Screams in the Night


It’s so hard to get a good night’s sleep when I wake up with cramps in the calves and/or thighs of one or both legs.

Sure, stretching the muscles prior to climbing into bed helps, and sometimes taking an aspirin (or two) before bedtime helps.  I’m careful with my diet and take the recommended vitamins and supplements to offset the deficiencies caused by my ulcerative colitis.  Hubby and I take Puppy Cody for a nice walk every evening, which has strengthened my legs and made the muscles more flexible.

But there is no way to prevent the Charlie Horses from galloping into my bedroom.

Like many little girls, I was horse crazy.  For every birthday and gift-giving holiday, I asked my parents for a pony.  I never even got a large dog!



My dad was a roofing contractor (God, I wish he was alive now – my kitchen roof is STILL leaking!).  He would come home with stiff limbs and sore muscles.  Right before my birthday one year, I heard Dad holler, and my mom asked what was wrong.  Dad said, “I’ve got a Charlie Horse.”

Silly 5-year-old me … I immediately ran out into our large backyard looking for my pony named “Charlie.”  I was so disappointed.  All was not lost, however – Dad had a friend who owned a horse, and arrangements were made for me to go for a horseback ride.  Except that, the friend did not also own a saddle or bridle, and riding bare-back with nothing to hold onto except the nag’s mane scared the heck out of me.  Dad meant well, but I think the booze got into his brain that day.

Anyway, back to my post.

It’s gotten to the point that if I wake up during the night (and need to use the facilities), I’ve trained myself to move very, very slowly so as to try to avoid those cramps.  I ever so carefully slide to the edge of the bed, careful not to straighten the legs too much nor to bend them too much.  I then ease myself  up into a sitting position, in which position I stay for several moments until I’m sure my legs won’t spasm.  And then – a quick hop from a sitting position to a standing position (hopefully without landing on Puppy Cody), followed by gently stretching my whole body.

Even then, sometimes old Charlie Horse finds me, and the screaming begins.  Poor Cody usually thinks she’s done something bad, and she runs into the other room.

No one ever said that getting old[er] would be easy or fun.

And I still don’t own a pony.


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60 Responses to Screams in the Night

  1. Victo Dolore says:

    I have patients that swear by a bar of soap tide up in a tube sock and placed between the sheets down by their feet. (This should not be construed as medical advice as I have not tried it out myself.)


  2. Barry says:

    If only I was awake when cramp strikes. I might be able to massage it into submission before it reaches the stage that it sets in for what seems like eternity. I’m invariably sound asleep when I’m rudely woken by either my toes being forced into an agonising curl and/or my foot being drawn downwards and backwards. By the time I’m fully concious to recognise what is causing the pain, nothing apart from time can cure it. Afterwards, my calf muscle feel like it has run several marathons back to back, and won’t let me forget it for several days. The joys of ageing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hi CordeliasMom, I’ve been struggling with a Vestibular Disorder for a year. I see a specialist next week, after 14 months of Hell. I originally had an appointment to see him in December of 2016. My migraine doctor took over my healthcare in July of this year; he got me in to the vestibular specialist in three months.

    Notice my avoidance tactics as to what I’m really writing you about. I’m good at these sort of activities . I have had digestive issues off-and-on for a long while. I read this post, and then your past posts about your UC. I wasn’t a follower of yours then, silly me. Of course I hadn’t been introduced to you at that time.

    Your experience has scared the Hell out of me. I see my primary care doctor tomorrow. I plan to talk to her then about my symptoms. Thank you for the kick in the backside. Now let’s hope I follow through.

    You have my sympathy with the digestive issues. It isn’t a dignified condition. It certainly isnt fair. It sounds like you’ve been through Hell yourself. I’m definitely sending you support.

    As for Charlie Horses. I’ve had leg cramps all my life. Waking up with them is a miserable shock. Is their a supplement you might “Google”? I believe I can identfy how that shock of pain feels, and I empathize. I might nominate Mr CM for sainthood just for helping you.

    As for your father, the roofer. I wish I had appreciated and learned more from those I have lost. I have failed to pass this understanding on to my Kidlet, my equivalent of Cordelia, about her relatives. Deep, heavy sigh from me. Perhaps when she is closer to what I assume is Cordelia’s age.


    • I’m sorry that you’ve suffered from health problems, but glad that my post has encouraged you to talk to your doctor. The thing that got me into my doctor was recalling the story told by a co-worker, whose mother had died from colon cancer because she ignored her symptoms, which included rectal bleeding. When I started bleeding, it scared the hell out of me – and that’s when I went to see my doctor.

      Good luck with your health issues.

      Please come back and read future posts – most are humorous, but some are serious. I think you’ll enjoy them.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Anonymous says:

    Why were so many little girls denied the ponies that are our birthright? Isn’t that the True Univeral Mystery?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dan Antion says:

    Those are so painful. Charlie doesn’t come around very often, but it really does mess up a night’s sleep. Watch out for Cody.


  6. cardamone5 says:

    Ulcerative colitis? Charlie horses? Ouch! I absolutely hate it when I have to be careful about my body (that sounds bad), but what I mean is this: I work out every day, and on the side, I sell used furniture, which means lifting pretty heavy items on a regular basis. One or the other is fine, but combined and I have an achy back, which I fret about, worrying I won’t be able to do one or the other again. So, a chronic condition like yours would drive me around the twist. So sorry. Have you tried yoga? Don’t you hate it when someone suggests something like you haven’t thought of it already…for all I know you are a yoga teacher!



  7. willowdot21 says:

    I asked my dr about this as I suffer every night like you and she has given me Quinine Tablets . Also Tonic water helps but make sure it some Quinine in it , also magnesium is supposed to help, the quinine does not stop the cramps completely but it really helps.


  8. Now that quinine is impossible to get, what has helped me are electrolyte heavy sports drinks. As long as I get enough of them, I don’t usually get those ugly cramps. I know exactly what you mean and they hurt SO much!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Quinine is unavailable in the U.S. unless you have documented malaria. I used to buy it on the drug gray market, but electrolytes seem to be doing the job these days. Quinine is still available on prescription in Canada.


  10. I used to get cramp in my calfs and toes sometimes at night, and for no reason the latter seemed to just curl under each other! Bloody painful! Someone told me it might be that I had too much salt in my diet, and since then I don’t add salt to anything either when I’m cooking or when it’s on the plate. Saying that though, sometimes I crave for salty chips/crisps but make sure I have them well before bedtime. Don’t know if there’s anything in it, but I don’t have those problems now, just arthritis spasms in my hips and knee.


    • I don’t use salt, either, although I do occasionally eat potato chips. I don’t think the chips are doing it, though – more likely, it’s some other kind of deficiency that hasn’t been found yet. Or, maybe just old age [sigh].

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Paul says:

    That’s complex CM. As a dialysis patient I run into it all the time when I’ve taken off too much fluid or am dry (a term used to signify less fluid aboard than is optimal) or have an unbalanced electrolyte level. I have an additional issue because my colorectal cancer left me unable to process non-water soluble fiber. Which means less solid stool- which means a lot of fluid loss through the colostomy. The bottom line is that we have to have a minimum level of free water in our system to carry nutrition and electrolytes across cell boundaries. Failure to provide that free fluid will cause muscle cells to contract- and cause charlie horses. That fluid balance is more sensitive as you get older. You can have the fluid but tie it up with either too much salt or any diuretic -like coffee or alcohol. When you have to get up to pee, you are voiding some of that free fluid, as it is not retained as easily as we grow older. If you drink as much water as you pee, you can sort of balance that fluid loss, but it takes a while for your body to distribute the fluid through your digestive system (at least an hour if not more). Which means, as counter intuitive as it may seem, taking a glass or two or water before bed will help reduce charlie horses even though it will mean getting up more often. Reducing alcohol, coffee, salty products consumed before bed also helps a lot. Also when winter comes and many use forced air heating systems, the humidity is lower in your house and you will lose water through your skin, unbalancing the fluid level (you can use a humidifier if you want to help this- it is also better for your skin). Many newer furnaces have built in humidifiers – so check to make sure it is working.

    In dialysis charlie horses are a part of the whole routine – not deliberately – when we try to take off too much fluid too fast. They keep a heating cabinet with hot towels in it and will wrap the offending muscles with hot towels to reduce the pain and duration. At home I soak a towel under scalding water and then wring it out and apply to muscle – it helps a lot and fast. (If you have expensive clothes on you can put the wet towel in a plastic bag to keep your clothes dry). In dialysis it is so common to get charlie horses that the special built chairs have pads to push against to stretch the muscles and reduce the pain of the charlie horses. (P.S. whatever medications you may take can also cause loss of body fluid- check wit your doctor)

    Bets of luck!


    • I knew you must have had experience with Charlie Horses because of your medical condition.

      Good point about the fluid – my blood tests nearly always show a slightly less than optimum fluid level. Probably I do need to drink more water during the day and in the evenings, and I will start doing that – however, I absolutely refuse to give up my nightly glass of wine!


      • Paul says:

        You know what does a dandy job hydrating? Fleshy fruit = like peaches or pears or oranges.


        • Unfortunately, I can’t eat fresh fruit, nor can I drink orange juice. I do, however, drink apple juice and cranberry/grape juice.


          • Paul says:

            Hmm, helps for sure – apple is high acid though, so a lot of that would have bad effects. From evolutionary times, our bodies were trained to maximize fluid absorption when the fluid is presented in a certain matrix – typically fruit. There must be some fluid transport that is an option – what about other fruits like pomegranates? You know what I found to be magical? Those liquid dietary supplement drinks like Ensure or Boost. Those puppies are amazing and one a day, in the evening, may help. The problem is that here they are expensive – about $12. for 6. Anyway, you get the drift – getting your fluid levels up is the solution to the problem -you can try different things. 😀


            • All fresh fruits are prohibited for me because of the fiber. I will try to drink more water, though, and see if that helps. Fortunately, I don’t get those cramps every night – I would say it happens maybe once a month or so (ha, maybe it’s the full moon that does it!).

              Liked by 1 person

              • Paul says:

                Yeah, as much as it is funny, the moon does affect our metabolisms. A full moon will provide enough light that we will wake up in the night unless the drapes are light proof. That may very well be a key CM. When I had the cancer I followed a number of theories of what causes the cancer. One strong one was light pollution. There is so much ambient light in our environment now, we don’t sleep as well unless we block all light from our sleeping area. That lack of sleep results in a higher level of free radicals which have been associated with cancer. Lack of sleep also causes an increase in dehydration levels which will initiate Charley Horses. If you light proof your drapes and windows so you are not awakened by light from the environment , you will reduce Charley Horses.


  12. lbeth1950 says:

    Oh, those are awful.


  13. lbeth1950 says:

    Are you well-hydrated?


    • Paul Curran asked the same question. I try to drink enough fluids, which is hard because I still work nearly full-time – but I do still drink coffee and wine. I’m going to make an effort to load up on water during the day and see if that helps.


  14. Al says:

    My sister was 40 before she owned her first pony 😀


  15. Just Plain Ol' Vic says:

    I have absolutely no relevant medical advice, so I will just send well wishes your way.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. AmyRose🌹 says:

    Have you tried a Magnesiusm supplement? I have nerve damage in my legs due to a severe back injury and if I do not drink enough water I charley horse. And yes I scream or at least I try NOT to so as not to upset my cats. I also take Magnesium every day which seems to address the problem. Water though seems to be the main thing I require. I also practice Yoga and do a lot of walking. Sometimes regardless what I do, when under stress, and my feet are in sneakers, my toes cramp so bad it brings tears to my eyes. I gulp down water water water for relief, and stretch my feet as best as possible. My sympathies. God I KNOW how charley hurts!!! ❤


    • Thanks, Amy. I’ll try magnesium supplements – I don’t think magnesium deficiency is something that is looked for in the bloods test I undergo every other month. Magnesium deficiency is a very real possibility since I know my bland diet, coupled with the colitis, doesn’t have enough of most of the minerals. I know I have some potassium deficiency, and eat potatoes to cover that, but I never thought of magnesium.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Thys says:

    I am sure there should be some or other union where people can petition for a pony 😉


  18. markbialczak says:

    When I started with the charlie horses (again), CM, I mentioned it to my doctor. He told me to drink a few ounces of Quanine water before bedtime. Tonic water is the best I could find in the supermarket that covered that loose prescription. And I don’t know if it was the placebo effect of the quinine, but the charlie horses went away.


  19. prior2001 says:

    Hey there – this is just a side note and is not meant as advice – but I really believe you will have life changing results with some parasite cleanses and a few other things – a big mistake in America is never cleansing the intestines and at first it is easy to slam as an idea – but all health comes down to drives give function and the alimentary canal and this gets clogged with build up (many many things) but I know more than a few folks who have healed from colitis and more other conditions – it takes time – but with slow on and off cleansing it slowly and safely frees up the mucosa lining to help the immune system work better and to rebuild be body terrain – and then. Nutrients get absorbed better (like the calcium manganese magnesium potassium etc) and muscles have less Charlie horses (or none) – seriously – just start thinking about it and sending you well wishes – but the root cause of most illnesses is related to clogged intestines – and candidiasis is the silent killer that is often related to malabsorption and Charlie horses – and if you do not where to start – begin to support the liver – milk thistle or a liver formula – and the. Do a parasite cleanse – and see for yourself – 😊💚


  20. prior2001 says:

    Drives gives function was supposed to be “digestive function” lol

    Liked by 1 person

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