When I woke up Sunday morning I found that not only was I still afflicted with The Cough, but I was also itchy and puffy. All my joints seemed to have been inflated with a bike pump. My fingers were so chubby, I couldn’t make a fist. (Good thing I dabble in Pacifism.) But I used my powers of Zen to keep myself from scratching as I imagined that would just make things worse. I figured, “Just be cool, Fonzie, and it will fix itself.”
By the time I went to bed, the Fonzie approach had done nothing. I was still itchy and puffy. So much so, that I wanted to jump out of my skin. So I went to WebMD – the first source for internet heath!. I used the symptom checker to diagnose myself. And when the tally came, it seemed I had Pseudogout. Naturally, I panicked.
“PSEUDOGOUT! I have Pseudogout! What is Pseudogout?” The only thing I knew about any sort of gout was that Bobby Hill once had regular Gout and he loved it because he got a cane to use while healing, which he promptly turned into a comedy prop. (That boy ain’t right.)
Then I started reading about Pseudogout. Why someone gets Pseudogout is not understood, it read. There is not cure for Pseudogout, it read. Diagnosis can only determined from joint fluid and not blood, it read. Usually occurs in people over 60, it read.
I started getting mad for two reasons. One, I had Pseudogout for no known reason and it seemed I would have it for the rest of my life. Two, the name “Pseudogout” was terribly lame. No one is going to sympathize with us, the sufferers of Pseudogout. “Big deal. So you have fake gout,” nay-sayers were sure to say.
I decided that it was up to me, the abnormally young sufferer of Pseudogout to take on this cause for the older patrons who could not fight for themselves. I needed a new name to for others rally around – something with a sweet acronym that would create awareness. I’m thinking maybe, “Highly Itchy Puffiness” – HIP. Now that’s a cool sounding disease. Are you HIP? This is a cause we can start marches and drives for, and think of the t-shirts! What colors are left for those rubber wristbands and car ribbon-magnets?
I didn’t sleep much that night and when I got up the next morning, I made an appointment to see my doctor. I was so itchy and puffy I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I tried to do email, tried to read, tried to watch T.V…. but I couldn’t sit still to save my life and my fingers were too fat to type (or blog!). Though my appointment was set for 1pm, I drove over to the doctor’s office at 10am.
I told the receptionist, “I know I am early, but I am freaking out. If the doctor has a free moment or someone cancels before 1pm, would you mind slipping me in?” She very kindly obliged. Five minutes later they called me in. (Even when I have an appointment, I never get that level of service!).
The Doctor comes in and says hello to me. Remember, I still have my cough so my voice is very Barry White right now. So I said “hello” back, but in a gruff, low tone. She said, “So are you here about a soar throat?” I told her that yes I had a sore throat, but that wasn’t why I was there. I showed her my puffy paws. She considered them for a bit and said, “Wow, that’s some allergic reaction you are having there.”
My brain latched on to that real quick. I thought, “Yeah, it is one heck of a bad allergic reaction, isn’t it? So much better than those other suckers who have things like Pseudogout. I mean honestly, it’s not even real gout.”