November 18, 2018 By bangkok7
Hello again, I’m Seven. Here to roll out another treatise on some aspect of life in Thailand for your reading enjoyment, just in case you’re somewhere else. Today’s addition to my expat oeuvre is an admission that life isn’t always perfect here. We’re all getting older, and that means the slow steady onset of one ailment after another. In my case, it means lower back pain, dermatitis, and gout. Whooooa, Nelly. The gout.
If you suffer from it, you already know what I’m going to say. If you don’t, thank your lucky stars because it’s horrendous. Medically speaking, gout is a build-up of uric acid in the joints that, when it hardens, takes the shape of a pile of tiny needles stabbing in all directions. In layman’s terms, that means incredible debilitating pain. So much so that even the breeze from a fan is excruciating. It’s been known for centuries as the “rich man’s disease” because it was believed to be caused by eating foods that—In the old days—was too expensive for common people, like craft beer, fine wine, choice red meats and proteins…basically all the things a man loves to ingest. I didn’t suffer from it till I moved to Bangkok, and of course I assumed it was because of my diet. So I scoured the internet for advice on how to stop a flare-up as well as prevention methods. Most of Google said “avoid proteins, alcohol, and refined sugar.” Yay. Some websites said “ice it” while others said “put heat on it” and still others said do both or do neither. The hippie-dippie sites said “drink apple cider vinegar” or “drink milk” or “drink citrus juice” and “take vitamin C” or “take magnesium.” Eat peas, no—eat cherries, no—eat eggs, no—eat beans! So I did all that, and none of it helped.
Various Thais gave me advice. Their number one tip was to avoid chicken, because something about chicken having cartilage and cartilage is where gout lurks, and after that I couldn’t follow their logic. I don’t speak Thai well enough, so it sounded like a bunch of hogwash. Of course, I did what they said. Anything to end the agony. It didn’t work.
The pharmacist gave me a pill to take. Colchicine. It knocks out the gout in a couple days and as a trade-off, causes horrendous diarrhea. Hooray. She said there were alternatives like surgery or cortisone shots. I passed, opting instead for the hot squirts. And so the gout rears its ugly head on a semi-regular basis every few months. Sometimes it sticks around for days or weeks. Other times it’s gone by morning. There’s no way to predict when it will strike, because it doesn’t seem to matter what I do or eat. And for good reason, as I discovered last week.
Researchers at the University of Otago, New Zealand recently published their results of an extensive study. They took data from over 16,000 gout sufferers, and concluded that diet had less than 0.1% effect on flare-ups, and that the cause is almost entirely genetic. It was both great news and terrible news. Great because it meant I could stop restricting my meat and alcohol intake, terrible because if it’s genetic that means there’s no way to avoid it. But the news that I can keep eating and drinking like a gluttonous pig really outshined that other detail that I’ve already put out of my mind. And in an ironic twist, it turns out that drinking in the red-light every night might actually have been helping to stave off an attack. A friend of mine here in Bangkok who’s also plagued with gout has a very interesting theory that flies in the face of previous wisdom and appears to coincide with the results of the Otago study. He says he gets gout when he doesn’t drink. Here’s how he reached his conclusion: he owns a bar, and thus imbibes of alcohol on a regular basis. A daily basis, in fact. Earlier this month, he became temporarily worried that he might have a problem, so he stopped for a few days just to prove to himself that he could. In less than 36 hours he was hit with crippling gout. My friend thinks it’s because when he drinks, he naturally takes in more fluids, which has the happy effect of flushing the uric acid out of his system. I have to agree. The same thing happened to me last week. I’d been to the red light district every day for over a month, and decided to take a day off, mainly because it was raining. The next morning—gout. So the great news is, not only does beer not exacerbate the affliction—it probably prevents it!
Which means the benefit of the gout, to finally get round to the point of this editorial, is that in order to prevent further attacks, I literally have to drink copious amounts of booze. Now, I know what you’re thinking—why not just drink lots of water? And to that I say, stop trying to rain on my parade. Also, this is science. Booze prevents gout. My friend and I proved it. So we who are tormented by this horrible curse (which has nothing to do with diet and is therefore not our fault) must take preventative measures by boozing it up in gogo bars nightly. We have no choice in the matter. And that’s where things stand. “Drink beer, ogle hoes, that’s the way to save your toes” is what I sing to myself every night now as I make my way to the red-light. Score one for Seven in his fight against expat afflictions. Speaking of, I mentioned another at the start of this lament: dermatitis. As luck would have it, I found a cure for that, too.
It’s bothered me ever since coming to Bangkok. I blame the air quality. Essentially, it’s a red, angry rash that appears between my eyebrows and on either side of my nose. What teen zit cream ads call your “T Zone.” It itches, stings, and flakes constantly like face dandruff. The pharmacist gave me a topical steroid cream for it, which helps if I slather it on twice daily. However, I always forget, so it hasn’t gone away and continues to be a chronic affliction. A few weeks back, I ran into my friend Randy, former boss at The Strip, who has taken up a new venture—a men’s skin care product line called “Mehn.” He said he’d studied up on the benefits of crocodile oil (crocodoil for short, copyright Bangkok Seven) and then designed a men’s face soap and part of his Warrior Line of products. Other ingredients include coconut, palm, and olive oils, jojoba, and aloe vera. He says it’s designed to get rid of blemishes, lines, and wrinkles. “What about dermatitis?” I asked. He gave me a bar and told me to try it out. I did, and the results were a welcome relief.
The first few times I washed my face with Mehn soap, I experienced a tingling over the more tender parts of my rash. That had me worried, but not for long. A few hours after washing, the affected skin began to peel off—kind of like a molting crocodile—and underneath was soft, new, baby-like skin. Each day, the itching and stinging subsided a little bit. After using it once a day for a week, the flaking stopped, and after 10 days the redness and stinging went away completely. Not only that, but the skin on my entire face feels softer and has more elasticity. Oh, and did I mention the soap bar is huge? It’s going to last several months at least. As a thank-you, I told Randy I’d say something about it on Patpong Nightlife. Thanks Randy! You saved my face. If anyone else out there is struggling with sensitive skin, or if you just want to look younger without botox, Mehn soap is the way to go. It’ll hit the market soon, but you can get an early look here: facebook.com/mehnsclub and tell them Seven sent you. Maybe Randy will give me another free bar of soap.
To sum up: Dr. 7’s prescription for gout: 6 vodka sodas and/or 6 pints of Belgian beer per night as needed. For the skin on your face: Mehn croc oil soap daily. And with that, I’m off to the red light district. Until next time, brothers: Cheers to another day above ground in the greatest country in the world: Thailand. Peace out.
Photos: Steakhouse Co.’s prime rib, Zoller draft, prime rib baguette at Steakhouse Co., Steakhouse Co. bottles, Steakhouse Co. prime rib dinner, Steakhouse Co. lam chops, Midnight in the Gaarden from Shenanigans, Steakhouse Co. Sunday carvery, Steakhouse Co.’s primitivo (I eat there a lot, Mehn soap and Warrior Line advert, Witte in Kiss Bar, Kilkenny at The Paddy Field, SML in King’s Castle 1.