While there is a lot of talk about concussions in sports, and rightfully so, there should be just as much attention paid to heat-related illnesses among athletes.
I’ve now seen it up close and it is a little frightening. And this was with just a little bit of exertion.
Romantic that I am, I took my wife to Six Flags Over Georgia recently for our anniversary.
We didn’t use valet parking, choosing to park a few hundred yards from the entrance and walk. The nearest roller coaster to the entrance is The Scorcher, appropriately named for a Saturday when the temperatures reached into the 90s. We stayed in line for 57 minutes, winding our way through the S-shaped barricades.
The first clue trouble was approaching was when I saw Melanie sweating while I was still cool. Sweating is one of my special skills.
We were four people away from getting on the ride when she said she was getting dizzy. After bending down twice, she calmly announced that she was going to faint. I was behind her so I was able to grab her as she started to slump to the ground, unconscious.
As I was freaking out about holding her with her eyes rolled to the back of her head, at least I had enough presence of mind to yell for help. A few nurses in the line quickly came over. They got my wife’s feet raised and were able to give her water after she was revived.
It was terrifying for me, but Melanie thought she was just having a dream that was interrupted. I can’t imagine what might have happened if she had passed out after we were strapped into the ride and spinning upside down.
We were taken to the aid station, where a nurse wasn’t surprised to hear our tale of fainting. I imagine it’s something she hears hundreds of times over the course of the summer. Her first question, of course, was about how much Melanie had to drink.
I’m glad she didn’t ask me, because I thought she meant alcohol. What, did she think we were tailgating in the parking lot before we were coming in?
She was talking about water and said it was important to hydrate beforehand. I’m glad it was Melanie having to answer the questions and not me. We were required to stay in the aid station until she drank four cups of water and her blood pressure was at an acceptable level.
I would hope that our student-athletes pay heed when coaches and athletic trainers tell them to hydrate – the alternatives are pretty scary.