Courier Staff Writer
After hours of no food or water and working in Sunday’s 100-degree heat, Cheyenne Tedrow collapsed.
“All of a sudden she lunged forward, passed out and was turning purple,” said Nita Baker of Ottumwa. “We couldn’t get her to respond. It scared me to death.”
Baker’s daughter, 14-year-old Katie Green, was finishing up her horseback riding lesson with Tedrow, 19, Sunday afternoon at the Wapello County Fairgrounds in Eldon when Tedrow succumbed to the heat and lost consciousness.
A combination of no food or water since the day before, recent medical issues and being in the heat for five hours led to Tedrow’s heat stroke.
“As the temperatures spiked, so did mine,” said Tedrow of Bladensburg.
Since there is no shade at the fairgrounds, Baker said she and her daughter hung a horse blanket above Tedrow, put ice under her arms, neck and on her back and took off her shoes and socks to try to cool her down.
“We were trying to get her cooled down because she was not breathing right,” Baker said. “It doesn’t take long for people to go down, and it was so hot that day. When her face turned purple, I didn’t know what to do.”
Even after Tedrow had been in the ambulance for 10-15 minutes, emergency personnel said her temperature was still 102.8 degrees.
Baker, who suffered a heat stroke 20 years ago and a stroke last August, had come prepared to her daughter’s riding lesson with water bottles and ice, originally worried that she would be the one to be overcome by the heat.
When Baker collapsed from heat stroke 20 years ago on a 112-degree day in California, her neighbor rushed out and tried to cool her down with water bottles and ice.
“I knew if I didn’t help [Tedrow] fast, she would probably suffer some of the same things I did,” Baker said. “My body has sustained damage from that, and I didn’t want that happening to her.”
Though Baker said she walks with a slight drag and has difficulties using her right arm, she’s come a long way from not being able to walk following her stroke a year ago.
“I’m very grateful to her,” Baker said of Tedrow. “It helped me realize I’m not used up. Being a handicapped person, I regained my confidence.”
When Tedrow was released from Ottumwa Regional Health Center Sunday night, she texted Baker — “... you saved my life today!” — and offered Green free riding lessons, but Baker refused.
“Anybody who’s 19 years old and works that hard, they deserve their money,” Baker said.
Tedrow emphasized the importance of being prepared in the recent soaring temperatures.
“No matter what, carry a bottle of water with you anywhere you go,” Tedrow said. “I have a really bad thyroid problem, so I don’t drink unless I’m thirsty.”
Now, Tedrow said she’s going to make sure she and her horseback riding students stay hydrated. She said she’ll be back out at the fairgrounds this Sunday giving lessons, but this time with a 5-gallon water cooler.
A piece of advice her doctor gave her: “Tank up.”
“If you plan on going outside the next day, drink a lot of water the night before,” Tedrow said. “When you’re outside, you can still drink water, but it’s a lot easier on your body than getting out there, getting really hot and then drinking water.
“I didn’t even know what was happening. There were no warning signs. I just went down.”