I feel the heat wave in my bones

Today and yesterday were blissfully cool by Georgia summer standards.  Both mornings I went for an hour-long walk, yesterday in a nearby park by myself as I listened to podcasts, today with my dad as we walked this amazing nature trail near downtown Athens.  By the very end of each walk, I was a little sweaty, but mostly from the humidity and not the heat. It is so nice to be able to be outdoors in the summer here—usually the only way I can be outside for long during the day is if there’s a pool nearby!

Last week was a totally different story.  I guess you couldn’t really call the weather a “heat wave” since it’s summer and hot, hot, hot temperatures are to be expected every day, not just in a wave.  Still, though, the temperature hovered around 100 degrees day after day, and the heat index was around 102-105 throughout the week.  Thankfully, I mostly worked from my air-conditioned home (and, unlike many of my friends, I have an AC that hasn’t conked out so far!). I drank plenty of fluids and, to my chagrin, curbed my exercise a bit because even at 7:30 in the morning it was already too hot and humid for me to take a walk—overexertion and prolonged heat exposure are triggers for me, and putting the two together can be a recipe for disaster.

Despite my doing a good job of staying cool, drinking plenty of fluids, and not overexerting myself, I was still exhausted. Three days into the heat wave, I realized that I was experiencing the same sensation I have had the last many years during such extreme spikes in temperature, the sensation that my body knows what the weather is like outside even if I am safely ensconced in my artificially cooled home.

My mom and I talked about it, and she agreed with me.  (She is even more heat sensitive than I am and stayed in her house, a few blocks away from mine, for a few days in a row because she knew even running a quick errand could be detrimental to her health.)  I talked to one of my other friends about it as well, and he agreed: our bodies, even when indoors, were behaving lethargically.  The temperature in the house was the same as it usually is in summer, but I felt warm all the time.  (This is saying a lot since I run cold and often have a cardigan and fuzzy slippers on when Jim is in shorts and bare feet.)  I drank plenty of water but continued to feel thirsty. I was run down and tired and full of the blahs.

I was reminded of the fact that I am of course an animal, an animal whose species didn’t create systems to cool entire living spaces until the relatively recent past.  I am connected to nature even when I seem to be separated from it.  Like an arthritic person (hint: me) can feel it in her joints when it’s going to rain, like a migraineur (hint: me) can feel it in her head when a storm is approaching, I had the experience of feeling beat down, dehydrated, hot, and exhausted during the heat wave that was outside my door.

Do any of you experience this connection to weather?  When there’s extreme weather and/or dramatic drops or increases in temperature outdoors, can you sense that indoors? Anecdotal stories and even formal studies have suggested that migraineurs may be more attuned to sensory stimuli than are those who don’t have migraines, so I’m curious to hear from you about this!

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