Friday, April 22, 2011

Weird Weather and Possible Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)

So, first a bit of good news... It gets hard to remember to notice the little victories sometimes. That cough I had that caused me some weird pain in my left side is finally done and gone. Also, I have backed off the Baby Steps quite a bit the last week or so (okay, that's kind of bad-ish news) but my tailbone is feeling much better, too. What's funny about these symptoms is that they are so very noticeable and bothersome when they occur, but when they finally leave, they just quietly sneak off and don't say good-bye. I noticed their absence much later than when it actually occurred. Good riddance, anyway!

Here's the latest bad news... It seems the weather has been making my symptoms flare up. We've been stuck in a weird low pressure system for the past few weeks, which has resulted in cold and mostly rainy weather. We've had hail and even a couple snowfalls in the past week! The snow arrived only about a week after we had 80+ degree weather here in Chicagoland. With the wacky weather I noticed more headaches, nausea, more overall pain and achiness, and a new kind of pain that seems to have settled in my legs and feet. I've been calling it bone pain. To make matters worse, I've also been dealing with added stress from work and stuff. Things at work are a bit on the crazy side, as we get closer to a major project deadline. I'm doing what I can to stay ahead of my own work, but I can tell my team is feeling stressed from problems and snags coming up this late and the probability of having to work longer hours to get everything done on time.

Now the neutral news... I had an appointment with my fibro doctor last Wednesday. Due to my fibro fog, I forgot to bring the notes I always bring with me, but I made do with a portable pad and pen and whatever notes I could remember to discuss. The appointment was for 5:40pm and I was on time; the doctor was not. I ended up waiting over an hour before I could have my appointment. (The explanation was a new patient and a thrown off schedule. I am switching back to morning appointments after this.) Anyway, while I was waiting as patiently as I could, I noticed I could not bear to sit still due to the "bone pain" in my legs. I moved them around and tried changing my posture periodically to read and distract myself, but it was no use. After about 45 minutes, I couldn't stand to sit (hehe) any longer and started pacing the waiting area. It's a small area and there were several other patients there, so I hesitated to start pacing and make them feel uncomfortable, but then I realized: it's a pain clinic! Certainly they would understand. Pacing helped my legs, even though it was a tight area and felt a little weird.

When it was finally my turn, the doctor and I discussed the weather affecting my symptoms, my change in medications, and, as usual, the doctor asked me about my sleep. He asked me if I feel refreshed in the mornings, or tired. I blurted out "tired" as if he should have known, before I realized how rude it must have sounded. Since I'd already apologized for having forgotten my notes and mentioned my retarded brain functioning, he was formulating a hypothesis and continued asking me questions. He asked specifically about whether I am moving my legs at night. I wasn't sure, but didn't think so. He asked if my husband complains that I keep him up with my movements at night. I know my restlessness has impaired his sleep quality, which is why I try to leave the room if I'm too awake to fall back asleep (like now). But he's also a very sound sleeper most of the time, so perhaps he's not noticing what I'm doing in my sleep because he's asleep himself. Then, I was surprised to hear the doctor tell me that he suggested I undergo a sleep study to see if I have Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), adding that RLS is very treatable and could help me get better sleep, and in turn, bring back some of my thinking skills and chase away daytime fatigue.

A sleep study? Me? I've never thought of doing one. Would I be able to sleep at all with all the strange hookups and people watching? Then there was the RLS. I never thought I'd had this, though I knew it was common for fibromites to have. I do know someone who has been diagnosed and is being treated for RLS, but I always thought I'd know if I had it. Now that I've had a day or so to chew on this possibility, I am noticing the aches in my legs cause me to move my legs around quite a bit. As the doctor explained, RLS also entails shifting the legs around to try to find a comfortable position for them, but not succeeding. I thought back and realized that I have a hard time with my legs while watching TV in the evenings as well as at work at my desk. Then there was the incident right before the appointment, which I shared with him. I guess RLS is much more likely than I had realized.

As I type here, I am up due to my waking up and being unable to find a comfortable position to relax and fall asleep. I woke up shortly after 3am and noticed my legs were aching and I was stretching my ankles and trying to chase the pain off with movements. Then I decided I wasn't going to fall asleep any time soon and didn't want to keep disturbing Don's sleep, so I snuck off to do something more productive. I suppose it would be nice if I could at least effectively treat this pain/discomfort, even if that means adding yet another drug to my regimen. As a fibromite, it's rare to have confidence that any drug treatment is going to be effective, so hearing that RLS treatments are helping people is very promising. I won't pin my hopes and dreams on it (yet), but it's a ray of hope for some improvement. I'll take that.