I’ll begin with a spoiler: it would appear the last several weeks of pain in my right footular region was the result of acute gout. This means, ostensibly, I am too fat and wealthy for my body. Only half of that assessment is accurate; alas, it’s the former rather than the latter. In all, this is an unexciting end to a typically quirky story.
My pain began several weeks ago when I got up in the middle of the night and brutalized my ankle in the most moderate way one can be said to have brutalized anything: I stepped on one of the dogs’ rawhide bone ends in a hallway and slightly rolled my right ankle.
The stuff of legends.
My ankle was a little tight when I returned to bed, and only slightly more so when I woke in the morning. When I say “a little tight,” I am not being euphemistic; a warm shower all but completely relieved the pain. This was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a showstopper.
By the time my drive to work was over, the discomfort had returned—perhaps it had even increased slightly—but by midday, the pain was unquestionably severe. Walking was tremendously painful, and I was only able to get around by limping while partially supported by walls on my right side. I went home early to work with an elevated, iced foot and ready access to a tremendous bottle of ibuprofen. My modest little ankle injury had become a full-blown inconvenience.
I spent a couple of days icing my ankle, elevating the injury, and throwing dirty looks at my wife’s largest dog. It is notable that the dog had, again, become emphatically my wife’s for the duration of my recovery. No dog of mine would have done such a thing.
As these things always seem to go, the weekend brought an event that I had been looking forward to for a while, and at which my wife was to be working. My goal had been to be as supportive in her event work as she has always been in mine, but gimping around in what seemed to be a sprained ankle was putting a crimp in that plan. Luckily, I found that a combination of a cane and walking only on the ball of my right foot meant that I could get around quite handily! So handily, in fact, that I allowed myself to be convinced (or perhaps more accurately, convinced myself) that playing a couple of games of laser tag would probably be fine if I were EXCEEDINGLY gentle.
I made it through two out of three games before swelling and pain required that I rethink my recovery strategy. I was not gentle enough I suspect.
It was relatively clear that my convalescence was going to require the nuclear option: a visit to a doctor. That would have to wait for a week though, because I first had to go on a business trip. So it was that I was in a Marriott in New Jersey when the pain gradually slid along my foot taking residence somewhere around the bridge of my foot and the big toe area. Placing weight on my foot was agony. Slightly bending my toe was a brief visit to a hellish realm where pain is merely the doormat welcoming you to so much worse. Touching my foot, even with the weight of a sheet, invited pain so intense that I would literally lie in bed shivering from the misery of it.
It was highly unpleasant.
Fun fact: it was roughly 2 miles, on foot, from my gate to my rental car. The return trip was also roughly 2 miles.
Upon my return, I immediately saw a doctor to establish definitively that I had gout! Or a fracture. Or ligament damage. The problem was in my foot…that is the part about which we could be absolutely definitive.
One blood test, one week, and some gout medicine later, we could say with certainty that I probably didn’t have gout. For sure. In all likelihood.
After more painful investigation, another round of x-rays, and several more hours, I was referred to a foot specialist to establish if the injury I had sustained was to the tendons or the ligaments.
The podiatrist hemmed and hawed and gently handled my inflamed foot for almost a full minute before he declared that I had gout.
“Hrmm, my doctor ruled out gout, though,” I pointed out helpfully.
“Which is weird,” he said, “because you have gout.”
“My uric acid levels were on the low end of normal.”
“Unusual, what, with you having gout and all, but not impossible.”
“I was treated for gout and didn’t improve much!”
“Imagine how much more you’ll improve, then, when we finish treating you for your gout!’
Undeterred by my explanations, I was given a painful shot directly into the toe joint (which is every bit as much fun as it sounds, I assure you) and treatment instructions for a gout that I almost assuredly did not have.
At not quite a week later, my mysterious injury has abated considerably despite my treating it as if it were gout.
Lunacy, I know.
Moving forward, I’m told that I should cut back on shellfish, red meat, pork, and beer. I’m banking on the fact that I don’t drink beer at all to make up for overages in the other areas; although this plan has had mixed success so far.
As far as gout goes, though…I do not recommend it.