Monday, February 6, 2012

Hell aka Restless Leg Syndrome

Does anybody else out there suffer Restless Leg Syndrome (see also RLS)?

It is a horrible condition that usually sets in around the evening/night time and kind of feels like you have creepy crawlies crawling under your skin, along and around the surface of your bones and makes your legs move involuntarily in jerky, twitchy motions. It really gets started when laying down, although I do sometimes get it when I'm sitting for long periods, eg in the car or at a concert, as well. I've mentioned it briefly before here.

Picture borrowed from here.

RLS is like a form of torture. It disrupts your sleep and makes you feel like you're going mad. There is no known cure for it and relief is hard for some people to come by. Walking helps - but who wants to be pacing around their home in the middle of the night, like so many suffers do? I also find some relief with hot baths and stretching out my legs. I have had many a bath in the middle of the night, desperate to find relief. Also, magnesium supplements are suppose to assist, but I have not found this in my case. Cutting back nicotine, alcohol and caffeine is also suppose to help minimise symptoms. Well I don't smoke or drink and I only have about 1-2 cups of coffee a day and I've kept my Diet Coke intake to a minimum lately.

I've just found this on Wikipedia regarding Other methods of relief:

Orgasm, whether achieved by sexual intercourse or masturbation, 
has also been found to provide satisfactory relief of RLS symptoms.

Wow! What an incentive to get back on the dating scene!

But seriously, the only real respite I can get is through taking a benzodiazepine just before bed. Either Zanax, Valium or Normison offer relief. Opioid painkillers like Diagesic also help. But there is a downfall to that. These drugs are extremely addictive and getting scripts for them is really hard. They also make me super tired the day after, making it very difficult to find the motivation to do anything.

People with RLS most commonly experience the pain and discomfort in their calves, but for some reason I get mine in my hip joints. And occasionally I feel it in my ankles as well when it is really bad. I cannot tell you how I hate this condition, which is getting worse as the years go by.

Before my first psychiatric hospitalisation in 2007 I had only experienced RLS a couple of times. I didn't even know what it was then. But since I was first admitted to hospital for depression and drug and alcohol abuse (which is a huge story in itself) I was given a massive cocktail of psychiatric drugs that set my hips twitching and they haven't stopped since.

The last three nights have been particularly bad. The last week or so actually, but for the last three nights I couldn't bear it any more and so I took a Normison (tempazepam - sleeping tablet) each night. The relief was almost instant. I've slept better than I have in months because it helped with my night time anxiety which leaves me clenching my jaw through the night and has me waking up with headaches every morning. My dreams were all anxious ones as usual but at least I my body was too relaxed by the benzo to move as much as I normally do.

I've read that antidepressants can bring on RLS and so can having low iron stores. As I am on an antidepressant I really need to look into weening off slowly so I can see if it is my Cipramil that is causing this horrible problem. This of course scares the hell out of me because I haven't gone without an antidepressant for four years! I have also been iron deficient in recent years but I haven't been tested for a while. I'm way too terrified to take iron tablets to see if that might help because of the constipation they cause. Anyone who's read recently will know that has been giving me a lot of grief recently too (you can read about it here and here - surely everyone wants to know about how backed up I've been!).

So anyway, why am I talking about this? Basically because this whole thing then really fucks up my motivation and will to exercise and eat well. I was so tired today that after taking Noo to daycare I slept on and off all day. That is until about 4pm when my hips started twitching again. I know some say that exercise helps but I find this is the opposite to me. When I have walked a lot through the day or have done a work out my hips suffer terribly later in the night. Add DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) to that and I'm tremendously uncomfortable.

It is a vicious circle: exercise, get bad RLS, take sleeping tablet, wake up exhausted, too tired to exercise, lay around, eat comfort food, feel bad/anxious, get RLS.... it goes on. I am going to talk to the doctor about it on Friday. Now that I know that my thyroid function is fine (my blood work came back all good), I can now look into this issue.

That is enough for now. I'm depressing myself with this post. Next time I promise to write something more positive!


PS I've gone back to Blogger comments because Disqus wasn't showing that I had comments on the bottom of each post. I haven't been able to get the 'threaded comments' option to work yet but I'll keep trying.

PPS I have lost 1kg since last Monday which is probably because I was able to 'go' at last! TMI!!!!!


Sam said...

That does not sound like something I would like, I hope you find a way to deal with it. I hope the doc can help.

Anonymous said...

Bugger that sounds like a merry go round ride that you need to get off and fast! Hoping your Dr has some good suggestions to get some real sleep happening, it's impossible to find any balance without decent sleep. I was on Cipramil nine years ago or so for about four years, stopped taking it one day (bad patient) and was actually ok for about a year, I think its just really important while off meds to watch the return of any symptoms and get into the Dr quickly before it spirals out of control.

Anonymous said...

I have nominated you for the ABC Blogger about it here:

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