Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Ow! Ow! Ow!

If you want to read about muscle cramps, feel free to read on. Otherwise go read something else. It's my blog and I'll whine if I want to!

I used to have a problem with muscle cramps, especially the nights after classes. These were not the annoying spasms that everyone gets from time to time -- instead, these were excruciating full-on cramps that are known as a "charley horse" in this area. They usually happened in my adductors, either right after getting up from sitting in a chair, or when I was laying down in bed.

At some point I noticed a correlation between drinking Snapple iced tea, especially after class, and getting cramps later that night. Mind you, I don't think there's anything wrong with Snapple, but something about it interacts with my body chemistry in a way to increase the chance of getting these cramps. Obviously a solution was to give up drinking Snapple, which I did. And for the most part, the cramps went away.

This past Saturday I got to class early and was able to warm up slowly beforehand. Class went pretty well. The thorough warm-up seemed to help a lot with my turns, allowing me to stretch upright with less effort. I was able to participate in all of the exercises and still felt pretty good afterward, rather than feeling totally wiped out as I sometimes do.

After class I stood around chatting with a couple of my fellow classmates. One of them lives in France much of the year, so it's fun to catch up on what she's been up to since the last time she was in town. We were still standing in the hallway when the next class finished, so we must have been there for at least 90 minutes.

I was feeling pretty good until just before bed. As I was getting ready I suddenly got a massive cramp in my right adductor. Oh, did that hurt! My usual reaction is to brace myself against the nearest wall and try to stretch against the tightening muscle, and this I did. I thought the spasm might be relaxing just a bit, and the next thing I knew I was laying on my right side and the spasm was gone. Yay! But why was I laying down and why had I chosen that spot to lay down in? But most of all, why didn't I remember doing it?

I was an emergency medical tech for nearly a decade, and I automatically did what we called primary and secondary surveys. Airway, breathing, and circulation: that's the primary. No blood, eyes focus just fine, no apparent injuries, nothing felt like it hurt, and everything still working: that'll pass for a secondary. Maybe when the spasm stopped I'd just decided to lay down to relax and forgotten? That seemed unlikely. Whatever the cause, the cramp was gone. I was tired and wanted to go to bed, so I did.

Twenty minutes later the other adductor cramped. This one wasn't as bad, and I was able to fend it off with careful, deliberate stretches. Then it did it again. For the next, oh, half an hour my left adductor would start to cramp and subside, only to do it again. Finally it all seemed to pass. I've found that keeping my legs cool while keeping my body and feet warm will help avoid further cramping, so that's the strange position I slept in. When I was finally able to sleep.

When I woke up Sunday morning, the right side of my right thigh had something of a sore spot in it. I thought that odd; after an adductor spasm it's not uncommon for that muscle to be tender, but my right adductor is on the left (or inside) of my right leg, not the right (or outside) of my right leg. Wierd.

It snowed here Saturday evening into Sunday morning, so mid-day I went out to shovel the 4-5 inches of white stuff on my sidewalk and from around my car. When I was done my back was sore in ways I don't normally associate with shoveling snow. As the day went on that ache got worse. As did the sore spot on my right leg, which had turned into a 3" (8cm) dark black bruise with a palpable knot under it. This photo really doesn't do it justice -- it's much darker than it appears here:

By late Sunday evening it had become apparent to me that when I was trying to stretch my right adductor I'd experienced a vasovagal syncope. Or, in layman's terms, I'd passed out. On my way down I landed on something with my right thigh, causing the bruise and knot, and twisted my back. By good fortune I avoided hitting my head on anything hard.

Monday afternoon my chiropractor made icky cracking noises come from my spine, after which I was still sore but could walk fully upright again. Tuesday I had a scheduled session with a massage therapist who worked on the muscle tension in my back (and completely avoided my legs, thank you!). Today (Wednesday) I got a further tweak from my chiropractor. Four days after the incident my leg is still tender and back sore but improving.

The end result of all this is I'm not going to class at all this week. If all goes well I may get to a class on Sunday, but until then I'm going to let things heal.

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