Dear Ms. Meniscus:Husband with gout keeps wife awake all night

My husband has gout and I can’t stand sleeping with him when he is in pain. He likes for me to stay in bed with him and scratch his back but it is driving me crazy because I have to get up early for work. How can I sleep in another room and let him know I still love him?

Tired Susan


Dear Tired Susan:

From what Madame knows, gout is a painful rheumatic disease resulting from the deposit of uric acid crystals in the tissues and fluids of the body; however, Madame doesn’t know if your husband is experiencing too many flare-ups, or, if his condition has entered a more chronic stage of development.

Clearly a back scratch is not going to “cut it’ when it comes to pain. What he needs is a visit to the doctor whereby the two of you provide your physician with as much information as possible.  Madame recommends that you start now by keeping a little note pad prior to the appointment and jotting down all the symptoms that affect him, including, of course, the frequency of pain.  Be sure to include the wake and sleep cycles of the two of you. This little notebook should be kept for a week at a minimum.

In the meantime Madame must alert you (or highlight) for you the fact that there are volumes of research about the detrimental effects of interrupted or inadequate sleep on the brain and body. So, for this reason, Madame is equally concerned about your wellness.

If you must get up early for work does your husband not take this into consideration when he asks for company? You have already demonstrated that you are a devoted and loving spouse, but loving devotion does not also require self-injury.

Since it appears that right now you must do the work of helping him manage his condition and keeping him company through the night, then Madame suggests you learn as much as possible about gout and sleep deprivation and then provide him with this information. You could begin with an Internet search, but if you’re not comfortable with computers, your health care provider will help, or alternatively check for toll-free numbers of legitimate organizations and medical societies.

Once your husband and you are better informed you can sit down together and discuss your need to stay well in order to support the two of you   financially and emotionally. Reassure him of your love and if you don’t think he will listen, then speak to the doctor and ask for his/her assistance in this matter.

Madame hopes you take the situation and transform it into an opportunity to work together.  Get busy, arm yourself with facts and a back scratch, then get to bed, alone!