Though I'd rather forget that painful experience, I remember it as if it were yesterday.
I was hanging out with some friends, indulging in the best salmon fillets Seattle had to offer, accompanied by some succulent, all-you-can eat shrimp (and believe me, I took the term all-you-can eat very seriously).
I remember commenting and enjoying the food while looking out onto the pier when suddenly I felt as if a thousand bees had infiltrated my shoe and planned a mission of attack on my big toe.
It actually started off as a tingling and numbing sensation; it felt much like pins and needles stabbing into my toe.
I attempted to ignore the sensation until it turned into an excruciating pain.
Although I could not take my foot out of my shoe (out of courtesy to my lunch guests who were still able to devour the array of seafood,) I could tell that my toe was swelling up inside of it.
My big toe was also extremely stiff and was burning hot.
It also felt as if it were not just my big toe anymore but rather, got a promotion as my gigantic toe! I finally managed to limp my way to the car and drive myself home all while trying to play it off as if everything was fine even though all I could think of doing was screaming.
If you ever experienced Gout symptoms, you would definitely be giving me some credit for pulling that off.
As soon as I got my home, I went into extensive research on the internet to find out what demon had possessed my toe at such an inopportune time.
As soon as my finger's hit the keyboard, I desperately typed in the symptoms I was experiencing and lo and behold, my online doctor diagnosed me with Gout.
I've heard of Gout before but never had I thought, I would be suffering from it.
To my dismay, I learned that all the rich foods that I LOVED to eat such as red meat, scallops, shrimp, fish and anything with the use of refined sugar-all the foods I couldn't live without were now prohibited from my diet.
Well, I wasn't going to give in to that so I went into denial and ate all of the above-again.
I won't tell you what happened after that, but let's just say that I have now earned a Bachelor's degree in Gout Symptoms from the school of hard knocks.
Through my painful experiences, I have noticed that Gout can move from joint to joint but typically never affects more than 2 or 3 joints at the same time.
The excruciating pain usually peaks in 24 hours and has a tendency to attack in the evening.
I have also learned through trial, error and research (but mainly through error) that alcohol such as beer and red wine DOES play a huge role in Gout attacks because alcohol consumption dehydrates your body, therefore it is unable to successfully flush out the purines which then causes the uric acid levels in your body to build up.
It is also common for Gout to affect other joint areas such as your ankle, knee, foot, hand, wrist and elbow and it is sometimes accompanied by fever.
Gout symptoms usually go away within 3 to 10 days and may not return for months or years.
However, in future attacks, the symptoms may become progressively worse, occur more often and last longer.
On the Bright side, once you are clear of your Gout symptoms, you will most likely acquire a newfound appreciation for the big toe you never took notice to before.