I finally saw my regular doctor today, and it is 100% certain that the shelter diet is the cause of the gout, in addition to it running in families (my father had gout shortly before he died). The recommendation was a diet low in meat and high in low-fat or non-fat dairy, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables. This is not something I can do much about. I can go to other places, such as soup kitchens, for food, but as long as I am in a shelter where I am prohibited from storing or preparing food, there is little can can do to have much say in my diet beyond choosing to go hungry or using food stamps on prepared foods, which tend to be the most expensive at the store, and these prepared foods cannot be hot, or food stamps cannot be used to purchase them.
I tried the soup kitchen at St. Luke’s Lutheran, which is on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 2 PM. Tuesday was meatballs, which surely didn’t help my gout. Thursday was a turkey dinner since it’s the last one there until January 8.
I met a really nice girl there named Jessica (I didn’t get her last name, but I wouldn’t post it here if I did, for obvious reasons). She is a bright, intelligent young woman, probably not yet 30, who was coming to a soup kitchen for the first time and surprised to not find soup, which she wanted for a cold. She was trying to find a women’s shelter, but said that she was told that they were full. I always wait for people to volunteer their stories, so I don’t know what caused her to become homeless, but the little I did get suggested that it was entirely because of the job market, or lack thereof. If she had taken abuse from anyone but a low-wage employer doing normal low-wage employer things, I could not guess. I’ve met surprisingly few young women in the soup kitchens, particularly those without children in tow. One girl who shows up regularly at St. Francis Xavier’s soup kitchen seems to retouch her lipstick a lot, and she seems to have an attitude that she is being hit on by every man there. Jessica wore no makeup or jewelry, but was smartly dressed, and was kind and cordial with everyone. She told me that her grandmother was humiliated when she got gout and vowed never to eat steak again. I suggested her grandmother might have read Benjamin Franklin’s essay on gout that I had to read in high school, and she seemed to know what piece I was talking about. That essay makes gout seem as humiliating as venereal disease.
I was hoping I’d see her at the All Souls Unitarian Friday lunch that another man recommended to her, but I did not. I did see Jason, a rather negative figure who is a St. Francis Xavier regular who got the ire of many people by squeezing his name onto the Chiropractic for Humanity list when the very thorough Dr. Danielle Partain was the only one on duty. When I first met him at Christ United Methodist’s soup kitchen, he seemed thoroughly convinced that there was no way that I’d ever get a desk job, because some rich guy’s 26 year-old daughter would always be in my way. I’ve tried to avoid him ever since.
My friend, Jonathan, who drove me to Bellevue’s intake shelter back in May after letting me sleep in a room of his mother’s house for a couple of nights, recommended All Souls ;last night when he took me to Thailand (a Thai Restaurant on 9th Avenue) because he had worked the soup kitchen there. They had really nice macaroni and cheese, chicken parmigiana, and sandwiches and cookies for the road.
HealthFirst, my Medicaid-backed health insurance plan, tried to prevent me from taking the medication that Dr. Akwuba prescribed for gout, which he told me to take right away as soon as I got it from the nearest Pharmacy, a Walgreen’s on the next block, insisting that I’d already gotten it from Rite-Aid and would need to wait until January 12. I swore up and down that I’d never taken Allopurinol ever before in my life, and finally the pharmacist got the insurance company to take the block off. Dr. Akwuba was hoping to get a CC of fluid from my gout, but all he drew was blood, and the shot he gave me at the time was very painful and ineffective, so he gave me a different one to make up for it. I probably won’t need to use my cane to walk tomorrow.