Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Agony. Pure, unadulterated agony...

This week, I have been mostly suffering from…


Yes, that’s right, gout; that disorder suffered by blimpish, port drinking retired colonels and a certain much-married homicidal Tudor monarch.

Yes, that’s right, your eyes didn’t deceive you; gout. G.O.U.T.

And now that you’ve been able to stifle your giggles for long enough to wipe the tears of laughter from your eyes, let me tell the uninitiated amongst you (you lucky, lucky people) something about it.

It is, without doubt, quite the most painful thing I have ever experienced in my life and whilst modesty and a desire to allow you to hold on to your last meal prevent me from going into any further detail, allow me to say, I am no stranger to extreme discomfort including, amongst others:

1. Toothache – a mere bagatelle
2. Severe cramp in the muscles of the small of my back rendering movement impossible – a trifling inconvenience
3. Post operative infection – bit of a nuisance

Unfortunately, I am also no stranger to its predations. I suffered my first episode before the age of thirty and between that age and thirty-seven or eight, it struck me a further four or five times. In the intervening ten years, I’ve only been struck a further three times, possibly because I started eating more sensibly and got myself fit.

But it still came, nonetheless.

It always begins the same way. I wake up in the morning to a vague, tingling stiffness in the large joint of my left big toe. If caught quickly at that stage with the appropriate medication (thank the Lord for NSAIDs!), a couple of days later and I’m as right as rain. Left untreated, by the second day, the toe is too stiff and painful to move and even putting a sock on is a procedure, carried out through gritted teeth.

By the early hours of the third morning, the agony – there is no other word to describe it – is so intense that the weight of the bed sheets on it is enough to wake me up creased in pain and the mere thought of putting a sock on is too much to contemplate, let alone a shoe.

The first time it struck me, I honestly thought I had broken my foot in some way, possibly by having it run over by a lorry when alcoholically inconvenienced; that is how much it hurts. Indeed, I have often mused as to whether it would be less agonising to take a blunt, rusty old knife and cut off the offending toe without anaesthetic.

Apparently, the condition is more common amongst the more intellectually gifted. I couldn’t possibly comment about that, but what I am sure of is that I inherited the gene which makes me susceptible to it (it is essentially caused by an inability to rid the body of uric acid) from my late father, who was also struck for the first time in his early thirties. Just for good measure, my pencil slim elder brother is also a sufferer. Unfortunately for my son, one of my brothers-in-law is also prone to the condition, so if, as is widely believed, it is inherited, the chances are that he can also look forward to becoming a sufferer in about fifteen or twenty years’ time.

What then of Mrs RtoK when I am in the midst of an attack, unable to walk at more than a hobble, my face a twisted mask of pain?

I don't suppose anyone would be surprised tolearn that she generally laughs at me, tells me not to be such a wimp and to try giving birth if I want to know what pain really feels like!

No change there, then.

Now where did I put those pills…

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