Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Getting A Leg Up

No one's interested in my ailments, me in the telling, or you in the hearing.  However, this is an issue that can affect us all, so perhaps you may be interested in what I learned.  Other than three portages, we found there was no place to get out of the boats during the day.  We both suffered from severe fanny fatigue, and I got to the point of my legs starting to cramp up.  The water went right into the tall marsh grass, and there was no shore nor even any banks evident, so we spent long hours with our legs locked in a fixed position and inactive.  My leg circulation problems first became evident about the fourth night when I couldn't get my feet warm at night, even inside my below-zero rated sleeping bag.  I had to go digging in my pack in the middle of the night for a pair of wool socks to put on.  By the time I got out on Saturday, my right leg below the knee was asleep and stayed that way.  I wouldn't call it pain, but I was in constant discomfort.  The leg tingled and felt dead to the touch.  A blood clot in the leg can be extremely dangerous, even life-threatening, so I headed off to a doctor yesterday.  I was told a clot didn't seem evident because (1) there was no swelling, (2) no severe pain, (3) no discoloration, (4) the pulse and blood pressure seemed the same in both legs.  However, (there's always a however) a clot was possible if I didn't make some changes, and this is where I thought you might find something of value. 

The doctor recommended:
l. Keep legs elevated whenever possible.
2. If in a fixed sitting position, in a canoe or kayak, or even on a train or airliner, pump the foot back and forth like mashing an accelerator.  The action on the large muscle in the rear of the leg forces blood back up out of the legs so it doesn't pool.
3. Get out of the habit of crossing one's legs.
4. If in a boat or on a plane for more than four hours, wear knee-length therapy or surgical stockings.
5. If you normally use a baby aspirin a day, go to a full aspirin during the time of restricted activity, and then return to a baby aspirin when activity returns to normal.
6. Don't get old.

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