At 7:36 PM last night, my next-door neighbor Margo rang my doorbell to tell me our neighbor across the breeze-way – Sandy – was in trouble.  The red emergency light outside of Sandy’s apartment was on, and she could be heard calling softly for help.

After I called 911, the dispatcher asked for our address – I was so shook up, I couldn’t give her any more information than to say, “We live across from the elementary school.”

I handed my cellphone to Margo so she ccould give better directions, while I ran to get the landlord and a key.

The landlord and I got inside Sandy’s apartment, and I started talking to her while I had the dispatcher on the line.  I tred to sound calm, but I was still pretty shook up.  This lady is super kind – giving neighbors rides, and bringing me soup .  She just had her seventy-first birthday, but she looks less than 50.  She doesn’t deserve trouble.

The landlord told me it was time for me to make way for all the paramedics and such.  The tiny apartment was full to the brim with EMTs, their baggage, and at least one cop.

Outside, there was the requisite ambulance, a full-sized fire engine, maybe another ambulance up the street, and a police car.

Sandy told me she has had gout before, and she thought this was a second attack.  It iwas EXTREMELY painful for her to move her leg.  She winced everytime a paramedic touched her to get her into the ambulance.

I yelled, “We love you!  Bye, bye!” trying to sound as up-beat as possible.

GoutGOUT.  What the heck is gout!

Benjamin Franklin had crippling, painful gout.  He even wrote “Dialogue Between Franklin and the Gout.”

Henry VIII, Isaac Newton, and Samuel Johnson had gout.

“Gout (also known as podagra when it involves the big toe) is a medical condition usually characterized by recurrent attacks of acute inflammatory arthritis—a red, tender, hot, swollen joint.” says Wikipedia.  “The metatarsal-phalangeal joint at the base of the big toe is the most commonly affected (approximately 50% of cases). However, it may also present as tophi, kidney stones, or urate nephropathy. It is caused by elevated levels of uric acid in the blood. The uric acid crystallizes, and the crystals deposit in joints, tendons, and surrounding tissues.”

Hmm, I just came from my kidney doctor earlier this same day. I have had over two dozen kidney stones and one source is “elevated levels of uric acid in the blood.”  Except for me, oxalate is the leading culprit.  Still, quite a coincidence.

“Clinical diagnosis may be confirmed by seeing the characteristic crystals in joint fluid. Treatment with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), steroids, or colchicine improves symptoms. Once the acute attack subsides, levels of uric acid are usually lowered via lifestyle changes, and in those with frequent attacks, (other medications) provide long-term prevention.  Gout has become more common in recent decades, affecting about 1–2% of the Western population at some point in their lives. The increase is believed due to increasing risk factors in the population, such as metabolic syndrome, longer life expectancy and changes in diet. Gout was historically known as “the disease of kings” or “rich man’s disease”.”

In this case, it was my poor neighbor.  I’ll visit her in the hospital later today.

Meanwhile, I am painting instructions given to me by my mother on the inside of my eyelids –

“Calmness at all costs.”



2 thoughts on “Emergency

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