The doctor told me that as people get older (he said “over 55,” which to my mind does not count as “older”), the part of the brain that tells us we are thirsty doesn’t work very well. I quietly added it to my “doesn’t work very well” list.
He told me this because of my sore leg. I’d been experiencing pain in my right calf for over a month, and it had recently gotten worse, sometimes spreading to my right shin, and sometimes making my whole right leg feel a bit weak. When I say “pain” I mean something Kim might call “discomfort,” in comparison to what she goes through. But I digress . . ..
When I told Genne’ about it, she used her physical therapy skills to try to treat me over the phone, giving me a couple of different massage techniques, along with heat and then ice, to try to break up whatever was going on with my muscles. This helped bring short term relief but did not cure my intermittent discomfort, which only bothered me after going down a flight of stairs or walking more than 50 yards. I skipped the ice.
Then we heard from a friend about her cousin who had died from a blood clot – and he was only 52. This drove me to google, where I learned that circulation problems might cause my kind of leg pain, and that I should see a doctor. I got an appointment the next day.
Dr. Kroll asked me a lot of questions, felt around a bit (of course, no pain while I was in his office), ruled out blood clots, and concluded that it might be “an electrolyte problem.” He asked how much water I drank each day. I said I drank a full glass of water with every breakfast. He paused for me to continue. I asked him if coffee counted. He said it did not. He told me I should drink 40-64 fluid ounces per day, and he wrote that on the back of his card so I could not use my senior memory as an excuse. He also suggested 350-400 mg. of magnesium oxide, taken before bedtime.
When Kim asked me what the doctor said, I told her that she would be shocked to learn that I don’t drink enough water. She smiled and shook her head, as she’s been telling me that for years. I have not yet told Genne’, who has been advising Kim and me to drink much more water, and she may have assumed that we were following her expert advice. Nope.
Kim wisely suggested that one way to increase my uptake is to drink a glass whenever I am waiting for the microwave to reheat my coffee. This, in addition to the obvious 8 ounces with every meal – not just breakfast. I’m not going to be one of those people who carries a water bottle around, hooked to my belt, but I am trying to drink a glass every time I walk past a faucet.
And now, about a week after my doctor upped my water intake, my leg feels somewhat better. I am not expecting a quick cure. After all, I am making up for about 50 years of dehydration, which means I need to consume about 5000 gallons to make up the deficit. If you have any questions about how that is going, you know where to find me.
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