The rich man’s disease

04 May


I am used to pain. I  am also very tough and can withstand prolonged periods of pain. I have had a broken back and recovering from that is pretty painful. I have been injured many times and now suffer chronic pain from these injuries as well as the pain from just getting old. Most blokes my age or thereabouts are similar.

But nothing. NOTHING comes close to the excruciating torture of gout. It is not only debilitating it is ‘being stung by a stonefish’ level of painful where you seriously contemplate sawing off your limb with a hacksaw to make that pain stop. It starts maybe in a toe. For a lot of people it stops there and they complain about it being sore. YOU ARE AMATEURS! For me,  I go to bed one night seemingly in good condition and wake up with a sprained ankle. What!? Did I sleepwalk to the Seven 11 for a slushy and trip over. Then it occurs to me. Gout. It’s back. The sprained ankle doesn’t go away and I hobble off to work. Next day all my toes and my instep are throbbing in agony and it’s not easing. Another day and  can’t bend over to put my pants on. Seventy (it seems) Panadol later and I am drugged enough to eat tea and have a shower. In the morning my wife helps me get dressed and puts my socks on my feet. I can’t get my work boot on without crying like a baby. There are violent stabbing pains coursing through my body and my leg is bright red and stiff as a post.

A week after this the pain is still there but easing a little. A week after that I can walk a little better then one morning my kneecap is sore. Shit! It is in my knee now. I go through another two weeks of repeat agony from the knee down. The Allopurinol doesn’t do much and I’ve run out of Panadol and am hitting the Feldene pretty hard. Finally, after a month of excruciating torment the pain subsides and I am back to normal. This is what gout is all about. It is a rich man’s disease. So ‘SHOW ME THE MONEY!”

For the uninitiated, gout is a condition where the body creates more Uric acid than it can expel and it crystallizes and grabs hold of connective tissue in the joints. These crystals are razor sharp shards of glass-like horror that get inside the joint so in effect you are walking around on smashed glass all the time. It is called the rich man’s disease because it is linked to lifestyle. Too much alcohol and Fructose are the main causes and I have been a soft drink addict and an enthusiast for wine and beer. I also have chronic kidney disease which doesn’t help. Now, the thought of soft drinks (sodas) frightens me and I am mostly off the wine and beer. I even drank some water.

XRAY of gouty foot. Not mine.

Do not get gout. Do anything to avoid it. Since the average age of kayakers is pretty high, most are in the zone for this disease. Learn what it is and do what it takes to avoid getting it. Your kayaking will be a distant memory while you have this.


Posted by on May 4, 2011 in Kayaking Life



5 responses to “The rich man’s disease

  1. JohnA

    May 5, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Brad, you have my sympathy.

    My brother in law suffers with gout and he now has it fairly well controlled. So keep your chin up and hang in there, there is hope.

    I had a severely swollen foot a few years ago, and the GP I went to was sure it was gout. It was swollen from toes to just below the knee. It was very uncomfortable but not painful as such and I told him, “I don’t believe that this is gout, I’ve seen people with gout and this isn’t even close to painful enough !”. I might add that at this stage his examinatio of it had consisted of a cursory glance with my sock still on. He would have none of it so I went for a second opinion and it turned out to be a thrombosis. It scared the s**t out of me, but I was quietly relieved that it wasn’t gout. I’m off to have a glass of water now……

  2. Owen Walton

    May 5, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    G’day old fella
    You’ve probably heard me complain about my “crook” shoulders and how they prevent me doing too much long distance paddling. The problem I have is Chrondocalcinosis, which is commonly called Psuedogout, as it is very similar in symptoms to (your) Gout. However, whilst your crystals that cause all the problem and pain are of Monsodium Urate, my crystals are of Calcium Pyrophosphate. Similar symptoms, same pain, different crystals. My salvation is “Vitamin I” (aka Ibuprofen).

  3. Roadkill chef

    May 14, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    Owch – gout is a bugger. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, regular paracetamol and fluids are a good first line. Allopurinol (TM progout) has a role to play in prevention, not treatment of an attack.

    You might want to talk to your doctor re colchicine (TM colgout)…a tricky drug that is easily confused with progout and has the alarming side-effect of causing kidney failure is used injudiciously. Usually taken and titrated to pain and/or onset of diarrhoea!

    I’ve occasionally used a pulse of steroids to treat a gout attack. Please, if it’s persisting see your doctor and confirm this is gout…has anyone aspirated fluid or considered an X-ray?

    Anyhow, hope it settles and you get back on the water soon…

  4. Ian

    July 31, 2011 at 12:54 am

    Hi Brad

    I am a sea kayaking in the UK. I starting suffering with gout about 10 years ago. You are right, it is the most painful condition there is. I even passed out with the intensity of the pain one night. Don’t believe the hype about rich man’s disease. I was the fittest I had ever been when I went down with it. I don’t drink and eat healthily. I spent the first 4 years trying dietary changes, herbal remedies, drinking only water etc. They all had a short term effect and then I was back in pain. Eventually it got so bad that I was unable to walk for most of the time and when the attacks came I would get a fever and go into shock. Attacks would last up to 4 weeks or more and I would be crawling around on my hands and knees.

    Our free health system proved useless so I paid privately to see a specialist. By this time I was so bad they had to drain of the fluid from my feet and knee to relieve the pain and gave me steroid injections. For the following 2 years I had to take steroids to control the pain and methyltrexate (a chemo drug) to get me slowly back on my feet.

    In hindsight, my pride in my fitness refused to accept my illness and I left it too long to insist on seeing a specialist. In his words, I did not need to suffer so much and for so long.

    Seek the best specialist help you can before it gets even worse.

  5. Ian James

    October 31, 2016 at 8:13 pm

    Hi Brad it is Ian from Communique Software.a friend of mine has had good results by drinking Alkaline Water and I have just started drinking Ozonated water and find it very good.


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