Monday, 15 January 2018

How I got to this point

There seem to have been many false dawns - hell, I can see that just by scrolling down the posts on here - but this feels different. Is different, I should say.

In my last-but-one post, in July, I said something about doing some new shit or other, I had to get into shape, blah blah blah. Said it all before and for various reasons, it hasn't happened.

Shortly after that post in July, I was struck by gout. I'd had it in one short episode before, in the middle of a 2.5-year drunk; I knew what it was then, and  knew what it was when it came back in July. The previous visit was just for a day, really – a tiny flare, but it should have served as more of a warning and had I done the reading then, things may have been quite different.

Anyway, I didn't, and it came back, and much worse and for much, much longer. The average attack is 10-14 days, I had it for almost three months. Not massively, but it was there. I can't rest and stay off my feet, I have three young children and one of them is disabled so relies on her parents to help her around. It's just not an option. For a month, it was pretty bad; the following two, it flared up and down but never quite went away.

During this period, I saw the doctor a few times, as you would. She was patient, and listened, I didn't pull any punches with my history or lifestyle. I didn't lie, basically. She told me, if I got through my upcoming work trip without needing Colchicine, I could go on to Allopurinol when I got back. Well, it wasn't great while I was away, but I also got through it without the drugs. (I was in Vegas, FYI, and when the shootings kicked off I was downtown in my hotel with my foot up the wall, reading. A very, very strange time.)

So I started on Allo. This is a drug to inhibit the body's production of uric acid, which ultimately causes gout. Before they let you on it, you have to have a blood test which tells them your current levels, and allows them to test your kidney and liver function. This was my first ever blood test. and included a prescription for some numbing cream they use on children… It worked, but it still took me 25 minutes to let the phlebotomist actually take some blood. We got there though.

My kidney and liver function were described, miraculously in my opinion, as 'excellent', so we got started. They have to up the dosage gradually so that every bit of uric acid sitting in your joints and doing nothing doesn't just come loose and give you the attack to end them all. I'm about to have another blood test, I'm up to 300mg dosage and we're either there or very close to it. My blood urate levels are in the normal range and have been for a month, and I have been able to do some exercise.

Something else that's happened as a result of the gout: well, it two things actually. I have been mostly vegetarian for nearly four months, and I have not touched a drop of alcohol in that time either.

Never done either of those things before.

In those nearly four months, I have lost about 14lbs and done no exercise to speak of. Which is pretty cool. I look as though I have lost a lot more though, apparently, because my face has lost some puffiness. People are surprised by my appearance when they see me, one friend on Skype said, "I've never seen you looking like this before".

What else got me here? Oh yes, I bought a mid-life crisis bike, the kind that makes MAMILs out of even the most ordinary of us. It was an excellent deal, and it's a beautiful bike; it remains unridden though. When I was ready to get on and ride it (when I got the nod that my urate levels were 'normal'), I got a call from the bike shop to say that there was a global recall on that model and that replacement forks would be sent from the US as soon as possible. It looks like they might be here by the start of February, which is annoying but, what can you do?

I asked the shop to put different forks on so I could at least rack up a few miles. I collected the bike Saturday, still not ridden it. Last time I did much cycling, I was hit by a car on two occasions, and in another incident, chased by a driver (in his car) who wanted to kick the shit out of me. Fun times. But it can all leave a scar, and it's just another little hurdle to jump through and which takes me further from my comfort zone.

Then there's the running. Not run for quite a while, and I am afraid, slightly, of starting it again. I have been working on the hamstrings and glutes, and I know I am strong. I have been working in the pool a bit, and on cardio where I can, usually in short bursts in the gym. But I need to just get out there and do.

Fuck fear. There's more, but it can wait. Tomorrow you get to hear about… swimming lessons.

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