Gout and You
"I Just Wanted To Die, Because Living With This Pain Was Unbearable"
Jim Alder* from Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania fantasized about
offing himself--or getting the hospital to cut off his leg. As he lay abed, he
reviewed and discarded suicide methods one by one as impractical until he
realized his best option was to somehow convince the hospital to amputate the
offending member: his gouty toe. "I
just wanted to die, because living with this pain was unbearable."
"I Wanted To Be The Healthy Guy"
Jim is the first to admit that the severity of his attacks was due to
his dislike of adding to his regular regime of medication. "I was already
taking medicine for this or that condition. Taking all those medications made
me feel bad-like I was an invalid, or old, or something. I wanted to be the
healthy guy in the orange juice commercial, but here I was, taking 4 pills
twice a day. I just didn't want to add another pill to my regimen.
So instead, here I was, ruining what quality of life I had by refusing
to take the medication for my gout. I ended up with chronic pain and really
severe attacks, 3 or 4 times a year."
Jim would have a bad attack, take Alopurinol for a couple of weeks, and
then stop taking the medication once the most severe pain had subsided. He
struggled with his chronic condition, developing a permanent, crystallized lump
on the ball of his foot, which his doctor told him was called a tophus.
Three years ago, Jim had the most severe attack ever. The entire Alder
clan was coming to celebrate the Passover holiday, with the ceremonial meal or
Seder to be held in the Alder home. Jim had a gout attack just as the guests
arrived and the pain was so bad he knew he couldn't join the family at the
table. His cousins said that if Jim couldn't join the Seder, the Seder was
coming to him. They proceeded to set up the Seder right in Jim's bedroom.
Passover holiday remains a nightmarish memory--but that experience was
the turning point for Jim. He knew that it was time for him to stop ignoring
his gout and accept his need for regular gout medication. Now that Jim takes
Alopurinol on a regular basis, serious attacks of gout are a thing of the past.
He's had to give up the occasional, purine-laden beer, but that's a small price
to pay for quality of life.