Grandma’s Gout Story for Gout Awareness Day
My colorful grandmother, whom I am very close with, relayed to me her personal story about living with gout. May 22nd is Gout Awareness Day and I found it fitting to share this today. As always, Golden Graine is not just about living with chronic migraine, it’s about understanding all forms of chronic pain. In her own words, here is my grandmother’s story, originally written two years ago.
Age is Relative
A woman never tells her age…well, almost never. My doctors know because it’s in my chart and I’ve never had a driver’s license so you won’t find it there. However, with you nice folks, I will share my age. 2015 is the year of my 8th decade … or if 8+0 = 8, then I am 8 years old again!
My birth month found me celebrating said birthday several times. The final event was a large family gathering for lunch. Afterward several of the females in the family went off to shop at the outlets. Normally I would get around in large spaces on my scooter, but these shops were harder to navigate so everyone took turns pushing me in a wheelchair.
After a couple of hours, I decided to rest on a bench full of exhausted shoppers. I pulled up near a lovely young man in his mid-thirties with one lone small bag. He turned to me and in fractured English, he politely asked my age. I proudly replied 25! Again, a woman never tells her age! A confused look crossed his face, but he let the comment go. He told me he was in town from Beijing, China for a conference. When my entourage arrived, he again asked my age and he got the same reply. “I’m 25.” He looked toward my daughters who played along and assured him that I was indeed 25 years old. On that note, we parted ways laughing.
Not long afterward I told a Chinese friend of mine about the encounter and how this nice man was fascinated with my age. He told me that the inquiring of one’s age in China is a common occurrence, much like Americans say, “How are you?”
And you know what? I think the Chinese greeting is better. On more days than I care to mention when asked, “How are you?” I hesitate, to tell the truth. The truth is that I feel like crap! I have severe gout in my hands and feet, which has only gotten worse with age. Rheumatoid arthritis doesn’t help the situation either. But who wants to hear an old lady complain?
I wear shoes two sizes too big because my feet are swollen, they ache. One foot has a huge knot on the back of it that is more trouble than it’s worth to seek medical attention for, so I just wear slip on shoes. I can’t shake hands anymore because they are stiff and tingling. A firm handshake could inflame gout and arthritis that hides within.
I can’t open a bottle or jar, much less handle a heavy plate or pot. I look like a 3-year-old when eating because my fingers won’t wrap around utensils. I’d like nothing better than to climb into bed & hibernate under a nice warm electric blanket. But when someone asks, “how are you?” it’s easier just to answer, “I’m fine.”
Tests and physical therapy have not helped. Then there are the meds that never seem to help. Bextra, Vioxx & Celebrex. Some never work or have caused allergic reactions. And oh yes, did I mention I have a bleeding disorder and wasn’t supposed to be taking anti-inflammatory drugs?
The upside is that I have a nice collection of copper bracelets, compression gloves in several colors, a bathroom full of emu cream, Tylenol Arthritis and an assortment of adhesive patches. These over the counter items plus cortisone shots help me better than any prescribed medicines I’ve tried. Also a perk of having this condition, I can predict the weather better than any meteorologist. In reality, I’d rather trade all of this to be able to use my hands like everybody else.
Diet changes are questionable at this stage in my life and vary depending on who you talk to. I’ve heard that soaking raisins in gin and eating a handful a day can help with gout or arthritis. If that doesn’t work in a few weeks, then just drink the gin!
I have recently discovered adult coloring books that I’m hoping will improve my dexterity since gout in many of my fingers cause them to be stiff as a board. I bet you can tell that I don’t always color inside the lines!
Reinvent the Old and Start Anew!
What I find astounding is that in the past 50 years the medical profession has not found a newer way to relieve the pain we go through on a daily basis! Isn’t it time to quit reinventing the old and start anew with drugs and therapies that make an old lady feel closer to age 25 again. Help!
By Joyce L. Rhyne
Arte Cluster is a project founded to raise awareness of cluster headache through art. Arte Cluster Project is an independent project founded and managed by Claudio Geraci, a chronic sufferer, and Francisca Mesa, a supporter.