July 7th is a big day for me and my family. It was on this day four years ago that the world celebrated the lucky day of 7/7/07. The famous, or infamous ("more than famous") day was when two major events unfolded. One positive, one not-so-much.
First, let's start with the good. Today is my brother's anniversary. As he posted on Facebook this morning, "Four years ago today, on 7/7/07, I married my one true love." That one true love is his amazing wife, Wendy. Two wonderful families, the Heinzman's and the Courter's, were united for all of eternity. It was truly a special occasion. Family and friends were brought together and great times were had by all. Uncle Ron and Aunt Barb even made the journey from South Carolina to be on hand. Four years later, Rich and Wendy are still going strong with no signs of letting up and that has made me very happy. Love you both.
Now, that day wasn't all sunshine and rainbows, for it was on that fateful day that I had something that has followed me ever since. It was my first battle with gout. For those of you that don't know much about gout, let me go all Doogie Howser on you.
Gout is a kind of arthritis formed when you have too much uric acid in your blood. That uric acid then can form hard crystals in your joints and it's most common in the big toe but can happen in any joint. One of the biggest causes of gout (and probably my greatest culprit) is from eating too much red meat. It's also passed down through heredity and Dad has had it for most of his life, so I got it from him, too. Thanks, DAD! :( The pain is unlike anything you'd ever have. It's even been so bad that both Dad and myself have had times when you couldn't even stand to have a sheet on the affected area because it hurt so bad.
I remember that first flare-up like it was yesterday. I woke up that morning with a pain I've never felt before in my right ankle. I just figured that I slept with it tucked in weird or something. For the next 2.5 hours, I was on a bus with my Lexington basketball team heading to Bolivar for a one-day high school shootout. The longer the day went, the worse the pain became. Coach Meyer (my former assistant that is now the head coach at Lexington) knew that I was in some serious pain because I sat on the bench for most of the games and when I did stand up, I just stood there. No pacing or storming up and down the sideline. After the first three games, Laura picked me up to take me to Nevada (the town, not the state) for the wedding. Coach Meyer finished up the tournament in the afternoon and escorted the boys back on the bus to Lexington. Laura gave me some Ibuprofen which helped a little, but I was still pretty gimpy when I got to the wedding. I told Mom and Dad about the pain and Dad said, "Sounds like the gout to me." That hit me like a ton a bricks because gout is something old people have, not a strapping young stud like me. It was also the first time I had ever heard it referred to as "The Gout" like it was "The Plague."
A couple of days later, I was sitting in a doctor's office in Lexington waiting to see Doc Chandra. You just have to know this guy for this to be funny. He comes in, takes a look at it, and tells me how we're going to treat it. When I asked him about getting rid of the inflamation and pain, he tells me "Well, I'm gonna give ya a shot in the ass." Sure helped though.
So anyways, I had another flare-up that December right before flying out to Colorado to go skiing. I was in Springfield, so the doctor that Laura's sister worked for (Dr. Baurichter) got me in, gave me a shot and some meds and sent me on the way. I'd say that I've had a half-dozen other cases since then.
For a while, I was on Allopurinol to prevent other flare-ups. A couple of years ago, it was brought to my attention by a specialist that Allopurinol has been linked to male infertility so I got off it. Sure wish we'd have known about that sooner, but that's another topic for another day. I was doing great for a long time until a couple of weeks ago. I had a minor issue in my right knee during basketball season, but not nearly as bad as I've had before. After working six days of basketball camps at Missouri State, I had a bad, bad case. It was maybe the worst I've ever had. It was in my right ankle and big toe. And this is right before we went to Central Methodist for camp. Great timing. What would normally take me two minutes to walk was taking me ten. It was so bad that for two weeks I couldn't even put a shoe on. I was having to coach in flip-flops. One of the kids I took asked me if I "injured myself driving." After camp, I was put on an anti-inflamatory and when I finished that, I was to start my Allopurinol again. Wouldn't you know, the last day of my anti-inflamatory treatment, I wake up unable to bend my left knee and throughout the day, it dropped into my big toe. So once again, "I have flippin' gout." Getting old sucks.
So anyways, I haven't been able to walk right for about the last three weeks now and I'm taking pills every day for the rest of my life. Or as Laura likes to say, she's "married to an 80-year-old." Hopefully, I'll be able to control future bouts of it through medication and diet, but I'm not giving up my red meat. No way I'm letting gout take that away from me without a fight.