Bizarre Signs of Dehydration

Photo by Bhavyesh Acharya on Unsplash

Dry lips and a scratchy tongue ain’t got nuttin’ on me. When I need to drink water, two lumps hurt.

No, not those.


These are on my forehead. Used to wonder if they were alien implants back when I believed in aliens. That was fun.

I assume one of them is an osteoma, which is a benign bone tumor. Because tumors are so nice.

The other one? I don’t know what the hell it is. It lives over my eye. It pays rent in mystery-dollars.

I noticed it after a scary dream when I was sleeping outside in Sedona, Arizona. And you know what Sedona is known for. You can see why I thought I was abducted.

Yeah, you know, the dream of lying on an operating table while voices are saying this will hurt but it’s necessary. And taking out my eyeball. And I wake up, and my eye is swollen. And I call someone who says, oh, yeah, Greys.

What? Never heard of them.

So, that’s how I know when I need to drink water. That bit of bone that hangs down from the arch of bone above my left eye hurts and so does the lump on my forehead. They annoy me more and more until I hydrate, and then the pain slowly goes away.

But that’s not all. This one tiny spot on my right sacrum feels like an alien is pinching me. It won’t let me sleep. I lie there at night until I drink water. Soon, my sacrum feels fine and I can start wending my way toward slumber.

Not all. A round ball of gristle on the right side of my neck throbs. If I’m in public and I’m rubbing my neck-ball, shut up and give me a glass of water. I’m not paying attention to what you’re saying until you do. That thing is distracting as hell.

The worst. My lower back won’t bend. It hurts and swells so much I can’t stand up straight. I can’t get out of bed other than to slide off onto the floor and scoot along to where I need to go. Usually, to get something to drink. Never to look in the mirror. Please.


If I were only so lucky to say those are the only signs. But no.

I get too tired to sleep. I lie there in the daytime in limbo land. Too fuzzed out to get up and get water. That can go for hours until I remember. Oh yeah, I need to drink. Then, before too long, I’m alert and productive once again. Writing pathetic articles like this one.

I retain scads of water if I don’t drink constantly. If only I could insert a suction needle into my lymph and drink from it I’d be OK.

I feel like maybe the world would be better off without me around, trying to get it to pay me its hard-won cash. Obviously, I’m a failure.

The words on the page have a wild party that I’m not invited to. They jump around until they lose all relation to space. Good for them. I guess.

And get this. My right leg gets shorter. I limp around because all the muscles on my right side tighten up. Not recommended for first dates.

My ankles turn easily. They do what they want.


My neck-skin looks like it died. I see it in the mirror and think it makes no sense to try to continue on putting myself out there as a viable romantic partner. I go dark on Match.

Then I look at my legs. The shins are flaky, crepey and wrinkled. I remember I am so old that no one would ever love me.

My lips lose their plump. I think about my funeral. Definitely closed casket.

My eyes have circles under them the color of red wine. I swear I didn’t drink any.

I didn’t do anything bad. I didn’t drink diuretic coffee or alcohol or lots of salt. I only worked out at the gym. I exist in the summer. That’s all it takes for me. Sweat.

And less water a day plus all the hot herbal tea I can muster. That’s me doing me.

Year after year. And I still live on the edge. Any morning when I might not drink plenty of water, I know that by that night I’ll be awake and tossing with pain, drinking some 750 ml bottles of water I keep by my bed. I’ll go to the bathroom five or six times during the night. I always flush. My housemate loves me.

I got dehydrated when I was very young, and I never looked back until a few years ago when I figured out what was going on. I started slamming the 750s. If you don’t know, that’s how much a wine bottle holds. (You lucky people who can drink wine without getting dehydrated.) I don’t kid around with my watering. But I don’t recommend you try it at home without a doctor’s sanction.

It’s taken years of over-drinking fluids so that the pain and swelling mostly is gone until I dip down into the unforgiving levels of hydration again. And then, watch out.

Welcome to my world.

What about you?

Have you considered that mysterious pains you get are dehydration? Try drinking plenty of water for a long time, get a balanced amount of electrolytes and get back to me. I’d be curious to hear if that helps.

Have you figured out your dehydration signals? What are they?



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