Unforseen Complications

Since Friday last week I have been suffering from the after effects of what most likely was heat exhaustion. On the night of Thursday the 27th of June it was very hot and at this point in time I had not yet adjusted to the prevalent heat conditions currently in Portugal (as I am writing this, they predict temperatures of up to 40 degrees celcius for the day). I was sleeping in a closed room with no air-conditioning and it was essentially like sleeping in an oven. I believe I woke up potentially dehydrated, dripping with sweat and with a headache. Like a boss I proceeded to work out and drink a lot of water and actually felt pretty well after that (retrospectively working out was not the best of ideas). However, for the next couple of days I felt overly hot most of the time. I would have a mild burning sensation on my skin that would come in waves. My symptoms were very deceptive as it was also hot outside, so when I would ask people whether or not they thought it was hot and that I thought I might have a fever, they naturally agreed and dismissed that I could be feeling hot due to sickness. Also, during my sessions of poker, I would feel as though I was tilted due to the heightened sensation of feeling hot and it would also correlate with my results. 

Over the years, I have learned to think that I am fine and that I don’t need medical assistance most of the time. I believe this is due to experiences I have had with doctors when I was growing up, with them telling me that I am fine when I thought I was not. In any case, after seeking input from friends and family, I came to the conclusion that I may be suffering from heat stroke, which can be fatal and lead to brain damage. Brain damage was all I needed to hear really, so I phoned up the hospital CUF Descobertas near Parque das Nacoes here in Lisbon and arranged to see a doctor. They couldn’t get me in soon enough though, so I ended up going to the ER to get checked out. I was sort of dreading this, because of having to speak Portuguese and dealing with my health insurance which I have never used before, but I really didn’t see any other reasonable option. It turned out well in the end, I was able to speak to a doctor that could speak English. His initial diagnosis was that I may be suffering from heat stroke, but that I wasn’t dehydrated or had a fever, which were good signs. They did some blood analysis which showed up okay, as they were considering giving me some nutrients per IV that I may have lost due to excessive sweating. I ended up being prescribed electrolytes that can be taken orally, dissolved in water and Paracetamol to deal with the feeling of excessive heat. I am also to avoid heat and strenuous exercise for the week to come.
A funny side note: The doctor said muscle enzymes in my blood would indicate that I am suffering from heat stroke, which I guess is a medical way of saying: “Do you even lift bro?”. To clarify, muscle enzymes in the blood are common in people who practice weight resistance training.
All this being said, this definitely made me think about planning for the unknown. You really need to plan for the randomness/misjudgement factor. What I’ve had to deal with is not something I was able to anticipate. I feel as though I am above average resilient to heat (by standards of the countries that I have previously lived in) and have been in very hot climates before (chiefly Nevada and Dubai). I have however always had sufficient air-conditioning in those regions, so I’ve always had that escape from the heat. In my apartment I sort of have to endure the heat. I even have some air-conditioning in my place. There is an A/C unit in my living room and I have a reasonably strong table fan from Rowenta. Due to this, I am considering looking for a new place at the end of my current renting contract, which ends at the end of October. I need at least a place with solid blinds if I plan to block out the impact of direct sunlight during the hottest hours of the day.
Another effect of the heat and my living situation is that I am sort of forced to alter my sleeping rhythm. It makes sense for me to be in my apartment during the coolest hours of the day and to also work during these hours. I believe the lowest heat is at 3 am and I should sleep with my windows open due to insufficient cooling, but also to allow the heat to dissipate in my apartment. Doing this will lead me to waking around sunrise, which is currently at 06:19. If I go to bed around 1-2 am on average, this could leave me tired on some days, so what I will then do is take 20 minute naps as I see fit. This may not be ideal for me, however I am happy to sleep this way as things currently stand. I’d much rather sleep 5 hours well than longer and poorly.
All in all, I am starting to feel a bit better again. The burning sensation has gone and my overall perception of heat seems to be improving. In a way I am happy to have made these experiences and am grateful to have learnt something in the process.