Thursday 26th April 1990   Morning  surgery 09.40

“You are correct, Mrs Vaughan, it is gout.”
Mrs Vaughan was very pleased with herself. “I thought so, doctor.”
My Dad seemed as if he was about say something but paused, deep in thought. He rubbed his chin and tilted his head slightly. He stared intently at Mrs Vaughan and tapped his fingers slowly and loudly, three times, on the arm of his chair.
“Yes, doctor?” Mrs Vaughan looked worried.
“I know that your big toe is swollen, hot, red and very painful but there must have been something else that made you suspect gout.”
Mrs Vaughan shook her head. “I don’t think so, doctor.”
“There must have been,” my Dad continued. “Think carefully.”
“No, I really don’t think so.”
“Look, Mrs Vaughan, if you are embarrassed because Dennis is here, I can send him through to reception.”
“Certainly not,” Mrs Vaughan retorted, “Dennis is going to be my doctor after you retire. He needs to know everything there is to know about me.”

Valerie Vaughan must have noticed my anxious expression, “Don’t worry, young man,” she continued reassuringly, “everyone in my family lives into their 90s. You can take as long as you want to qualify.”

“This is the way I see it,” said my Dad. “You enjoy a small glass of sherry before bed. Who doesn’t? Recently it’s been more: a few glasses every evening. I don’t suppose Vernon knows. It is so easy for these things to build up. Before you know it, it’s two bottles a week. Then you get a swollen, hot, red, very painful big toe and you put two and two together. It has to be gout.”
It was my Dad’s turn to look pleased with himself.

“Actually, doctor, you are right. There was something else that made me suspect gout.”
My Dad looked knowingly at me and raised his eyebrows.
“Vernon has grown some large, delicious asparagus, this year. We have had grilled scallops and asparagus every night for the last two weeks.”

“Grilled scallops and asparagus! What on earth have they got to do with gout?”
Mrs Vaughan looked knowingly at me and raised her eyebrows. She leant forward and patted my knee. “I think your Dad is due a little refresher on gout. What do you think, Dennis?”

Gout.
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