"What," I asked.
"Gout," he said. "You've got gout."
"But gout is something fat old men get," I said.
Looking over his reading glasses, the doctor looked at me, glanced toward the full length mirror on the wall, then looked back at me, nodding his head toward the mirror with the unspoken sentence: "Look in the mirror, chubby." He may have been thinking, "tubby," not "chubby." I'm not sure.
In the past decade since this unpleasant visit to the man who is now my former doctor, I've taken pills, avoided real food that I can't live without, and suffered frequent attacks of debilitating pain.
But I've found a natural cure, something that's been right in front of me my whole life long. I share this miracle cure with you pictorially.
First, drive to the ocean. (I was Reid State Park on Georgetown Island, between Bath and Wiscasset.)
After parking your Vespa, or other scooter, walk through the bath house, or similar structure, on your way to the sea.
Glance at the day board to determine tides, times, and water temperatures. (Note that the surf this day was 50 degrees.)
Choose a spot on the beach away from other people. This isn't ladies tennis at Wimbledon - no need to share the grunts and screams you'll likely emit when the frigid surf hits you.
This cure works best at low tide, since the breakers start at your toes, and in time, will reach your knees, waist, chest, neck, etc. (If you can't swim, this cure may kill you.)
Here comes a wave. Stand your ground.
Note that the toes curl into the sand. The deeper they dig, the more effective the treatment will be.
As the wave retreats, your feet will continue to dig into the sand, intensifying the sensation of healing.
Round one is over. Here comes another wave. The tide takes about six hours to rise from low to high. For this treatment to be truly effective, use the instructions on a bottle of shampoo: Rinse and repeat - for as long as you choose.
Frankly, I'm not sure if this is a genuine cure. I just like it a lot. And living on the coast of Maine, I can experiment on the "cure" every day.