One function of the body that I’ve never really considered “amazing” is the ability to sweat. I love to exercise and it feels good to be covered in sweat after a run, but I usually take it for granted. Sweating isn’t just proof of hard physical effort through exercise or other activity. Sweating is an essential function that helps our bodies release heat in order to stay cool.
But what if a person doesn’t sweat?
And why am I even writing about this?
If a person doesn’t sweat, he or she can get overheated very easily and develop heat exhaustion or even heat stroke, which can be deadly.
And I am writing about this because Jenna doesn’t sweat.
The skin condition that Jenna was born with is called ichthyosis and there are many types of this genetic skin condition that is characterized by very dry, scaly skin. I am thankful that Jenna’s dermatologist has told us several times that her ichthyosis is mild and manageable. However, when the doctor told us that Jenna probably doesn’t sweat due to ichthyosis and to be cautious in the heat, I admit that I got concerned.
Because we live in Georgia…the Deep South. It gets HOT. It gets REALLY HOT.
It’s not even June yet and we’ve already hit 92 degrees.
|It's hard to tell in this pic, but Jenna's face was VERY red after sitting in hot car for a few minutes.|
|Fanning herself in the van after playing on the playground|
I first noticed that Jenna didn’t seem to sweat on “Gotcha Day” in China. I was sweating buckets in the room where all the families waited to get their sons and daughters. Jenna was crying and upset for several minutes after we first got her, and on top of that, she was bundled up in two layers of clothes. Never once did I feel her sweat, unlike everyone else in the room.
Then it became pretty clear to me that this may be an issue while we were at some friends’ house for a Super Bowl Party in early February. Jenna was having fun playing inside and it didn’t take long for me to notice her face getting really red. I felt her skin and it was on fire…but absolutely no sweat.
Since that memorable Super Bowl Party, there have already been many times that I’ve been out-and-about with Jenna when it’s warm outside and her face has gotten really red. People ask me if she’s okay or they comment that she’s getting a tan (HA!) Without going into details, I tell them she’s hot because she doesn’t sweat.
For now I feel like I am able to “control” Jenna’s environment pretty well since she is only three and with me all the time. But there is bound to come a time as Jenna gets older when she’ll want to do activities with her friends that may be dangerous because of the heat. And obviously, as she gets older and goes to school, camps, and participates in other activities, I'll need to educate her teachers and friends about the importance of keeping her cool when the temperatures heat up. She may not always like this, just like a person with diabetes doesn't like to have to deal with checking blood sugar levels, but it will be necessary.
So what’s the key?
There is no one key, no magic bullet. But aside from prayer and lots of lotion, one thing I’ve quickly learned to provide for my sweet girl that doesn’t sweat is this: WATER, WATER, WATER!
For someone that doesn’t sweat, water is a MUST. The FIRST Foundation is a wonderful resource for people with ichthyosis, and I recently read an article about a young boy that runs cross-country. In order to prevent him from getting overheated, his mother stands at certain places along the race course and throws gallons of water on him when he runs by her. This is just one example of a mother with a child that has ichthyosis doing what she needs to do so that he can do what he loves to do.
And I want to do the same for Jenna now and as she grows. Jenna loves to drink water and thankfully I already know that she loves being in water. She jumped right in the water at a recent birthday party at a pool. She loves her nightly bath time. And she had a great time running through fountains at the park on Mother’sDay. I have a feeling we’ll be spending most of our time this summer running through sprinklers or at the pool near our house.
|We can't wait for the pool to open in a few days!|
|This was last summer when I was still dreaming of having Jenna in my arms.|
No sweat? With Jesus...no problem!