My Dad’s a Goldfish – Has he ever had gout?


Came home early from speaking at a Women of the World day to find the house deserted. Not a good sign. Phoned the DH who explained he was in A&E with the Goldfish. He’d noticed the Goldfish was in a lot of pain in his right arm, called the GP (not his usual doctor) who came out and decided it was probably a broken bone. Rather than wait for an ambulance the DH drove to the hospital where they had been in A&E for several hours. X rays showed no break but so far not one of the three consultants who had examined him could say what was causing the pain.

I turned the car around and went straight there to take over so the DH could go and get some work done. One of us has to earn some money and my writing career isn’t going anywhere right now.

Another doctor appeared and started manipulating the Goldfish’s wrist, making him yelp in agony. He thought there might be an infection somewhere but couldn’t say where or what sort of infection. “The only way to find out for would be to take some synovial fluid from the joint,” he said.

“Wouldn’t that be very painful?”

“I’m afraid it would and sometimes it’s not possible to get the fluid out.”

“Haven’t you taken blood? Won’t that show if there’s an infection?”

He nods, and then adds, “Sometime blood tests can be inconclusive. The synovial fluid test is much more helpful in pinpointing the problem. If we can get any fluid out to test.”

“No, I don’t want you to put him through that. Let’s see what the bloods say.”

He goes away and I sit down again and wait, though I’m not sure what I’m actually waiting for. Find myself worrying about why the GP thought it was a broken bone. She’d asked the GP if the Goldfish had fallen recently. He hadn’t. Maybe she suspects elder abuse. The doctor eventually returns to say the Goldfish is being admitted. My heart sinks. It’s Friday so he’ll be kept in over the weekend and there’s a long wait ahead of us.

The DH returns as the Goldfish is being taken to the admissions unit. The Goldfish has been dozing most of the time but perks up when the admissions nurse speaks to him when she arrives with her forms and hundreds of questions.

I spot the doctor on duty – husband of a friend, consultant rheumatologist – and beg him to come and have a quick look at the Goldfish. He comes over, examines the Goldfish’s arm and wrist and asks: “Has he ever had gout?” Everything falls into place. Yes, he has had gout, though not in his wrist but now we’re thinking we can see that’s what it is. It took him thirty seconds to diagnose the problem – and no need for synovial fluid extraction!

The nurse continues with her questions. She’s brilliant. Not only is she great with the Goldfish she actually listens to our answers and writes them down. We go through everything from how to get him to take his medication – crushed up in ice cream or chocolate mousse – to the need for almost constant prompting to drink fluids. And we requested he not be admitted to a particular ward where we had experienced a lot of problems previously. She knew exactly to which consultant we were referring. If only more were like her the NHS would be a truly wonderful organisation.

We finally leave the Goldfish. The DH had arrived at A&E at 1.30 in the afternoon; we got home about 11pm. More than a little bit tired.