I'm sure most of us have noticed that life has a way of humbling us from time to time. We can feel full of spit and vinegar one day and 24 hours later, we're two quarts low and running on half the cylinders.

I wonder sometimes if these hangnails were put there for us to make corrections in our course -- to check our compass, to take inventory and to adjust perspectives.

Recently, I had one of those very humbling experiences. It is called gout.

My dad had gout, and through the years I've heard a lot of people talk about gout. Just the name of it suggests something really bad.

Sounds like something a sinner is offered in lieu of going to hell. Sounds like something that lives under the bridge after having eaten all the trolls.

Over the past few years, I've had a couple of small episodes of gout that were little more than mild discomfort. But two weekends ago, I got the mutant ninja version. I never knew that one's big toe could hurt so much. And it started so suddenly. One minute I'm on my tractor mowing pasture and just a couple of hours later, my foot is wrapped in ice and I'm afraid to blink because I'm sure there's a connection between my eyelids and my big toe.

My doctor tells me that no one really knows why gout always seems to attack that joint where the big toe joins the foot. But the pain is a result of too much uric acid in the blood settling in that joint.

When people saw me hobbling around, grimacing and wiping big beads of sweat, I got all sorts of suggestions. Stay away from red meat. Don't eat shell fish. Peas and beans are the culprit. Not a soul suggested that eating asparagus and anchovies could cause gout. And the remedies covered everything imaginable except soaking my foot in a bream bed.

The pain of mutant ninja gout is almost indescribable. You can't stand the touch of a bed sheet on your foot. I didn't want a breeze to pass by it. I wouldn't even glance at it quickly. Instead, I would focus on something else and slowly bring it into the corner of my vision. I didn't want to offend it telepathically. I was all propped up in bed and I turned on a pre-season football game. A touchdown had just been scored and the kicker rushed onto the field for the extra point. I grabbed the remote and clicked it away from the game. There was no way I could stand to watch anyone kick anything. I actually got weak at my stomach at just the thought. Unfortunately for me, the channel I turned to was an advertisement with some fat guys doing the River Dance routine. Oh that hurt!

The key to gout relief is to go to the doctor immediately. Don't wait four or five days trying home remedies. Tell the doc to give you something really strong in a hurry. And ask him if that stuff comes in five-gallon cans.

Once you've passed this episode, you will never look at your big toe the same again. No sir, that little piggy won't ever be taken for granted thereafter. You might even name it. You could have conversations with it.

"Hey big guy, how are you doing this morning?" (I'm still talking about the toe here.)

Yessir, if gout was tossed out there in the cosmos to keep us humble, it surely does the trick.

I've read that the meek shall inherit the earth. Whether that's to be taken literally or figuratively, I don't know. But when you have gout, you will certainly get closer to the ground, because unless you have crutches handy, you'll have to crawl to the bathroom.

Dwain Walden is editor/publisher of The Moultrie Observer. You can call him at 985-4545, ext. 214. E-mail: dwain.walden@gaflnews.com.

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