Got gout?

I think I’ve been suffering from cardboarditis for the past two weeks. Well, some might call it carboarditis but in my case it looks a whole lot more like gout.

Oh yeah, my gout is back.

For those of you who don’t know, gout doesn’t just sound ugly, it is ugly. It’s a nasty disease that affects crusty old farmers and myself. Uric acid in the blood forms crystals that settle painfully in the joints, most commonly the big toe and the knuckles.

Picture someone embedding crystals in your joints. Now try using those joints to unpack 793 boxes of household goods. That is what it’s been like these past two weeks trying to unpack our house.

My wonderful American doctor “fixed” my gout a year or two ago. Once we cleared the uric acid out of my blood he put me on a magical medication call Alopurinal that works quite simply: a pill a day keeps the gout away. With four small children to chase around, you can bet I’ve been pretty religious about those pills. Gout is genetic for me, which is why it’s hit me so young. I’ll have it forever and the best thing I can do is take my medication. Managing gout through diet is far from a sure thing, I’ve seen my father suffer from attack after attack, and cutting out food only makes a small dent in the disease and leaves you with very few eating options and a slightly grumpy spouse (not that my mother complains).

But somewhere during this move I lost track of my medication. After a month or two my pills resurfaced, but I thought the same thing all those old farmers think: maybe I can stop taking these pills. Maybe I won’t get gout again. Maybe it was all in my head–it wouldn’t be the first time.

Ten weeks. It took ten self-denying weeks before my gout came back with a vengence. This time it’s not just in my big toes anymore, it’s in my hands. And it’s not just the crystals, sometimes my fingers and toes go numb.

The biggest downside to living in Germany as a civilian is the confusing medical care. I’m bottom of the barrel to get in on the base facility, so everyone says civilians should find a German doctor.

Well yesterday I met a German doctor. It would have been helpful if she spoke English.

First off, walking into the clinic was like a visit to the local retirement home. Wall to wall old people. I swear half of them were there for the social, and they all knew each other. Kind of gave new meaning to the term “socialized medicine.”

After making my way to the front desk I attempted to make an appointment. “What time should I come back?” I asked, looking around at the wall to wall wait.

“Oh,” she said, “The doctor has an opening right now so you can go in next.” I checked out the 20 plus geriatric Germans who were patiently waiting their turn. Apparently the rumors are true, Americans always get right in. “Does the doctor speak English?” I asked.

“Yes.” Since most Germans around here speak pretty good English I wasn’t worried.

I sat down across from a female doctor and laid out my dilemma, showing her my medication and telling her quite simply that I need to get back on my routine. Once I had exhausted myself with speech, I sat and waited for her reply.

“We…take…blood. From…you…arm. Laboratorie, yes?”

Are you kidding me?

She then went on to convey that they don’t handle gout the same way here, that my medication is not right (I just had my levels checked in May) and they would start over again, maybe I eat different food, no? If I get gout, then they give medication. Not medication, no gout. Only after get gout. It was like we were playing cowboys and indians, the communication was about that good. I seriously wondered if my scalp was going to come into play.

By the time she was done talking I wanted to cry. She drew blood (which apparently is too thick), told me to return on the morgen and I went out to pay. But right before walking out I changed my mind. I don’t have to go to a doctor that I can’t communicate with. I don’t have to deal with gout because Germans do things differently. I thanked her, but there is no way in Hades that I’m going back in there.

Tomorrow I’m going to try to fight my way into the clinic on base, and every day thereafter until I get some real help. I don’t care if I have to be seen at six am, there will be an appointment for me and I’ll find a doctor who can look at my records. There has got to be a better way.


  1. Ouch!

  2. You need to turn to the Internet, my friend. I’m sure you can get your medication online. Hell, I’m sure the little punk kids I work with can get it on the street.

  3. Oh dear, my hubby has gout–it’s no good. Could you call your Dr. in the States and have someone mail your prescription to you? Since it has been less than a year since your visit, they should refill it for you! Or maybe have your friend/family call in a refill and send it on it’s way! Good luck, sorry you aren’t doing well. 🙁

  4. Um…do you have a refill on your prescription? Could you call it in? Have your UT doc call it in (without telling him you’re out of the country), have a friend pick it up for you, have them ship it to you. Call it in out my way and I’ll do it for you. I know, I just advised you to commit, like, eleven felonies, but desperate times, baby…

    (Attention Patriot Act spies: I have never acquired medication in this way, and my criminally negligent pharmacist in Puerto Rico will back me up on that. Also, I’ve never gotten a drivers license from a state where I didn’t actually live. Nor have I hidden in my closet until my Visiting Teachers went away. Everything I say on the internet is purely hypothetical.)

  5. My husband gets gout, so even though I have no idea how it feels myself, I do know how it feels to try and share a bed with a man who insists the sheet CANNOT TOUCH HIS FOOT!!!! I hope you find some relief soon.

  6. I am wildly curious how this will turn out… though I think DaNae’s suggestion verges on brilliance.. please blog an update when you make progress on this!