I’ve written before about how I periodically suffer from gout, and I’ve had another recent flare-up. The short definition of gout is that it’s a condition brought when a person has too much uric acid in his blood so that crystals build up in certain joints, causing massive swelling, hobbling, and cursing. It can be reeeealy painful, especially if you try to do something reckless like walk or stand up or lie still. See the Wikipedia entry for more information and a list of famous people who had the disease, which puts me in such illustrious company as John Calvin, Benjamin Franklin, and Boss Hogg from The Dukes of Hazzard.
In the past I’ve done pretty well at reducing gout bouts to one or two a year by laying off red meat, alcohol, brains, and offal. This most recent one came out of nowhere, though, and has lasted over three weeks (longest. gout. evar.) despite my relatively healthy diet. Worse, it coincided with Amanda’s birth and homecoming, which put me on my feet –including my painfully swollen right toe– a lot more than usual. So, I’m pretty much in constant pain despite the drugs (Vicodin!) the doctor gave me.
Then I learned something new. Reading about the condition on the ‘net one day I found that gout is linked to the consumption of diet soda, which is something I excel at and which makes me urinate a lot. This, in turn, dehydrates me, which both raises the level of uric acid in my system and prompts me to drink more Diet Coke. It’s a nasty, gout-inducing circle. To break that circle, I swore off Diet Coke, soda, or coffee of any kind. Cold turkey. Then, finding “zero Diet Cokes per day” to not be a very tenable position for me, I back peddled to “one Diet Coke per day,” which is where I’ve been able to hold my ground for the last several days.
Given that I would drink the equivalent of 6 to 8 cans of Diet Coke and a coffee every day before this new resolution, this is a significant change. The gout is getting better, but I’ve learned that the intersection of New Baby Boulevard and Caffeine Withdrawal Way is not a very pleasant place. Mandy has actually been pretty good about letting us snooze, but she still wakes up a couple of times a night and rocker duty has cut into my sleep time. And apparently I was more addicted to caffeine than I knew, because I’m pretty much constantly tired and constantly have a headache. It’s not exactly the best time to cut caffeine from my system.
Still, when I think about whether the cure is worse than the disease, I quickly decide that no, it is not. I’ll take groggy over excruciating pain any day. And now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to hobble over to the kitchen and drink a tall glass of water.