Our new patient trustee, Harry Tyndall, talks about his experience with gout:
I discovered I had gout four years ago when I was just 28. I thought I had fractured a bone in my foot when I got out of bed one morning so I hobbled to my local physio clinic. The physio took one look at me and told me I had gout. I was in total shock, let alone confusion!
Despite having family members suffering with gout, I just couldn’t believe it could affect someone my age. It was an old man’s disease right? For the old and rich – I was quite the opposite.
I now know from working with the UK Gout Society that one in ten people affected have a family history of the condition – and gout is the most painful form of arthritis you can get. That’s certainly the case. I remember crawling on my hands and knees in absolute agony. The big toes on both of my feet were so badly swollen that walking became almost impossible.
Despite the pain, my friends and people at work thought my diagnosis was really hilarious and called me ‘Henry VIII’ as a joke. It felt anything but funny to me!
As certain foods can trigger gout attacks, I have had to change my diet quite drastically. No more eating tubs of ice cream in one sitting and no more sugary drinks or cows for dinner. To assist my diet further, I have now become 90% plant based, so gone are the days of spending £10 on the pound menu at Mcdonalds. The upside is my gout diagnosis prompted a new business venture – chocolate-flavoured hummus, a healthier alternative to chocolate bars and other sweet things!
However, what I have also learned is that a change in diet couldn’t manage my gout attacks alone. I now take regular medication every day – allopurinol – which has reduced the levels of uric acid in my blood.
I’ve recently found out that gout can be linked to serious health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, kidney problems and stroke – so it’s not just a lifestyle disease. I’m really looking forward to working with the charity and helping to raise awareness of gout, and address the misconceptions about the condition, among all age groups.