There’s a heatwave at the moment, and it’s fine with me because I love the heat. However, it hasn’t always been this way for me. Having hydrocephalus, I have to make sure I drink regularly and keep cool more then most people because a sharp rise in temperature, or fluctuations in temperature and air pressure can lead to me feeling very ill with headaches and even sickness. This happened a lot when I was a child and teenager, and was very disruptive to my life. I missed days off school, and didn’t enjoy the hot weather as much as I should have done. These are symptoms of heatstroke, but also symptoms of hydrocephalus acting up, and shunt failure or fracture. A memory that always comes to mind for me about how heat affected me in the past was when I was eleven, nearly twelve years old, and travelled with my family (parents, sister uncles aunts and some cousins) on my first trip to the USA. We spent three weeks there, and saw relatives in Connecticut and who lived in Virginia and Maine. I had a fantastic time, apart from one incident. My grandmother, mum and I were in a supermarket when I started to feel ill, dizzy and then vomited, The day was really hot. We ended up having to be picked up in my aunty’s car, and driven back to her house, where I spent the rest of the day in the shade. We were all worried it was my shunt acting up, as I’d just had a lifesaving operation to change it. Looking back now, maybe it was just my new shunt adjusting to my body, but I suppose I’ll never know really.
Here are my tips for a happy, healthy (and cool) summer
1.Drink plenty of water- this can be the recommended two litres a day or over. If you don’t like water on its own, add fruit to your water.
2. Avoid carbonated drinks – I love a Coca Cola Zero or Diet Coke once in awhile, but notice that they make me more thirsty than I was before I started drinking them. Even “diet” versions have sugars.
3. Avoid alcohol – My favourite summer tipple is Malibu, as I love everything with coconut. However, I find alcohol has the same dehydrating effect as fizzy drinks or soda , no matter how much ice is in it, or what it’s mixed with.
4. Fill a spray bottle with water from the tap and use it sparingly throughout the day to cool your body down. I use a fairly large bottle left over from when I used heat protection spray for my hair. You can use any bottle, as long as it has a nozzle on it, and then spritz away! I use a handbag-sized one too for when I’m out. It’s freshness at your fingertips! Nowadays, you can find brands in your local chemist (pharmacy) such as Eau Thermale Avene that do them. I’ve tried this brand, and it’s good, but doesn’t last very long if you use it daily. The ones on the market are known as Facial Mists, and often have added minerals. I even found this product at the 99p Store! Facial mists are often sold in aerosol cans, and so because of this are damaging to the environment, so what I do is better for the environment, and cheaper in the long run.
5. Eat lots of fruit and veg – We know this, but in summer it’s best to eat fruits with lots of water in them, such as melon, watermelon oranges and lemons. Put cucumber and tomatoes in your salads and use them to accompany your meals, you’ll feel refreshed!
6. Wear a hat- I wear a sun hat if I’m out in a particularly exposed area, or if not, I use a Hair Protection Spray – it’s important to protect your hair from the sun, just like you’d protect your body. I use Lidl Hair Protection Spray or Malibu Protection Spray Oil Factor 8– this can be used on your body too, but I only use it on my hair as I use high factor suncream for my body.
7. Suncream- I always use SPF 30 for both my face and body, because a lower factor doesn’t give me enough protection. I love the Soltan range by Boots, and always use facial sun cream for my face, and regular sun cream for my body, because I find regular sun cream too greasy for my face. Other brands I love are Hawaiian Tropic and Malibu (a cheaper version of Hawaiian Tropic, but which protects just as well and smells just as good with its coconut fragrance).
8. Use a fan or the air conditioning- but don’t set the temperature too cool as this can cause a change which can cause colds and sore throats. Similarly, don’t drink bottled water straight from the freezer as the same can happen (trust me, I’ve learnt the hard way!)
9. Take a dip- go to the pool, it’s relaxing and will cool you down.
10. Choose your ice cream wisely- I love the most chocolatey, most sweet ice cream I can get usually (Magnums and Haagen Dazs are my fave) BUT now I’m dieting, they’re out. They make me thirsty afterwards. I go for brands like Calippo instead, which contain more water or juice, I try and look for the most natural ice cream I can get. My partner Alfredo talked about making his one with fruit, so let’s see how that goes….I’ll let you know.
Meanwhile, keep cool and have a great summer!