JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Growing Old Is Not For Weenies; It’s Good To Have A Friend In Canada

I got gout.

Of all things, after a long winter in which I survived two spine surgeries to relieve pressure from a herniated disc on my sciatic nerve, I woke up one morning in early March with excruciating pain in the big toe on my left foot.

My first thought was an ingrown toenail, so I went to my doctor and he carved me up a bit and sent me home, with instructions to take some of the opioids I had been taking for my back problem for a couple of days, until my toe quit hurting.

It didn’t quit. So he referred me to a podiatrist, who said I probably had gout. He wasn’t quite sure but gave me a prescription for gout pills. It’s called Colchicine, and it makes your big toe feel better. Not 100 percent better, but a whole lot better.

He said he would give me a prescription for 30 pills, but I should quit taking them when my toe quits hurting. Shouldn’t take more than a few days, he said. I should keep the rest for flare-ups, which happen occasionally.

So I traipsed up to the pharmacy to pick up my Colchicine. And the druggist said “Just so you know, before I fill this, it’s $190 for these 30 pills.”

Whoa, I thought to myself. How bad does that toe really hurt? A hundred and ninety bucks worth?

So, recalling the words of the doctor who said he was giving me more than I needed right now, I asked “How much for 12?”

“That would be $80,” was the reply. I thought for a minute, and said “OK, give me 12.”

Now keep in mind I have prescription drug insurance, so that was just my co-payment cost.

I guess drug companies believe that old saw about gout being a “rich man’s disease” and figure they can get away with outrageous prices.

Well, gout’s not only a rich man’s disease, it’s an old man’s disease. I’m old, but I’m not rich. I took my 12 pills and went home. I took them. The gout went away. Pretty much. A twinge once in a while, but easy to live with.

The problem is, there are things you are not supposed to consume when you have gout. Good things. Things I really like. Things like red meat, scallops, asparagus and beer. Some of my favorite things.

So, for 10 days I avoided those things. And took my pills. And I felt pretty darn good.

But I got to thinking. The doctor said I “probably” have gout, but he wasn’t sure. What if I had another problem with my big toe, not gout, and it had just gone away on its own? I didn’t want to quit eating things I really like if it really wasn’t necessary. So I decided to do a field test. Scallops. God, they were good. And yep, I have gout.

I limped around for a couple of days and the pain subsided. And for a couple of weeks, I felt pretty good. Until last weekend. At a nice restaurant Saturday night, I perused the menu and decided to forego the red meat, and I ordered the tuna. Turns out I hadn’t read far enough down the list of foods not to eat — I had gotten discouraged at scallops. Tuna was on there. And I am paying a price for that, yet today.

So I decided to get some more of those nifty little pills that take the pain away. But at $80 for 12 — more than $6.50 a pop — I had to weigh the possibility this would go away on its own.  It hasn’t, as of Thursday afternoon.

So I decided to check the Canada Drugs website to see what they were selling for in Winnipeg. Now, I wrote about Canada Drugs a few months ago, but the next day, I found a bad math error, and I wasn’t sure if I could even get it corrected, so I just yanked the post from my blog. I never did get around to ordering anything from them. Until this week.

I went to their website and typed in Colchicine. Popped right up.


For 100.

83 cents each. As opposed to $6.66 each at my pharmacy a month ago.

And the company was a joy to deal with. I needed to call its toll-free number to get a password to be able to order from the website, and the nice customer service lady who answered said, “As long as you’re on the phone, let me just take your order now, and then I’ll give you a password to use online next time.”

The lady was in Winnipeg, so we’re practically neighbors. She took my order and I asked her if she wanted my credit card number to pay for them. She said that sometimes there are problems with credit cards across international lines, with currency exchange fees and such, and to save me money, how about if I just send her a check?

Really? When was the last time somebody asked you to send them a check? She said I should just send the check right away, and she would go ahead and process the order while the check was in the mail. I felt like I had stepped back in time. Gotta love those Canadians.

I had to get a written prescription, and then scan it, and e-mail it to them.

It took a few minutes for me to explain to my doctor and his nurse why I wanted 100 of those little buggers — that was the smallest quantity Canada Drugs wanted to send me — and they seemed a little nervous that I might be abusing them or something. But when I told them the pills were coming from Canada, they were quick to write out the prescription. I expect they’ve dealt with this before.

The only down side is it’s still going to take a couple of weeks for the pills to get here, by the time the order works its way through their system and then through the Canadian and U. S. mail systems. I hope by the time it gets here I don’t need them. Then again, I might just go out and have a scallops appetizer, some asparagus and a tuna steak. And a beer to wash it down. Just to be sure I really have gout.

Oh, and here’s the website. CanadaDrugs.com

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