On May 10, 2010 I woke up in the morning to find that my right foot, ankle and calf were swollen. Not only were they swollen, but the top of my foot and front of my shin were flaming red. It looked like I had a sunburn. The pain I felt was like nothing ever before. There was a burning sensation throughout my foot, ankle and leg - not to mention that it all felt bruised. I could not walk or put any weight on my leg. The tendon or muscle that wraps around the front of my ankle was SO tender, tight and swollen that I could not bend my foot in any direction. I had not injured my foot or ankle, so I had no clue what was happening.
Come to find out, I had my very first attack of "gout"! Yes, what I thought was something that I may face late in my 60's or later in life was hitting me in my mid 40's! I couldn't believe it. I "googled" some images and information on the Internet but my foot looked nothing like what I was seeing. Most of the images were of severly mangled feet with huge masses on them. I couldn't even get up long enough to attempt to go see a doctor. This made me wonder if I really did have gout or not. It wasn't until a nurse friend of mine saw it a couple days later that she immediately said it was gout. She also proceeded to tell me that stress is a huge factor in starting a flare up! Now, I thought I already had that part of my life under control but I guess not and my foot was telling me so. Our bodies will start to shut down if we don't be careful.
Gout is caused by high uric acidic levels that form little crystals in your joints. It normally starts in your big toe - just like mine did. But it can settle in many joints and for me, it was my big toe and my whole ankle. I guess I was fortunate that I could still wiggle my toes but even that caused burning feelings to shoot up through my leg. Gout is another form of arthritis but I think with lots more pain.
Finding information on treating or controlling gout is very hard. What I was finding is that there are so many contradicting websites, Doctor's "recommended food lists", etc., out there. Where one site said salmon was ok, another said it wasn't. All I was trying to do was find foods to eat that were NOT acidic and would not disturb my pain further. My grandmother apparently had this and blueberries caused a flare up, but then some food lists said they were ok. It was so confusing to me. I stopped eating fast food, had to give up coffee and sodas, had just bought lots of beans but can't eat them either. I am also limiting my bread and pasta intake - going back to the real food God put on this planet is the option here. One site said no tomatoes while another said they were ok. My dad has dealt with gout I guess since he was about my age. It's not considered hereditary so I had to reason to even think I would get it. But now there is even controversy as to if it IS hereditary - so how in the world do you treat this?
Over the counter Ibuprophen and Naproxen can help in the swelling and inflammation.
What I began doing to treat this was start removing some "projects" that I have been involved in over the past few years. I wrote an article about everything I do on a day to day schedule and maybe writing that down is allowing me to focus more now on those things that are robbing me of my health and well-being? I am beginning to think so.
I work mostly for myself as an Independent Contractor(this is that article link here on SR). But I also do work for our church and my husband and I are obtaining our Master in Theology Degree to become ordained Youth Pastors. I was also involved in 5 different ministry programs and being a wife and housekeeper at home. This is just too much for one person to take on - no matter how well you can mult-task. This is a wake up call for me. So we are moving forward and removing these things from our life. We will be focusing on completing college and running a new ministry in another church for the 18-29 singles out there and that's it. Yes, it will be a lot of work but it truly does cut down the extra responsibilities and people pulling on you.
Now after checking all over the Internet, my sister happened to send me this other article called, "My Gout Kill Formula". He has been dealing with gout since 2002 and even has links to sites that I had been trying to find in which foods are ok and not ok to eat. Because the last thing you want to do is deal with the stress part of this and then NOT eat right. That makes no sense. His "formula" is simple and has 3 ingredients that most of us already have at home. He uses 8 oz of water, juice of 1 lemon and 1 teaspoon of baking soda, then drink it. Of course I ran out of baking soda but it's cheap enough and available everywhere, so I will be trying this tonight. I don't have real lemons at home but I do have lemon juice in the bottle. I am sure it would act the same.
Eating alkalizing foods is best and the article I referenced above already googled the sites that have food lists to print out and follow. I also included the link below.
Black Cherry and Cherry juice are very good for cleaning the crystals from your body, as is water. Water is SO important to our bodies and I think many of us fall short from drinking the required 8 glasses a day. When you have gout, you HAVE to make sure that 8 glasses is only the minimum because you need to flush your body out.
Probiotics is another supplement that you can take in capsule form or it just so happened I was also taking the Activia Challenge and their yogurt has probiotics in it. Yay! You can bet that I'm continuing on this yogurt challenge - even past the two weeks.
My foot, ankle and toe are better, but today is May 25th. It's been over two weeks since I had this attack. Even though the redness, bruised feeling and most of the swelling is gone, my big toe still looks a little dark around the joint. It bothers me that the joint is still sensitive and that if I am not careful another flare up could occur right away and without warning again. I have to try to stay off my feet as much as possible. I am able to wear most of my shoes again. But walking heel to toe is still quite hard because I can't put all of my weight on that toe. Sometimes I still feel a slight burning sensation move through my foot and then I start drinking lots more water.
I found out of friends that have been unable to walk for up to one month at times. This is incredibly upsetting because I am fortunate enough to do most of my work from home but most people leave home for work. How can you keep a job if this happens to you? Most employers are not sympathetic and honestly I don't think many people even know what gout is. I surely didn't. I definitely had NO clue how painful and crippling this pain was.
So please, if you are finding yourself under too many obligations, trying to please everyone else and not eating right. Make a change today in your life and environment. Lovingly delegate some of those responsibilities to other people who can do those tasks for you. Suffering with this is not fun and if I can help someone catch this before it effects you this way or even worse, then this article was worth it. And yes, you can get gout in your hands too - it can attack any joint in your body.
To make it easier to find, here is the food list of what to eat and not eat. Alkalizing foods and Acidic foods to prevent gout attacks.
NOTE: The images I have included are ones from the Internet. I did not include gout images of mangled feet because that is not how mine was. Even though the pain was probably the same and I could not wear any shoes, I wanted to show that even though the toe, foot or leg gets red or dark, it doesn't mean it hurts any less. Our bodies all react differently. The drawing shows the crystal formations in the toe joint. The image of the one foot with the red toe on the side is acute gout and the image of the two feet is almost how mine was but on the opposite foot and mine traveled up my leg. My swelling was more extreme than in this photo. I found one of two hands and one has gout. My feet were more like this - one looked normal and the other was inflamed like you see in that one hand.
Update On May 31, 2010: Yesterday we were heading back home from a short trip to Georgia for a graduation. When I woke up, both of my feet were swollen badly and my right foot was slightly darker than my left. Yes, this scared me so I immediately soaked my right foot in epsom salts and warm water. On our 12 hour ride back home, I kept both of my legs elevated as much as possible. This morning, the swelling has gone down by half of what it was yesterday but they are both still swollen. I am drinking so much water and cherry juice, plus eating less of the foods I mentioned above, like breads, pastas, very little protein, and upping my intake of vegetables and fruits. Honestly, it is very frustrating dealing with this but I have no choice right now but changing my diet drastically. And getting this dumb stress under control.
Update On Jul 26, 2010: Yesterday I began having another flare up of gout in my right big toe. The pain is tolerable but the swelling in my ankles bothers me. I am back to controlling my diet and guess at this stage of my life I need to stop eating the foods that surely don't help me at all. This is a lifestyle change and it's very hard - especially when you are ministering to teens and young adults that like their snacks. But I can barely walk on my feet today and need to suck it up and hunker down on the food changes. I also saw that the link to the Gout Formula brings up a blank page. But even if the page is blank the easy formula is still in my article. Heading off to drink some right now.