A heat wave here means Southern California is hot. In our case, living in a house that only has air conditioners in the bedrooms, it means that anyone sitting in the living room watching TV in the evenings can be in an area that is 90 degrees in the early evening and gets down to between 85 and 86 degrees in the later hours. How do I know this? I got a small battery operated digital thermometer (available at most large home improvement centers) for the living room and placed it by my father-in-law’s chair so I could tell how hot the room was where he was sitting and that he needs to drink more water to replace what is being baked out of him. Getting him to drink the water is more problematic.
By the end of a week of heat, he was hobbling around and finally said to me that his ankles were swelling and he was in a lot of pain. Eventually he told me that the pain was spreading to his knee and shoulders. It appeared to us both that he was having a major gouty attack. As bodily functions slow down, when the body does not get enough fluid intake, uric acid can pool in the joints causing painful inflammation. It is treatable with medication and there is also a medication which my father-in-law takes daily to prevent flare-ups. Since we were already doing what we could to eliminate dietary contributors such as red meat (unlike Ben Franklin who also suffered from gout, my father-in-law does not consume wine so that was one less factor to worry about) we realized that a trip to the doctor was needed.
We found out from the doctor that even when the dietary problems that ordinarily cause gout attacks are eliminated and the medication to prevent flare-ups is being taken, the prolonged heat wave combined with low consummation of water can cause a very painful bout of gout. Because of Dad’s age (I think I said elsewhere in this blog that he is 94) the doctor ran a series of tests and was careful in what he prescribed to deal with the symptoms. In the end, he said to drink more water – at least 5 to 6 glasses daily.
Now I point out the attack he is recovering from when I encourage Dad to drink more water. He is more willing to listen because the alternative is ending up back in the Dr’s office as the heat wave continues. And I have to point the finger back at myself. Do I drink enough water? How about you? Did you drink 5 to 6 glasses of water today? What do you do to keep your loved ones hydrated?