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Mt. Shasta, from I-5 as we drove north to Oregon, April 2017

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Bad Night, Trip in an Ambulance

First off, both of us are OK.

Tuesday night I had a terrible time that ended with Craig calling 911 and me being taken to the hospital in an ambulance. I am very grateful that nothing was seriously wrong with me. No heart attack, no stroke, no accidental cut or fall.

What did happen was that I had the worst attack of leg cramps I have ever experienced, and ended up collapsing on the floor, writhing in pain and screaming for help. I'm usually a pretty tough old bat, and this was not like me. It was uncontrollable.

I often get leg cramps in the night. I usually can just get out of bed, get to another room and walk them out. Painful, yes, and the reason I try to get to another room is so my little uncontrolled whimpers don't alarm Craig. He knows he can't help me and I am best left to walk them out alone.

This time I had a few cramps as I stood up from the recliner I had been reading in, when it was time to get ready for bed. First my foot and then my leg muscle tightened. It was a bother, but I got relief in a few minutes of walking. I have found that drinking tonic water can give me some relief, so I chugged a large glass of it before going to bed.

Not long after getting comfortable, I felt the muscles on the top of my foot start to cramp. As I got out of bed, it seemed like every muscle in both my feet, both my calves, and both my thighs tightened at once.  I couldn't stand upright or walk. I managed to move a few feet to grab hold of some bookshelves, but the pain was so horrific I collapsed onto the floor.

Craig heard me screaming and came to help, but rubbing and trying to flex my legs and feet did no good.  It seemed to go on and on.  I became wet with sweat, then cold with chills. I felt like I was going to vomit. Craig asked if he could take me to the ER, but I couldn't get up to get to the car. He called 911 and at least six firemen and EMTs came.  

By the time they arrived, the worst was over, but I still could not move without the cramping starting all over again. After  taking my vitals and getting me calmed down, they determined I had not had a heart attack or stroke, and was "just" having leg cramps.  The EMT asked that in terms of pain, if childbirth was a 10, where did this fall.  I said 11.  Yes, worse than childbirth!

At first they tried to help me up, but as soon as I moved the muscles started locking up again. They decided I needed to go to the hospital, but how to get me out of the house was a problem.  They could have brought the gurney in thru the front door, but that involves two flights of stairs.  The other option was to go out thru the laundry room that is right next to the bedroom where I was, but the gurney wouldn't fit past the washer.  

So they wrapped me up like a sausage in a crescent roll in the quilt Craig had covered me with, and used it like a stretcher. 




The ride in the ambulance was not easy.  My stomach was flipping and the motion of the ride was no help. The EMT gave me something to ease it, but it didn't have much effect.  Wanting to upchuck when you are strapped down is horrible.

Once in the ER I was given a shot for the nausea and put on an IV.


I started to feel a bit better, and the young male nurse replaced the used basin with a barf-bag that looked like this except it was bright blue.

I told him it looked like a condom for an elephant!  

Fortunately I no longer needed it.

We ended up spend most of the night in the ER as the IV drip did its work and we waited for the results of some blood work. The older doctor was very kind. He reassured me that it was not serious, but also that he could tell how bad the pain had been. He said my upset stomach was a reaction to severe pain.

The cause? He said there are several theories, but no cure other than prevention by stretching before bed and drinking lots of water to prevent dehydration. 

Today, Wednesday, my legs hurt but are not cramping.  I have consumed eight glasses of water and feel like a water balloon, but if it will save me from ever having that happen again, I will do it every day.  

Coffee, wine, and tea don't count.


35 comments:

  1. Wow! I have gotten leg and foot cramps, but never that bad. I'm sure that you know about potassium for that. Hope you don't have to go through that again.

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  2. Hi, I empathize with your pain, I have been there, done that and they are horrible. The one thing I have found that helps is to drink a hot drink before going to bed or at the first sign of cramping. Either hot tea, or hot herbal tea, or hot chocolate, coffee, even a cup of hot water with lemon in it works. This is something a friend of my mother's told her about and she passed it on and it works "every time", so far. Good luck. Smiles

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  3. Good grief girl! I hope that was a once in a lifetime thing! I was going to mention the potassium thing too with lots of water. Keep us posted and best wishes for no more attacks!

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  4. Oh OUCH! I get leg cramps too but NOTHING like that. Then the muscles feel very sore the next day. I can only imagine what you must have been feeling. Keep that water going in. Did they happen to check your potassium? If that gets low it can cause cramps. I try to eat a banana every day and that helps.

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  5. I'm sorry that you had to suffer such discomfort, Merikay. I think drinking the water will help, and maybe the other ideas that have been offered, too. Better safe than sorry with the trip to the ER!

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  6. try potatoes with every meal...they have more potassium than bananas...found this out when my friend was going thru chemo and it depleted almost all her potassium we tried everything and finally altered her diet with potassium rich foods which helped immensely...careful to not overdo with the water ...you will pee your potassium out that way as well....just seems you cant win huh? hope you get to feeling better...safe travels

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  7. Magnesium can help, too. Sorry to hear you were in such pain. Youch.

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  8. Good heavens! that sounds awful, glad I don't have that, and sorry that you had to have it happen to such a total degree, hope things are better now and the nights are bearable...

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  9. Ouch, ouch ouch. You have my utmost sympathy. Cramp is horrible and such a severe attack is shocking. So glad you are home safe again. John gets a lot of cramp and has quinine prescribed for him .... Thus tonic water should help. We both take a magnesium supplement and keep an eye on our balance between sodium, potassium and magnesium. John also has a spray that he puts under his tongue if he is concerned about an attack.

    I'm hoping that after the angioplasty on his leg the cramps will reduce but since he can get them anywhere from hands, rib-cage to legs probably not.

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  10. Wow I am so sorry to hear this Merikay. I know leg cramps are an unbearable pain. Remember when we were at Hardin Ridge last summer and I got the worst leg cramps, every one was telling me things to help. But..I never had them to where I couldn't walk. My legs hurt something fierce the next day, really sore. I hope you don't have to go through this ever again. take care.

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  11. I can't believe you were able to make jokes about elephant condoms while in such pain... you are one heck of a woman! Sure hope this never happens again.

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  12. Oh Merikay, you poor thing. How miserable that must have been for you and scary for Craig.

    Al used to get leg cramps often and would also have to get up and walk them off. We tried giving him more potassium in the form of bananas and oranges, but I don't know if it helped or not.

    We've noticed he hasn't been getting them lately and the only thing we can think of that changed is our vegan diet. Whatever the reason, he's glad to no longer have them.


    I hope you don't get them again.

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  13. So sorry you had such awful pain, but glad it wasn't something worse. There is lots of advice here so hopefully some of it will help!

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  14. I know a 'Charlie Horse' can feel like an Alligator has a hold on the back of one's leg but at least that pain generally eases off after a few minutes. Sounds like your pain was the result of a whole herd of Alligators attacking your legs at once. Sad part is knowing there is no diagnosis or cure & that it can happen again at any time. Knowing that has got to be mentally painful in itself.....

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  15. Oh my goodness, how horrible for you.

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  16. Hope they figure out where the cramping is coming from? Potassium for sure and hydration. It's not sciatica or pinched nerve I hope. Nothing more miserable than being able to shake the cramping...hope you find some relief!!

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  17. Glad to hear that your alright, and can only imagine how scary it is to be in that much pain. Hope the extra hydrating helps.

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  18. So sorry to hear about your leg cramp experience. I have heard that magnesium can help. http://www.mgbright.com/pages/night-evening-leg-cramps or just google leg cramps and magnesium and you'll find lots of info.

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  19. I used to get leg cramps (not as severe as yours, but darn painful just the same). My doctor said to drink a glass of tonic water just before bed. He said they used to be able to prescribe quinine, but can't any more. That helped, but I kept forgetting my ginless gin and tonic. We found a product at Walgreens (other places, I'm sure) called Leg Cramps PM, put out by Hylands. Haven't had a cramp since starting those little inexpensive pills (about 20 cents a day). "Oh, what a relief it is!"

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  20. An eleven! Now that is pain with a capitol P! So sorry.

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  21. OMIGOSH! that sounds truly horrible, Merikay. I hope that potassium is the true culprit and that you can get enough in you to not have to go through this ever again, ever.

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  22. Merikay - I suffer from the same problem. I think mine are charlie horses and they sometimes last for 10 or 15 minutes only I can't walk them off, it triggers more of them.

    I increased my banana intake but this didn't help. I had testing done as well but everything checks out so I just deal with them.

    I hope you find relief, they hurt like the dickens! I wish I knew of something to say to offer comfort, I hope you recover quickly.

    Erik

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  23. Sorry to hear this Merikay! Wow, what a trooper you had to be. Cramping is caused by lack of potasium so I understand. I get most of my potasium from potatoes and bananas. It does seem to help with the slight cramping that John and I both get at times. Take care dear...

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  24. What a night! How scary to be struck down with something like that. I had (minor) cramps in feet, legs and hands while I was in NZ - I figured it must have been something with the change in diet. I started taking a magnesium supplement that my sister had on hand and after a few days they reduced somewhat. I probably needed potassium as well. In the past I've found gatoraide to work well for smaller cramps.

    I wish you all the best with this.

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  25. I too use tonic water with quinine. When I fix a glass of ice water, I topi it off with the tonic water. I don't need to have the carbonation, so it's usually flat. I like it that way. I haven't had leg cramps in quite a while.

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  26. Holy Cow - my leg cramps have been really bad but I can't imagine what it was like for you. And my potassium levels are fine. So that isn't my problem. I have been trying to increase my water intake and I have leg cramp pills from Walmart that do have some quinine in them. Hopefully, never again for you. I would have hit the guy that said JUST leg cramps.

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  27. Oh my .. what a scare!

    No advice from here, just a big HUG!

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
    Karen and Steve
    The USA Is Our Big Backyard
    http://kareninthewoods-kareninthewoods.blogspot.com

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  28. Been there done that exact thing. DR. said xanax 2mg 2 hours before bedtime. No cramps in 5 years.

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  29. That's horrible.....glad you are better. Your muscles are probably sore from all the cramps....can you take Tylenol?

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  30. My leg cramps were so bad I thought I was passing blood clots upwards and then the panic really set in as well! My personal particular fix: banana daily, 8 glasses of water daily, and yes, fresh dates have an incredible amount of potassium. The final cure: swimming. Gentle at first, and more as I went though the winter. Water aerobics class 3x a week. WORLD of difference. A large glass of water before bedtime is great for women to guard against stroke or heart attack. I feel so much for you, because that pain is worse than most childbirth, and you are panicking at the same time. I hope all the comments help and you are on your way to less leg cramps.

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  31. One more thought for you. Go to http://www.gocomics.com/pickles/?view=full.

    This is the "Pickles" Comic Strip. Look at the entry for today, Friday, March 15.

    Teehee

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  32. Nothing worse than those cramps. Potassium will help but also increse your magnesium. Green leafy vegetables, meat and milk. Also, taking a soaking bath with epsom salt. 2 -3 cups per bath. Soak for 15-20 minutes just before bed.
    Here is a good link to read:
    http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/health-benefits-of-epsom-salt-baths
    hope this helps.

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  33. Those leg cramps are horrible...I had one a couple mornings ago and it took my breath..Then my calf was really sore for a couple days..I take a drug for my kidney stones that can rob my body of Potassium, so I eat bananas, spinach, potatoes..Keep that up,and lots of water...The ER can be a life saver when you are that sick...just as McGyver.

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  34. So glad you are ok, keep up with that water. That sounds like an awful experience.

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  35. Wow! Vitamin deficiency perhaps? Hope this doesn't become a regular thing!

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