day 10 virgin diet

Posted: July 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

I had gout for awhile, about 20 or so years ago.  If you have never had gout, stop now and thank God – you cannot really understand the bullet you’ve dodged.  Gout is a type of arthritis caused b a build-up of uric acid in the blood.  The acid builds up and causes for formation crystals  in your joints – often in the lowest point of your body – your big toe(s).

The thing about enduring a gout flare is that the pain is so intense it takes over your life.  It shuts down your ability to function in many ways, there is almost no relief from the pain, and it’s all you can think of.  So it’s all you can talk about.  And other folks who’ve had it are very sympathetic.  But other folks who haven’t had it tend to treat you like you need to suck it up, buttercup.

How severe is the pain?  During my gout flares, one night my bedsheet touched my foot and launched me into sobs.  Another time, the cat brushed very lightly against my foot while walking by and sent me into wailing.  So you can imagine, perhaps, what a hypochondriac one looks (and feels) like at that time.  This is some art I found in the internet that accurately portrays the pain.

"The gout james gillray" by James Gillray - The Gout by James Gillray. Published May 14th 1799. Via copy at [1]. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

“The gout james gillray” by James Gillray – The Gout by James Gillray. Published May 14th 1799. Via copy at [1]. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –

For me, the meds for it were a case of the cure being worse than what ails you.  My doctor prescribed a medication called Indomethacin, an NSAID that caused me such intestinal distress that I always waited until the gout flare was going full tilt, unable to face the side effects of the “pain reliever.”  I knew that solving the problem in my toes was going to leave me doubled over in pain and unable to move more than a few feet from the toilet for long periods of time.

Long story short, gout is a nightmare from my past that I never want to experience again.  I struggled with it for some months, and eventually it stopped tormenting me.  Interestingly, both my mom and her mom struggled with gout around that same time.  Happily for me, I haven’t had a recurrence since that time.

I always wake up an hour or so before the 4:30 alarm for a trip to the bathroom – my body is just that predictable.  These days, I pretty faithfully follow my podiatrist’s order to basically “never stand up without shoes on my feet” as part of dealing with the arthritis brought on by my two little mountain ranges on my feet, other than when I’m in the shower (and recently that’s started to be a problem, so I’m going to be looking for some good, supportive shower shoes sooner than later).

As I slid my feet into my shoes to go that direction, I noticed once again something that’s been happening every morning for awhile now – but I can’t say EXACTLY for how long, because every morning I’ve been foolishly letting it go and not stopping to write it down:  the toes of my left foot were very tender and sore – they felt like someone had hit them with a hammer.  They hurt on top, they hurt underneath, and they hurt at the ends.  They felt badly bruised.  Sliding my foot into my shoe HURT.  It hurts EVERY morning, and then every morning it gets better, and by evening when I am writing stuff down, I forget to note it.  It hurts quite a lot.  But that’s at 3:30 AM or something, and again at 6 when I get back up, it hurts still, but then after the shower it’s much less, and by the time I go to work it is gone.

This morning, as I crawled back into bed to sleep awhile longer, stuff started clicking in my head.

I remembered a comment someone had made on FB about a current fresh garden vegetable “always causing him gout,” and how I had just thought, “Duh, it’s MEAT and ALCOHOL that cause gout, not veggies,” and moved on with my day.

I realized I’m currently eating more meat than I have in a very long time.

I realized the pain in my toes is like an “ultra-light” version of that pain from 20 years ago.

And that’s when I started to fight panic.

I don’t want to have gout again.  Gout makes my current arthritis look like child’s play.  I don’t want to do it.

And that’s when I started to get resentful and angry. I tried running, and that was amazing and did fabulous things to my body, and then arthritis canceled it.  I miss running.  I miss moving freely.  I miss how great my body felt, and how proud I was of it, even in its overweight state.  Now I finally found a diet that somehow causes me to experience ZERO cravings…and my body is gonna respond with impending GOUT?!  Aw, HELL NO.

And that’s when I started casting about inside my mind, trying to figure out how to make this diet work without meat.  The author of the book makes allowances for a vegetarian approach, but she’s really pretty adamantly against it.  How could I fix this?!

Poor G had no clue what was going on when he woke up to find me subdued and withdrawn.  I didn’t want to talk with him about it because I often feel that all I ever do is whine around him – like he must just wish sometimes that I would JUST SHUT UP or at least try only saying happy things for a change.  I didn’t want to whine, and I was scared and angry enough that I didn’t feel like I could talk about it in a reasonable manner.  So I stayed quiet until it became clear to me that I was worrying him, and then I had to decide to be an adult and keep the promise I made in our wedding vows to never retreat from him – I explained the deal.  The man is a miracle – he was nothing but compassion and support.

Between my shower and breakfast and while I worked to get ready for work, I was googling to remind myself the details of which foods trigger gout – it’s basically a dietary issue, as far as I understand, though I don’t recall my doctor hammering that home 20 years ago (but then again, I wasn’t the kind of patient who welcomed dietary counsel back then).  As I mentioned, alcohol can contribute, which is why some folks suspect you’re a drunk if you have gout – but I’m not even doing my glass of wine at bedtime during this science experiment diet.  Other things that can lead to gout are on the list of foods I’ve been eating:  beef, lamb, shrimp, tuna.  The list is longer than that, but those jumped out at me as I read.  Ugh.  There are also VEGETABLES can contribute – VEGETABLES!!  ARGH!

While G and I were talking over breakfast, it occurred to me to Ask The Google whether antibiotics contribute to gout.  DING DING DING!  They sure can.  They mess up your gut bacteria, which messes up the way your body gets rid of purines, which are natural compounds that are in many foods and happen to be the culprit for causing gout.

That was when I started getting hopeful.  Antibiotics.  Okay, maybe they were the final straw that started pushing my body in this direction.  I mean, probably the diet is contributing, but I’ll bet the antibiotics made it worse.  And I won’t be on those forever.  Now…how I’ll rebuild my gut bacteria is a challenge, since I can’t do kefir (it’s dairy) and can’t do kombucha (it has sugar).  Hmmm.

There are other things you can do to help your body avoid gout, besides just avoiding certain foods and drink – things like maintaining a healthy weight, keeping your blood sugar at a healthy level, and drinking a lot of water.

After reading up some more, here’s my plan:

1.  Finish my antibiotics, because it’s always a bad idea to cut those off early, and having done that so often in the course of my life is surely part of the reason I need such strong ones for them to even work.

2.  Drink water aggressively.  Yesterday, I don’t think I met my 96 ounces.  Today, I drank water continuously.  Staying hydrated helps keep the system from building up a concentration of uric acid.  I am drinking like it’s an emergency, because avoiding gout is just that for me:  an emergency.

3.  Cut my meat back to one 4 to 6 ounce serving per day, probably, rather than the two or even three I could eat over the course of 3 meals, and go find some (pastured, hormone free) chicken, since it seems to be the only meat on my list that isn’t on the “gout offenders” list.

4.  Not worry about the vegetables at this point.  The Mayo Clinic website says that there is no scientific proof that those certain veggies contribute to gout, even with the purine in them (I forget why now) and that there is no need to limit them.  So I can keep doing veggies like a madwoman.

5.  Exercise, when I’m not in pain.  The advice for gout is the same as the advice my podiatrist gave me – basically, move as much as you can when it doesn’t hurt – go wild.  But LISTEN to pain and don’t exercise on aggravated arthritis.  You’re not supposed to do it, no matter what the tough gym types say.  You’re not.  I won’t.

Twenty years ago when I had gout, I didn’t have the internet.  I had a very small bit of information from my doctor, and I had what my mom told me from her doctor, and what her mom told her from her doctor.  I don’t even remember going to the library to look it up.  I was kind of flying blind.

I am so grateful to have the internet for research this time.

I am so grateful to be nutrition conscious and willing to approach this issue from that perspective.

I am so grateful that the pain in my toes is so small for now, as compared to the real pain of a full-blown gout flare – this is just like a tiny warning shot, and hopefully that means there is time to turn it around.

I am so grateful that I had the tools this morning to prayerfully talk myself down off the ledge this morning, when all of that came clicking together, with the help of my amazing husband.

I am just so grateful.

As far as other diet notes:  breakfast and lunch today were shakes (the lunch shake, I had to take to a meeting at work, since I had used the lunch break for my monthly haircut – felt a bit like a freak with my big ol’ mason jar full of green sludge, but people were nice).  Lunch was leftovers – all the veggies from last night’s supper, and a bowl of the soup from earlier this week.  And I’m realizing I forgot nuts, but oh well.

Plenty of drama, for the day 10 post.  May tomorrow be boring.  🙂


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