April 18, 2008

♫ Stabbed In The Leg, And Gin's To Blame, The Phrase "Charley Horse" Is A Bad Name ♪

Out at dinner last night, I joined my friend in a Long Island Iced Tea.

Now, I've observed, not too long ago, that when I drink vodka, I get a charley horse the next morning in my right leg. As I learned from this experience, gin does it to me in the left. And much, much more intensely.

The pain came in an instant, while I was asleep, and it felt just like someone had stabbed me in the calf. I convulsed in agony and cried out loudly enough to wake up The Wife. She asked what was wrong, and it hurt so badly and I was so disoriented from just waking up that I could not direct my body to respond right away. When I finally croaked out, "Charley Horse!" she said, "Oh." To her credit, she didn't immediately roll over and go back to sleep; she did stroke my shoulder to indicate her sympathy. Then, she rolled over and went back to sleep. That's love in action, folks. Not that there was anything she could have done for me anyway.

Why do they call it a "Charley Horse" anyway? Wikipedia says it comes either from a bootlegger or a baseball player from the late 1800's. But "Charley Horse" is a cute, kinda down-home sounding name. It's a horse, named Charley. Aw, look at ol' Charley! He's trying to kick the football like them horses on the beer commercial.

What I felt in the middle of the night was neither folksy nor charming. It was sudden, sharp, instantly mind-focusing pain, the pain of a nicely-relaxed leg muscle suddenly contracting to the size of a walnut. My leg still hurts, twelve hours later. I'm walking on it without a limp anymore, but the pain lingers on.

Of course, we had lunch today with a professional friend who's having part of his lung removed next week, so I really don't have anything to complain about. "You don't have a problem," I like my doctor to tell me, "Let me tell you about my other patient. His urethra just contracted to the same diameter as a fiber optic cable. He's got a problem." That sort of thing is somehow comforting to me -- it lets me know that I've still got it pretty good, even while dealing with the minor aches and pains that are an inevitable part of life.

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