OK, normally I’m a complete sceptic as far as any connection between diet and symptoms is concerned.
Until recently, I’d never noticed anything I suspected was making me better or worse.
Like many people with MS, muscle cramps are a problem. I’m already on baclofen, diazepam and quinine to help with this -mostly successfully.
Recently, though, I’ve begun to experience occasional spells where nothing controls it. It’s agony, and very frightening - much as I know nobody ever died of cramp. I cramp from toe to groin, so the whole leg is effectively immobilised, as if made of concrete, and the pain is about 11 out of 10, so it’s very hard to think rationally about what I must do, or try to do, as it overrides rational thought - quite apart from the temporary disability of having a non-functioning leg, which normally means I have great difficulty negotiating my way down the stairs (yes, I’m always upstairs) to pop an extra muscle relaxant, magnesium,or whatever else I may have in the house that’s relevant.
Until recently, these episodes almost always followed an abnormally long walk - I mean of miles.
The last time, I had walked getting on for five miles on an organised walk. I don’t do this often, and have only managed about two or three this year, but as a reward for really pushing the limits, and also to avoid compounding my fatigue by having to cook when I get home, it’s been my habit to call in at the chippy for a rare treat of chips and battered sausages, with plenty of salt and vinegar, on the way home.
I know this is an unhealthy meal, but for the number of times I do it - once every six weeks, maybe less - I’ve never really had any concerns. It’s an occasional treat, not representative of my typical diet.
So anyway, once or twice lately, I’ve treated myself to the sausage meal without doing the walk first. Usually because I’ve got a bit low on groceries, or just fancied a morale boost.
The only walking involved is the five minutes to the chippy and back - NOT the five miles I’d done on previous occasions, and which I blamed for the subsequent afternoon of heavy, uncontrolled cramping.
But guess what? The last twice I’ve had the cramping after the sausage and chips, but without the walk.
I thought the most obvious culprits were the salt and the vinegar (acetic acid), but indeed, cramp is more commonly linked with LOW salt, and vinegar/pickle juice/acetic acid are often recommended as home remedies. So it seems unlikely these agents would actually cause a cramp, when the literature suggests they’re known for fixing it. So could the problem be the sausage or chips themselves? Something in the cooking oil, perhaps?
I think I’ve been wrongly blaming the long-distance walking, when it’s the meal I’ve indulged in afterwards. Any clue what this is all about, and why that meal in particular? I know a meal with a lot of salt could be potentially quite dehydrating, so I usually try to drink plenty of water too, to make sure it’s not that.
Seems like I’m in for a rotten afternoon/evening with the uncontrollable cramps again, and all I’ve done differently is treat myself to a chip shop lunch.