Restless Leg Syndrome

13 Apr

I have had Restless Leg Syndrome since about 1985 or so, and have been taking Klonopin pretty nearly continuously since then to control the spasms.  I was taking a quarter of a half milligram tablet when my dad had his brain surgery in 1991; I took two pills, and they lasted me the entire week I stayed in Roxboro with my mom.

My regular neurologist retired and I went in to meet his replacement and go over my meds. He informed me than Klonopin was “no longer the drug of choice” for treating RLS. Today, if a doctor told me that, I’d just tell him it works, and that’s that. Go away and leave me alone. Well, the first thing he did was put me on Sinemet, which had a horrific rebound effect. (Doctors call this augmentation; I call it Hell.) It didn’t allow me to sleep all night, but would wake me up after four or five hours with leg spasms, and if I sat still for too long – such as driving to work – my legs would begin dancing all over the place. He refused to put me back on Klonopin, but tried Permax, which made me pass out without warning,  several other equally useless (or worse) things, and finally started me on Neurontin, which led to one of the best lines I’ve ever pulled off.

Neurontin caused horrible insomnia. I was getting by on three hours sleep – if I was lucky. I  had a friend, a surgeon, who used to save me his used scalpel blades. This was back before you had to worry about a lot of odd bugs, but I would boil them, toss the rusty ones, and use the good ones in my X-acto knife. One night, I was working on a dollhouse, and the knife rolled across the table and hit my foot. When I reached down to retrieve it, I discovered it has slipped between two metatarsals and pierced an artery in my foot. I tried to stop the bleeding but only succeeded in turning the bathroom into a scene from the Maryland Chainsaw Massacres. I finally woke The Squire, who came down and patched me up.

Of course, he was afraid I was going to Get Something. “Oh, for pete’s sake, I was working on the dollhouse. The worst that can happen is I’ll get shingles!”

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