I get a kick out of warning anyone who is younger than me to never ever get old because getting old is not for amateurs. Of course all I get is the same look that I used to give a 25-year-old girl friend of mine when I was 18 years old and at the peak of self-perceived youthful pulchritude: the puppy-dog eyes that said, You wretched old maid!
For one week last month, I experienced something that I had never experienced in my youth: Leg cramps or Charley Horses. They woke me up in the middle of every night. Those twisters hurt! Fortunately, getting out of bed and pacing took care of the cramps. Night after night, one leg or the other cramped. Then one morning as I was chopping onions for a breakfast omelet, my fingers locked in position.
Something is wrong with me! I announced to my husband Octo. His eyes peeked above the LA Times front page and said with an inflection, Well? He probably wanted to add, So what else is new?
One day the cramping reached a crescendo. Entered the mother of all Charley Horses. Both my legs cramped simultaneously, sending me writhing in pain in a spread-eagle position on top of the bed! I screamed and cried real tears. The live drama affected Octo profoundly. He had been used to the roar of laughter, not cries of anguish. Let us try massage, he offered. He got a jar of what smelled like Ben-Gay and applied the stuff on my calves and feet with his limp fingers. Give it more pressure, I groaned. He continued with the limp strokes then asked, Does that feel better? Poor Octo! He meant so well that I did not have the heart to scream, THAT IS NOT MASSAGING; THAT IS FONDLING! Seeing no relief on my face, he quit and gave me two Ibuprofens, which I took enthusiastically. I would have swallowed anything to alleviate the pain. I would have opened my mouth as wide as a sinkhole and let him pour my leftover MMJ (medical marijuana) appetite drops down my throat. In about 30 minutes, my ten toes pointed in the proper direction and my whole body relaxed.
As soon as I could stand, I rushed to Google University (GU) and did some serious research on this Charley Horse thing.
To gain wide-range knowledge, I went general: “Cramps.” Bam! Out came all sorts of information on cramps during menstrual periods. It cracked me up. I gave up periods several decades ago.
I fine-tuned the search: “Cramps without periods.” Wham! Things got worse. Titles on cramps during pregnancy scrolled down one after another.
I was batting zip! GU and I were in Miscommunication City big time. However, the results gave me a rude awakening that shocked me totally. I could not believe other women also suffer from cramps. How could that be possible? It happens when the blogger thinks the sun only rises for her.
I went straight to the point: “Cramps in legs, hands, and feet.” Bingo! The site listed causes of and treatments for the malady.
According to GU, exercising, lack of potassium and magnesium, dehydration, can cause cramps in the legs, feet, and hands especially of older people because they lose muscles and the remaining muscles get overstressed easily.
Right off the bat I eliminated rociletinib as the cause. After almost 2-1/2 years on the CO-1686 now-non-clinical trial with no such side effect, why now? Of course, anything is possible. Next, I eliminated lack of magnesium and potassium because Dr Brevity always assures me, The labs are good. Exercising did not factor in because I was quietly minding my own business snoring when each one-leg cramp happened. I was sitting on the edge of the bed planning on painting my toenails acid green when the spread-eagle Charley Horse occurred.
Dehydration emerged as the clear perp. Facts supported it. The morning before the Mother of all Charley Horses attacked, I had taken an hour leisurely walk along the leafy creek. To protect me from the sun, I used the Royal Umbrella, the one Octo had bought as a souvenir at the Buckingham Palace during our 2009 trip. Never a souvenir enthusiast, I remember musing at that time, Oh for stiff-upper-lip’s sakes, an umbrella souvenir from England! I’d buy a souvenir reminiscent of the British Empire history like a miniature replica of the guillotine that chopped off Anne Boleyn’s head.
I recall that after returning home from the walk, I perspired profusely. I probably just drank enough water to quench my thirst when I should have chug-a-lugged a quart more to replace the fluids lost from my remaining muscles. Plus, during the week of the nightly one-leg cramp, my body had already been talking to me about needing hydration. The root of the Charley Horse problem: I had stopped practicing what I preach, Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate! It happens when the senior babe reverts to denial mode that she’s been turning into a prune for quite some time.
It’s been a month since I resumed conscious hydration. Neither Mrs Charley Horse nor any of her nasty kids has come to visit.
GU came through again! And incidentally the latest scans and labs are Stable and Unremarkable respectively. The CO-1686 non-trial keeps on truckin’.
A footnote on Octo:
In the time span between the draft and the publication of this post, Octo signed on to hospice. He had been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in March. My once-super-healthy 82-year-old caregiver and I have traded places unwittingly. He had been in the front-row seat of my cancer journey and now I have a ring-side view of his hospice care. Devotions take turns as the world turns.