"How much water do you drink?"
"As much as I can. Easily 15 to 16 glasses a day."
The patient was astonished to learn that so much water is bad for her, and that anxiety and insomnia could be getting worse due to excessive water intake and shot back, "I always thought the more water you drink, the better it is for you. It flushes everything 'bad' out of you."
"I am not quite sure how much bad it flushes out of you, but it sure flushes the salt out of your system, and if the serum sodium gets too low, it causes anxiety, and if your heart and kidneys get overwhelmed with water, unable to pump or excrete it out respectively, a whole lot of other problems start, including swelling of your legs, and other areas of your body, including your brain."
Patient stretched out her hands to show me her fingers and admitted that her fingers are swollen, but could not believe that water could be harmful. She insisted that everybody tells you to drink more water. Every health guru tells you to flush your system. Can they all be wrong? For besides cleaning your system, water fills up your stomach so you don't feel hungry. "You kill two birds with one stone."
"But at a huge price," I added. "It keeps you anxious, ruins your kidneys in the long run, and is an extraordinary burden upon your heart, which has to pump extra fluid through the circulatory system. So don't drink water unless you feel thirsty."
But then she changed her mind, and admitted that it is not thirst that makes her drink but perhaps an obsession to drink, and an obsession to hear the sound of clicking ice. She confessed that she drinks so much water that she has to go to the bathroom all night long. She is up every hour of the night emptying her bladder, and no wonder gets no sleep.
"I am the same way but with water. I don't want to drink or smoke. But perhaps my desire to imitate my mother and be a drinker and smoker like her I do so through obsessively drinking water. The only thing I permit myself in which I actually become my mother is to click those ice cubes in the glass. Rest of everything about my mother and all the other damn alcoholics I detest, and want to flush them out of my system."