By La Shaun Kotaran
"The heat is moving through your body. Temperature is rising. Can you feel the heat, the heat?" – Toni Braxton
After enjoying breezy Caribbean days in Jamaica for my 40th birthday, I returned to my home in Detroit to be greeted by absolutely steamy weather with heat indexes reaching 105 degrees! It feels like hell right now as I type this! While I like to pride myself for loving warmer weather (you almost have to in Michigan – as the only seasons we have here are winter, spring and construction), it's just way too hot outside for anything – UGH! When I'm working, I barely notice that the temperature is rising because the air conditioner is pumping out my favorite tune: RELIEF. However, in our snug apartment, we only have an air conditioner in the living room and every fan in the world running in the bedroom. It's oppressive and most importantly, as a Type 2 Diabetic, these temperatures can be really dangerous.
As summer greets us with full force, we should make sure that we're increasing our intake of fluids (primarily water and occasionally low-sugar/sugar-free drinks). I remember performing before an extremely enthusiastic crowd last year around this time at the annual African American World Festival. It was easily 90 degrees out with the higher "real feel" temps in the low hundreds. The sun was beautiful and beaming. I was on the last song of my set, when I was immediately hit with a spell of dizziness. I started to see black spottiness hitting my eyes and one of the kind folks from the audience was yelling, "Here, have some juice." I reached for it, even though I knew I wasn't experiencing a low blood sugar episode. This was something totally different. When I leaned over, I felt like something was literally dragging my body down to the hard stage below me. One of the stage hands caught me and quickly guided me down the stairs as one of my background singers stepped up and sang my final song. A paramedic team was waiting for me in the well air-conditioned artist's green room. It was so dramatic! After running a few tests and getting lots of cold WATER (not juice) into my system, they determined that I was overheating from sustained sun exposure and that I was very dehydrated. I felt a little embarrassed and like a diva with everyone fussing over me, when I knew I should've had more water. But, anything was better than blacking out on that stage in front of my fans. After wiping away tears of anxiety and getting my heart rate back to normal, I stood up and recited a new personal mantra: "Don't wait until you're thirsty, La Shaun, to fuel-up; get a head start on hydrating yourself because this sun is no joke. The wipe out from dehydration is real, and with everything that already comes with this disease, you don't need an unwarranted trip to the ER. I offer this same mantra to you, my Sweet friends.
Protecting our feet is going to be super important this time of year, too. I openly admit that I'm a card carrying member of the strappy sandals club. There is nothing sexier to me than a well-manicured toe poking from a super-cute summer shoe. Even though my endocrinologist gently scolds me every time I show up to appointments in my favorite open-toes, I can't really see myself not rocking the style. However, I'm very mindful of my steps and, when wearing these trendsetters are going to be really dangerous (i.e., rocks/sand/open dirt everywhere), I swap them for shoes that completely cover my feet.
A little extra caution goes a long way in this heat, Family. Winters are super long on my side of town, so I'm not really complaining. I will, however, be indulging in a small ice cream cone. There's nothing like a short and sweet treat to remind us that we're alive and well and have so much to be grateful for in spite of our prognosis.
Find a cool way to beat the heat while simultaneously being really good to yourself—if only for the moment.
Got it, Sugar? Good.
La Shaun Phoenix Kotaran (Moore) is a Detroit-based vocalist, spoken word artist, activist, event-host and wife. Kotaran's work is infused with her love for the city of Detroit, hip-hop, social justice and love of mankind. Moore has been lead or background vocalist in some of the nation's hottest music venues, and has worked or shared stages with key national and local performers since 1999. She lives with her husband and muse, Tony in Sterling Heights, Michigan and is currently promoting her new album ANTHEM.
Follow her journey in real time via Facebook, or Instagram: @Detroitphoenix
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