Avoid hospital visits, drink water

By Madalyn Watson | Staff Writer

I was 14 when I fainted for the first time. It was a summer morning, and I was getting ready for a swim meet.

My head and body ached, but I had just had a water polo scrimmage the night before, so I wasn’t worried. I walked the hall to my parents’ room and asked for an ibuprofen.

Standing in the doorway to their room, I collapsed. Body limp, limbs bent at unnatural angles, eyes closed.

I was asleep, but I didn’t remember falling asleep.

I woke up lying on the floor with several strange men looking down at me. I was wearing my pajamas — an old t-shirt of my father’s and some old, ratty shorts — so I was embarrassed by the state they were seeing me in.

The strange men were paramedics that arrived after my parents called 911. My fainting spell felt like a dream at this point.

The paramedics did some tests and determined that I was probably just dehydrated and hungry, so my mother prepared me some breakfast.

I fainted again into a bowl of strawberry yogurt, intensifying my hatred for yogurt. To this day, I refuse to eat yogurt, and the smell of it makes me nauseous and light-headed

I rode in an ambulance for the first time that day. After several tests and four attempts to stick an IV in my arm, they determined that I might have fainted due to dehydration. The doctors told me to cut down my coffee intake and drink more water.

After being hooked up to an IV for a while, I felt better. They released me, and I got a burger from In-N-Out before driving into the sunset with my parents on our way to sunny San Diego for the San Diego Comic Con. And we lived happily ever after.

Not really. I fainted several more times the next year. Once on the stairs at my high school, once at Disneyland and multiple times in the middle of the night while getting a glass of water from the kitchen.

The doctors were worried I was having seizures and jumped to other conclusions. I had multiple tests: an EEG, an EKG and FBG.

The conclusion in the end was that I was dehydrated. I had gone through all these tests to solve my problem, some of which took entire days out of my life, and drinking more water was the only solution.

I hope that my cautionary tale of fainting, dehydration and In-N-Out helps inspire someone to drink another glass of water today. Because drinking superfluous amounts of coffee to stay up late and study was not worth all the time I lost while trying to figure out what was wrong with me.

I was slowly dehydrating myself to death, and I want to make sure no one else makes the same mistakes as I did.

Some advice, that has worked for me, in keeping myself hydrated:

1) Drink one or two cups of water for every cup of coffee/tea/caffeinated beverage you drink.

2) Drink flavored water, especially if you don’t like water or you want something tasty. A splash of lemonade in water works very well.

3) Carry a water bottle with you everywhere. I prefer being over prepared or dorky looking to having my head hit the sidewalk as I fall.

4) Track the amount of water you drink each day. There are even apps for it, like Plant Nanny, where you have to drink water to keep your cute plant alive as well as yourself.

5) Drink decaf coffee/tea later in the day. Personally, I don’t drink anything caffeinated after 2 p.m. This helps you sleep better as well as prevents you from getting dehydrated from multiple caffeinated drinks a day.

Maybe, if I followed some of this advice earlier in life, I would not have wasted all that money and time on hospital visits and tests.