Dose of Humor #6 – The Science of Charley Horses

Charley Horses. If you’ve never had one, let me explain the feeling of waking up to one. Your alarm goes off. Maybe it’s the first time… maybe you’ve hit snooze once or twice or 17 times… and you turn over, deciding “yeah, I guess I should get up now and get ready to go for work”. And your muscles in your leg, given instructions from your brain to swing over and set down on the floor, instead decide “hey, let’s seize up in the most intense way as soon as we’re mid-way over the floor”.

So one or both of your legs experience a contraction spasm in such a way as to feel like giant rubber bands that have snapped. You then sharply contort your legs, trying desperately to find a position that will allow the sensation to subside a bit, while you frantically attempt to massage the muscle that seems to think that it should keep contracting.

In the process, you arch your back to reach the spot with your hands while the contraction continues to become more severe, resulting in you trying to adjust your leg even more trying to abate the pain, only to twist your body in just such a way that you have now pulled 1 or more muscles along the flank of your body, giving you a new cramp that means you are choosing between easing the pain your leg, which has been going on for at least as long as an average presidential administration, or the new pain in your side which feels like some horror villain has implanted a knife in you.

Meanwhile, one or more dogs has decided you are in distress and is attempting to help by licking your face, thinking “yes, if I drown him in saliva, he will no longer suffer”. This is much the same as the idea of helping a person who is on fire by pushing them into a vat of gasoline. At first, you think “this liquid will douse the fire”, but then you realize that the liquid is, in fact, smelly. Oh, and making that fire worse. Would it help if I dumped this powder on him to put it out? It’s labeled as “wood dust”. Seems reasonable.

And at this stage, the cat has decided “Oh, his weird position and sounds must mean he wants to cuddle and play”. So she climbs onto you with the 40 foot long razor blades she calls her claws fully exposed, and proceeds to paw at:

  • Your stomach
  • Your arm
  • Your chest (including, no doubt, the sensitive sections there)

which in turn causes you to flinch. The cat interprets this as you wanting to cuddle, so she spins around onto her back so she can rub against the muscles that are in mid-spasm on the side of your body. The dog, who now fancies him or herself an E.M.T. is licking more vigorously… that’ll make it better.

You flinch, which causes the dog to redouble his or her efforts, but sends the cat flying off the side of the bed, which you didn’t mean to happen, but it did, and meanwhile the flinch has caused both sets of muscles to contract MORE. The cat decides to jump back up because obviously that was just an accident, but we definitely need to extend our claws for the landing because we may need a better grip. Also, let’s try a landing on that part that seems to have a cloth covering right around the waste. PERFECT DEAD CENTER LANDING… though what is the lumpy sensation under this material?

And needless to say, this is why the snooze button function on an alarm clock should really be more of a “shut up, and I’ll get up when I’m good and ready”.

Also, a muscle spasm / drowning / knifing of soft external protrusions really should qualify as a medical excuse from work.