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Crazy Legs July 3, 2005

Posted by Leita in Flotsam/Jetsam.
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It was 19… never mind the year. I was a high school Junior sitting in the second seat from the front on the far right side of English. My friend Julie was sitting in the desk in front of me, my other friend Junie was behind me and my other friend, Anna, was to my left. I can’t remember my teacher’s name (probably a symptom of something else.. I’ll edit when I recall).

For me to remember that much detail is a realization of how truly awful this thing is. Years ago I read one of the rare news snips about the condition. One man was in such pain* (see note at the bottom) he took a baseball bat to his legs. We all have our weapons and the energy expended while wailing on my legs probably kept 10 extra pounds off me.

My legs started to feel as if they were trying to go to sleep. I tried switching positions, crossed and uncrossed my legs but the feeling increased. Something was going wrong from my belly button to my ankles and I sat there, scared and fighting the urge to wriggle. I looked around, certain someone would notice. I don’t think anyone did, surprising considering the war that was going on below my belt.

A few years later I was accustomed to the occasional battle. It usually started at night as I was falling asleep and after an hour or so of beating my thighs and calves with a frustrated fist, I’d try a hot shower. Exhausted and still frightened, I’d eventually work myself into a fitful sleep.

It was years–decades–before mentioning it to my mother, trying to describe something so weird I fought for descriptors that do not exist in the English language.

“You have Crazy Legs, probably got it from me.”

“Fine. I get your Crazy Legs but not your olive complexion?”

Mom said my sister, Jennifer, came up with the term and since then we all talked of it often. Before she died last year, Crazy Legs plagued her to the point she couldn’t drive without medication. The meds didn’t really work; rather they kept her extremities woozy. Not a good condition to be in when maneuvering around lost tourists on Hwy 98 in Destin.

On May 10, GlaxoSmithKline announced the FDA approval of REQUIP, a med for Crazy Legs. Here’s a quote, snipped from http://www.rls.org/news/

Requip is a second-generation dopamine agonist that directly stimulates dopamine receptors in the brain. Although its exact cause is unknown, researchers believe that the underlying cause of RLS may be related to dopamine, a chemical that carries the signals between nerve cells that control body movement. When the dopamine system does not function properly, it may upset the normal communication of these signals.

* The pain from RLS isn’t the typical stabbing/throbbing/achy feeling I associate with pain. It’s creepy-crawlies on meth, similar to an extremity falling asleep but the pins-and-needles aren’t as sticky. It’s like an itch, but it’s not itchy. There are no useful words except perhaps “maddening,” along with various profanities inserted before.

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