Dr. Peter Baaro Gathura, Senior Lecturer- University of Nairobi, lead expert in environmental impact assessment, department of Public health, Pharmacology and toxicology cannot remember the exact day and time he was diagnosed but he can vividly describe his journey living with gout. I sat down with him in a very interesting session and here is what he had to say about living with this chronic disease.
1.In Layman’s language, describe for us what Gout is.
Gout is as a result of metabolism of products of foods rich in purines. When these foods are metabolized, an individual ends up having high levels of uric acid that form crystals especially in the joints causing extreme pain.
2.What exactly caused your gout?
The main cause of my gout was drinking beer (kukunywa tembo) he adds 🙂 . Tusker to be precise. I ate meat as well but not as much. I would order meat but end up not eating it because I was already in my 5th beer by the time it had arrived, my appetite would have subsided by then and so my friends would be the ones to savor the meat. So I would say mine was triggered by mostly beer.
3. What has your experience been like since diagnosis?
It was life changing, there was a time when I was out of function for a whole year to a point where I had to design a make shift room to operate from in my own house because even moving up and down the stairs was a problem. I had tophus (swellings due to gout) , my legs were deformed and I could not even wear shoes for close to three years. The pain was excruciating , I cannot even begin to explain.
4. How have you managed your gout?
I would say my life changing moment was when I dropped the bottle and completely quit drinking. It was such an eye opener. Also, you will always find me with a bottle of water that helps lower the uric acid.
5. What is the gout like for you now?
I thank God I quit alcohol, Ever since, I cannot remember the last time I took medicines for gout. I have greatly improved.
6. Can it be treated?
It can only be controlled, By changing your lifestyle habits.
7. What can one do to keep gout away or manage the disease?
- By quitting foods that are high in purines.
- Drop the bottle, quit any form of alcohol, remember it cannot be treated. Once you have it, it can only be managed so at the end of the day, the alcohol is not worth it .
- Avoid too much roasted red meat (huu ni moto wa kuotea mbali) he adds.
8. Do you have any parting shots you would like to share about this condition?
(i) Gout can also be hereditary, it is not only as a result of lifestyle choices
(ii) There are innocent foods that do not really seem to be high in purines like Spinach that we really need to look out for. So find out exactly what you are eating before you overindulge.
(iii) We used to go to drink with diclophenac in our pockets, a pain reliever medicine ,which is also unfriendly to your kidney. We went armed so that when the pain starts, we can counter it and continue with the fun. The Bible says, my people perish because of lack of knowledge. We had the knowledge, we just chose to ignore. Do not fall under this category.
Dr. Peter Baaro Gathura has been alcohol free for many years now and has dedicated his Life to Jesus Christ. He went to further study counseling and psychology and has now embarked on a journey to help salvage other people who seem to be stuck in alcoholism. You have not heard the last of him on my blog. We have a lot of other posts lined up for you so keep it here for more life changing life stories from him.
N/B: Please note, I do not encourage self diagnosis and self treatment. By using the word ‘self diagnose’, it is in the hopes of bringing light to symptoms you should look out for before visiting your doctor .