By Kirby Records
Gout, it is a demon, It has a life of its own. It enjoys ruining your day-to-day activities. It enjoys causing you to be left out of your own life.
I was subject to its attacks long before I diagnosed it. It got me in my knees first, when I was a teen aged basketball player. Gout and my small stature ended my ball playing when I was a junior in high school.
Gout then became a regular visitor in hunting season when I hiked for miles without drinking much water. I was young and tough and bore through the pain that could last for weeks. I blindly fought it with an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory that did nothing for the pain, but kept the swelling down so I could keep hiking. I found out later the drug was the cause of my stomach ulcer. So, to fix the stomach ulcer I stopped taking the drug and invited Gout to wreak havoc with my knees again. It was about this time, I figured out that my joking answer, rooted in family tradition, to the question:
“What’s wrong with your leg?”
“I got the gout”
Was in fact the problem. I studied up on it.
“The disease of Kings,” the book said. It was prominent in the middle ages with privileged people who ate a regular diet of rich foods, particularly red meat, but also other things I like such as spinach, sugar peas, mushrooms. Oh, also shell fish and alcohol, but those did not apply to me.
“Uric acid builds up in a patient’s system and then forms minute crystals in the joints of the lower extremities, which cut the muscle tissue around them causing great pain “ I read
“Wonderful.” I thought as I pictured tiny little flint knappers leaving flakes all over under my knee cap.
“Usually forms in the joints of the big toe and or foot and ankle but has been known to form in knees and joints of the hand.” It said.
This was a cue for my demon, it subsequently spread to my ankle and toes, as it brought new attacks
Most of the time now I get it in my ankles first and it will migrate to my toes through the bones of my foot. It comes on in stealth mode.
“hmmm did I stub my toe today? Did I step on something just wrong to bruise my foot? Did I twist my ankle without knowing it today? Did I twist my knee when I loaded that wheel today? It always comes on with a slight pain that I want to dismiss as a minor ache that will go away. I go to bed hoping to wake up in the morning having forgotten about it. But in the night is when the demon takes hold.
This time it was in the center of my foot across multiple metatarsal joints. I get up to pee and set the foot on the ground and feel the pain of a thousand miniature knives cutting the muscles in my foot as I change the foots position and add pressure. I have fallen to the ground under this circumstance, but now I am older and more aware of the demons attack. I quickly go to the medicine cabinet and grab the medication my young doctor has prescribed. It stops the swelling but does nothing for the pain. After I finish with three of these tiny pills in the next two hours, I then switch to another drug that will help with the pain. It helps some, but has to be taken with meals, three times a day.
Most of the time under the guidance of my doctor, I can get the pain under control in a day, two at the most. Not this time, my foot swelled up. I know it’s gonna be days before I get over this attack. My demon has a hold of me now and it knows it can torture me to the fullest extent.
I cannot stand, I need crutches to get the few feet to the bathroom door. And then to balance myself once inside. Any change in position of my foot allows the miniature knives to cut new paths through my flesh. Even lying with my foot up it will twitch and the knives cut again.
“Do not heat the affected area,” one source says “it will help the swelling”
So I don’t soak my foot in hot water which seems like it might feel good.
“Do not Ice the affected area,” another source reads. “it will help more crystals form”
I do not ice it either. I just let it be and try not to twitch.
The demon knows that it is most painful at the onset so it tries to knapp out as many crystal knives as it can before I flood my bloodstream with water. You see, the real solution is to dissolve the crystals and flush them out through frequent trips to the bathroom. I know this works because when I finally diagnosed my demon, I followed written directions and flushed my system out. Before my good doctor gave me pills to help. Now with the pills it usually is a couple of days to subdue my demon, unless of course I swell up. So this time, Gout has been with me for four days and although the pain has lessened, I am still on the crutches. My demon is giggling as I write this. He knows I failed to refill my prescription, and I have to wait until Monday for more. I resort to the over-the-counter anti-inflammatory and guzzle water.
Cherry Juice. Black cherry juice to be precise. A person who cares about me insisted that I try it as a preventative measure this year. Because I have been tracking the visits of my demon, how long he stays, and how many of each pill I need to convince him to leave, I have a written record that black cherry juice indeed does help. My demon hates cherry juice it seems. He has visited me less than half the number of times compared to last year and has stayed shorter lengths of time.
I am guzzling the expensive cherry juice to try to discourage Gout and get him to leave, but he says he hasn’t been around enough this year so he thinks he will hang on a bit just to see what I can handle.
I lost two days of work, I lost two weekend days to go hunting, I am not ready yet to go to work tomorrow but I feel I should. Even on crutches.
The person who cares about me says she read that we should ice my foot.
Another source of information on this ancient disease.
I will try it today. So many sources of information these days and which ones are correct? I will experiment for myself. It is how I have handled my old nemesis so far. My demon has been with me for forty years now. I know him better, he knows me too.
I will try a new attack and suffer his counter. It’s an old game. And old game we will be playing until my death. An old game this demon played with my ancestors, an old game he will play with those who come after me.
This demon has been around forever and will be. I have donned my armor, suited up for battle and will apply my strategy to send him packing until the next time.