Growing up, I lived in an old farmhouse that didn't have central air. We had a couple window air conditioners, as did most everyone else I knew, and I don't remember feeling particularly near death during summers.
Once I graduated high school and moved to the "big city" for college, I enjoyed central air in the dorms until I moved into the houses in the student neighborhood ("The Ghetto") at which point I ended up moving into my fiance's apartment and mooching his central air.
This weekend, a storm took out electricity for thousands and thousands. Our home joined the ranks of the powerless from Friday afternoon around 4:30 until Sunday evening around 6:30. I am pretty sure if my husband had not been home, I'd have croaked. Literally.
Although I have an extremely high tolerance for pain, my brain does not register "heat" as painful. Once my body temperature rises, it takes an inordinate amount of time for me to cool down, even if the environment returns to "chilled" and everyone else is back to normal.
Friday night, thanks to the storm that rolled through, we enjoyed a temperature shift of 30 degrees downward, the breeze blew and our house cooled off naturally. Saturday, however, began the descent into madness. Temperatures rose and by nightfall even our routinely cool basement room was uncomfortably stuffy. I slept down there anyway after awakening around 2:15 a.m. covered in sweat. Gross!
By Sunday, I was seriously dehydrated, despite my efforts to avoid that. I developed a horrible headache, stopped sweating and found myself close to comatose on the basement couch. Even after my parents brought a generator and that meant a fan in the basement, I couldn't muster the energy to fetch cold things to drink. Every time I did drink something, I knew I wasn't absorbing it--I felt like one of those dollies that you give a bottle to & as she's drinking, she's simultaneously drenching your leg.
My husband is not affected by the heat. Years of working outdoors and a year spent in Iraq find him able to maintain hydration as a matter of course. He checked on neighbors, helped our pets stay as cool as possible and forced me to drink whether I thought I wanted to or not. My migraine didn't go away on its own--I needed to take some medication Sunday evening for that to abate. By 6:30 p.m. Sunday, our electricity had returned. By midnight, my headache was gone. By 4 a.m., I finally pulled a sheet over my body in bed. Until that point, I was still too warm for it.
We are definitely not vacationing in or retiring to the desert. This I know for certain. If my husband had not been home, I am sure I would have been found melted or like a shriveled up raisin in our basement by concerned neighbors who found our dogs wandering the 'hood after gnawing their way through the screen door to safety.
The verdict? I'm weak sauce.
Not sure what I can do about that other than subject myself to heat in increasing intensity for increasing durations. That not only sounds like absolutely no fun, it sounds like something I would rather not do in this lifetime. However, if no AC is something we could face frequently, it might not be a bad idea to retoughen myself to the reality.
Maybe I just need to move to North Dakota?