I recently had a bout with kidney stones. After it was all said and done my doctor said they were calcium stones and that it’s likely I developed them because my bones were shedding calcium and I was not drinking enough water. This is a reality for anyone who starts using a wheelchair but particularly for someone with muscular dystrophy. The bones just don’t need to support as much muscle (or weight) as they used to, so they give up the calcium.
Over the last few years I was definitely not drinking enough water. I was drinking coffee and tea — not to tremendous extent — but it would have been better for me to drink water instead. I know for sure I was not drinking 8 cups a day.
Since my kidney stone procedure (a long other story) I have finally figured out some ways to get myself to drink more water.
1. Drink through a straw.
For whatever reason my brain subconsciously must think that lifting a glass to my mouth is torturous. It is difficult, but really not an excuse to avoid drinking water. However I noticed that whenever I get a soda or iced coffee, I can suck down the entire drink much faster than if I was sipping from a cup.
2. Get a hydration pack.
I remembered seeing those helmets at sporting events with the cans and the long tubes attached to it and wondered if there was something a more refined — and there was. Hydration packs come in a variety of sizes and have a long tube you can keep sucking water out of. The only pain is that you have to clean this out a bit more thoroughly than a cup, but it can go with you anywhere. If you use a wheelchair you sort of have to jerry rig it to your chair but it can be a good way to stay hydrated.
3. Get a water cooler and put it somewhere you pass all the time.
Many years ago I had one of these right next to my desk and it was so easy to just reach over and fill it up. Mine had a cold and hot water button and although the 5 gallon tank was too much for me to lift, for $20 a month it was a great solution. You can even buy your own tank and then have the water delivered from a local water delivery company.
4. Keep track of how much you’re drinking.
I mentally try to add up all my water intake for the day. It becomes disappointing when I don’t get up to 64 oz. I actually aim for 80 so when I don’t even reach 64 it makes me run to the sink for one last water binge. Before I kept track of this I really had no idea how little I was probably drinking. There are days even when I keep track that it might be 5pm and I’ve only had 24 oz. of liquid — not good. But my body doesn’t scream for water like it does for food, so it’s important to stay on top of it.
5. Mix it up.
You can get sick of plain water really quickly. I have several different types of powdered mixes like Crystal Light that let me switch it up. There are boxes of single-serving mixes that you can get so you can carry them with you too. I also will allow myself to drink juice and even throw in a soda every now and then. You don’t have to give it up altogether.
If you drink enough water you can definitely keep kidney stones at bay. There are also many side benefits to drinking lots of water — losing weight for example, among other things. So do your best to stay hydrated — especially if you have muscular dytrophy.