As the song goes…Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun…”, well coming from the constant dreary grey drizzle of England, even in July and August, this English woman had a nasty shock two weeks ago after a few pleasant days working outside.
It was not one of those extremely fierce heat days, but constant sun and in the low seventies. A slight breeze, not too humid, so not feeling sweaty as I worked on the barns masonry. A simple job cutting out old mortar. But around three in the afternoon I started to feel slightly dizzy and generally, well not with it. I packed up, worked inside and followed the usual evening, dinner, reading, but had a headache, felt very shaky and hot and so decided bed early at nine.
At eleven my head was pounding, my heart racing, very sweaty and I begun to vomit. For the next eight hours I was sick every hour, up and down out of bed, stumbling to the bathroom, head over toilet, and glugging water down to try and ease my stomach when I was sick. I honestly thought that after eight hours if this didn’t subside, I would have to go to hospital. I felt faint every time I had to get out of bed and felt sick every time I laid down. Kneeling on the bathroom floor with my forehead on my knees in the end seemed the only plausible way to stay, but I was exhausted.
Eventually I fell asleep mid-morning and slept for a few hours but felt weak and tearful for most of that day. Another bad night followed. Not sick, but hot and agitated and very thirsty. I spent the next two days unable to keep anything much down, just bread and water, and my temperature raged.
Luckily I had some sachets of hydration salts and took these to help recovery.
But that wasn’t the problem. I recovered, no damage as you can get with severe heat stroke. It was the awful depression that followed. I honestly doubted myself that France was the right decision. I contacted friends to chat over remedies to help fight this gloomy overcast feelings. I read about heat stroke and realised it was very serious. Dangerous in fact, and yes depression can follow and for some it can take months to resolve.
My neighbour Mrs R tut-tutted and reprimanded me for staying out doors in the heat. No prizes for being brave. SHE never goes out in the heat. No coincidence all the village shutters are firmly shut and no-one is out doors. Even podgy Coleen the village cat is hid away in the shade of the barn snoozing. The cat is no fool, even if the Englishwoman is.
I pushed on with outdoor projects to take my mind off the feelings of worthlessness, and self-doubt and finally one morning I realised I had been enjoying my day and I was back on track. But it scared me. Even today as I write this I am in bed after a few hours outside and I forgot my hat. I feel a little paranoid that this heat stroke will creep up on me again. So no chances, I am indoors, drinking water and juices and trying to take deep breaths.
Respect the sun, the heat, wear a hat, drink water, juices, milk all through the day. Light clothes, rest between twelve and three if you can and do heavy work early morning or late afternoon. Have a cool shower and rest inside as soon as you feel just a little agitated in the heat. Read about heat stroke to understand the symptoms and how to avoid it.
When the local radio announces “Canicular”, you dive for the shade.
I no longer try to be brave and will never head out in the midday sun. I do as the locals do, stay inside or in the shade. Sun safe and happy.