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As Long as We Remember...

March 9, 2011

Pay Attention to Your Body

Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I knew something was wrong but I didn’t know what. My classrooms are located on the fourth floor and the climb up on the cement steps has been a bit rough. I know I am fit enough to wander the jungle. but cement and my feet just don’t mesh.


On Monday and Tuesday last week the air conditioning went out and I performed my usual hand flaying, voice booming, running around the classroom style of instruction. Nobody, but nobody goes to sleep in my classroom. I did notice I was sweating and my shirt became damp but I just attributed it to the exercise. I was fooling myself into believing that I was losing weight.


I returned home on Monday and noticed I was bit tired and disoriented. I tried to sit down and write a column for but no luck. I ate dinner and went to bed early with a copy of the London based Economist magazine. That always sends me into a fitful slumber.


I awoke very tired on Tuesday, but I had a light day. The biology kids would be performing an experiment and I would just have to watch and make sure of their safety. The only strenuous class, by my teaching standards, went well, but, again, no air conditioning. And, wow, climbing those steps in the tropical heat! I came home, still very tired and fell into a deep sleep for 11 straight hours. My god, I said to myself, I really have to lose weight!


I awoke Wednesday, a bit refreshed and still exhausted. I had a hard day and pushed my way through it. I became more and more tired and again slept for about 10 hours. I was still exhausted come Thursday morning. I hadn’t checked my emails since Monday and ignored my daily missive on Facebook and said to myself, what blog?


Friday I had just one class and showed a downloaded “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” part of a unit I am teaching about Tennessee Williams, the gay, alcoholic, and sexually frustrated individual who has become one of America’s greatest playwrights.


I returned home, zombie like, head pounding and went to bed and stayed that way until Sunday morning. As some of you have guessed by now, I was badly dehydrated. The trouble was I didn’t recognize the symptoms until I examined my urine and saw it was the color of ink.


I felt like a fool. Whenever anyone comes to visit I tell them two things: don’t drink the tap water and drink plenty of the bottled water I have in the fridge. Then I tell them to check their urine for any changes and if there is, to guzzle more water.


I should have gone to the hospital for a drip but I felt I could treat it on my own. I slept on Saturday drinking water, at least 250 ml every hour and watched pirated DVD’s.


Dehydration is worse than a cobra bite because you don’t know it is happening. With a cobra bite you can get it treated rather quickly as they have the anti-venom. I certainly learned a hard lesson. From now on, I will bring a bottle of water to the classroom and watch out for cobras.


For other articles see Tom’s blog at All are welcome on his Facebook Page at Borneo Tom


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