Monday, January 4, 2010

More Pains and Pills, but Progress, too

It’s unbelievable what a difference a good night’s sleep can make! Last night I had an almost normal five and half hours, in two goes – the first a blissful four hours long! I don’t remember being this sleep deprived since my children were little and I had a sick baby and an active toddler to cope with. At that time, I also had a loving husband who did the yucky bits like getting up and changing the pooey nappies, and heating bottles. But I still walked around during the day as if I was under water!

No pooey nappies now, 30-odd years later, thank goodness, but the latest set of steroid side-effects has wrecked my ability to sleep more than two hours at a time, if I’m lucky. For the latest - in what seems like a time bomb of steroid effects - is nightly attacks of extremely painful leg cramps. On a really bad night they wake me every hour, exactly 60 minutes later than the previous bout, and can only be calmed, or at least reduced to the point where I hope I can fall asleep, by walking around and rubbing in a muscle relaxing blend of essential oils called Be Relieved. This has always worked wonders on my ongoing musculo-skeletal problems, but I think only gives me psychological support in dealing with the vicious cramping in my calves and feet.

Somehow, last night, I managed to circumvent the cramps by dosing myself at bedtime with codeine-enhanced painkillers swallowed with warm milk and honey and a biscuit. Praise be – I had four hours zonked out, before a cramps-lite woke me at 3.30!

Cramps a Sign of Magnesium Deficiency

It turns out, muscle cramping and muscle weakness are signs of a magnesium deficiency, which we can lay indirectly at the feet of the prednisone treatment.

Prednisone inhibits the uptake of calcium, as we already know, and I’m taking extra daily calcium. But it also apparently depletes the body’s supplies of magnesium, and inhibits the uptake of more. Magnesium is involved in a complex dance with calcium to relay nerve messages and contract muscles. Hence the cramping. A deficiency of magnesium can also cause or exacerbate palpitations, which also bother me during the night.

So now I have a bottle of magnesium supplement, complete with extra Vitamin D3, vitamin B6 and Vitamin C, to add to the handful of pills I take with food morning and evening. But if it works – if it knocks off the cramping and the palpitations, and gives me a good night’s sleep again - I will truly be a happy camper!

Progress with Pills

The regional city I grew up in had as its municipal motto “Progress with Prudence”. As a schoolgirl, this always made me giggle, since “Prudence” was the glamorous blonde head girl of the private school I attended. However, I understand the City Fathers meant that they were forward looking but not irresponsible.

Well, as a matter of personal philosophy, I loathe being reliant on pills and pharmaceutical products for my health and wellbeing. But, I am being prudential, cautious – maybe even open-minded, and embracing the necessity of them right now.

Today I was able to cut my steroid dose back to 15mg for the next 12 days until I see my specialist again. Meanwhile, if the magnesium takes effect, and the reduced prednisone means lessened side-effects, I will keep taking the little white pills, the big white pills and the big pink pills. Another good night’s sleep like last night’s, and I’ll start to believe I’m human again!

1 comment:

  1. Just hang in there, not long before you are off most of the pills.