Week with gout something I could do without

Week with gout something I could do without

Let me tell you about gout.

It sucks.

Oh, I realize that’s not the most elegant language and that my vocabulary ought to include a less vulgar way to express my feelings, but I’ve been battling it for more than a week now and my defenses are low.

I wouldn’t wish this crap on my worst enemy.

It’s an inflammation that always takes root in my left ankle, and the pain is nearly constant, making ordinary things like walking, sleeping and driving almost impossible. Trying to get from the bed to the bathroom — a distance of about 20 steps — is like traversing the final stretch to the top of Mount Everest.

You don’t think you’ll ever make it.

I’ve been crippled by gout four or five times since moving to Coastal Carolina more than 20 years ago, making it a kind of quadrennial event, sort of like a presidential election.

Or the Olympics.

When it first took hold around the turn of the century, I had no idea what it was. It felt as if I’d stepped into one of those bear traps, the kind with razor-sharp teeth and nasty spring-action accuracy. My wife — then my fiancée — rushed me into town with me stretched out in the back seat of her car, feeling every bump in the road as if someone were jabbing a needle into my ankle.

Hideous stuff.

The doctor on call said there was really nothing he could do.

It was, I’d soon discover, a southern thing.

No one’s ever in a hurry down here. They lack urgency.

I mean they’ve been working on a bypass around some dying town so that the drive to the beach isn’t so long for 50 years.

Every time some money is appropriated, it gets spent elsewhere, usually on something urgent like another tattoo parlor.

The South is a trip back in time, for sure.

I don’t mind it, though.

Not really.

I’ve always been a fan of “The Andy Griffith Show” and consider it a gem of American television, right up there on Mount Rushmore with “M.A.S.H.,” “Breaking Bad” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

Speaking of TV, my wife and I are this close to finally cutting the cable. We were talking about our financial situation the other morning after I’d gotten off another midnight shift, and she mentioned Notre Dame’s first football game of the season wasn’t even going to be on regular television.

Something called “streaming” on something called “Peacock.”

“Yeah, I read about that,” I said. “I’ll find it on XM.”

So when my only choice to experience my alma mater playing its home opener is on radio, well, it seems to me the whole idea of paying almost 200 bucks a month for cable is just silly.

Fighting Irish football is really the only thing we watch anyway.

But I have a funny feeling that trying to sever our contract with the cable company is going to be fraught with obstacles, an impossible mission replete with getting put on hold for hours, billing screw-ups and interruptions of our none-too-reliable internet service.

It reminds me of that “TAGS” episode that revolves around Opie having to sell like a hundred boxes of salve after signing up to win a free pony or something.

But Mayberry being a southern town and all, things finally work out in … a … very … deliberate … way.

Of course, any time Opie has a featured role, he’s usually at fault.

Same thing with Barney Fife, actually. A total buffoon.

I guess the only one with any common sense is Andy, whose penance is having to put up with aunt Bee and all her flaws.

Why do I waste my time on such things?

I suppose the easy answer is I’ve been dealing with a spectacularly hideous recurrence of gout and my mind’s not right.

What I need is just a little hope.

When I arrived in my mid-60s, right there at the onset of the pandemic, I figured I’d ride it out with no problems. After all, self-quarantining had pretty much been my life since leaving home.

I don’t know what it is about me, but I’ve had serious problems forming even the most basic kind of friendships in the South.

It’s gotten to the point that I don’t even try.

And yet … and yet … I cling to hope.

This gout thing’s gotta recede, right? I mean I can’t live what’s left of my life gimping around, one foot in a sneaker and the other in a slipper, as I watch another painful sunset, knowing I must report to work in a matter hours.

How long can a person go without what Van Morrison calls “heavy rest,” that state of unconscious bliss that frees the imagination and lets the fevered mind take a few hours off?

So what’s the best I can hope for?

Let’s say we get rid of cable TV, that I rely only on the radio.

Would that be so bad?

And why stop there. What’s so important about going to the beach every week? Why not just avoid the cost of gas and just veg out at home? There are always books to be read and walks to be taken.

Oh, wait.

I almost forgot that I can’t really walk pointlessly right now. I need a specific reason for trying to put one healthy foot in front of one damaged one. To do otherwise would be limply, er, simply stupid.

Well, let’s just see what hurricane season brings, shall we?

I’ve never experienced a Category Five storm.

Could be just what the doctor ordered.

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