Two days ago, I was diagnosed with gout. Oh. My. God. The pain is awe-inspiring. It is, at the same time, burning, aching, and throbbing. It feels like how I would imagine it feeling if someone crushed the joint at the base of my big toe with a sledge hammer.
Now, understand that I’m not a stranger to pain. I’ve got arthritis in my left knee and shoulder, as well as my right hip. A couple of years back, I had to have a lung biopsy, where they cut a series of holes between my ribs and spread things open in order to take a piece of my lung out for testing. The ICU nurse said that my surgery was one of the most painful that she knew about, with the worst being open-heart surgery. Anyway, I am subjectively familiar with pain, and I’m used to dealing with it objectively since Kristen has fibromyalgia. The day that I went in to get evaluated at the walk in clinic, I would have called my pain a high 4 on the common 10-point scale, even though I couldn’t get my shoe on. I was given a script for indomethacin, which is a damned powerful anti-inflammatory, to help with the swelling and pain. I called off of work that day (July 3). And I have come to the conclusion that NSAID medications are definitely not primary pain relief. They are to reduce inflammation, which has the effect of reducing pain, but they don’t directly influence the pain. That’s best left to things like norco if the NASIDs don’t touch the pain.
Last night (July 4) I tried to put my shoe on so that I could get an idea as to whether I could go to work or not… I didn’t last 30 minutes before the burning got unbearable, so I called in to work for another couple of days, since the pain is/was intractable. This afternoon (July 5), Kristen tried to get me in to see our family doctor since my pain was still unmanageable, but she couldn’t see me until next Friday, a full 7 days hence. Not exactly a good thing, you know.
This evening, Kristen consulted with her BFF, who happens to be an RN, to get some professional insight into my condition and possible treatments. Long story short, I ended up in the emergency room this evening because my foot looks like a stuffed sausage. The joint at the base of the big toe is swollen and inflamed, and looks like it’s got a nasty bruise growing under the skin. I couldn’t even stand on the foot today, the pain was so bad.
Anyway, we spent a couple of hours in the waiting room before we got back (not bad, in my considered opinion, especially since I didn’t have to stand or move much) to see someone. The physician’s assistant took a look at my foot, which had practically doubled in size in the amount of time we were in the waiting room, and palpated it gently (thank God!) to get an idea of where the swelling and pain are localized. Oh, did I mention that the redness had spread across the base of the rest of my toes, into the arch of my foot, and up the top of my foot? He took some X-rays to see if the joint was damaged (which everything looked acceptable) and said that he thought that there might be a secondary infection that he wanted to put me on antibiotics for. An injection and some oral stuff. I told him to draw the injection up, particularly if he thought it would help things get back to normal.
At this point, I was ready to go forward with a cortisone injection into the toe if he thought it would help, so a shot of antibiotics was chicken feed. I was under the (mistaken, it turns out) impression that the shot of abx would go into the toe. I was really era relieved when the nurse came up to the head of the bed and told me to lift my sleeve. 😀
So here I sit: Left foot blown up like a balloon, with another couple of days off of work and a week of light duty, sipping my cherry juice (which is reputed to be very helpful for gout), and with my right shoulder aching from the huge injection. But, I’ve got some real pain killers on board from my time in the ER, and I have a script for more to have filled tomorrow. Here’s hoping that the swelling goes down enough that I can stand without agony. I can’t afford to take more time off of work, but if they can stick me behind a cash register for a few days, that will help a lot.