How the Heat Gets You By Sherry Benn Dallas In downtown Dallas on a day of 110 degree readings, five men jogged past the Sherry Benn is a medical journalist and novelist living in Austin. window of the air conditioned coffee shop where I had taken refuge. Later, I presented this information to James Knochel, M.D., nationally recognized specialist on heat stroke. Naturally, he wanted to be sure he had the facts straight. “You saw five people jogging at two o’clock in the afternoon in Dallas with the temperature at 110 degrees?” he asked. “Yes.” I nodded solemnly. A 60-year old black male was admitted to Parkland Hospital Emergency Room in obvious heat distress. The young doctor held the man’s hand and patted him as he asked the following questions. There were pauses as the patient almost slipped out of consciousness now and then and some of his words were muddled. Doctor: What happened today, sir? Patient: I don’t know. Doctor: Were you out in the heat? Patient: I guess so. Where did they pick me up at? Doctor: They found you out on the sidewalk. Tell me, do you live in an air conditioned house? Patient: No. Doctor: What was the last thing you remember this morning? Patient: I always read the paper. This hoarseness. Doctor: Hoarseness? Tell me, have you been drinking lots of fluids? Patient: No. Doctor: You haven’t been drinking lots of fluids? Patient: No. Doctor: Have you been sick lately? Patient: Well, I’d say I been sick the last two or three days. I don’t usually be sick. Doctor: What was bothering you? Patient: Just this hoarseness. Doctor: Do you have any history of heart disease? Patient: No. Doctor: Any trouble with sugar? Patient: No. Doctor: Do you take any medicines? Patient: much about medicines. Doctor: Have you been drinking at all? Alcohol? Patient: Yeah. But not lately. Doctor: When did you last have a drink? Patient: What I drink isn’t real strong because it’s beer. Doctor: Are you allergic to any medicines? Patient: No. Doctor: Is there anyone at home who can help us out? Do you live with anyone? Patient: Yeah. Doctor: Who do you live with? Patient: His name is Doctor: Have you been vomiting? Patient: No. Doctor: Have you had diarrhea? Patient: No. Doctor: Any belly cramps? Patient: I think the trouble is, I haven’t been eating like I should. Doctor: You haven’t been eating like you should? Patient: That’s right. That’s what I think. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3
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