}

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Another new adventure

Adventure is a good term, because adventure is a good thing. The word implies a something new, and hopefully exciting, that we’re about to begin. Sometimes, though, it can be used ironically for something that was not positive. Today I began something I hope will be the good kind of adventure.

This afternoon, I posted the photo above on my personal Facebook, and said: “I hold in my hand my brand new prescription for allopurinol, which hopefully will finally end my gout nightmare.” I start taking it tomorrow morning.

As long-time readers are very well aware, I’ve had an ongoing issue with gout attacks for many years now—for several years before I started blogging. I did a quick check, and I’ve mentioned gout in more than two dozen blog posts (so far…), though not all those posts were solely about gout.

The point is, this has been an ongoing issue for me for a decade and a half, and enough is enough.

Things became dramatically worse with my healthcare adventure: Seven weeks of unrelenting, often severe attacks, followed by around another three weeks of intermittent attacks (including one severe one). Moreover, I can’t take any NSAIDS for an attack because it could inter-act—perhaps dangerously—with my prescription drugs. That meant there was nothing I could do about an attack apart from wait it out.

One thing I don’t feel I’ve made clear is that this situation will never change: I’ll be on the prescription drugs for the rest of my life, and that means I’d also have times I’d be completely incapacitated.

Moreover, repeated gout attacks damage joints, never a good thing, but especially bad as we get older. And that, added to the probability of severe attacks I can do nothing to help or relieve, means that aging would mean losing mobility.

And yet, there is a solution: Allopurinol.

This drug isn’t perfect, and it has some drawbacks, along with possible risks and side effects (like all prescription drugs). But it’s the best option available to me, particularly when paired with the tart cherry pills I’ve been taking for several years. I’ll soon publish a separate post about what I do to help prevent gout, what doesn’t work, and so on. For now, though, I’m about to deploy my last, best defensive weapon.

So, that’s the why I’m doing this, but there’s also the why now?

Two weeks ago yesterday, the symptoms from my most recent attack finally ended. My doctor told me months ago that I needed to be symptom free for two weeks, and that in itself was often a difficult thing to achieve. So, on Monday, with the two-week mark rapidly approaching, I made an appointment, and today was the first day available.

My regular doctor is away on annual leave, so I saw another doctor. He did some basic tests, and wrote a one-month prescription for the drug, and ordered blood tests for just before I come back for a refill. They’ll test the uric acid levels in my blood to see of the dosage is effective, and also kidney function (because the drug can damage the kidneys). If it’s working as expected, they’ll renew it, or they’ll increase the dosage if it’s not.

I got the prescription filled immediately, took the photo above, and went home. I’ll take my first pill in the morning, with the others (and food), and that should be that for now.

I’ve been increasingly anxious over the past couple weeks, because I felt there was a ticking time bomb waiting to explode into another gout attack. I was careful not to do anything that might injure a joint (because that can trigger an attack), I watched my diet, drank a lot of water, etc., but still I worried an attack might arrive and re-set the countdown clock. Then, when I read the medicine information sheet, I saw that it said merely that I couldn’t have an acute attack when I started the drug, not that I had to be symptom-free for two weeks. I think my doctor was just being cautious.

At any rate, I’m now beginning a new adventure. I hope will be the good kind.

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