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Peter’s Story on Living with Gout

I work in the electorate office of a senior member of the WA Government. Being a desk job it is quite sedentary and weight has often been a problem over the years. I was very fit as a young man but for various reasons have not been sufficiently so for many years. Before this I was (respectively) a press photographer and journalist (20 years), private secretary, computer systems engineer, newspaper managing editor, sub-editor, and speech writer.

When I first suffered from gout I thought I’d twisted an ankle or foot. Soon, however, the pain was too great and the swelling lasted too long for that to be the case. I visited my Doctor and to my shock I was diagnosed with gout. I believed, like many do, that it was a disease of massive overindulgence and risky high living.

On the occasions I have had bouts, it has had a severe effect. When one can hardly move a foot, one isn’t much good at walking to work or, in fact doing anything. In fact, without treatment, the pain is so all-consuming that the sufferer cannot think of anything else but the pain and possible ways to relieve it.

I try not to consume some of the things I think contribute to gout and I try to drink lots of water and other liquids during the day. These days I am more sensitive to the onset of a possible bout and­ there is usually a prolonged period of days of feeling unwell for no particular reason, and one comes to recognise this is subtly different from other illness or weariness.

In my spare time I design paperback books and dust jackets, and edit and assess manuscripts for emerging writers. I used to play a lot of sport, particularly swimming, squash and cricket. However, an improperly-diagnosed Achilles injury failed to repair properly, largely curtailing the sporting activity. I write fiction (having completed 2 novels) and help other writers where I can.  I’m also a committee member of the Fremantle International Portrait Prize, which runs portrait photography competitions to help raise funds for AOWA.

Watch our Gout Q&A with Rheumatologist Dr Helen Keen by clicking here


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