So apparently, Benjamin Franklin had gout. I mention this because apparently I do, too. Of all the things we could have had in common, this wouldn’t have been my top choice. 

And gout. Seriously? What other ancient disease will I acquire next? Scurvy? The Black Death? Just the name is humiliating; the harsh “g” and “t” that bookend the “ou” groan you make with every step. One would think a condition that’s lasted for hundreds of years could be rebranded for a new century, but no. It’s still gout. 

I don’t know how it presented for poor old Ben, but for me, it started out as a sore big toe, which soon became a very sore big toe leading to an extremely sore big toe. Within a couple days, I was hobbling around like John Wilkes Booth after his stage leap. 

Now with a week on various drugs, I’m feeling much better. But this gouty toe business has shaken my world. 

Who knew a big toe could be so foundational to daily life and happiness?

“Woe is me,” I moaned as the pain increased. “What if it only gets worse and I can’t hike anymore? What if yesterday was the best I will ever feel?” 

In other words, I experienced some of the thoughts that must frequently go through the minds of so many of our post-acute rehab patients.  

Thanks to the demon gout, I understand at least a little of how it feels when some body part that’s worked well for a lifetime fails, and your world starts to shrink to the size of your physical capabilities. It’s depressing and demoralizing. 

All of which makes me particularly impressed by the work rehab therapists do, helping patients stay positive and focused as they deal with the frustrating reality that their lives might be changed forever.

So to all you therapists out there, on behalf of your patients, Ben Franklin and me, we salute you more than ever.