The toe pain has greatly eased, and now amounts to no more than a occasional short-lived 'burning' sensation that comes on unpredictably - I wouldn't call it 'pain' as such: it just feels uncomfortable. I can walk about in normal shoes, although I haven't yet stayed on my feet for any great length of time - I don't want to push my luck! The toe itself still looks slightly larger than it used to, but it isn't rubbing up against another toe in a way certain to cause a blister, and the redness has faded.
I had a blood test on the 1st March, and went back to the doctor to discuss the results on the 10th. The various general results for my blood indicated normality, but the uric acid level was just above the normal range, and it seemed pretty conclusive that I'd experienced a mild attack of gout.
I wasn't given any ongoing medication, but the doctor printed out a lot of advice for me to follow. She thought that some changes to my diet would probably do the trick, changes that would not be difficult for me to make. These were all in the direction of eating less rich or spicy food, and above all getting some weight off. Nothing was absolutely banned: but I should ration myself where meat is concerned, particularly red meat, and especially tasty things like liver and kidneys; and it looks as if lobster is off the menu for the foreseeable future! (Not that I've tasted lobster for donkeys years) Drinkwise the big no-no is beer and lager, but then that's something I never drink, except maybe one bottle of Cobra or Kingfisher lager when eating out at an Indian restaurant, which is not a frequent event. Contrary to expectations, wine in moderation is fine.
The printed advice goes into it all, and I intend to take heed. I've no doubt that this is the push I needed to really get down to the business of losing weight gradually and permanently. So for the future it'll be smaller portions (on smaller dinner plates perhaps?) and simpler food with more of a fish and egg content. I've always piled on plenty of vegetables. I certainly don't mind going even more veggie.
Out of curiosity, I delved into the photo archives to see what I might have been eating in the week before gout struck on the 8th February. I didn't photograph every meal, but these breakfast, lunch and evening meal shots are completely typical of my food intake a month ago:
Meatwise I see chicken slices, lamb chops, bacon, roast beef and a sirloin steak. Fishwise I see sea bass, salmon and tuna. There's scrambled egg. There's Yorkshire pudding. There's mushrooms, red and green peppers, lettuce, olives, broccoli, new potatoes, roast potatoes, baked potatoes, carrots, swede, cauliflower and asparagus.
Not seen in those pictures, but often eaten, are green beans, courgettes, and pasta. Also the daily staples, that include restrained quantities of toast, crackers, butter, cheddar cheese, marmalade, dried apricots and muesli. Throughout the day, I drink tap water, tea, coffee, and large amounts of cold milk. During the average week I will also get through half a dozen low-fat fruit yoghurts, six apples, six KitKats, and six glasses of wine when out with friends.
I consume very, very few 'ready meals' or 'convenience meals' - they are consistently disappointing, compared with my own cooking. I don't have sweets, cakes or biscuits in the house, except those KitKats. And I don't drink fizzy, sugary drinks.
On the whole, I don't think I was eating unwisely in the run-up to that gout attack, but it was a food and drink intake that would keep my weight high. It looks as if that high weight has been affecting the efficiency of my kidneys, and as I read it, a slimmer Lucy Melford will be a gout-free Lucy Melford. Well, it would be nice to banish the bulges and flaunt some firm flat flesh this summer!