Atypical Acute Gouty Arthritis in my Family
by Michael L.
The form of Gout which attacks me and two other of my brothers is very acute and debilitating. It can take hold at any time but particularly after a period of dehydration, such as by excessive caffeine consumption or being in a de-humidifying, air-conditioned environment and not taking in sufficient fluids. Interestingly, none of us consume alcohol by lifestyle choice, but we all suffer this acute gouty arthritis over stretches of up to, or beyond, one month in duration.
Where did the genetic link come from? Our father never suffered from gout, nor did his brothers. However, my mother had some very memorable occasions when I was growing up, when her foot or feet swelled up and she had to lie on the couch for a week until it passed. Each time the doctors' diagnoses was that she had "gone over" on her ankle and sprained it without noticing. The truth is that gout affects woman, as a general rule, less frequently and less severely than it does men. We can now see the clear genetic link in the gout attacks suffered by the male relatives on my mother's side of the family.
The first time I had a gout attack I was in my early forties. My whole foot swelled up so that I could hardly wear my work shoes. I went to a good doctor who, obviously never having seen such gout, told me that I must have been bitten several times on the foot by a red back spider!
My second encounter was to have much more serious ramifications. After going camping during a squally, wet, low pressure rain system, I picked up a gastric bug which led to chronic diarrhoea. Being an Honours graduate and teacher in the Biological Sciences, I knew to stay in bed, keep my fluids and electrolytes up and all should be fine. It wasn't.
Within two weeks I had developed blood sepsis and was hallucinating before going to my GP, who after I passed out in the examination room, sent me on a 10 day stay in hospital. I soon recovered from the gastric bug but even after having litres of IV fluid pumped into me, at the time both my legs swelled up and I could not walk. This was the first time one particular specialist suggested this was a gout attack. However, another osteo-specialist who looked at my swollen legs proclaimed, "If that is gout, I'll eat my hat!" Well it was, but he didn't. I was placed on the drug Prednisone for two months before being tapered off. I called it a wonder drug at first until after six months, both of the tops of my humerus bones in my upper legs developed late stage avascular necrosis and in my early 40s I faced the horrible trauma of double hip replacements. No one had told me avascular necrosis was a fairly common side-effect of the drug Prednisone!
During this time, both my older and one younger brother also developed acute gout in their 40s. They could take Colchicine, a gout-relieving medication, however, I could not without vomiting and developing acute diarrhoea. During this period, Australia released the anti-gout medication Allopurinol onto the pharmaceutical market and I was prescribed 300 mg daily. This preventative worked well for a period but the gout kept breaking through.
My brothers and I have suffered atypical, acute gout in nearly every part of our bodies. My elbows are both permanently swollen with a bursitis-like appearance. I've had acute gout in both arms, hands, shoulders and neck and any other place you could care to name. During a gout-event the attack can move from one area of my body to another in a matter of hours. These attacks have lasted for up to six weeks and very few doctors understand or are uneducated about how to best handle these attacks. Every time I have an attack my GP sends me for a blood test and, without fail, my blood Uric Acid levels are "through the roof". Until now, my main drug for symptomatic relief has been Indocid, an anti-inflammatory drug with some nasty side-effects, especially on kidney function.
That is how I stumbled onto this website after hearing of the blood alkalinising effects of both lemon juice and Apple Cider vinegar. I must admit my skepticism, knowing that our body has very complex homeostatic mechanisms inbuilt to keep our blood pH set within certain ranges, but I am willing by now to give anything a try. So stay tuned. I hope my next post will be a more positive one on the effects of daily lemon juice and/or Apple Cider Vinegar with appropriate after-mouth washes of bicarbonate soda to protect my tooth enamel. Wish me luck! Michael L.