Pain is relative. In my case it’s a first cousin.
I can take a needle in the elbow for 90 minutes or so when I donate platelets every two weeks. I have a hammer toe that makes putting on shoes an interesting experience. And my bunions— including one that could easily be in the running for the biggest one most people have even seen — let me know in no uncertain terms when I’ve bumped into something with them.
That said nothing can throw me for a loop like a flare up of gout. In comparison I look back at my two hernia surgeries as blissfully relaxing experiences.
I thought I had left gout behind me. I got my first attack when I was 28. They became almost annual experiences by the time I was 33 until age 49 when they seemed to have disappeared.
Gout — for those blessed enough not to know what it is — is a buildup of uric acid crystals in a joint. When it flares up, it triggers extremely sharp pain. Many physicians describe the sensation as hot needles repeatedly poking you. Personally that’s like saying it is ticklish.
For the past decade I was convinced that I had whipped gout. It is one of the few maladies that you can often control effectively by diet alone. My diet had beaten back arthritis I was developing years ago and even silenced bursitis that had been triggered by a cracked shoulder. So it was logical that I had beaten back gout.
A few years ago I started kicking up my consumption of my favorite vice – pre-made baked cookies. Now looking back I realize the dull pain that once in awhile was nagging my right knee wasn’t from bruising the bone during exercise.
The pain— which in retrospect did resemble a very low-key gout attack — was easy to deal with and ignore. Two months ago thinking I needed to increase my consumption of carbohydrates, I started eating kidney beans and such by the can, liquid and all.
I did not realize that some beans such as kidney beans have moderately high levels of purines. Of course, I wasn’t consuming kidney beans in moderation either,
So by Sunday the knee pain that seemed to be consistent starting worsening. In the middle of a jog I started worrying that I may have a multitude of issues. Within 10 minutes after getting home it got sharper.
It’s then when I realized that I knew what was wrong. I was having a full-fledged gout attack and it was getting worse.
I could still put weight on it but anytime I moved my knee or it brushed up against anything including a bed sheet, the pain spiked. It got so bad at one point that I found myself doing what my dad would do when he had a severe gout attack — I was screaming. Given my usual ability to deal with pain I found this more than a little unnerving.
For the life of me I couldn’t figure out how dad dealt with it. It’s one thing having gout in your knee which is no picnic but he had his on his big toe. That meant every step he took or even when he stood still during an attack it was sheer agony.
By the time Monday afternoon rolled around, the pain had subsided enough that I could go for a mile walk before packing it in.
If this goes like my previous attacks it will fade away over the next few days.
Going cold turkey with kidney beans and lima beans — I was up to three cans a week including the water accompanying them — will be no problem.
But now I will have to forsake pre-made baked cookies.
To be honest, I knew I was getting carried away with cookies. I’d get two of the 99 cent packs each day at either 7-Eleven or Chevron. Then I’d buy another pack out of the vending machine at work.
If someone brought in cookies at work and offered them to me, they’d be gone in 60 seconds. I lied to myself saying I was disciplined, but I wasn’t.
I was easily stuffing 1,000 calories into my mouth every day via cookies. I was keeping at my weight so I rationalized I needed them not to lose pounds. Yeah, right. I was addicted to them plain and simple.
Over the years I’ve completely forsaken a lot of things in the name of health as it relates to me personally: all meats, regular soda, diet soda, potato chip and for the most part ice cream.
Now I’ve got the perfect incentive to add cookies to the list: Gout.
Dr. Smith of Lost in Space said it best when he uttered one of his signature lines,” Of, the pain, the pain, the pain of it all.”
I never want an encore of the other night. Repeatedly screaming in pain is what someone does when they are pushed to the edge.
And between those screams I kept thinking what if it ever got so bad I couldn’t jog, hike, cycle, or exercise.
I’m not going to become Euell Gibbons of “many-parts-of-a-pine-tree-are-edible fame.” But if you have stock in Frito-Lay that owns Grandma’s Cookies pick up your phone now and have your broker dump it. They are about to lose a $1,000 plus a year customer.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 209.249.3519.