Sunday, September 12, 2010

An Awful Charley Horse

Last Saturday morning, the day I look forward to all week for sleeping as long as I possibly can, an innocent leg stretch around 5am triggered a ridiculously monstrous leg cramp in my left calf that is continuing to wreak havoc.  

Now I've gotten Charley Horses in my calves before, and they are usually triggered by some instinctive leg stretching done in the bed, but this one was some kind of mother of all Charley Horses.  I couldn't use my usual trick to chase it away - flexing my foot to help stretch the calf muscle out of its tight lock.  This time, The pain was so intense there was really not much I could do to find any relief but suffer and wait it out.  I was crippled so badly, I had to bend my knee to bring my leg up to my hands, but I was almost terrified to touch my leg.  Plan B was to massage the muscle back into a relaxed state.  Yeah, right.  The tight rock of a muscle trapped inside made the skin on my leg not want to be touched, much less be massaged.  I did my best to try not to wince loudly enough for Don to awaken, though all the movement was already ruining that.  I said nothing and tried to settled back into an acceptable position for a bed-mate, while handling the pain as quietly as possible.  

The episode lasted less than a minute, I'm pretty sure, but it lasted entirely too long for me, agonizing as it was.  After the muscle finally gave up its death grip a bit, I tried to move my foot a bit to help stretch it.  It resisted a lot and I was really afraid of damaging it if I forced the stretch, so I was very gentle about it and tried to sleep a bit longer.  

Afterwards, I was immediately aware of that lingering feeling of the post-cramping pain.  As crazy as the episode was, I didn't think I'd be feeling anything by the time I got up.  Little did I realize that something evil was awakened that morning.  The fibro beast of muscle cramps decided to crack the whip on me and show me who's boss.  The first dozen or so steps from the bed that morning and this morning as well, both felt like I was trying to walk on a sprained leg.  I couldn't bear the weight of the step and practically hopped to the bathroom each morning.  Luckily, as I continued to walk, I was able to do so with just a limp. 

As I write today, this Sunday evening, I continue to feel the after-effects of the ugly incident.  I limp and long for the more normal feeling in my right calf.  Both legs were sensitive to the touch before this, but compared to how my left calf is feeling, I am going to call the right leg "normal" by comparison.  (For someone dealing with Myofascial Pain and Fibromyalgia, that's really saying something!)

I felt more comfortable with my cane with me when I took a walk with Don around the block, but I have been trying to stay off the leg for most of the day, with some continual stretching movements being my primary treatment.  My back is also nagging at me but I can't comprehend what it is that it could want, as nothing seems to console it lately.  I've used the heat wrap on it, which feels a little better, but doesn't relieve it.  Medications are not cutting the mustard either, lately.  I'm tempted to medicate with some delicious beer.  At least I'll be enjoying something.

As for possible causes, I've read that dehydration, lack of potassium or electrolytes may contribute to such problems, but I don't think these could be the case.  To be safe, I ingested some potassium-rich orange juice that we happened to have in the fridge and have been drinking plenty of liquids.  

I also realized that Friday, as a response to my flaring Morton's Foot symptoms in my left foot, I'd devised a simple solution that seemed to help me greatly: I wadded up some tissue and taped a bandage over it on the bottom of my left foot, in the appropriate place (knuckle leading to the big toe).  The restoration of the tripod structure of the foot relieved the pain in my second foot knuckle right away, and I was able to transfer the support from shoe to slipper in the evening, without doing anything special.
I'd learned recently in my trigger point workbook that there is a trigger point in the calf muscle that can contribute to pain in the foot.  Perhaps when I changed the balance of my foot, it may have affected my overworked calf muscle?  I don't know if any of this is even possible, but it's crossing my inquiring mind.  I did not repeat the bandage trick yesterday or today, partly because I wanted to see if I could prevent further attacks, but mostly because I couldn't imagine bending my leg over my knee to work on the foot while my calf is so sensitive.  I must find some sort of balance.

So, if things don't improve soon, I'll likely have a rough morning tomorrow and the cane will be accompanying me to work again.

UPDATE: As of Monday morning, I was still feeling the after-effects, but was able to walk on my left leg much better, even right out of bed.  I may be able to do without the cane today after all.  Hurray!