Hot & Bothered

You may have noticed I haven’t posted in over a week. There’s been a lot going on, some of which I hope to catch you up on.

Partly, I’ve been busy with “the business of being disabled”: Doing my recertification for Medicaid as a working disabled person; getting a note from my doctor explaining why I can’t perform jury duty; and lots of stuff regarding my powerchair(s), which I don’t think is prudent to post at this time, except for this: Right now, only my indoor chair is working. My outdoor chair which I have blogged repeatedly about my many difficulties with is, of course, dead, and my backup chair is currently not running, either. Because my only working chair is not compatible with my van’s lift, I’m even more stranded than usual.

I also need to work a certain number of hours a month, so I’ve been trying to do a bit of paid writing, which is sometimes fun, but is also usually stressful and draining, particularly because it’s so hard for me to meet deadlines. (I haven’t even written my post for the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival! Eek.)

Unfortunately, I’ve discovered blogging and paid writing are pretty much mutually exclusive. I only have so much brain and energy for writing at a time. (If you would like me to devote more time to blogging, therefore, please note that I do have a donation button! ‘Nuff said.) I’ve written scores of partial blogs that haven’t been completed.

There is also the fact of the heat. We’re experiencing a serious heat wave. Because I live in New England, I’m also enjoying the typical summer humidity. For example, one night, it felt “cool” in comparison to how it’s been, so I checked the thermometer, and it was 90 degrees, but the humidity was only 57 percent. I say “only” because often the humidity is at least 75 percent. (Recently I checked it at 87 percent.)

I get automated email alerts whenever any serious weather is threatening. Here’s an excerpt from a recent alert:

HOT WEATHER ALONG WITH OPPRESSIVE HUMIDITY ARRIVES TODAY AND CONTINUES INTO SATURDAY…

HEAT ADVISORY NOW IN EFFECT…

* HAZARDS…EXCESSIVE HEAT WITH HIGH TEMPERATURES BETWEEN 95 AND
100.

* HEAT INDEX VALUES…UP TO 102.

* IMPACTS… EXCESSIVE HEAT MAY LEAD TO HEAT ILLNESSES FOR CHILDREN… THE ELDERLY AND THOSE PERFORMING STRENUOUS PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES DURING THE HEAT OF THE DAY.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

THE COMBINATION OF HOT TEMPERATURES AND HIGH HUMIDITY WILL COMBINE TO CREATE A SITUATION IN WHICH HEAT ILLNESSES ARE POSSIBLE. … DRINK PLENTY OF FLUIDS…STAY IN AN AIR-CONDITIONED ENVIRONMENT… STAY OUT OF THE SUN…

KNOW THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF HEAT EXHAUSTION AND HEAT STROKE. …

ANYONE OVERCOME BY HEAT SHOULD BE MOVED TO A COOL AND SHADED LOCATION. HEAT STROKE IS AN EMERGENCY – CALL 9 1 1.

One thing you might have noticed is that THEY ALWAYS WRITE EVERYTHING IN CAPITAL LETTERS, TO INCREASE  YOUR  SENSE OF ALARM AT THE IMPENDING DOOM WEATHER. It helps to set the cheery tone that goes along with “heat stroke.”

There are also some assumptions in these alerts, such as that one has access to air conditioning. Well, no. Many people can’t afford to buy window units or to pay the electric bills that go along with them. Others, such as moi, cannot have window units because they accrue mold, which is impossible to completely eradicate. Mold gives me migraines, so that’s not a terrific option.

I bought a portable/indoor unit a few years ago, and it’s beyond useless. It still reeks and makes me sick, due to my MCS. It also doesn’t actually work, inasmuch as it actually increases the room temperature. I know this because it has a temperature readout, and I can see it climb, confirming what my flushed, sweaty skin is telling me.

When I used to watch TV or listen to the radio, I remember advisories telling people to go to air-conditioned malls or movie theaters. A friend in the city tells me there are now “cooling centers.” Of course, neither my friend nor I could go to any of these places, because we have MCS, and public spaces are not safe or accessible environments for us. (Even if I wanted to attempt to go somewhere, it would be difficult with the combined inability to drive and no powerchair that can go in the van.)

Well, I figured, I would just ride it out. Unlike Barnum, I can sweat, I don’t have a fur coat, and I do have a good fan that has been cleaned of all dust and mold. However, I did receive a warning call from the electric company’s computer, “Rita,” that due to the heat wave, we might have a power outage. Rita always calls me before any weather event that might cause an outage, because I am on their list of people who are medically reliant on electricity. Rita tells me I should take steps to evacuate if I need to. Since the whole reason that outages are so dangerous is that I can’t evacuate (which caused me such trauma during the ice storm two years ago), this is not very helpful.

So, I just hoped an outage wouldn’t occur. . . . Silly, silly me. I’ll write about that in my next post.

I’m also trying to pull together a post on suggestions for how to help your dog stay safe in the heat. Hopefully I can post it before winter. I’ll make sure to WRITE THE WHOLE THING IN CAPS, so that you will find it sufficiently alarming.

– Sharon, the muse of Gadget (who had the sense to get in the wading pool on days like this), and Barnum (who just lies in the coolest corners and mopes)

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7 Responses to “Hot & Bothered”


  1. 1 staticnonsense July 24, 2011 at 1:46 am

    those severe weather warnings all in caps always screw with my eyes – the occasional word or two is typically okay but throw everything into it and then the shape of the words and letters really mess me up.

    and ugh this heatwave. we have AC units here but they don’t extend to my room. which i rarely leave since all of my medical coping stuffs is in here. so i hear ya on the omg too hot…

    ice storms are also evil evil evil [that one in ’98ish with the 2 week power outages? i’m amazed we survived] and i hope neither of us get hit with one of those again!

    [there was more i was going to say in this but i’ve lost all my words to a massive bug that must die now]

  2. 2 brilliantmindbrokenbody July 24, 2011 at 11:56 am

    I do not know what I would do in the summer without air conditioning. I’m incredibly heat-sensitive and really can’t cope if it gets above 80. I really wish the world would stay right around 70-75 degrees, neither hot nor cold, so I could be comfortable and not need to bundle up or strip down and turn on the a/c.

    As is, in heatwaves, I get trapped in my bedroom, because it’s the highest ac-to-space ratio in the house, which means it’s cooler than anywhere else. I hate it, especially when my fiance is only here for the weekend because he’s working at a summer camp, so I don’t see much of him (he can’t stay in the bedroom because he falls asleep if he’s in the bed, and we don’t have room to stick chairs in there). It’s frustrating.

    Here’s hoping you and Barnum are able to stay cool enough! Hudson is getting bathed today, and he gets to hang out wherever I am, so he’s doing okay on temperature, though he’s definitely drinking more than usual.

    ~Kali

  3. 3 Karyn July 24, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Though I am quite saddened for all you are going through, I’m glad you are basically Ok (so to speak) I miss your blog posts but also get it.

    I’m with @staticnonsense on all caps. I can’t understand much of the screenreader when its all caps- lets not even go there LOL

    I am really sorry for al lthe upheaval. They always pick a real bad time (as if there is ever a good time) to send you jury duty notices. Thankfully I have not got one in a few years.

    Another option for hat- though they take detox time are cooling vests. I have two different models. The better of the two (lasts longer) is heavy for me so I bought a second set of packs for the lighter weight one. Its mesh needs repair or replacement though- read another big sigh there.

    I buy replacements the end of the previous summer so they can detox during the year and be ready for the next summer.

    We have not got much summer in the pacific northwest this year- you guys must all be stealing it, but every once in a while we go from 60 to 80 and everyone either celebrates or complains.

    Last summer was particularly miserable and I got so tired of hearing about cooling centers. Have any of you noticed how the news bulletins and media always mention elderly and pets but never the disabled? They’ll say things like to make sure you dont leave your pets in your car- like its Ok to do that any other day? give me a break!

  4. 4 Sharon Wachsler July 24, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    I know. I thought of you in all this heat and wondered how you were doing.

  5. 5 Sharon Wachsler July 24, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    @Karyn @StaticNonsense,

    Yeah, I considered retyping the whole thing so that it would be more readable, especially for those using screen readers, but I knew if I had to do that, I’d never get the post up. Sorry!

    And yeah, Karyn, I h ave noticed in these alerts they say children and elderly, but don’t mention people with asthma or other health conditions affected by the heat.

    I woke up Thursday and was really weak and just had to lie in bed taking oxygen for a few hours. Got better in the evening and after some food. Forgot to put that in the post.

  6. 6 Kat July 25, 2011 at 12:34 am

    Hi Sharon! It’s good to hear from you. Yes, we have been suffering from the heat in the Chicagoland area of northwest Indiana as well… heat index of up to 118 this week. The other day it was actually cooler in Tennessee than here – that’s unheard of! The first two days of the heat I managed to mostly stay indoors. The third day cooled down a bit to only 95ish, and I thought I was doing ok but the humidity really wore me out that day. I felt so exhausted so I tried to nap but I couldn’t sleep… just no energy to do anything. And to think you’re doing all this without AC! Oh Sharon I hope you’re going to be okay.

    My mom is having back surgery on August 3rd so I will be off work for at least the first week to take care of her. My dad… he’s not really the biggest help… he mostly watches TV. I tried to mop the bathroom floor today but since I’ve been sitting around all week it was really hard to exert myself. I hope it cools down soon so I can take a short walk or something. A walk in the park sounded really good today but the heat just smacked me in the face when I opened the door… and that was when it was already getting dark.

    Take care and rest up. You getting rest and being well is more important than your blogging. 🙂

  7. 7 brilliantmindbrokenbody July 25, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    I’ve been…well, not doing as well as I thought, I guess. I have a sinus infection that the fiance gave me last weekend, and I slept most of the week because of it, so I didn’t get enough fluids into me. I was badly off enough today that my GP put 2 liters of IV fluids into me. The change is astonishing.

    Fortunately, the heat broke today, so I am finally able to spend more time downstairs, between the massive dose of fluids and the temp change.

    ~Kali


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