Leg cramps, deep in the middle of the night, used to plague my wife on occasion. When it happened, I began to massage her legs in an attempt to quell the pain. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it exacerbated the pain and she let me know, urgently, to stop. Less frequently, I experienced the same excruciating cramps and she did the same for me. Neither of us knew what caused the pain, nor why massage sometimes helped and sometimes made it worse. I still do not know. Last night, I experienced severe leg cramps. When I woke to the pain, I attempted to get out of bed. But when I moved my legs, the pain got much worse and my legs suddenly contorted and locked in odd positions. The muscles on the outside of my lower legs seemed to freeze in position, becoming as hard as rock. I was able to overcome the paralysis, but the pain endured for a very long time, though at a much lower level. When I finally got back to sleep, it happened again, though not as bad as before. This cycle repeated itself four times—maybe five.

When I finally got up (late, for me) around 5:45, the lower-leg muscles in both legs were extremely tender. I did not sleep in; I just did not want to move my legs and risk another outbreak of pain. Finally, though, I forced myself to move. I was relieved that I did not feel an electric jolt of pain and paralysis. A hot shower helped a little, but I still feel slight remnants of raw pain. Ever since the first flare-up, sometime deep in the early morning hours, I’ve been thinking how my wife would have tried to help me, had she been by my side.


“Mixed feelings.” That phrase has more meaning at this moment than I recall in times past. On one hand, I feel grateful that friends and family reach out to me to try to comfort me in a time of grief; knowing that people care makes me feel protected, in a way, and watched over. On the other hand, though, I want solitude and isolation, free of obligations to talk to anyone or be in the presence of anyone or otherwise participate in the human race. The tricky part of these “mixed feelings” is that they spin around me like a top, trading places with one another at lightning speed. If I were to verbalize my emotions, I can imagine saying “thank you for being here” one minute and then saying “please go” another and then “please come back” a moment later. Were I on the receiving end of my “mixed feelings,” I would quickly lose patience with me and suggest I make a decision and stick with it.


One day soon, when I can comfortably abandon any and all of my responsibilities, I may wake up one morning, put a few clothes in the car, and abruptly leave. Not for long, necessarily, but just long enough. Ideally, I would go to a house nestled in a wooded area in the middle of an enormous fenced pasture. There would be no other houses for miles in every direction and no way in except through a locked gate, for which I would hold the only key. Whether that ideal is realistic is open to debate; I would argue it is not. I might have to accept less space and unobtrusive people nearby.


I recently read a short article about something called the L-Pill (lethal pill), which supposedly was supplied to British and American spies and other agents operating behind enemy lines during and after World War II. It was a very small capsule containing highly concentrated potassium cyanide. If an agent/spy were in danger of capture, he or she could commit suicide by biting down on the capsule, thereby avoiding torture and/or revealing secret information. It occurs to me that a pill of that sort would be valuable to carry inside a pendant hanging on a necklace. If the world were to become too much, one could quickly escape. I suspect I won’t find much support for the idea. But consider all the people who would, if they could, go to Oregon or Sweden to put an end to needless suffering…but for various reasons that just cannot do that. An L-Pill might do the trick. The very idea of an L-Pill might be extremely painful and offensive to people who have experienced the suicides of friends or loved ones. A very difficult issue, this is.


Every time the HVAC system shuts off or comes on, a very loud noise comes from the vicinity of the return air ducts in the hallway. It sounds like metal against metal. I used to think it was just the AC filters dropping when the air flow cut off (and getting sucked up when the air flow begins). But the nature and volume of the sound seems to have changed. I may need to get someone in here to take a look. Or perhaps I should take the return-air grate off and watch to see what I can see.


I can barely keep my eyes open again. God, I wish I could just sleep through the night and stay comfortably awake during the day. I’ll stop writing and wishing for a while.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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6 Responses to Thumbnails

  1. Thanks, Doug. I appreciate the info.

  2. Doug REctor says:

    Go to Walgrens or CVS and het Therawox. This stuff works wonders. I use it and my leg crMPA Have disappeared.

  3. Bev says:

    Aye to the bananas for leg cramps. As for getting away, why not look for a VRBO somewhere and go spend a few days. Most are not renting for really short stays (like 2 days) because they are doing more cleanup due to covid — but you could probably find one for 4 or more days and a lot of them are nice — cabins, cottages, etc.. on lakes or in forests of farms.

  4. David, I will try potassium and/or a boatload of bananas. I’m also going to try keeping tonic water handy, taking COQ10, and drinking a lot of water. I haven’t tried STOMPING my foot, but I have discovered that pressing it down firmly helps alleviate the pain; next time, I’ll STOMP! Thanks for the tips!

  5. davidlegan says:

    For leg cramps, try potassium supplements. Either that or eat a boatload of bananas. When racing motorcycles in mid-summer Texas, sweat and effort would dehydrate one quickly. Cramps ensued. A banana and a half gallon of apple juice usually did the trick. Now older and subject to cramping without the need for oppressive heat and dehydration, the supplements do the trick. Oh, for immediate unlocking of the cramp, STOMP your foot. Works every time.

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