The human body is a marvel. Somehow it ended up with the ability to cool itself via sweat, but when you have a spinal cord injury this ability is turned off. Many are shocked to hear this, but when you have a spinal cord injury, you really can no longer sweat. Not surprisingly, this can cause some pretty gnarly health scares.
I’ve gone through all the heat-induced scary scenarios you can imagine as a result, and as the years march on I’ve noticed my temperature regulation is worse than ever (if that is even possible; oh quadriplegia you tricky minx). But I guess this is what comes with aging. Something to look forward to for all you kiddos out there.
And now that we are already into early June, and global warming is a real thing (sorry Trump; we’ve already hit the ’90s in Minnesota), learning how to stay cool quickly is critical to your health as a person with paralysis. If you’re not careful, you could end up with a heat stroke and all of the scary side effects that come with it – deliriousness, dehydration, confusion, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, etc.
These heat strokes can happen quite quickly by the way. You can go from feeling a little uncomfortable to having a full on heat stroke. So with that in mind, here are my five top tips for getting cold quickly with a spinal cord injury. There are lots of gadgets you can buy for all day maintenance, but these tips below specifically pertain to danger situations when cooling quickly is of the utmost importance. I hope they help!
Ice Neck Wrap
If you haven’t entered complete danger zone yet but know that overheating is a possibility because of the weather, an easy way to forcefully stay cool is an ice neck wrap. This can be any kind of fabric you like filled with ice cubes, then placed on the neck. Having the ice cold temperature on the back of the neck hits important arteries, which can really cool the body. Ice of course melts, so plan accordingly if your hours outside will be numerous.
Water Bottle Douse
This method is definitely my favorite. Any kind of full water bottle or cup of cool or room temp water will do, and then dump it right over your head (or your legs), getting your head and hair soaked. This will cool you off in seconds and help you feel clear of mind blazingly fast. It works every time and is ideal for danger scenarios when you don’t want to mess around.
The Freezer Section
There have been several times where I’ve zoomed to the nearest Target and parked myself in the freezer section in front of an open door, and it cooled me off so fast it was heavenly. This too is a no-brainer, especially if you’re near a big box store that won’t mind as much if you linger in front of the freezer door a little longer than the average customer.
Water + Wind
To mimic AC in a pinch, douse yourself in water then get in front of wind ASAP. If you’re at home, a tabletop fan works great. I’ve even gone in my car with the windows open after getting my head and hair wet, in an effort to create the effect of AC. It really does work awesomely. If it’s a windy day outside, really give this method a go. It’s a solid way to cool off.
Drink Ice Water
And lastly, it may seem obvious but drinking ice water is another way to cool your body quickly if you find yourself overheating. Having the ice water inside your body will lower your core temperature and help you feel better instantly. While this isn’t the only thing you should do if you find yourself overheating, it definitely should be incorporated.
Have a blast this summer and do your thing, but always keep staying cool in the back of your mind. Heat exhaustion can turn into a heat stroke faster than the summer comes to an end. Boo boo boo.
Have a SCI too? What is your go-to method for getting cool quick?
Photo courtesy of Flickr