Sleeping in the heat

Linda Hoffman Two Cents Worth

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It is so hard to get a good, rejuvenating sleep when it is so hot and muggy.

Most of you have air conditioners, I expect, but even that is not always conducive to a natural, peaceful sleep. I do not have air but I do have fans – an overhead in the living room, a portable in the bedroom and one I move around to wherever and whenever it’s needed. There are lots of trees around my house as well so that helps keep me somewhat comfortable.

Like babies, we all sleep better swathed in blankets. It gives the feeling of safety, security. That’s why we love to snuggled under the covers. We do not sleep nearly as well sprawled out trying to evade the heat by artificial means. I have bedroom windows open all year and love to swaddle in winter while feeling the chill across my face. The fan does not quite create the same effect. It’s more like tropical breezes wafting across my sweaty body. We do what we have to do with the circumstances we have available to us.

A few weeks back, before the big heat, I was startled and shocked awake by a sudden, severe pain in my toe. Jolted out of a deep sleep I thought something had bit me. My first thought was a snake. Don’t know why that thought even crossed my mind but then I can’t explain a lot of things that go through my mind when I am sleeping, so figure it was a remnant of whatever I was dreaming of at the time.

I threw the covers back and there was no snake, rat, spider or anything else to be found but my second toe was red and swollen. I stuck my feet back under the covers and nestled back in. The pain was gone but I soon found whenever the sheet touched my toe I would feel the same pain.

In the morning I did some research and discovered I had gout. Gout! That’s an old man’s disease. Why would I have gout? I contacted my doctor and informed her of my self-diagnosis, aided by the Mayo Clinic, which she confirmed. She said there were medications available if it becomes a recurring issue but knowing me she didn’t push. I said I would do more research first.

Apparently, gout is a type of arthritis. Upon reading further I was relieved it only attacked the end joint of my second toe and not my big toe or some more active joint. Gout is a build-up of urate crystals. Uric acid is needed to breaks down purines which we all have naturally occurring in our systems. Purines are found in red meats, organ meats and seafood. Alcohol, especially beer and sweet drinks containing fructose, also produce uric acid. Too much uric acid creates those urate crystals which accumulate in joints and surrounding areas and voila, you have gout.

Risk factors include diet, weight, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart and kidney diseases, some medications, family history, age and gender. Taking all that into consideration I decided to self-treat. I don’t eat a lot of red meat, organ meats or seafood. I rarely have any alcohol. My issue, well, one of my issues, was consumption of drinks sweetened by fructose, namely pop – Coke, Pepsi, Sprite, Canada Dry. When I stopped to think about it, I had been drinking much more while I was home isolating then when I was running the roads.

Used to drink diet pop but then was told the artificial sweeteners were really bad so went back to regular which has tons of fructose. Gout convinced me to opt for aspartame so I have returned to sugar free and I also severely reduced my intake. Am also working on a few other risk factors. Don’t have heart, kidney or diabetes issues and my slightly elevated blood pressure is controlled. Can’t do anything about my age or gender or family connections so will focus on diet and drinking more water. So far so good. No relapses.

This pandemic has created opportunities to learn all sorts of things while staying safely at home.