Gout Patient Story

“Honey, I Have Gout”: A Spouse Reflects on Her Worries

At times, life can be difficult for those living with gout, but it can be just as hard on spouses. When you live in close quarters with a significant other, you undoubtedly feel the pain they deal with on a daily basis. Mira knows this firsthand.

Early on in their marriage, Mira’s husband returned from a business trip with a painful toe and they couldn’t figure out the cause. “For someone who was athletic and never had any health problems, it was inexplicable,” says Mira. “That first attack lasted about a week, and we were young, so he didn’t go see a doctor.”

Some people who encounter gout never experience a second attack, but overall, 84% have another attack within three years. Subsequently, Mira’s husband had another gout attack two years after his first, and it was the same thing all over again — his toe was very tender, couldn’t be touched and he couldn’t move it. Mira says, “He thought that walking in business shoes might have triggered it, but even though we were suspicious about what it could be, we just let it go.”

Gout Diagnosis, Relief and Management

After the couple moved to Atlanta a few years later, Mira’s husband scheduled an appointment with a new health care provider. After some tests were done, he was immediately diagnosed with high uric levels in the blood – hyperuricemia – and that immediately led to an inquiry of family history of gout. The doctor soon determined that Mira’s husband had the disease. “[My husband] basically came home and said, ‘Honey, I have gout,’” says Mira. Her husband wasn’t the only one relieved to have a diagnosis for his painful, sporadic affliction; Mira was ecstatic to finally know her husband’s condition.

“At first, all I knew about gout was that it was a sort of medieval malady,” says Mira. “And this was the late 1990s, before Google, so together we read all the printed materials my husband’s doctor had provided.” After reading the pamphlets and brochures thoroughly and embracing his condition, Mira’s husband began to effectively manage his gout. He was prescribed uric acid-lowering medication by his doctor and avoided foods known to trigger gout. Mira’s husband has responded well to medication over the years, and she is as supportive as she can be of the decisions her husband makes. 

The Worry Never Ends

Over the years since her husband’s diagnosis, Mira has started worrying more. “When you’re young and athletic and first hear a diagnosis, you don’t register that there might be a time in your 40s or 50s when it will become more of an issue,” says Mira. “The concern is always about whether the attacks could become more frequent or get worse.” In recent years, her husband’s gout attack pain has moved from his big toe into his hand. She doesn’t know if it’ll continue to move throughout his body as they get older, but she knows she’ll never stop supporting him.

“Ultimately, my husband has been very accountable for his gout, with only a handful of attacks over all the years since his diagnosis. We just take it day by day and hope for the best,” affirms Mira.

A spouse’s worry never wanes. But like gout, the worry must also be managed.

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