get inside a tiny little tent to do BGL's throughout the night!

All the girls went downstairs after dinner to brush their teeth and get ready for bed. I headed into the kitchen to make a cup of green tea - when all of a sudden there was a pounding on the stairs! A bunch of the girls had come running upstairs calling out "Issie's throwing up!" and then, another bunch came up right behind them, "Issie has just passed out!"

Oh crap!

I sent one of the girls to the kitchen to get the emergency kit while I raced down the very rickety, very steep staircase (the building we were in is an old converted stable) and down to the girls' bathroom.

By the time I got there Issie had come around and was laying on the nice cool tiles of the bathroom floor - just as they'd been taught, two of the girls had stayed with her while they others ran for help. She was shaking like a leaf and just looked terrible.

Fortunately, her BGL was fine - a little high (11.4 mmol/L - 205 mg/dL) - since she hadn't bolused for her dinner - but definitely nothing to worry about. So, she had collapsed as a result of heat-stroke, rather than a hypo or hyper event - which, although scary, was a huge relief!

The heat certainly took it out of her - and she was smart not to give herself any insulin with her dinner - for the remainder of the night she sat in the low 5's (I prefer her to be around 7.0 at bedtime) and woke at 4.3 mmol/L  (77.4 mg/dL) - could have been a different story otherwise!

So, if there was any good to come out of a scary situation, it was that I was able to see first hand how Issie's classmates take care of her when something is wrong - and I was impressed with their quick thinking and remembering to make sure someone stayed with her and send someone else get help right away.

And I promise I'll try not to complain about the humidity in Sydney ever again, or at least for this Summer!

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