So, I woke up and my foot felt like it had just been run over by an Amtrak train with a bunch of sumo wrestlers on board. I thought I might have stubbed a toe before I went to bed, or maybe I kicked the wall in anger because Michele asked me to do something totally unreasonable, like dry the dishes. All I knew was the pain was excruciating, and I couldn’t take it another minute. Whom do you see when the pain is so intense that driving rusty railroad spikes through your forehead with a ball peen hammer sounds like a vacation activity? Obviously, you would see… an herbalist!   I got his name through a friend of a friend who knows somebody who once lived next door to his niece’s babysitter. After an hour and a half with him, I walked out with orders to try some dandelion root, elevate my foot for long periods, try yoga and always think good thoughts. Then, rinse and repeat. Oh, and meditate.

It was time to take some drastic action. An action so distasteful that the mere mention of it might make you, the reader, scream. It was time to bring my HMO into the picture and see my primary physician. Just the thought made my skin crawl which is unfortunate because I’m pretty sure that skin-crawling medication isn’t covered by my policy. But this pain in my foot was so intense that the word ‘hacksaw’ entered my mind on more than one occasion. 

“So, how are you doing, Bob?” Dr. Park asked.  “Fine,” I said. “Now cut off my foot and let me get out of here”

Dr. Park:  Does it hurt here?

Bob:       Yes. It hurts to look at it.

Dr. Park:  Hmmm, Do you drink alcohol, Bob?

Bob:       Of course I do.  Have you seen the price of gas recently?

After gently poking and prodding and silently making notes in his chart, I had to ask a question. Doctor, when you are six inches deep into a patient’s  ear canal with that magnifying thingy, do you ever say to yourself, “God, I should have gone to law school?” When he was done checking blood pressure, sticking me with needles and making me feel like a sissy, he finally got around to concluding unequivocally that I might perhaps possibly have a case of gout, maybe, and prescribed an anti-inflammatory. He then handed me a list of foods I can no longer have. The list included anchovies, mincemeat, herring, sardines and goose. I’m guessing there are ample amounts of people who fake having gout just to AVOID those foods!

Excuse me, Doctor, but  I thought gout was for old people.  I’m not quite ready to wrap myself up in a crocheted afghan, sit on the front porch and yell at kids to get off my lawn. “Calm down, Bob,”  he said. This is a dietary thing that has to do with too much uric acid in the system. It’s easily correctible through a change in diet.  “Just stay away from alcohol for a few weeks and see how your foot reacts,” he said. I swallowed hard and asked him, “Certainly you’re not talking about happy hour or anything like that, are you?”  Pulling his half glasses down to the tip of his nose making sure to establish eyeball-to-eyeball contact with me, he said very s-l-o-w-l-y, “Of course not, Bob. Let me be clear on that. You may have all the beer you like during happy hour. That doesn’t count. Everybody knows that.  I’m strictly talking about before or after happy hour. It’s in all the medical books. You can check it out.” OK, I get the idea, but what if I swear off mincemeat and herring instead? Until that moment, I had never actually seen a doctor throw his clipboard on the ground and slam the exam room door as he left while muttering something about law school.  Oops! Sorry, doctor.  

Today, I’m proud to say that I have not had a recurrence of gout in three weeks. I have to attribute this to my recent change in attitude as well as a change in diet. I’ve completely sworn off mackerel and tongue, which was pretty easy seeing as how I never started eating them in the first place.  So, take some advice from your old buddy Bob. Should ever develop a case of gout, make sure you have at hand some dandelion root, and, of course, a cold beer…but only at happy hour.    


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