One RLSF Gift Membership at a Time

Promoting Awareness – One Gift Membership at a Time By Barbara Faraone When long-time RLS Foundation member Barbara Faraone sees the n...

Promoting Awareness – One Gift Membership at a Time

By Barbara Faraone

When long-time RLS Foundation member Barbara Faraone sees the need for education, she takes action! In the past several years, Barbara has purchased over 25 RLS Foundation gift memberships for physicians, nurses, pharmacists, hospital administrators and others to promote education and awareness about RLS. At the RLS Foundation, we are extremely grateful to individuals like Barbara who use whatever creative means they have to raise awareness for RLS. Barbara, thank you for making a difference – you are truly an RLS hero!

I’m a 79-year-old grandmother who has suffered with restless legs since at least 18 years old, although I suffered from leg pains (or as the doctors used to say, “growing pains”) from a very young age. I remember going to high school and being so glad that classes were only 45 minutes long. I would always try to sit in the back of the room, as I was always moving about. I was often asked why I never sat still. I never really had an answer for people, but thought it was just me.

Even going to college, my place was always in the back of the room; it was just plain uncomfortable to sit, and I preferred to stand. Thus, standing in the back of the room was enjoyable for me.

I became a teacher of third grade, and that suited me just fine. I never sat at my desk. I was always about the room with my children, working on projects or just tutoring one-to-one, thus walking a lot. With age came marriage and two children. This, too, was always an active time for me. It was during this time that I began to notice that sleeping with covers over my legs was not good for me. The pressure of blankets just made my kicking in bed worse. I was never one to cuddle in bed, as the legs would not stay still. I did not know what to do to stop this kicking, and it was not welcome to my husband, as you can imagine.

As years followed, I found myself being awake for many nights and often going from bed to couch to floor. I tried sleeping with my back on the floor and legs up on the wall or the back of the sofa. I tried hot baths, warm milk, Bengay, soap under the mattress, and any other odd suggested thing to try, of which there were many. I must say that a scotch and water would often calm them during the evening, but it did not last through the night.

I soon learned to exist on three to four hours of sleep and sometimes an afternoon nap. I just figured it was something I had to live with. I might add that I had all the muscle and nerve tests done over a period of years, but nothing seemed to show up wrong.

Doctors were of no help until my general practitioner went to a lecture about RLS at the local hospital. When he came back from this, we started in on the approved medicines available at the time. That was some 20 years ago. Since then, I have tried them all in many combinations. They would seem to work, but within a short time I was right back to my old self of discomfort most of the night. When the discomfort turned to pain, I began the treatment of painkillers. Yes, they worked, but got to be an all-day thing. And oh my, what it did to my system and mind. This was awful. I had to come off them.

I went to an RLS meeting in San Antonio and met the folks there. With their help, I made contact with a specialist at an institution that is now a certified RLS Quality Care Center. I call him my “savior,” as with his help and methadone, I do sleep, and my life is somewhat normal – or what I think of as normal. My legs are not really still during the day, but my friends have gotten used to me always moving. Thank goodness for friends.

My legs hurt most of the day, but during the night they are quiet enough that wherever I fall asleep, I sleep – whether it be in bed or on the couch.

Now, I have asked for years, what can I do for others who have RLS? Yes, I can contribute to the RLS Foundation, and it does help, especially in research. But I feel that I need to do something more to help educate medical providers.

So … I have been buying RLS Foundation memberships for all the doctors I meet in the hopes they will read NightWalkers and maybe learn something. Maybe they will believe what I say to them.

For example, I found a local hospital was advertising that they treated RLS. I went to see the doctor, only to find out he knew nothing of RLS. In fact, he called my druggist, as he thought I was addicted and needed help, and had no idea the uses for methadone. My druggist, who has a subscription to NightWalkers, gave him a 15-minute lecture as to the uses of methadone. I had the RLS Foundation send the doctor and hospital administrator a gift membership with information about RLS and a copy of NightWalkers.

I think my count of current gift memberships is up to something like 12 doctors and hospital administrators, and then I add friends or nurses or whomever needs an education about RLS. Has it made a difference? I don’t know, but I do know they are getting the correct information, and this can only help in the future.

An excerpt from the Summer 2016 edition of NightWalkers, the Foundation's quarterly magazine. Become a member today to receive this and other member benefits!

You Might Also Like


Flickr Images