SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

I'm Henry VIII, I am, I am!
By Dave Kiffer


April 27, 2008

Ketchikan, Alaska - While the rest of you were enjoying the beautiful - rare - sunny skies last week, I was pondering my place in history.

Or rather I was pondering my place with history.

jpg Triangulate This, NAVSTAR! By Dave Kiffer

I was surprised to discover that I share something in common with Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Alfred Lord Tennyson, John Milton, Queen Anne and Karl Marx.

Any guesses?

Okay, how about Christopher Columbus, Isaac Newton, Nostradamus and Pablo Neruda?

Okay, one more try.

How about Alexander Hamilton, Kublai Khan, Sir Laurance Olivier and Henry James?

No, I am not "deceased," although all the aforementioned personages are indeed dead.

But just like those august folks - and Henry VIII - I have "gout."

No, really. "Huh" was my first reaction too.

I thought that gout was something like the affliction previously called the "vapors," in other words something that was last heard of in Dickensian novels.

Seems it's alive and well in the 21st Century - just ask Don Nelson, David Wells and Curt Shilling (the fact they are sports people makes me feel a little bit better).

In fact all week long I have heard a similar refrain from other folks. Usually along the lines of "Wow, my dad had that!" (which does NOT make me feel any better).

So, I've got this incredibly painful affliction of my right foot. Something that makes me sound positively 17th Century. Great, just great.

It also makes me feel older than my current 49 years and two months would indicate.

Up to now, I have usually gotten the "you seem so much younger than that" when I fess up to my age. But since I now have "gout" that shoots that all to pieces.

Face it, the image I - and you too - have of gout is of some old codger sitting around all day in his bed clothes with his swollen appendage elevated as he screams for his servants to bring him a fresh bedpan. The next step will be a monogrammed drool bucket. Geeze Louise!

Oddly enough, all the experts say that gout most normally effects people from their 20s to their 40s. It is not the disease of "old codgers" after all.

Then again, maybe people in their 20s to 40s were considered "old codgers" back when gout was truly rampant, the 1700s.

Who knows?

About all I can say is having gout can make one feel pretty cranky. Even air brushing against the joint in question seems to hurt. Maybe that was why Henry VIII was always screaming "off with their heads!"

Or maybe it was just that his six wives were always trying to change his diet (see below). What's the point of being the most powerful ruler on earth if you have to watch what you eat?

Gout is not like a fractured bone that will eventually heal. It's a long term, arthritis like condition.

And - shock and awe - treatment of "gout" apparently requires "lifestyle changes."

The second phrase (after "My Dad had that") that comes out of everyone else's mouths is "hmm, too much rich food, too much high living."

And unfortunately, they are somewhat right. While gout apparently is somewhat genetic, it can be exacerbated by all the consumables that - frankly - make life worth living in the first place. Red meat, shellfish, caffeine, fat, you name it, I'm now not supposed to eat it.

This - of course - thrills my wife who has been trying to nibble away at my "high living" diet for some time now (more veggies, more fiber, more water!). I fear that I will soon become the opposite of that old beer commercial argument - Less taste or great filling!

What a choice. I can hardly wait.

It will also be important to increase my exercise regime to help prevent future attacks. An 100 percent increase ought to do it, especially since my regime has been MIA for the last year or so (100 percent of nothing is still nothing!).

But seriously, I need to get out of this chair and start exercising more than my two index fingers.

On the plus side, since you "gotta walk, before you can run" it will be a while before I will be starting the new exercise routine. My foot throbs even at the thought of strenuous movement.

So, I'll at least have a few more days of "elevating" my foot on the couch in front of the TV.

Just don't tell my wife that my foot has already mostly stopped hurting.

I'm kinda enjoying this Henry VIII thing.


Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Dave at

Dave Kiffer ©2008

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