My fishing buddy had been in the grocery store for almost an hour. The entire time I'd been climbing onto, around, amidst and off of an 18-foot bass boat parked far out in the lot about 50 yards from the narrow right-hand shoulder of Highway 77.
A nonstop parade of 18-wheelers aimed toward Schulenberg and Interstate 10 came roaring past the lot, each one steadily shifting gears and picking up speed on its way out of town.
Funneling off the back of their trailers, the invisible wakes that followed their bumpers were about as subtle as NASCAR-pulled blast furnaces. Visible waves of heat rose oasis-like from the asphalt, weirdly distorting the picture.
It was three in the afternoon, and the temperature was smoldering a steady 102°.
Of all the things my friend went inside to shop for, water was atop the list. I hadn’t had a sip for almost two hours … a serious case of fishing enthusiasm and hurried preparation collectively blurring the boundaries of common sense. By the time I realized I was well on my way to a world-class heatstroke I was as wobbly as a crankbait.
Essentially, my cooling system was crashing. I didn't know it at the time, but my core temperature had climbed dangerously close to the sunstroke benchmark of 105°F.
I could, however, recognize the symptoms.
I'm not a doctor. I don't even play one on TV. But I know enough about heatstroke to know that I should have had a clue when I suddenly got slammed by a Category Four headache complete with a storm surge wave of nausea.
Hot, dry skin: check. Muscle cramps: check. Shallow breathing, and a heartbeat timed for a thoroughbred racehorse: check.
Of all the things.
I’m supposed to know better.
The Lavaca Medical Center ER was less than a mile away. Disoriented, weak and disgusted with myself for allowing the situation to happen in the first place, I was about to start walking when my buddy exited the store.
He had three cases of bottled water on the bottom of the shopping cart. I downed two 12-ounce bottles faster than a college kid working a beer bong.
The nausea increased.
"Take me to the ER,” I told my friend.
“Wait,” he said. “I want you to try something first.”
I looked at him like he was crazy and repeated myself, this time more emphatically. “Let me put it another way, then.Take me to the (expletive) emergency room.”
I been lying back on the reclining seat of his SUV, impatiently waiting for him to pull out but entranced enough by the air-conditioner to stay quiet. In that short period of time he had extracted a tablet from a plastic tube, broken it in half and dropped both halves into yet another water bottle.
“Drink this," he said. “If you’re not a whole lot better in 15 minutes we’ll go to the emergency room.”
I was too sick to argue. The white halves of the wafer fizzed from the bottom of the water bottle, just like a seltzer tablet. With the last trace dissolved, he handed me the bottle.
“Drink this. All of it. As quick as you can.”
So I did.
Estimates vary; I say it was 14 minutes and 30 seconds. He contends it was at least a minute less than that. It doesn't matter. What matters is that fortunately, his "cure" worked.
His wife had bought it for him several months prior, knowing his proclivity to push it just a bit too hard in the Texas heat while out in the field.
It worked for him. And there's no denying it worked for me.
"It" is a remarkable over-the-counter hydration tablet marketed as Nuun (pronounced “Noon”).
It was designed for “extreme athletes” … people who do obscenely strenuous things in the desert, across the ocean, through jungle terrain and the like that “not-extreme” types like me might occasionally watch on cable TV from the air-conditioned confines of a soft-cushioned living room couch.
While drinking a bottle of something cold and refreshing.
Nonetheless, since you are serious enough about the outdoors to be a member of Texas Fishing Forum, Texas Hunting Forum or both you much more likely than not go at it hard during the heat of summer. Therefore, you and I are as equally prone to be a candidate for heatstroke as the guy on the Wild Man Channel attempting to cross Death Valley on a unicycle … maybe even more prone, because the unicycle guy has a TV crew with him to make sure he doesn't die, at least not on camera.
Here in the world of TFF-Tested, we are not paid to say good things about products. Put more simply, we're not a "New Products" section … You know; the place where magazines and even some websites take glowing press releases knocked out by PR people and run them without question in the hopes of garnering ad dollars.
That said, it would be smart for the people who make this stuff to advertise here. Being that from what I can tell they are heavily focused on the not-fishing-and-not hunting members of society, we of the Outdoor Sites Forums might even be an audience they haven't even considered.
That's up to the hip and trendy guys who handle their advertising and marketing.
As for my part in this deal, it's my hope that when you are out looking for stocking stuffers in the next couple of weeks you will drop by your local grocery store and spend the roughly 10 bucks it costs for a single tube of NUUN tablets (my wife found the product first at our local HEB grocery store; and then ordered a multi-pack via the company's website … Nuun.com).
Nuun is packed with electrolytes. And it needn't only be utilized subsequent to in-progress sunstrokes. I had a mid-summer photo shoot this year that I knew fully well was going to be a pressure cooker. My wife encouraged me to hydrate with Nuun before going out in the heat before sunrise (there is obviously something about wives that makes them more aware of things like this, and for that I am extremely thankful, even if I pause to wonder why I did not think of that.)
I came home bathed in sweat.
No surprise there.
I wasn’t weak as a 3-day-old runt pup.
Big surprise there. Nuun Active Hydration
comes in 11 flavors. I've only tried the Lemon Lime, and it tastes surprisingly good.
When you're desperate for a quick trip to the ER, taste isn't exactly the first thing on your mind. But if you’re headed out the door, whether to shoot photos, fish or spend your day working in the heat, it's good to know that unlike our mamas told us (sorry there, mama
), something need not be dreadful-tasting in order to be good.
And I mean "good" in more ways than one.