My Summer Dalliance Into Vegetarianism and Other Unmanly Events

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“And I think I want to start biking to work,” I mentioned casually to my friend the other day at my son’s birthday party.

“Really? my friend asked, eye brows raised.  “Let me get this straight… you’ve given up meat, use essential oils, and are doing yoga…. Have they approved your PETA application yet?”

I get it.  These are not the sort of things you see typically being done in Southeast Texas.  But I have my reasons.

A little history: back when I was 23 and had just returned from a wedding in Nebraska, I awoke around 4 am to my ankle swollen, red and in excruciating pain.  Felt just like a sprained ankle in basketball.  I wondered if I’d had some kind of weird sleep walking experience because I’d had a few beers the night before.  I’d also been wearing some really swanky snakeskin boots and thought perhaps they had been the culprit.  I was supposed to duck hunt with a friend that day and I hobbled as best I could, but we had to quit early. I scheduled a doctor’s appointment, but a day or two later my ankle’s better. So by the time my doctor’s visit arrived the pain was gone.  X rays were taken and I had blood work done with nothing coming back out of whack.  These attacks repeated themselves  for several years and in the last two years the attacks became more frequent and it would take longer to get well.

Everything I read and looked at seemed to suggest gout.  The hitch was, my bloodwork came back normal and I wasn’t old.  Most attacks happen to men over 55.  I did read where a joint aspiration would definitively prove gout, but it had to be taken during a flare up which were difficult to predict.

Well, right around the end of April, I started noticing my knee stiffening up.  Pretty soon I was in a full scale flare up.Walking around like an extra from the Walking Dead, downing Aleve like skittles, and wondering how in the world I was going to survive did not bode well for this summer.

My wife has been on an essential oil kick, and had a book about healing oils from the bible, was convinced a soak in some fufu oils was just what I needed.  I politely passed.

Push came to shove, so in between cases at work, I got my friend to aspirate the fluid from around my joint  to analyze for uric acid crystals.  An 18 gauge needle (about the size of a coffee stir) is stuck in between the bones of your joint, and the plunger is pulled back.

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It was so much fun, I thought I’d memorialize the occasion with a knee selfie mid aspiration.

He ended up filling three 30 ml syringes full of the yellow synovial fluid from my knee, which alone made my knee feel a ton better.

That was on a Tuesday and at about 4 o’clock I get a call telling me that it’s not gout, and that my knee is infected.  This was bad news, and it required surgery immediately.   This was odd, but I trusted them.  After the surgery, my knee felt much better.  Wednesday I was walking normal, and on Thursday  I was told that in fact, many gout crystals were seen in the synovial fluid.

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Confirmation is a good thing. I knew beer and red meat were gout triggers, but I wanted to see what else might cause gout:

Asparagus, Bacon, Beef, Bluefish, Beer, Bouillon, Calf tongue, Carp, Cauliflower, Chicken, Chicken soup, Codfish, Crab, Duck, Goose, Halibut, Ham, Kidney beans, Lamb, Lentils, Lima beans, Lobster, Mushrooms, Mutton, Navy beans, Oatmeal, Oysters, Peas, Perch, Pork, Rabbit, Salmon, Sheep, Shellfish, Snapper, Spinach, Tripe, Trout, Tuna, Turkey, Veal, Venison, Anchovies, Brains, Gravies, Kidneys,Liver, Sardines, Sweetbreads and Heart.

Or simply, most of the things I like to eat.  Disturbingly, surgery was also listed as a trigger, and on Friday the pain hit.  My knee swelled to the size of a cantaloupe, I couldn’t bend it or bear weight.   I tried watching TV, but back to back Sam Adams Summer Ale commercials taunted me in my misery.  Never had I both wanted something so badly, but also been so repulsed.

It made me hate beer yall!

I was weak, I gave in.  Susan filled the tub with what smelled reminiscent of patchoulli oil, some sort of Indian/Pakistani food spice mix, and maybe a bag or two of potpourri.  I don’t know.  I swallowed two Norco, climbed in, and wallowed in my shame.

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Meanwhile, for the past few weeks a colleague at work had been championing his incredible juice diet.  Promoted in the film Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, going on a diet of strict juicing sounded terrible.  But with the aforementioned list of no-no’s forefront in my mind, I was obviously ready to try anything.

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Cool side effect: lost 25 pounds in 8 days.

80% veggies 20% fruit is the mixture the dude suggests from the movie, and at first it was rough.  The nausea created by the Norco strangely helped curb my appetite, but getting through the first few “red” beat juices took some effort.  The green and yellow juices made from stuff like kale, apples, cucumbers and zuchinni tasted sort of like grass, where the beet juices tasted like dirt.  I now like them, but not so much at first.  After two days, I had a bunch of relief.  Was it the hippy oil bath, juicing, or the narcotic prescription?  I don’t know.

I do know this, I shouldn’t be on narcotics and text.  On the day of our wedding anniversary, and while fully under the influence of Norco, I texted a female coworker and not my wife,  “Woman me and you have plans tonight!”  And followed that up with an even more suggestive text to my boys swim coach, who’s a freshman in college, again thinking it was Susan.  Oh, and the coach is a dude.  So good job there.

I can now report that I am back to eating meat.  I rarely use essential oils, and I am taking prescription medication to avoid another gout flare up.  The juices are addicting.  I have more energy, the juicer is sort of fun to play with, and it’s an easy way to get my veggies.  Still too chicken to try a beer, though.  Baby steps, yall, baby steps.

 

 

I Love It When a Plan Comes Together

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It’s been awhile.  Work stuff, unexpected knee surgery, a brief bout of vegetarianism–it all led to me taking a hiatus from most things I enjoy.  But last week we ventured behind the pine curtain to my family’s land in Northeast Texas, and now I’m officially rejuvenated heading into my favorite season of the year.

The first order of business was to put my boys onto some big catfish.  River Monsters and the A-Team have been the majority of my kids’ TV diet this summer, so an interesting fascination with catching freshwater fish and vigilante justice has consumed my oldest son.   Growing up fishing the salt water, fresh water holds the same allure as salt water once had on me as a child.

Armed with our medium sized surf set ups, Abu Garcia 5000’s on stiff 7 foot rods, I thought we might have been over-gunned for the catfish in this pond.  Thinking we’d be reeling in 2-3 pound fish, I was pleasantly surprised when screaming drag proved me wrong.   We caught the first two on a synthetic bait used to catch whiting, sheepshead and other salty fish on the coast: Shrimp Fishbites.  These baits, though pricey, taste good to fish and last more than one hook up.  Cut into smaller portions they’d be deadly on spawning bluegill as well.  My dad  also scored a bucket of the something nasty from the local bait shop that made my hands smell like dead minnows for about a week.

It’s really time for me to get a GoPro.  My iPhone video is weak but demonstrative:  

As you can tell, I had to quit filming at the moment of truth.  In the next video, you can see the thematic influence Mr. T has had on my boy after a summer of watching the A-Team on Netflix.

 

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Enough for a fish fry

 

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I haven’t filleted many 10+ pound catfish. This was more like a butcher job. I found on the others it was better to go ahead and gut them before filleting.

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Captain is 48 inches and ways 45 pounds. This channel cat is 24 inches and 9.5 pounds.

We also started getting ready for bow season and checking the game cams.   I shot my bow at fifty yards, and was happy with the accuracy.  Though, with my elk hunt falling through, I’m going to turn my focus to local game, shorter distances, and smaller targets.

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This guy has me excited.  If you look closely, it seems to have a pair of tines that swoop backwards.

We tried out the new stands placement, seems to meet the little tree elf’s approval.

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Another cool thing we discovered is that Oliver grew into his youth rifle.  I have been coaching him about the mechanics of shooting and emphasizing slowly pulling the trigger so that it would be a surprise when it fires.  He did such a good job, I thought it was accidental at first.  But the target showed he was nearly perfect on his first shot.  My goal for him was to be just on the paper.  So I did two quick shots first, to make sure it was reasonably on target.  Turns out, his shots were much better than mine.  One of my lifelong dreams and most anticipated moments is the day I get to watch my boys take their first big game animal.  Now we are a step closer.  

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My shots were the lower two on the target.

 

This fall is shaping up to be an exciting one.  We are returning to Wisconsin for fishing, hunting and general outdoor recreating as well as cruising back to North East Georgia for some mountain time.  Of course dove and squirrel season will need some attention.  Also,  I’m getting to duck hunt with none other than Hank Shaw, my favorite food writer and chef.  Incredibly, he is coming to my home town to hunt ducks and geese and I get to tag along.  Moreover, he’s going to be doing a cooking school, about which I’m pumped.

What cool events do you have planned this fall?