Three months ago, I woke up, and my foot was swollen twice the size that it normally is. As I stood up, I tried putting a little weight on my right foot, and a shock of pain went up my spine. All the same symptoms of gout; just like my father.
Gout is inflammatory arthritis that is caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood. Whenever the body produces too much uric acid, the uric acid crystallizes into urate crystals that form in the joints, especially in the big toe and feet area. There is no cure; only ways to prevent gout attacks.
Growing up, I had a first-hand account of someone living with gout: my dad. He always avoided foods with high levels of purines, a type of protein commonly found in meats, shellfish, fructose, certain vegetables, and alcohol. His diet was heavily limited by this form of arthritis. The worst part is not the diet, but the attack.
For me, I believe the pain from the attack was good, because it was a wakeup call for making a change in my life. After you have a gout attack, you have to realize that your body cannot sustainably consume certain types of foods, so I became a pescatarian. It was the best decision I made.
In the beginning, it was difficult to cope with the idea of having gout. Luckily, I have a great support group who helped out with understanding the changes necessary. I also slowly rationalized the benefits of changing my diet, like eating no meat helps the environment. Slowly, the old habit was replaced with the new habit of eating healthier, and then all these good new habits started to emerge, such as exercising more frequently.
After three months with gout, I have surmised that gout is only a debilitating factor in your life only if you allow it to. Once I realized that, I learned that I can use gout as a superpower.