Monday, April 11, 2016

An old man's disease

What image comes to your mind when you hear the term “gout”? I see a corpulent, overweight old Englishman of the 18th century, eating huge piles of roast beef and swilling ale. Samuel Johnson probably had gout though that has not been proven, but he comes to mind as a classic case.

So imagine my dismay and surprise today when I was told my swollen left foot is probably due to gout, and the reason I don’t feel the tremendous pain usually associated with it is that I have had peripheral neuropathy for years. A doctor who has known me longer than I care to admit told me long ago he could diagnose that from the way I walk. I surely don’t think I mirror the image of the man above.

But wait! I don’t drink ale or beer, and I eat precious little beef. So, as internet addicts do, I went to Google where the first thing I found was a list of ten foods to avoid. Top of the list: fish. I eat tuna fish at least once a day and sometimes, like today, twice, and yes, I drink quite a bit of white wine—but I always thought red wine, although healthier for you, caused gout. Wonder how many Italians have gout?

The rest of the list didn’t alarm me so much—beef, but I eat little of it; rich sauces—not guilty, except on occasion; organ meat—okay, I love chopped liver but I know it’s not on a healthy diet and rarely eat it. Is tongue organ meat? I eat more of that.  Fruit juice—I eat raspberries and blueberries a lot when in season but don’t drink fruit juice. Soda—never, nada; caffeine—one cup of green tea a day. Surely that doesn’t count. Fried foods—I avoid them like the plague. Well, most of the time.

So there go fish and wine. I foresee lunches of egg salad and cottage cheese. It surprises me that cheese and eggs are not on the list, though we are increasingly told what a bad rap they both had. Cheese is touted often as a misunderstood good-for-you food, especially since all blame has focused on sugar and carbohydrates, neither of which I eat much. I would have told you I eat a healthy diet—what could be better than tuna salad, cottage cheese, cherry tomatoes and a bit of fruit. I guess Mother Nature fools us again.


Anonymous said...

I had a friend who was "diagsnosed" with Gout. He proceded to overthink the disease, going through a list (much like yours) and deciding that all these foods must be avoided at all cost. Turns out his shoes were too tight, no, I'm not kidding.
I also have been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, I'm fairly young, does it steadily get worse? It's kind of scary because it causes my hands to tingle and fall "asleep" and sometimes it feels like I can't grip things at all.

Judy Alter said...

I'm pretty sure this is gout--red and inflamed at the first joint of the big toe, one foot only. Will be confirmed by boo work.
Neuropathy doesn't get worse as far as I can tell, but I only have it in my feet. Makes my walking unsteady. I do take a B vitamin for it--maybe B6? Ask you doctor. Other than rare occasional shooting pains, it doesn't bother me.

Anonymous said...

I take vitamin 12. I use to have it affect my legs, my doctor told me to stop crossing my legs(at the ankle, habit I inherited from my mother) while I slept, and it got a lot better.

Charles Rodenberger said...

Welcome to the Age-related community. I developed neuropathy a few years ago. It was diagnosed as idiopathic neuropathy because it wasn't caused by diabetes and they didn't know what caused it. The doctor did say it wouldn't get better and would only get worse. My son has had gout for years and he is young and healthy. Eats well. They don't know what causes that or high blood pressure. I continue to plug along.

Judy Alter said...

My neuropathy is idiopathic too. My doctor/brother said he knew only two cause--diabetes and alcoholism. Since I am not diabetic--however the podiatrist said "Or about 75 other things." Then I developed a tremor--neurologist said it's not Parkinson's, it's an "essential tremor." I think they should all be non-essential.