Tuesday, January 24, 2006

I couldn't sleep at all last night...doot doo doo doot.

As a little girl, whenever I was feeling ill, in pain, or achy there were two responses from my mom. One was a look of doubt that came along with a lecturette on how the pain was (in essence) in my head and I could get rid of it if I got myself busy. The other remedy was taking some of her prescription medication or a hit of peppermint schnapps.

The backs of my legs would ache like crazy and the diagnosis was always (imagined) "growing pains". I have those same aches to this day- and trust me, I am as grown as anyone can get. Those pains would come with the cold, the rain, or a quick weather change and I would feel it's intensity, just like an old lady. Eventually the pains came with activity and went into my other joints, but by the time I was in high school I learned not to complain about it, because I knew it was "in my head".

Upon physically maturing more problems came. Such aching in my legs and abdomen that at times, my very healthy, strong and fit body of 95-115 pounds would be brought to a fetal position for days at a time. I would cry and moan and at times clench my fist and bang the pillow. I would miss at least three consecutive days a month for years. The diagnosis from mom was that I was a "late bloomer and eventually, after having a baby all this [would] go away, drink this." A hit of strong peppermint alcohol, that I used to think was just to punish me for complaining, but it would knock me out for a day and I would sleep the pain away. To this day I can smell alcohol at about 12 feet and I become immediately nauseated by it.

One particular day my complaint got my mother's attention to the point of her having me take one of her prescription meds. My mother is very intelligent, college educated and was a registered nurse all of my childhood. She taught nursing, ran hospitals as an administrator and seemed to have expertise in about every area of a hospital one could work. She did it all and she was very good at it. But prescribing meds perhaps was not her forte and what she gave me that day was, #1 out of code, and #2 sent me to an e.r. with life threatening issues and a week's stay.

This brings me up to date. I loathe taking drugs. Even over the counter drugs...not a good thing for me to do. I do not react well to everyday things like cough syrup or p.m. tylenol - they knock me out for days at a time. When things get painful I resort to the lowest dose of whatever it takes to get the job done. For years those leg pains went ignored, but eventually Thor demanded a Dr. "either find out what is wrong with [me] or find a good psychiatrist, because the pain was real to [me] and it needed to stop one way or another." It was because of Thor that the doctors finally looked for a solution and took me seriously. Seems the pain is real, and related to a funky syndrome that has a name, but other than that the doctors really have no clue as to what to do about it. So big fat hairy deal. The doctors prescribed muscle relaxers and anti-depression medications for the folks who deal with mess . I tried them both and decided that the pain stayed but I went away. I couldn't function anymore. I quit my job and was in a stupor. I took myself off the meds and now I just take a tylenol when things get too painful. At first it was every night for years and now it is down to about four or five nights a month.

My legs fight sleep. My body fights sleep. I dream vivid dreams every night which is both a symptom and a cause of not getting enough restorative sleep to allow my body to recover from the days' work. I am in some form of pain most of my days. I have almost gotten used to the pain and when I wake up on occasion without pain, watch out! I have so much energy that I want to paint the house or catch-up on all the stuff I have struggled to get done for months. My legs are heavy and unlike most folks my size, my legs are hard as rocks.

If I walk too much (around the mall), work too much (painting a room or standing on a ladder for two hours) or sit too long (a three hour trip in the car) my legs and feet swell up and become incredibly painful. This disrupts my life like you can't imagine. I still do all of those things because even though I know what the result will be, I refuse to allow the pain to stop me from having fun or being 'normal'. But the price is usually another three to four days of just sitting, some small walks around the house and tons of cat naps. During the night my legs "dance" as Thor calls it. Twitching, flinching, spasms that bring sharp pain to the bottom of my feet, the joints in my legs and cramped muscles that must be squeezed to get out of their rigid rock like phase. It is as if my legs are going into rigor mortis while I am still alive.

In addition to the leg problems come the "girl problems" (again a Thor term). When my cycle hits I get the same intensity of pain in my legs, at times keeping me from being able to walk normally or at all. Mygraine headaches come with all the typical markers- halos, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, vomiting, etc. Lately, with menopause looming on the horizon, other funky things add to the mix, unusual bleeding, hair loss, mood swings, pain in weird places, and severe weakness (anemia); so much so that in February I am scheduled for surgery to help alleviate this part of my physical problems. Most women balk or protest when given the news of a hysterectomy, I just about kissed my doctor.

This is the current situation. Surgery is knocking at the door (yippy!) but until then I cannot take tylenol, aspirin, motrin, vitamin e, or herbal remedies (among others). What I can do is wrap my painful parts in heat wraps. Last night was one of the tough nights. I could not sleep for the life of me. I got up at 12:30 or so to wrap mt feet in heat wraps, hoping to take the pain away enough to sleep through it. No such luck. Most of the night I fall asleeps for about twenty minutes only to awaken myself with pain or the constant dancing and rolling. I roll like a 'gater drowning his next meal. All night long, and frankly, on nights such as last night I am not sure how Thor sleeps through it...if he does sleep at all.

So I woke up this moring full of vivid dreams, rolled up bed linens and rocks for legs. I am tired of complaining. I am tired of aching. I am tired of being tired. But hopes is on the way so I will stay the course and be a good girl. Until then, I look like a mess and not too much is being done around the house. Through it all Thor loves me and takes care of me. He doesn't expect much and is always happy and smiling in the morning. Some days, like this morning, he is very stealth-like and leaves without waking me up at all. He gives me the time I need to get what little sleep comes in the morning. Mostly he has always believed me when I had pain and insisted the doctors do something about it. He has been sweet to me when I am grouchy and he rubs my legs when I can't take it anymore. He is a good man and I am SO lucky. Thanks for being so good to me Thor.

add to sk*rt


chronicler said...

Oh my! I feel for ya sis, soon, soon, it will be over! Keeping you in my prayers!

Lisa M. said...

Thank you for sharing this with us. I think it often helps to releive pain, just to share it, and for you I certainly hope that is the case.

You'll be in my prayers.

Love, Lis

s'mee said...

I am such a whiner, it is one of the worst things about me. But this morning I had enough and perhaps I should have just deleted the whole post, but thanks for being so nice you guys.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Wow! To live with so much pain for most of your life...I feel for you and hope that operation will make "the difference".

I'm here from Michele tonight!

Bek said...

Wow...it sounds like what my grandmother and sister in law deal with. It is called Restless leg syndrome. They can't sleep and it only feels better if they walk...and very painful.

I am so sorry.

David B. said...

I'm sorry to hear about your pain. I hope the surgery is helpful for you.

My wife had that same surgery a couple of years ago. It has been a blessing for her.

s'mee said...

Old Lady, Bek and David -

I wrote a reply earlier to Bek and The Old Lady, I am wondering where it went...lol

Any who, It's nice to see you again OL, thanks for your concern, but really I am just a big baby whiner!
Bek, the leg thing is very similar to RLS, but is attributed to the whole muscle sydrome. Like I said, the docs gaveit a name, but bigdeal, lol.
And David, I have heard this will help much of my situation, and many of my friends have already gone through it, so I have a lot of support! It's good to know there is a blessing coming! wahoo!