I like my doctor, however, I hate doctors and the entire medical industry in general. I have to be monumentally sick to go see one. This past couple weeks my reason for this hatred crystallized.
A month ago on a business trip, I got sick. Extremely sick. With aspirin, my fever was hitting 103.8. After three days at my cousin’s house, I took an overdose of Theraflu and used the three hour buzz time to try to make the five hour drive home. That was on Good Friday. I don’t get why they call it that, maybe my information is lacking, but isn’t that the day they beat the snot out of Jesus and nailed him to a tree. I bet his opinion of that day is close to what mine was.
I went to my doctor on Monday and she did what all doctors do in this case, prescribed antibiotics. In my case I think that the illness was, in fact, bacterial as the antibiotics made a very rapid change in me. Now I know, if it had been a virus, that the antibiotic is useless, and I know that the point of prescribing it is to keep me from developing pneumonia or strep. In my case, considering how my palms and feet are still peeling, I actually did have strep, but there was no testing for that.
Unfortunately, all these things, including the fact that I’m also pretty fat and sedentary, added up to the perfect storm for gout. I didn’t know what gout was three weeks ago, but I am a fricken expert on it now. Both of my big toes, first alternately and then all together turned into hot swollen vortexes of extreme pain.
Here are the things bad for gout:
- Overweight: check. (I prefer the term fat…)
- High fever: check.
- Aspirin or acetaminophen: check and check.
- Cephalosporin (antibiotic): check.
- Kidney failure: check.
There were two days where I drank at least a gallon of water with no output.
- Eating large amounts of red meat: check.
This was not for the usual redneck reason, but for the fact that during all this, I also seemed to have passed a kidney stone and thus, lost quite a bit of blood.
- Excessive use of the joints involved: check. Remember that business trip? I finished it the week before the gout, which involved a lot of ladder climbing.
Here’s what I know about gout.
Gout is a condition where uric acid comes out of solution in your joints, typically the joint at the start of the big toe, where blood flow is minimal, and it forms beautiful shiny needle shaped crystals. Those things rub and stick the cartilage, thus the pain and massive immune response. The affected joint gets very warm.
Given that information, as someone with a fairly decent understanding of basic chemistry, my first thought was that I needed to get a lot more water in me so there would be more solvent for the crystals and, if possible, to raise my blood pH. In my head, I went through the possible foods which are alkaline that we might have and couldn’t at first think of any. Most foods seem to be acidic.
Looking for treatments I find that drinking lots of water is, of course, recommended. NSAID pain relievers were next, as aspirin (which is an acid…) tends to inhibit uric acid uptake in the kidneys.. After that, a list of foods to eat or avoid. Oddly, there seem to be a lot of conflicting lists like that. And then… pharmaceuticals. Nasty, toxic pharmaceuticals. Nothing about getting your blood pH up. This was all from reputable sources.
Then I went to less reputable sources, Eastern medicine and personal blogs. The thing I discovered there was baking soda: sodium bicarbonate. Every house has some. It’s an alkaline. It might be possible to raise your blood pH with it. Unfortunately, I let my skepticism of the disreputable sources outweigh my conspiracy skepticism of the reputable sources.
So, I took the idea of sodium bicarbonate and began looking anew at the reputable medical sources. What I found is that apparently only very rarely do doctors prescribe sodium bicarbonate for gout, as the evidence that it works is only anecdotal. I should have seen the problem with that right away, maybe the intense pain was interfering with my ability to think. One doctor pointed out that since the stomach pH can get as low as 1.0 that the sodium bicarbonate is likely to be completely neutralized well before it can have any effect on blood pH. That seemed highly likely to me at the time.
So… I gave up on the idea of raising my blood pH. I took the NSAIDs, which if they did anything at all, it wasn’t much. I continued to drink massive amounts of water. And for a week and a half I could only barely walk. Toward the end of that time, it began to ease, which was good, cause race weekend was coming. That meant several miles of walking over a two day period. And it was agonizing. Being a big tough redneck, I don’t think that men should cry unless they drop a hammer on their toe or something. This felt worse than that and I did cry.
In desperation, I set off to find a recommended dosage for sodium bicarbonate. What I found eventually from the “disreputable” source was a teaspoon every 12 hours or so. This person was adamant about dissolving it in a whole glass of water or some kind of fruit juice. Not wanting to go whole hog into the guinea pig business, I dissolved a half teaspoon in a glass of water and drank it. Oddly enough, it didn’t taste as bad as I was expecting.
Thirty minutes later the pain was clearing up noticeably. An hour later it was pretty much gone completely. Now that the pain was essentially gone, I started to think about this cure. I expected the hydrochloric acid in my stomach to neutralize the sodium bicarbonate. Thing is, if it had, I should have had very severe gas due to the reaction: 2HCl +2Na2CO3 -> 2NaCl + 2H20 + 4CO2 (been a long time since I balanced a chemical equation…). That’s a fair amount of carbon dioxide, however, I didn’t burp once after drinking it, so apparently this reaction didn’t take place. And I think I know why.
I think, and Hell no I’m not testing it out, that if I had just swallowed a little sodium bicarbonate that I would be able to burp out the national anthem. But dissolved in water made the difference. My guess is that most of it passed right though my stomach to the intestines where, thanks to the fact that the duodenum releases bicarbonate ions (Aha!) to neutralize the excess acid from the stomach, the additional sodium bicarbonate had an opportunity to raise my blood pH.
The thing is, this will never be tested by the pharmaceutical industry. I’d like to say it’s a conspiracy, but it’s just simple math. Testing any drug costs billions. Worse here because of our insane insistence on the mythical concepts of absolute safety and security. No pharmaceutical company can afford to spend billions on a drug that you can buy for a dollar at your nearest convenience store. And since it will never be vetted by anyone, it will remain “anecdotal” and will never be prescribed, even if it works.
Remember that the evidence I presented here for the treatment of gout with sodium bicarbonate is purely anecdotal. If that bugs you, fuck you, I can walk again.