Hydrate — don’t evaporate

Date Published: 
July 14, 2017

No one needs to tell the weekly reader of Coastal Point that this region of the country can be very hot and humid in July and August. It’s one of the reasons so many people flock to our beaches. Society refers to the hottest part of the year as the “dog days” because that is when the star Sirius — the Dog Star — rises just before the sun in late July.

In the 1950s, when I was playing junior tennis, the new-age thinking here on Delmarva was that we should eat salt tablets and not drink water. Not only did we do that in competition, we trained that way to prepare for competition.

I suppose the idea was to keep our sodium levels from becoming too low, but it didn’t work. I woke up in the hospital several times after suffering heat exhaustion. Once, I had started to hit tennis balls to the players in the other semi-finals on the adjacent court. Another time, my father actually had to stand on my legs and push down on my shoulders to straighten out my 15-year-old body, which was completely cramped after an almost three-hour match.

I’ve been fighting this dehydration problem now most of my life because of damage done then. No doubt chronic dehydration led to my frequent kidney stone attacks. Even today, if I am not careful with hydration, I can go from feeling fit to weak and confused in less than a minute.

Internally, the electrolyte balance is essential for the normal function of our cells and organs. This summer, I am starting to take over-the-counter electrolyte supplements as a precaution.

Fortunately, I know my symptoms. Last year in the Beach Blast, I felt it coming, and Dianne Milam revived me with pickle juice. Yes — the brine water from a bottle of pickles.

I never warmed up to the sports drinks because of the excessive sugar, and I have even been known to immediately stop recreational play in August when I feel the symptoms and grab a beer in the absence of any other electrolytes to help restore balance. Afterward, I find a cool spot, rest, and begin to chug down as much water as I can.

Of course, this is only something I would recommend only in a bind because of the further dehydration effect of alcohol.

Sweat is intended to cool our bodies and keep our internal temperature under control. But as we sweat, we lose salt, and during long periods of excessive exercise, the sodium levels in our blood get lower, and this imbalance begins to create other problems in our body. It is known as hyponatremia.

As we dehydrate, our blood thickens, requiring more pressure to pump through the body. As the pumping becomes less efficient, less gets to the muscles and brain. The result is physical weakness and mental confusion. This is known as dehydration.

Because our internal fluid balance can be dangerous and should be taken more seriously, especially by those in, or nearing, retirement years, I ask you — no, I plead with you — to take it seriously. Dehydration can be deadly. Hydrate — don’t evaporate!

Another top pickleball coach is in the area this week. His name is Prem Carnot, and he is here under the coordination of First State Pickleball Club, doing group and private sessions at the dedicated courts behind the John M. Clayton Elementary School.

The morning of Thursday, July 13, about when this edition hits the newsstand, is the last day he is in the area, and you might want to drive out to Clayton to observe him to see if this is something you might want to sign up for the next time Prem passes through the area. You can learn more about First State Pickleball activities by checking out firststatepickleball.org.

At the end of the month, on July 30 and again Aug. 2, Dee Ahern, a nationally-ranked 5.0 player will be making some appearances — first at the Reserves in Lewes and then at the Lewes public courts.

The left-handed Abern has amassed 62 gold, silver and bronze medals in sanctioned play since 2014, and 44 of those are gold. If you are interested, check out delawareseniorolympics.org or drop me an email and I might have a contact for her sessions as well. Ahern’s visit is coordinated by the Delaware Senior Olympic Committee.

Vaughn “The Baron” Baker is a Senior Olympics gold-medalist in pickleball, and is public relations director for the First State Pickleball Club (FSPC) and captain of the Ocean View Crew pickleball community. He spent his career working with top tennis professionals while working for Wilson Sporting Goods and introducing the Prince Tennis Racket and Wimbledon Tennis Lines. For more information, visit PickleballCoast.com.