Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Why legs? Why?

Two nights ago, might have been the longest night of my life. Maybe. At least the top 5. It was Monday night and was on day 3 of malaria. Although I was tired, I was feeling ok so since I was supposed to work in the evening, I headed down to the hospital at 2:30. My friend saw me walking down the hall and as soon as he saw me he started waving at me to leave and go home. I put up a small fight but my heart wasn't really in it because I was still feeling a little run down so I went home. I was so grateful that evening because it was really nice to rest for one more day. That evening at about 7, 8 pm I was feeling awesome. Since I hadn't slept well in the last 4 nights I decided to take a Benadryl, knock myself out, get a good nights sleep and be back to 100% the next day.
I took my Benadryl at 9:03pm. I tucked myself into bed at 9:40pm. And I turned. And I turned. Back. Left side. Stomach. Right side. And repeat. What's wrong with me? Why am I so restless? After 2 hours of this, I decided to get up and take another Benadryl. Really knock myself out. I also took some Tylenol because...well, it was my new best friend and I remembered from grad school that sometimes if old people are having trouble sleeping it's because they're in pain and Tylenol can help. Well, I am almost 30 so if it works for them, maybe it will work for me. Also, my legs felt really weird. They were tingling and would occasionally have little bursts of pain that would sometimes make my leg shoot out almost involuntarily. Eh?
I laid in bed for the next hour, it all of the sudden struck me. Mosquito repellent. Because I was planning on working that evening, and because I am now terrified of mosquitoes, I'd doused myself in the stuff before going down to the hospital. Maybe a little TOO much. So at about 12:30 I got up to take a shower and scrubbed scrubbed scrubbed my legs to try and get all the DEET off. There, I thought. That should be better.
After another hour and a half, it hadn't changed. But I'd began to notice something. The pains only came when my legs were still. As soon as I moved them they'd be better for about 5 seconds or so, and then the pain/tingling would come back. So as long as I kept moving my feet every five seconds, I was good. But that isn't all that conducive to a good REM cycle. I tried to do a little tap tap of my feet to see if that would be good enough to keep the pains away...not so much. As I was telling this story to my friends in the hospital, we were all laughing at the thought of my legs shooting out involuntarily from pain and trying to sleep while still moving my feet.....but I'll be honest, at 2am I wasn't laughing.
Although I've never had this problem before, I thought this sounded like Restless Leg Syndrome.....because that's exactly what it felt like. My legs were annoyingly restless! Google time. The Internet is AWESOME here at 2am by the way! (And by awesome I mean it takes 2 minutes to download a page instead of 8). Anyway, as I as reading, some of the causes that stood out to me were
1. New illness (check).
2. New medication (check).
3 Stress (check).
4. Iron deficiency anemia. I went into the bathroom to look at my conjunctiva. Nope, pink as ever. Ok, so it's probably not that one.
Then I went to the cures.
1. Lots of drugs that I don't have here.
2. Massage- I started rubbing my legs.
3. Stretching- I went back to my cheerleading days and started doing all these leg stretches, while still continuing to massage them at the same time....all on my bed....under the safety of my mosquito net.
3. Walking- By 4am with no improvement, I decided it was time for a walk. I walked down to the hospital (although I didn't go in because I didn't want to answer the questions about why I was creepily walking around at 4am). Was that enough walking? The Internet didn't specify the distance I needed to walk for a cure.
4. Warm baths- I don't have a bathtub so when I got back from my walk I heated up some water and just kind of poured it over my legs. As good as I'm going to get.
Hopeful, I headed back to bed. None of my remedies worked. I laid there until 7 and decided it was late enough and went over to the doctor's house to say "What the heck is wrong with me?????" and "Is this going to last forever?????"
After talking with them, we decided that it might have been caused by toxic DEET exposure (he knew of someone who was admitted into the ICU after putting mosquito repellent on in July when it was really hot, causing her pores to be open and absorb a lot). Another possible cause was the fact that the day before I had taken
a. Artusunate for my malaria
b. Keflex for my knee infection
c. Bactrim for my ear infection
d. Benadryl to knock me out and
e. Tylenol for my aches and pains. Since I usually take NO medicines, it might have just been too much for my body to handle.
Anyway, I am SOOO happy to report that last night my legs stayed right where they were supposed to and nary a tingle was felt. I am now considering myself officially cured from malaria (I know, I know, it's with me for life) and am back to normal!! Thank you Jesus!


  1. Hey Em... John had that the day and probably the day after he left the hospital when he had malaria. His was probably due to low hemoglobin. Love you and see you in a few days!

  2. correction: he thinks it was due to the medication. I think it was due to his low hemoglobin

  3. Emily you are hilarious! Glad you can laugh at yourself.....sorry about the crazy leg issue!