Don't get me wrong--we all still have the same desire as we did when we were younger. It just boils down to how strongly we want to fulfill that desire, knowing full well all the consequences we're undoubtedly going to suffer in that pursuit. One of us put it in proper perspective the other day when he said, "It's just a matter of how big a glutton you are for punishment."
Consider, for example, I never dare leave home for a day on the water without my pill arsenal at the ready to deal with any of the multiple maladies I know from experience may strike without warning. This list includes but is not limited to everything from heartburn, to gas, to one of my cluster headaches. And, as if that isn't enough, I also often have to deal with my slightly enlarged prostate when I'm on the water all day. Unfortunately, all I can do with the latter is "grin and bear it."
These things all came into focus the other day as I engaged in a conversation with my buddy, Skip. We were discussing how different age-related events frequently impact our 8-hour tournament days when Skip suddenly asked me if I ever get leg cramps, or "charley horses," as we more commonly know them, the night following a tournament.
In response, Skip told me about an idea he had tried the night before our July 25th contest to prevent any leg cramps in the first place. "I ate a couple of bananas and drank a tall glass of water before going to bed," he said. "And you know what? I didn't have a single cramp the night afterward." Skip went on to note that he isn't prepared to endorse this idea yet as a surefire, 100-percent-effective preventive measure after just one trial, but he added that it sure was nice to sleep all night long for a change without any cramps.
Another preventive measure espoused by some is to sleep with a bar of soap between your sheets or under your bottom one. Either way appears to work consistently and well for some but not at all for others. There seldom are cases of partial success. After a few months, however, users have to replace the soap or rejuvenate the old bar by scoring and shaving it to produce fresh surfaces. In a few cases, users report that direct physical contact with the soap is desired, but few claim it is essential.
Others advocate use of such things as magnesium or potassium, pickle juice, V-8 juice, turmeric, yellow mustard, or apple-cider vinegar as a preventive measure. Salt also may work, but if you're on a low-salt diet, pickle juice likely is out for you.
Once a cramp hits, here are some things you can do to help alleviate the pain:
* Walk on or jiggle the affected leg and then elevate it.
* Take a hot shower or warm bath, use a heating pad (for 20 minutes at a time), or apply an ice massage to the cramped muscle. I personally always try to grab an ice pack from the freezer, or failing that, get to one of our vinyl-covered bathroom floors. The coolness of these floors always helps a little, but the ice packs work best. It's recommended, however, not to use ice (or ice packs) for more than 10 minutes or until the affected area turns bright red, which signals that blood cells have returned to heat the cramped muscle. Make sure to massage the muscle with your hands after applying heat or ice.
* For calf cramps, stand on tip-toes, or do a wall stretch. The latter is accomplished by standing about 3 feet away from the wall, with your knees straight and your heels on the floor. Lean into the wall, supporting yourself with your hands. Hold for 60 seconds and repeat three times. Another possible solution is to hold your calf with one hand while pulling your foot toward you with the other hand. The same instructions apply for a cramp in your foot. Just place your hand in the arch of your foot, instead of on your calf. In both cases, hold the stretch until you feel the cramp release.
I've heard that some folks have tried drinking enough tonic water to get a doctor-prescribed dose of quinine. However, the typical doctor-prescribed dosage of quinine to prevent leg cramps is between 200 and 300 milligrams (mg). Considering that a liter of tonic contains about 83 mg, that means one 8-ounce glass has about 20 mg. Thus, you would have to drink about 10 glasses to get the doctor-prescribed dosage--not practical in most cases.
The bottom line here, folks, is just like I said in the headline to this post: Enjoy those care-free angling days, 'cause they likely won't last. Father Time catches up with all of us--some sooner than others.