Gout Attack

My first gout attack left me speechless.

It was 2 am. The pain at left big toe felt like hundreds of bee stings coming together. Tossing and turning on the bed doesn’t help either. Even if you lie motionless on a bed, the pain keeps increasing. I sat up and looked at my wife sleeping soundly. I decided to get up to have a drink. But, I couldn’t stand on my feet. Think this was probably the first time, I never felt so useless before.

I was literally pulling my hair as the pain went up to my head. And, I wanted to scream. But there’s no sound coming out.

The whole recovering process took a week before I was able to walk steadily like a lion, without leaping in pain.

So, I’d like to share with you the real-life gout recovery process. The messy process. And probably you have a good laugh too.

gout attack

Visit a Doctor (Like Everyone Else)

My wife was shocked to see my haggard look when she’s finally awake in the morning. I looked as if I just came back home from a war zone. The hair was messy. Dark circles around my eyes. Of course, a red swollen left foot that was so sensitive to even a finger touch.

With her help, I did a quick wash up while standing on the other foot.

The next challenge was wearing shoes. I couldn’t fit my swollen foot into my usual slipper or covered casual shoe. The thought of leaping a barefoot was embarrassing. Out of desperation, I loosen the shoelace for my running shoe and wear it with a face laboring a newborn.

I looked at Google Map. The nearest doctor was 850 meters from where I stayed. It’s funny. I don’t think I can drive with this condition. When you don’t need a cab, somehow a cab keeps appearing in front of you. Now, when you need one, it’s nowhere to be seen. I’m not sure if it’s the cushion of the running shoe or the peer pressure of passerby’s eyes, I managed to reach the doctor after limping and rest a couple of times.

What The Doctor Did

The doctor showed no sympathy after looking at my foot. He should at least touch my foot to show some TLC (tender loving care).

He said in a straight face, unemotionally, “You got gout.”

“What ?! ”, I swore this was the first word that blurts out of my mouth.

Many thoughts came like a wave:

This doctor must have made a mistake

Keeping my composure and trying to look cool. My wife was still there, equally as puzzled as me.

Question You Shouldn't Ask

I asked the doctor,

“Did you made a mistake? I thought I just sprain or fracture my big toe as I stepped on my car foot brake too hard?”

This time, the doctor was annoyed. Probably, he thought I doubted him his expertise. But, in actual fact, I was naive. He told me sternly that he was very sure. And, he presented me a list of food that I shouldn’t eat. I felt like a little kid listening to my teacher.

Looking at the gout diet which shows forbidden foods that cause gout like pork, beef and many others, I rolled my eyes until my wife saw my white eyeballs. I asked the doctor silently to send me to heaven straight away. These are my favorite food. I’m a carnivore!

Seeing my unconvinced and indifferent look, the doctor suggested I took a blood test to check on my uric acid level. Even before I agreed, he prepared the injection. Man, he’s quick.

I reluctantly hand over $80 for a less than 10 minutes session. I left the clinic with little information on what to do with gout attack - other than a vague warning to stay away from seafood and poultry. Looking at one week supply of painkillers and anti-gastric pills. And, one stupid piece of paper that shows the food that I couldn’t eat. I felt like screaming out loud on the inside.

Seeking The Second Opinion

My wife and I decided to seek a second opinion immediately. I just couldn’t believe it’s gout. We decided to go to a Chinese Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Thank God, this time we managed to get into a cab.

Honestly, I felt comforted when I first saw TCM doctor. At least, he smiled and held my left foot as he broke the same news. This was what I called a real human.

Without much delay, his assistant prepared a pail of warm hot water and had my foot soaked in for at least 10 minutes. It’s unbearable at first. But, somehow I managed to wriggle my big gout toe by a bit in the pail.

feet in the pail

Okay, honeymoon session was over. My foot landed on a cushion. The TCM doctor rubbed the swollen part, really HARD. Ouch! This supposed to break the crystals hiding behind the skin.

The next thing he did was totally unexpected and caught me unaware. He used a stick with probably 15-20 needles on one end, and strike it on the swollen part. For the first time, I began to fully understand the phrase “eyes wide opened”. And, he strikes again with the same stick. Bloodshed profusely.

He used a small cup that looked like a bell and sucked out the blood. A blood fountain formed quickly.

I thought it’s over as I sense relieve in the big toe. Guess what’s next?

Extreme Pain

The TCM doctor took out a long needle, probably the length of an index finger. He looked intently as if he is preparing a barbecue when he sterilizes the needle over a lighter flame. After a while, he looked up, smiled and said, “It’s not painful”

He swiftly poked the needle at the spot where the crystals lie underneath the skin. There’s a moment of silence, followed by a hysterical scream, that happens to come out from my mouth. Few tears flow down my eyes afterward. The pain was indescribable, it’s like stepping barefoot on a thumbnail. 

The TCM doctor asked, “Ready?” I nodded with both hands covered my face like a kid.  Without much hesitation, the doctor thrust another 2 more pokes. I was so relieved when he said, “It’s all done. Did you see the crystals coming out?”

Even if I don’t see the crystals, I would say yes. But, I did see solidified pink substances flowing out. There’s a moment of release and I can wiggle my big toe freely for the very first time.

Very quickly, he cleared the unsightly blood and clean up the wounds. A black soothing paste was then applied to ease the swollen area. While he was doing a bandage over the feet, I thought he must be a very good red cross when he’s very much younger.

As I hopped and walked to the cashier, I could imagine stacks of money suddenly grew wings. I was surprised when the whole procedure cost $40 only. Honestly, I thought it’s easily more than $180 bucks and I’m more than willing to part this amount.

What a day.

What To Do At Home For Your First Gout Attack

If you are experiencing your first few gout attacks at home, and you don’t have other home remedies for gout. I assume you can’t possibly walk or stand properly. Here are some practical tips that I thought it’s would be helpful to you.

First Things First

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    Do not apply any muscle pain cream, as it may make the situation worse.
  • If you are working on that day, go ahead and inform your employer that you will be on medical leave. Cancel all other appointments for the day, even if you're going to close $100k project. 
  • Get a family member or friend to assist you. Especially if you need to walk out of the house. It’s too dangerous to go out by yourself with such pain.
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    Use a walking stick (if you have).

Reduce The Pain

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    Drink lots of cherry juice. Ask your family member or friend to help you buy from nearby groceries.
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    Drink lots of water to flush out the high uric acid. I suggest you drink at least 2 bottles of 1 litre of water at first. Your aim is to see your urine turns from yellow to transparent urine. Once you are happy with the urine color, drink more water.
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    If your threshold of pain is very low (like me) and very unbearable, eat 1 painkiller (eg. panadol) for temporary relief first. I hope you have some panadol at home. In fact, I don’t recommend eating painkillers at all. But, this is the last resort if it’s so unbearable.
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    Prepare a bucket of warm water and soak your feet in it for at least 10 minutes. This is to soften the crystals within your feet. Try to wriggle your toes during the soaking. Repeat this process when the water turns cold. I find little or no relief when I soak at icy cold water as suggested by some 'gurus'. In fact, using icy water turns out worse for me.

Going Out

  • Don’t drive. Even if you are not using the affected feet to drive. The pain can affect your mood during driving. Be responsible. Take a cab instead.
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    Wear a well cushioned or running shoe, with shoelace loosen. You have good support if you need to walk.

Sleeping 

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    If you are sleeping in an aircon room, don’t make the room too cold. When it’s cold, your feet tend to be more painful. Because the drop in temperature helps the uric acid to crystallize in the joint.
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    Don’t cover your feet with a blanket during sleeping. Try to point your feet upwards to the ceiling. Personally, I find them numb if covered or I put my feet in other directions. Also, I don’t find any usefulness when I insert a pillow under my feet either.

Bonus

  • Mix baking soda with water, and drink it. You’ll be surprised how this trick quickly neutralizes your body from high uric acid.
  • Drink alkaline ionized water.

Initial Gout Symptoms

How do you know if you've gout or just a pain in your feet? 

These are the initial gout symptoms that you may experience. And, they're in sequence. 

  • 1
    You feel slight pain when you try to move your big toe or stand on the ball of your feet.
  • 2
    Your side of the feet becomes a bit swollen and red. You may still be able to walk, or even run.
  • 3
    This pain continues to last for more than a day, even when you are not moving your feet. Eg. sleeping
  • 4
    There’s increasing pain, and it comes like waves rhythm. (low pain turns to medium and high pain, and back to low pain)
  • 5
    When the pain is high, you probably cannot stand or walk or sleep by now.
  • 6
    The pain is extreme in the middle of the night.

Did I Miss Anything?

I hope this post showed you how I survive my first gout attack.

Now I’d like to hear your take:

Tell me what’s your first few gout attacks is like, and how you overcome.

Are you going to try the warm water approach?

Or

Maybe want to drink lots of water?

Either way, let me know in the comments section below.

About the Author Cheefoo

Cheefoo specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in health for men and women above age 30s. He is pursuing his personal certification in human health (Diet & Nutrition) in 2018. In his free time, he enjoys reading on mindset and exploring technology.

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