Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Marie Jerky

"Watch this," I said to Sven and the staff writer on the morning work shuttle.

I pointed my hands down towards the floor. The veins on the back of my hands swelled up.

"Now look." I tipped my hands up, pointing to the ceiling. The blood ran out of them and the veins returned to normal.

"Gross," said the writer. Sven, even though he'd seen this parlor trick the night before, wasn't that enthralled either. I'd been pretty freaked out yesterday, but Sven had told me that I was just dehydrated.

"Are you sure?" I asked him. "Or are you just trying to calm me down with the simplest answer?"

"No, it's real. Long-term dehydration makes your blood thicken."

Okay. I was happy to believe him. I certainly didn't want to suspect some sinister disease, perhaps caught in the Nile or in the Ugandan bush.

Anyway, dehydration fit with my other symptoms—thirst and frequent headaches. I'd drunk water often enough but certainly not in the volumes I needed to live in the desert. I was dehydrated like a piece of jerky that's been sitting in the sun.

Bottled water is cheap in Kuwait, but I sometimes find myself conserving it for use in my morning coffee, when I should just get off my butt and go down to the bakala—that's corner store or bodega back home—for some new bottles.

I used tap water in my coffee until people warned me not too. I'm still not entirely convinced, but it's probably best not to second-guess when I have no concrete information.

Tap water in Kuwait is desalinated from Gulf water, then kept in massive mushroom-shaped striped water towers. They look like they belong to the circus, or like the faded entrance to some 1970s amusement park. "In Tomorrowland 2000, we'll all live in high-rises shaped like mushrooms."

The desalinated water is fine for showers but is not tasty. I assumed that boiling the deasalinated water made it safe to cook pasta in or boil for coffee. Then everyone except the writer told me to be more careful.

So I was more careful and only consumed bottled water in my coffee, though I couldn't face boiling pasta in something more expensive than petrol.

But I was still slacking off on water-guzzling. And I wasn't eating a lot of snack food either—not much salt or sugar. I think I probably have been slowly drying myself out for three months.

My self-medication has so far been to eat a few aspirin a day to thin the blood, drink a ton of water, and eat some snacks. I got great results when I started drinking Coke and Sprite. Orange juice seems good too. I'm looking forward to getting to Spain. I'll get some Gatorade. Isn't that supposed to help?

I guess I should consider myself lucky. The other women in the office told me the climate makes their hair fall out.


Pville Peg said...

Okay, I tried the hands up-hands down trick, and MY veins did the same thing. Does that mean I'm dehydrated, too? Or, is it just that I'm old? Not that you're old, Marie (at least, not for another couple weeks ;-)

Hussa-G Man said...

You could filter the tap water further.

My wife does that, and stores the water in my used up mineral water bottles.