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19 May 2011

Gout and about

"The king of diseases and the disease of kings"

After a fun weekend with a rolling roster of visitors to Kratie I noticed a dull throbbing pain in the big toe of my right foot.  By Monday night it was strong enough to make it difficult to sleep.  It felt like I might have broken my toe but there wasn't any incident or event that would have caused this.  Luckily I was already heading to Phnom Penh on business so booked to see the doctor on Wednesday morning.

A blood test and an Xray later I was diagnosed with gout, the so called rich man's affliction because of its association with overweight men who drink a lot of booze.  (One great thing about Google/Wikipedia is the wealth of information you can get within seconds on health problems.)

Accounts of the condition go back to the ancient Greeks and, in 1683, Thomas Sydenham wrote:
"Gouty patients are, generally, either old men, or men who have so worn themselves out in youth as to have brought on a premature old age."
There is therefore the possibility that the heady days (or nights) in my 20s have now bitten back (on the toe!) with a vengeance.  There is also a curious subscript which is that in my (much much) younger years some friends and family nicknamed me Grand-dad because of some of my old-aged habits, one being my propensity to sleep at any opportunity... That said, 32 years of age does seem a bit young for this type of thing.

Two bits of good news are that it is curable with some drugs and plenty of water, and that I now join a rather illustrious group of historical figures who also suffered from this condition, to name a few: Alexander the Great; Charlemagne; Henry VIII; Queen Anne; Christopher Columbus; Nostradamus; Leonardo da Vinci; John Milton; Isaac Newton; Alfred Lord Tennyson; Thomas Jefferson; Benjamin Franklin.

I'll end with some more from Thomas Sydenham, a description of the symptoms, but, I must confess, slightly more severe than my current episode:
"The victim goes to bed and sleeps in good health. About two o'clock in the morning he is awakened by a severe pain in the great toe; more rarely in the heel, ankle or instep. The pain is like that of a dislocation, and yet parts feel as if cold water were poured over them. Then follows chills and shivers, and a little fever... The night is passed in torture, sleeplessness, turning the part affected, and perpetual change of posture; the tossing about of body being as incessant as the pain of the tortured joint, and being worse as the fit comes on..."


  1. now that's elite group you have joined. clearly your rock n'roll live style has caught up with you.

  2. Do you think that drinking to numb the pain is worth the risk of future attacks?