Opinion: Getting a leg up

Commentary by Dick Wolfsie

Publicly sharing personal medical problems is not a good idea. Several years ago, I mentioned in a column that I was losing my sense of smell. A doctor wrote me and suggested I might have a brain tumor. Others just said I should have my head examined. I’m not sure if this was the same advice.

I received similar notes of concern when I reported my sneezing fits — sometimes a couple dozen achoos in a row. A reader commented this might be an indication of a severe case of “drug-induced rhinitis” and that she was going to pray for me. Then she said, “God bless you.” She needed to say it 25 times.

One suggestion for my persistent nighttime leg cramps was mustard — cheap mustard, not gourmet types like Grey Poupon or Gulden’s. More like French’s.  He recommended two teaspoons right before going to sleep. I didn’t tell my wife I tried it, and when we got into bed, Mary Ellen suggested I change toothpaste brands. She said not only did my breath stink, but also my teeth were yellowing.

Referring to my leg cramps, one reader asked, “Dick, ever try soap?” I took that kind of personally. I asked my doctor about all these cures. He had heard that putting a bar of soap in the bed worked, but he hadn’t mentioned it to me, figuring I already knew about it. How would I know that? Did I go to Harvard medical school like he did?

I tried the soap, hoping Mary Ellen wouldn’t notice. She’s always accusing me of falling for every wacky idea.

“Dick, what’s that strong soapy smell?”

“Look, Mary Ellen, don’t think I’m totally nuts — but I put a bar of soap between the bed sheets.”

“That is incredibly weird, but it might cure those leg cramps.”

My absolute favorite email response was from a woman who said she sometimes missed work because she spent the entire day in bed with gramps. She thought it was a hereditary problem.

I’m hoping hers was a spelling problem.