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Life After Paralysis is a blog that represents a variety of paralysis community members. It is a place for open conversation about the issues and the interests of people living with paralysis, their family, friends, caregivers, and the professionals that serve them. Comments are welcome!
The opinions expressed in these blogs are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.

Drink And Be Merry

A few months back, I traveled to the countries of Georgia and Armenia as a guest of both Embassies’ for the U.S. Speaker and Specialists Program; this program is just one of the many State Department programs that support U.S. and foreign relationships. The trip was a blast as well as an intense schedule of meetings and activities, but that’s a different blog, entirely.

I hadn’t been to a so-called “developing” country (Georgia was founded in 1008) in a while. So when I landed in Tbilisi, Georgia, it hadn’t entered my mind that I would be drinking bottled water the entire trip. Oh sure they have up-to-date water purification systems but the water travels to its destinations through an ancient distribution system. Not great for clean water certainty and well I have experienced Montezuma's revenge; it’s not pretty and not good for anyone, least a paraplegic such as me.

Well not only is bottled water expensive, plastic consuming and discarding but I was limited to what I could eat as well, you know fruits and vegetables are washed in tap water. I drink considerable amounts of water and take for granted the access I have, at a moment’s notice, to clean drinking water that is delivered directly from my kitchen faucet into my glass, without a filter. I struggled to stay hydrated on that trip because I would forget to load up on supplies.

I know the health benefits of drinking large quantities of water so I carry a stainless steel bottle filled with water wherever I go, because I know that I won’t think to drink unless it’s in my line of sight or in my case, right under my wheelchair gently tapping, ting, ting, ting, on the titanium tubing as I push my wheelchair, reminding me to take a sip. If I don’t carry I won’t think to drink and when I don’t drink enough water my body will roll down hill at high speed.

It’s got to be water too, no soda, no coffee, (though I will have that sometimes in the morning to jump start my wheels) no tea, no juice, and no milk, just plain Jane water most of the day. I’ll drink tea, herbal or caffeinated, throughout the day, but if it’s got caffeine in it, that go juice gets me going to the loo, a lot! Kaiser Permanente nephrologist Steven Guest, MD, says: "Fluid losses occur continuously throughout the day and night, from skin evaporation, eating, breathing, urine, and stool, and these losses must be replaced daily for good health." It’s a very fine hydrating balance of water in water out for me.

There is a growing belief that much of the body un-wellness we experience can be linked back to chronic dehydration which can appear in the form of brain fog, energy dips, digestion problems, headaches, muscle weakness, dizziness. And chronic dehydration can be the culprit for weight gain, decreased kidney function, kidney stones, bladder infections, skin can lose its ability to hold on to moisture causing dry skin, wrinkles, slowing healing, creating constipation, inhibit the body's ability to cool down and stay warm, depending on the air temperature.

So when your water intake doesn’t equal your output, you do the math, we become dehydrated. Once we’re dehydrated it takes a powerful conscious effort to top off the deficit to rehydrate. And if brain fog has kicked from the dehydration of all our cells, this will slow down the neuron activity of our electrochemical transmitters that spark the "thoughts" we need to think, to tell us to drink, we are sunk. Oh, and if you wait until you feel thirsty, it’s too late; you’re already dried up. So what’s a human to do? Have no fear water girl is here.

Waters the one, really, it’s the elixir of life and best when it comes to the pure lubrication of our fleshy transporters. I have a confession, I still drink coffee but when I do I drink 2 cups of water to counter the diuretic effect. I seldom drink alcohol since it interferes with the brain and kidney conversation causing all sorts of excess fluid excretion leading to me feeling baked. I seldom drink soda either; it also has the ability to dry me out as well as peeve the bladder and kidneys and pull calcium from yours and my bones. I don’t drink juice, it has too much sugar, even juice without added sugar, and the sweet stuff will cause dehydration, too.

Drinking water has to become a conscious habit. Make marks on a chalk board, keep a diary or fill up a jug, whatever is going to trigger your brain to drink when the “fog” slips in, just do it. Because I know when I think I will “just” remember to drink I don’t, I forget what or how much I drank if I don’t have a visual.

When I’m home, I’m a jug-girl; I like to watch the waterline drop. It gives that easy sense of accomplishment.

I endeavor to drink the proverbial eight, eight ounces of water a day and of course depending on what I’m doing or if I’m sweating excessively I add more liquid. I also time myself, (you could set an alarm, I did to create the drinking habit) two glasses, first thing in the morning, then every two hours, until 3pm I chug a glass. If I don’t have five or six in by 3pm I’m behind. Figure out how much you need with this cute calculator. I’m pretty good at gaging my fluid levels, now and I will get headaches as well as fatigued if I’m low.

I like to dress-up my water from time to time. Lemon, lime, cucumber, ginger, apple cider vinegar, mint leaves, strawberries, whatever will give it some flavor. While we
 can survive weeks without food, we perish after just three to four days without water so I say fill up a bottle, get your visual on and drink up some liquid libation, but make it WATER!

Blessings to All, In Joy Candace

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Posted by Community Admin on Jul 8, 2014 12:06 PM America/New_York