The Gout: Some Personal Accounts of a Misunderstood Ailment

Gout, or The Gout as I call it, is a physical ailment that attacks the joints when the body’s uric acid levels become too high. I call it The Gout because anything that hurts me as bad as this needs to be A) capitalized and B) preceded by the article “The.” The following is something I wrote in response to some sympathy I received from a friend:

GOUT SYMPATHY

Gout is a fairly unknown ailment but thanks to The Gout Sympathizers of the world the non-afflicted can at least get an idea of the unbelievable pain that it causes. I’m not exaggerating at all, the feeling is mind-blowing. I didn’t know what the term “blinding pain” meant until the evil Gout-gods descended on my unassuming body. There is an 18th century painting by a guy named James Gillray that pretty much sums up The Gout. It actual feels like black buggers are stuck in your toes, feet, ankles or knees (or where ever it might be striking that day), violently trying to escape with miniature chainsaws, laser beams and machetes. I will have to take drugs for the rest of my natural life to ward off The Gout and that is fine by me.

Here is a link to the article that inspired that paragraph� http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/08/02/emperor.finger.ap/index.html

I’d also like to include some actual medical information on the disorder, lest I be considered a liar or prone to exaggerationâÂ?¦

“Gout is one of the most common forms of arthritis (joint inflammation). It appears as an acute attack often coming on overnight. Within 12-24 hours there is severe pain and swelling in the affected joint. The skin over the joint may be red and shiny. Gout usually affects only one or two joints at a time – most often the feet and ankles. The ball of the big toe is the commonest site. Without treatment the attack subsides in a week or so and when patients first develop gout there may be intervals of many months or even years between attacks. As time goes by, these tend to become more frequent and more severe and eventually many joints may be involved, sometimes all at the same time. At this stage a state of chronic or continuous joint disease may develop with progressive joint damage, disability and crippling (chronic gout). Gout affects mostly men and is very rare in women until after the menopause when it is quite often seen. Gout is very common in New Zealand and it is particularly common in Maoris and Pacific Islanders. Some surveys have shown it to be present in up to 10% of adult males.”

-(Information from the Wellington Regional Rheumatology Unit, Hutt Hospital, Lower Hutt, New Zealand)-

I’m not from New Zealand but I feel those islanders’ pain. One of my most acute Gout attacks hit me in the right knee and left foot during the Winter Olympics. I could not sleep and spent the entire night in semi-darkness, quietly squealing and wishing I were dead. At 6 AM I flicked on the television just as a Women’s Curling match started. I watched every second of that event despite the fact that I had swallowed enough painkillers to destroy the strongest male elephant that God has ever created, and still the pain would not subside. I was literally bedridden, pissing in Gatorade bottles and screaming to my petrified roommates when I needed more water or more drugs. I was a broken man. Today, with my health firmly and luckily intact, I can still say without a shadow of a doubt that if The Gout ever returns with that force that I wish to drop dead instantly.

Fuck uric acid. I’m not sure if we need some trace amount of uric acid to live, but I would take my chances if it meant that I could eliminate all of it from my body at this very moment. The Gout is that painful. I’m sure, before modern medicine that 55% of worldwide suicides were caused by The Gout. And at least 17% of all wars. Science.

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