Friday, 28 June 2013

Cramp in the night

I woke up around three as that familiar feeling of cramp swiftly seizing my lower left leg caught hold. I stretched my left foot and vigorously massaged the calf, and after a while the pain eased and I returned to sleep. Though not the worst attack of cramp I've ever had, it was enough to get me to reflect on those mysterious health issues of 'unknown aetiology' (where doctors don't know the causes).

I can put two and two together, though. I tend to get nocturnal cramp attacks a) always in summer, b) always in my legs, c) generally when I've not drunk enough fluids in the evening, d) generally when its hot and sweaty. One's body loses salts due to sweating brought on by exercise and heat, and the leg muscles become prone to cramp.

The worst attack I had was exactly a year ago; in the wee small hours of 27 June 2012. That day we organised a breakfast meeting with a minister at Warsaw's Sofitel Victoria hotel. I  didn't get back to sleep after the attack; rather I had a shower, massaged the calf, which was painfully sore, then limped to the bus stop, hobbled down the stairs to the Metro at Stokłosy. I had to make my way from Świętokrzyska station to Pl. Piłsudskiego, skirting the bits of Świętokrzyska closed for the building of the second Metro line. It was a long walk, during which the soreness in the calf slowly eased and by the time I reached the hotel, the limp was barely discernible. By the following morning, all discomfort had passed.

Since then, I've had more minor attacks, but that was the worst one I ever experienced in my life.

Cycling can bring on leg cramp. On May Day, 2010, when I covered 135km (Jeziorki-Końskie) I found cramp-style pains building up in my calves, which eased as the rain started falling. Going to sleep after long rides, I also find myself to being woken by a leg cramp attack.

And driving in stop-start traffic gives me cramp in  the soles of my feet; last summer, on our way from Luton Airport to my parents' on the North Circular I was in great discomfort - which in such situations is dangerous, and can result in a rear-end shunt in tight, slow-moving traffic.

Medical science may not know the reason leg-cramps affect us (increasingly as we grow older), but I do know how to avoid it. Taking magnesium tablets helps too. Being aware of such matters is helpful as one grows older.

This time last year:
Football goes home

This time two years ago:
Birds of Omen

This time threeyears ago:
Yes, it does matter who you vote for

This time four years ago:
Poland could do with some more mountains

This time five years ago:
Warmth of the Sun
- the Beach Boys and Noctilucence

This time six years ago:
Polish roads that look like America

1 comment:

DC said...

Or Potassium. A banana a day...