The Gouty Chair

My Dad has Gout, a form of Arthritis usually associated with Port glugging Georgians. My Dad has not been a consumer of Alcoholic Beverages since he was in his 20’s. His vices – well his triggers for Gout- used to be strawberries, cheese, steak/beef and tomatoes. Gout, like Migraines, is encouraged by what you consume. Dad has had Gout since before I was born, from when he was younger than I am now. That is unusual. Dad also used to have Migraines. Terrible they were. Mum and I used to go out in the middle of the night to 24hr Pharmacies in Edgeware Rd to get pills for him. My Dad also had a Stroke when he was about 40. They didn’t know what it was, and they didn’t think Stroke because of his age – only much later did he discover after a scan, that part of his brain was dead. All of these things are connected by blood and blood pressure and stress. I inherit this from him (along with other things). He’s very sad looking with his Big Red Foot – like a deflated grey balloon. I’ve been prepping bowls of ice water for it, bringing him his tea and checking on him. When he has The Gout, he has my complete sympathy and attention. I remember once he was driving with it, and he got out of the car and vomited because the pain was so bad. With all the pain I’ve had, I’ve never vomited because of pain. I’ve vomited because of Migraine action, or Gallbladder action or Pancreatitis etc. but not because the pain is too much.

Dad no longer eats raw tomatoes, strawberries, cooked steak… but the Gout comes back. A few years ago when he was under a lot of stress at work (he only retired in 2014) he had Gout of different pain levels for months. Now it can come on quickly and powerfully. The bones in his feet and toes, and knee joints have been damaged from the Uric Acid that builds up in them during the attacks. Over the 30+ years he’s had it, his bones have been damaged, so now he gets more extensive areas of pain. I’m going to make him get trainers rather than the stout leather shoes he’s used to. I’m going to get him to rest his feet while he uses them – give them a good mattress to walk on.

This is his first Big Gout attack since Mum died. She was very good at looking after him, and more importantly, making him feel looked after. I am less good. I keep an eye on him – so much so he now gives me any medical letters he gets so I know for certain what is going on. I get the water etc. but I can’t make him feel safe and loved like Mummy did. But when I am in Carer Mode, I’m pretty fucking solid. Even if I’m desperate for sleep etc. (Ooo I’m such a fucking angel) but nothing can make him feel safe like that.


James Gillray: The Gout – hand tinted engraving 1799.

On a non-Gout, more selfish note – Boils. Well, Acne Cysts. My chin is currently a mess. Very scarred, covered in lumps, scabs, infections… I’m rather depressed by it. I’ve had Acne for 26 years. The only medicine that ever worked was one used to reduce my Testosterone levels, and it gave my Pancreas a spanking. Recently I’ve been stressed by the usual, not sleeping, eating badly… these things tend to show on my face. I’m hoping to catch up with sleep this weekend, or this week. But I’m also hoping not to attack my skin too badly if/when I do develop more lumps. Errrgh.

My WCA is finally booked for September 29th, and my Advocate can come along. Phew. Perhaps knowing my Advocate will be with me may turn my chin from the Himalayas to Snowdonia?

About Gout: – it can happen in your nose. Arthritis in your NOSE.

About James Gillray:


The ‘Gouty Chair’ of the title: a Georgian self-propelled wheelchair for people with Gout. Gout was such a widespread problem that it inspired the first self-propelled chairs. Normal wheelchairs were pushed, but Gout was seen as quite ‘normal’ so it was accepted that the people with it needed to be independent and not pushed around (they were usually men who could afford a Port habit, and therefore had status etc. didn’t want to look weak or ill…). More women got Gout in the 1700’s because of their drinking habits: water in towns was not safe, so they drank beer and spirits. Also diet. Gout is on the rise again due people living, and drinking, and eating, longer. This chair is at Kenwood House, London.


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