It seems fake. I mean, whose legs aren’t restless? Is there anyone who can sit or lay comfortably in one position without needing to shift? Everyone needs to move from time to time. But, it turns out that Restless Leg Syndrome is a just a terrible name for a real disorder. I think it falls under the same name-fail as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
So, RLS is an actual condition and I have it. It started slowly and developed as a branch off of my Autonomic Small Fiber Neuropathy symptoms. I want to discuss what RLS truly feels like. The commercials and medical descriptions don’t do the weirdness and intensity of the disorder justice.
At first, it was simply an uncomfortable pressure in my legs. I felt the urge to move them when I was falling asleep. It was manageable and I didn’t mind shuffling around a lot at night. The feeling gradually intensified and it went from uncomfortable to maddening. The urge to move was no longer soothed by kicking around my legs. The feeling had spread into my pelvis and walking was the only thing that calmed it. As the sensation grew stronger, it stopped feeling like an urge and began to mimic a deep ache. It could best be described as an internal itch that can’t be scratched. You know that frustrating feeling of having a deep inner ear itch or a piece of popcorn stuck in your teeth? That aggravation of a splinter in your finger or bug bite on your toe? It’s an incredibly pressing need for relief in a spot you absolutely cannot reach. It would often stop me from falling asleep and always aggravated my other physical issues.
I have insomnia and, as you can imagine, RLS makes it way worse. I went to a sleep specialist and tried to explain what I was experiencing and how it differed from my average daily pain. The doctor immediately said that I was describing Restless Leg Syndrome. I was glad to hear that I wasn’t having some bizarre psychotic break, but another unfixable medical problem on my already long list left me feeling defeated.
The name sounded stupid and the only treatments were high-dose iron and SSRIs. I can’t take iron supplements and the class of drugs used for this condition don’t work for me. So, I geared up and did my usual due diligence. A dive through medical journals and the Internet took me on a roundabout journey. As it turns out, all the reliable resources said the same thing: upping iron intake, being lightly active, and orgasms. Uhhh, orgasms? As a treatment? As a doctor recommended treatment?
Being desperate for relief, I was willing to try any unusual methods. I mean if scientific trial demands sacrifice, I’m up for the job. After giving it a go, I found out that… orgasms work! I know! Massive surprise! As it turns out, the dopamine and serotonin flood that comes along with, um, coming, acts as a scratch for that internal itch. Now, it isn’t a cure (wouldn’t it be cool if it was). There are many times where achieving that natural chemical cocktail is simply not possible or practical. Thankfully, my current autonomic neuropathy medications help calm the average misfiring nerves associated with RLS. However, when the medication isn’t effective or my legs are literally twitching and jumping from RLS, I have found that an orgasm is the absolute best temporary salve to quiet the madness.
Like most disorders, RLS ramps up at night. In the beginning, I only experienced the feeling before falling asleep. Currently, it is at the point where I can get uncomfortable anytime my body is at rest. And yes, if I’m not at rest I’m in more pain from my other broken body issues. It’s one of the many double-edged sword aspects of having chronic disorders. However, finding out that I have the ability to soothe a major physical problem provides me with a bit of control and peace. That small amount of authority and knowledge helps my mental health. I have a cost-free, side effect-free, effective therapy available whenever I need it. Who would have thought it, orgasms are pretty great.