Maybe I Shouldn’t Have Insulted…

So, my gut and my right foot have been bothering me since March-ish and over Memorial Day while visiting relatives, I stood up in the hotel and something just popped in my right foot and I said a few choice words. After a couple of weeks, the foot still hurt a bit and my stomach wouldn’t settle down so I went to the doc.

The verdict? My gall bladder was stoning up and I had broken the 3rd, 4th, and 5th metatarsals in my right foot. Crap. So, a week later I’m getting my gall bladder yanked and the foot doc says that while the 3rd metatarsal has healed, he doesn’t think the 4th or 5th will heal on their own and that I will need surgery to put pins in.

Yipee. A summer of two surgeries.

So, yesterday, my left foot began to hurt a little bit and it woke me up hurting worse this morning at 5am. By 8 o’clock it was really aching and my spouse says, “hmmm, sharp pain in joint of big toe? Sounds like a classical presentation of gout.” Unfortunately, my spouse is pretty smart.

I began cursing myself because I’ve known I have a high genetic set point for my uric acid levels ever since I was a teenager. Moreover, I’ve been losing a lot weight on a low-carb, high-protein diet which is a recipe for gout. I was educated as a biologist so I know these things and I knew I should have been taking a prophylactic regimen of allopurinol or something similar but I didn’t because I’m an absent minded idiot.

By utter coincidence, I had a follow-up visit with my foot doc this very morning to setup my surgery on my broken right foot. By the time I got to the office I could barely walk because of the pain from my left big toe. After a slapstick routine worthy of Buster Keaton in the X-ray room, the doc came back and basically said, “Good news and bad news. The good news is that your 4th and 5th metatarsals are healing against all expectations so we will hold off on the surgery. The bad news is that you’ve got serious gout.”

Now, I’m already hobbled by my right foot which still requires the brace/foot-wrappy thing for a few weeks so I’m a bit concerned about being totally crippled up. “Gee, doc,” I say, “is there anything we can do to nip this gout business in the bud?”

“Certainly,” says the doc, “we can inject a concentrated steroid directly into the joint.” He paused a bit before adding, “It hurts rather a lot, though.”

Yep, it did sting just a might… just a might like a giant half-pound fire ant sticking its darning needle of a stinger right in the joint. Worse, the injection took about a minute and half to complete.  Because of a well known relativistic effect of time dilation first explained by Einstein (“When you sit with a nice girl for two hours, it seems like two minutes. When you sit on a hot stove for two minutes, it seems like two hours. That’s relativity.”) it felt waaaay longer than a mere 90 seconds. I spent that entire eternal 90 seconds controlling my breathing while clenching my teeth so hard I ended up smiling at the doc like the Joker. The next three hours while the joint remained swollen from the volume of the injected med weren’t pleasant either.

Now I understand why those gout-afflicted characters in 19th Century novels were always so grouchy.  If I had to put up with this amount of pain for months on end with no meds, I’d be beating the servants and disinheriting deserving nieces and nephews too.

There wasn’t just the pain, there was the humiliation brought on by a personal quirk. When I’m frustrated in the course of normal events, e.g., I can’t get a screw loose or debug a piece of code, I curse profanely like a sailor. However, when I really seriously hurt, I “cuss” like my grandparents. I shout “curses” like: “God Bless America!”, “Dang!”, “Mother of Perl!”, “Odds bodkins!” and bizarrely, “Heavens to Murgatroyd!” (the latter learned in my childhood from the cartoon character Snagglepuss). I get a few odd looks. I can’t tell if people are grateful that I haven’t shocked the children and elderly or concerned that I’m am a dangerous schizophrenic who thinks it’s 1895.

I think I fall back on anachronistic and/or bowdlerized phrases when in serious pain because I have grown so undisciplined in my speech and curse so casually that the ordinary obscenities no longer carry any significant emotional weight. When I need some verbal release I have to fall back on old fashioned polite expletives. Oh, how the worm turns! If I’d only listened to grandmother in the first place, I would save up the real good profanities for special occasions and I could peel the paint off the walls when I really needed that degree of release. My grandmother really cursed twice (one word each time) in the 46 years I’ve known her and I vividly remember both events because it was the linguistic equivalent of seeing Halley’s comet come round. When her discipline broke it meant she was really, really, really, I’m-gonna-launch-the-nukes mad. I’d like to be able to have that sort of impact.

One of the worst things about this entire spate of bad health luck is the utterly trivial nature of the complaints. They’re not life threatening, just really, really annoying. It’s like being nibbled to death by ducks. Okay, being nibbled to death by ducks and the occasional fire ant but not a movie of the week tear-jerker illness by any stretch. Certainly nothing I can leverage to get some serious sympathy treats. (“You know what would make me feel better honey? The latest iPhone.”)

Of course, in any adversity comes a chance for spiritual growth .My son who observed, “I think you should rethink your whole stance on agnosticism because, obviously, something is out to get you.”

Hmmmm, I’m not sure about the cosmic significance of all this but maybe I shouldn’t have insulted the old gypsy woman while I was desecrating that shrine built over the old Indian burial ground.

[Note: I’m a little medicated right now so I’m not sure how well I’ve proofread. However, Dancing Jesus looked it over and says everything looks fine.]

11 thoughts on “Maybe I Shouldn’t Have Insulted…”

  1. ZOIKS! I just had a few mild fractures, not all at once, in my feet, and it SUCKED! can’t imagine what that’s like. When it happened to me I was told, to “lace your boots tighter!” But like I said, mine were mild, can’t imagine pins.

    Then again, maybe, I’m just. . . whats the word? Manly. :)

    Sorry bout your footsies, hope you don’t have any lasting problems.

  2. The common perception that gout is the result of a profligate lifestyle is just wrong. If you are susceptible it can strike you for what seems are trivial amounts of the precursors in your diet.

    A good friend of mine was a fishmonger and he contracted it from his own wares. A very fit guy.

    There is Shiatsu for gout:

    It was useful for my friend.

  3. Good news and bad news: the Shannon brain is functioning about as well as it ever did. “Might” should read “mite” in both instances.

  4. Anonymous July 21st, 2011 at 9:12 pm e,

    The common perception that gout is the result of a profligate lifestyle is just wrong.

    Gout was historically considered a rich person’s disease because prior to the late 19th century, only the upper class could afford to eat enough meat and alcohol to trigger the illness. The middle-class struggled along with barely enough protein to stave of protein deficiency and the poor suffered from actual deficiency.

    Another cause might have been reduced water intake do to dirty water. Wealthy people drank less beer and more wine or port place of water which would have left them borderline dehydrated much of the time. Dehydration would have increased the uric acid levels in the blood and led to the crystal formations that cause gout and kidney stones. In this regard, the poor who drank beer and water were better off against gout.

    Of course, now days, I imagine gout is more common as you go down the economic gradient.

  5. In proper English,

    “…reduced water intake do to dirty water..” would be rendered as “…water intake reduced on account of the dirty water….”

    I see now why all the operating systems and applications written in C by folks who can’t observe the rules of simple English grammar are so full of errors and susceptible to virus attacks. Shannon should be restricted to writing in Basic or Pascal.

  6. Jimbino,

    When you are paying me to read what I write, I will pay attention to your complaints. Until then, I will simply say that I make mistakes when I quickly dash out several hundred words in a little dialog box without a preview and I am sorry you couldn’t compensate.

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