Follicular Lymphoma and night cramps, How I beat them.
The night time cramp dance.
I hate this dance, I hate it so much. There you are fast asleep then suddenly you are dragged awake by an unbelievable pain in one or more of your legs, you have no choice you just must jump out of bed and dance round the room shouting "Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck" (Well that's what I shout, you might choose different words).
No amount of trying to relax the muscle, stretch it or massage it works, hot or cold compresses don't work, you either have to wait for the spasm to end or hold your foot/leg in some ridiculous angle to take the strain off of the muscle which usually ends up in you cramping up an entirely different muscle and yet more pain.
This cramp can sometimes go on for 20-30 minutes and then you spend the next day or so having an after pain which also hurts.
I tried everything the Doctors suggested
I have follicular lymphoma, an incurable Cancer and along with this comes night cramps. I have mentioned these to my Dr's so many times now and between us we have tried everything
"I see you are on statins, it must be those, stop taking them"
So I did for 2 months and still the cramps happened every night without fail. The doctors then went through all of my meds each time blaming one, they stopped it and still the cramps continued. They even blamed rituximab and when my course was over and I stopped it, guess what? the cramps still carried on.
Hot compresses they said… didn't work
Cold compresses they said… didn't work
Take quinine they said… didn't work
I had so many blood tests and they couldn't find anything wrong with my levels ( except for Cancer related neutrophils, lymphocytes and anaemia) nothing in any blood test that would traditional traditionally lead to cramps like low magnesium or potassium.
The most useless piece of advice
They kept telling me that when I cramped up the best thing, I could do was to stretch the muscle, that alone told me they had no idea what these cramps were like, you can't "stretch" the muscle, that just hurts even more then the cramp did, these aren't like the cramps that sports people suffer where a man with a sponge and a bottle of water make them go away, they are deep and long last and they fucking hurt, I mean really fucking hurt and trying to stretch the muscle just makes them fucking hurt even more.
I really was at my wits end.
These cramps were driving me nuts, I really wasn't getting any quality sleep, they were waking me up during the night then because I was so tired, I'd fall asleep during the day for several hours.
Then I came across a medical research paper which discussed that in the 1920's miners and steel workers were suffering a very high incidence of agonising cramps during their shifts but more importantly this happened towards the end of their shifts and not the beginning.
Both the miners and steel workers worked in extremely hot conditions which caused them to sweat excessively and from that they deduced that when they were sweating, they were losing salt.
The workers upped their salt consumption prior to starting a shift and the incidents of cramps decreased.
Night sweats are a part of lymphomas
If you have lymphoma, you'll know all about the night sweats, they are absolutely drenching ones and in fact they can even leave those salt stains on your bedclothes.
But is salt the answer? sort of, well it's part of the answer.
Research done during the 1970's and 1980's into athletes that suffered cramp showed that during a cramp their salt levels were low but also other electrolytes as well, the cramps were more common the more the athletes sweated beforehand.
In other words they were sweating away important electrolytes the body needed, salt (sodium) being just one of them.
These were what they identified in the sweat
These just happen to also be the minerals that make up of the majority of athletes hydration drinks
Last thing at night
With the research in mind at night I would make up a bottle of orange quash and add 1gram of electrolyte powder to it, just to digress for a moment, I used to take a bottle of water to put beside my bead that would drink when I woke up dehydrated after a sweat, this wasn't a good thing because all I was doing was further diluting the few electrolytes I hadn't already sweated out.
Anyway, my new orange squash hydration drink, I would have a glass just before bed and keep the rest beside my bed for when I woke up in the night.
The results were instant
I couldn't believe the very first night I tried this was the very first night I actually had a good night's sleep, I went through the night without a single cramp.
It's now been over a month since my last night cramp and it's great being able to sleep all through the night.
Made up drinks
I now keep a bottle full of orange squash mixed with electrolyte powder beside my bed at night and if I do wake up to go to the loo or anything like that, I take a few swigs from that because I still lose salt and other electrolytes through sweat.
I also make up a bottle of orange squash or other fruit juice with electrolytes to drink throughout the day just to make sure my levels are good.
Hopefully my cure for night cramps will also cure yours as well, let me know in the comments how you got on.