"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..."