Sunday, December 26, 2010


There's a new portable heater in the house. In an effort to save on fuel oil for the winter, Spouse, always chomping at the bit to buy the latest gadget, sat me down and gave an impassioned speech and checklist why we HAD TO HAD TO HAD TO have it and since he asks for so little and he insisted we could afford it, who was I to argue? I'm always cold, so it was a win-win for me.

So every day the Edenpure sits in the living room warming the first floor. It's a very attractive wood-grain box with a window inside where it appears to have glowing coals so it's got an aesthetic appeal and the heat is infrared so it's got that sink-into-your-bones heat that others often miss. In the evening Spouse carries it upstairs to the master bedroom and sets it on full blast and by the time this night owl gets to bed the room is sensually cozy and I've been foregoing my usual winter sleepwear of granny nightgowns or sweats and a tee to well...nothing. So, in the middle of the night, I usually end up kicking the covers off and in the early morning hours IT happens.

Because I don't get to bed until 2 or 3 AM, I usually sleep in until 10, so I wake up to sunshine streaming in from the skylight. I know a lot of people resent light of any kind when they're sleeping but I like opening my eyes to the sky although once, it was a friend of Spouse's who was helping him install a satellite dish on the roof.  He likes me a lot now.  That morning it was bright blue sky, fluffy white clouds and the brown wing of some unidentifiable bird passing over and as I stretched languidly, my long time enemy slammed me hard like a freight train. The Charley Horse.

Grrrrr. Oh the tears. If I were into pain, the sheer poetry of the anaconda wrapped around my thigh twice and then my calf, down the top of my foot and around every toe and then tightening, would be exquisite. However, although I have an unbelievably high tolerance for it, I try to avoid pain whenever possible. Leg cramps have been a bane to my existence since my teens and it is definitely inherited on BOTH sides so you can say I'm doubly blessed.

 A quick search on Google tells me the most common causes of leg cramps are:
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Heavy exercising
  • Dehydration
  • High weight (not necessarily obesity)
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Medications (statins, prednisone, others...) 
I laugh at #1 and 2 but have #'s 3, 4, and 5 in spades so I must always remember to drink plenty of fluids (I fail miserably), the weight situation isn't going to change and that's quite alright, and the electrolyte imbalance is being treated with prescription megadoses of potassium which much to my chagrin and subsequent agony, I often forget to take. Add to that a less common cause which is a draft across my bare legs causing muscle contractions. Oh the joy.

So here I am squirming and panting and blindly flailing because I don't know what to do. I've tried the acupressure thing with firmly pinching and holding the dimple between my nose and upper lip (Trivia buffs: It's called a filtrum) with limited results. Sometimes it cuts off the acute pain but doesn't stop the contracting muscles. Sometimes I hop around or pace or lean against furniture crying and moaning and have to wait it out for an eternity of ten or so minutes and sometimes if someone is in the room with me, the dance begins.

Oh the patience of a partner that shares a bed with me. From my early years of sharing a twin bed with my little sister, to doubling up with Mom at the summer trailer at Eagle Lake, to the lucky few men who've shared a pillow, they all get caught up in my ballet of agony.

First I scream in the night and they suddenly sit up disoriented from their golden slumber. I might be sitting on the edge of the bed, my back and shoulders shaking and they know, they just know and bless their hearts, they always ask, "Can I help?" and reach out to me whereas I always invariably shriek, "Don't touch me!" and collapse in a pitiful puddle of tears. It ain't pretty. I push (and slap) their warm strong hands away and I dance around the room like a demented marionette and the look of concern on their face fills me with guilt. Other than running to get a glass of water and some potassium gluconate, they can only watch me stumble and cry. Eventually the cramp will subside and I will fall back asleep exhausted for a few more hours until I wake up with a day-long achy reminder that it really happened and wasn't a bad dream.

I'm neither a kicker nor a toss-and-turner. I'm remarkably silent and still in my sleep except for the occasional laugh or sigh or soft sentence because I've been talking in my sleep since, well, I could speak, so I'm very safe and the benefits of sharing a bed with me far outnumber the disadvantages. Not to toot my own horn but I'm a big squishy soft warm pillow and I smell good too. What's not to love?  You can go back to sleep, right? I do. Suck it up, buttercup.

I'm not making any New Year's resolutions. They always seem destined to fail, a jinx so to speak and if there's one thing I'm superstitious about it's my personal jinxes so those little or lofty self-promises are not for this girl. Instead, I'm going to be both easier on myself as I really am my own worst critic, but I'm also going to be more disciplined. I have the drive and desire but not much energy so writing will be my 'job' and I'm sticking with it because I enjoy it. I also know my weaknesses which is good; something to be avoided, and I learn my strengths as I go along.

I'm learning that I'm far stronger than I ever imagined. I have faced, battled and tackled things I was sure would kill me. I've learned that a heart can grow stronger and love deeper after it's been broken, even more than once, and that my capacity for forgiveness can grow or die depending on my choices so I choose to grow. Pain is a great teacher, task master and reminder that I am only human, but that in itself is wonderful. There are people who are literally born without the capacity to feel anything and they live in fear of injury and death so yes, even Mister Charley Horse as much as I hate him, reminds me that I'm alive.

Happy New Year.


  1. Just a note on the ache... Try to find Arnica. I prefer the gel form over any other because it soaks in faster. I swear it is a miracle. It is almost instant pain relief. I used to use it on Brian, on a nightly basis, to help him get to sleep. It also helps bruises heal faster.

  2. You are amazing, and I love how you can turn something so painful and horrible into a funny, cute story that had me laughing out loud. Lots of Hugs