The regulatory center for body temperature is located in the hypothalamus. It is highly sensitive to temperature changes in the arterial blood as it flows through it. Depending on body temperature, the regulatory center makes adaptive responses, and body temperature then increases or decreases.
The hypothalamus is quite small. No larger than the size of a grape. It directs many critical functions in the body, making it key in the body’s regulatory system. It is one of the most critical brain functions for mere survival.
Sadly, this was one (of many) areas damaged in Ryan’s brain from the attack. If nothing else, this should let you see just how violent the beating was to injure an area so deeply protected. It takes extreme trauma to injure it; usually resulting from a horrific vehicle crash or an explosion.
Enough of the anatomy lesson…
Last night around seven o’clock, Ryan’s body temperature started dropping… and quickly. We decided to forego his nightly shower (so he wouldn’t get any more chilled) and get him straight into bed. We found that we are better able to mange this from there.
His temperature continued to drop, bottoming out at 94.2℉ axillary (armpit) just after eight o’clock. As a rule of thumb (but not always), axillary runs about a degree cooler than one’s core body temperature. So, Ryan was somewhere around 95℉. Falling below this threshold is mild hypothermia.
There is a certain finesse to warming a person up. Essentially, this must be done slowly. In Ryan’s case, we need to be extremely careful in adjusting his temperature, else he overcompensate and begin running a fever (hyperthermia). My best way to explain this is it’s like trying to come out of a skid on ice… small corrections!
After getting him into bed we covered him with two dryer-heated blankets and a scarf around his neck and head. Sue snuggled in next to him and we turned on the heat lamp (from Ryan’s Wish List). I turned up the heat in the house by five degrees. As Ryan began warming, we would methodically remove the heat sources.
I monitored him all night, making sure he was always going in the right direction and at the right pace. It was at five o’clock this morning that he returned to “normal”. By six o’clock, we began our day just like usual.
It’s a harsh reminder that Ryan can never be left alone, even for a minute. Yes, he is over two years out from the beating, but his body can still do unexpected things… and quickly. We must be vigilant, without lapse. He can not be apart from either Sue or myself. At least not yet. We, the caregivers, are the experts on brain injury. There is no one in this world that has as broad and practical knowledge as us. We are pioneers in the treatment and rehabilitation of this type of injury. We know just how suddenly things can (and do) change. We know how to identify and remedy these situations. We are the authority.
I say this with no pride or boastfulness. How I wish we weren’t.