A late-night chat with Madam Gout

November 25, 2007|By LLOYD "PETE" WATERS

At midnight on Oct. 22, 1780, Ben Franklin must have been having a restless night. In Walter Issacson's book, "Benjamin Franklin, An American Life," the author shares with the reader a humorous yet revealing tale about Franklin's troubles with the gout. In fact, on this particular night, Franklin decided to have a little conversation with Madam Gout and he received some comments back. It's worth reading, especially by you gout sufferers.

Why am I sharing with you this story on the editorial page of The Herald-Mail? Well, Ben Franklin and I have a little in common. Madam Gout has paid each of us numerous visits. If you don't know Madam Gout, don't go looking for her. One visit from her and your life will never quite be the same.

When angry, there's nothing good I can describe about her behavior. My friends who share this anomaly can only whistle, yelp and grimace when she comes to town. For gout sufferers, you know exactly what I'm talking about.


Since Franklin himself had a conversation with Madam Gout, I thought I might try something similar. My conversation with her might go something like this:

Pete: Ouch, why the heck is my knee hurting so bad? It's starting to swell and get hot. It didn't feel like that yesterday and today I can hardly walk; Ouch, Ouch, what the heck is going on here? My big toe is getting a little red too.

Madam Gout: Hello, Pete, is that you? I can hear your cries of pain. What's up?

Pete: Where are you? It's almost midnight and I should be asleep by now. This darn pain is keeping me awake.

Madam Gout: I'm here in your knee at the moment and I'm about to visit your big toe as well. Your kidneys aren't working too well today Mr. Pete, and they are overproducing uric acid. I just love it when they do that because that's when I can come and pay you a visit. I love you too much at a moment like this.

Pete: Now that you're here, when are you going to leave? Ouch! This really hurts, you know.

Madam Gout: Well, I only go where I am invited and besides, you make it easy for me to visit. I just love your habits and your diet is to rave about!

Pete: What are you talking about?

Madam Gout: Well, I'll share a few details with you since you are my friend. When you drink the wrong stuff and eat the wrong stuff, it's like sending me an invitation to come visit your joints. I even like that Tabasco sauce you eat. And Mr. Pete, you don't do yourself any favors by not exercising as much as you should either.

Pete: Look, this really hurts bad, OUCH - I can't walk on my knee and my toe is hurting, OUCH! I can't sleep, can't move and the pain is really unbearable. Can't you get away from me?

Madam Gout: Sorry Pete, you invited me and I'm staying as long as I can. Remember how your daughter told you to drink more water, and you ignored her advice. I took that to mean that you like having me around. I like it when you drink those sodas, and that other stuff, especially after you have devoured a nice big steak. I love red meat too much.

Pete: OUCH! What's wrong with a little enjoyment here and there, Madam Gout?

Madam Gout: Enjoy yourself all you want, Mr. Pete. I like it when you indulge in those treats. It reminds me of an old Motown song - "You just keep me hanging on" - and I really do like hanging on, Mr. Pete. You are one of Madam Gout's best friends!

Pete: OUCH! My joints hurt so much they feel like a hot stove ... look, my knee and toe are getting red. They're swollen. I can barely move them. Can't you visit someone else?

Madam Gout: Well, Mr. Franklin has moved on to higher ground and he didn't take me along. He liked the ladies and had some of the same bad habits as you do and I liked him a lot.

Pete: I know you created some havoc for old Ben, but he didn't have any modern medicine back in those days. I called my doctor and I'm going to take a few of these little yellow pills he gave me. He says you'll be gone in a day or two.

Madam Gout: Wait a minute, don't take them pills, Pete. Oh no, the reinforcements are coming to chase me away. I'm leaving now Pete, at least for a little while, because those pills and me just don't get along.

Pete: Oh wow, I'm glad I got some of those pills. My knee and toe are feeling a lot better already. It's midnight and I need some sleep. Goodnight my fair lady

Madam Gout: I guess I'll say goodnight for now, Mr. Pete, and pay a visit to some of those other friends of yours that have some of the same bad habits that you do. There are plenty of them around, you know.

Pete: Give them my warm regards, Madam Gout, and when they call me I'm going to give them the number of my doctor.

Madam Gout: That's fine with me Mr. Pete, but I know and you know, as long as you keep drinking what you do, and eating those big steaks, and hanging around that big TV chair, I'll be back - and keep enjoying that Tabasco sauce!

Pete: OK, Madam Gout, I guess I'll see you again in a few weeks. Be a little more kind the next time, would ya? Later. Your loving companion (not), Pete.

Lloyd "Pete" Waters is a Sharpsburg resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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