Diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) 6 years ago and, after trying numerous rheumatic medications, Monika was still experiencing insufferable pain. Taking matters into her own hands, she researched Antibiotic Protocols (AP) as a treatment option, found a local doctor to help her, and started minocycline ten months ago. Describing her journey to date, it is clear that Monika’s self-advocacy and determination will help her to successfully take her life back! Grateful thanks to Monika for generously sharing her story and we look forward to progress updates over time. Please join Road Back Foundation (RBF) in wishing her every success on her AP road back to remission!
Monika’s AP Journey Begins
At the start of 2012, I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (seronegative); I was 19 at the time. It’s now 2018 and I can say that I’ve been through a whirlwind of a ride with my health since then. I am now 25 and living each day better than the last since I began my minocycline treatment 10 months ago. I am by no means in remission (yet), but my CRP and ESR markers are dropping significantly each month as I follow up with my functional medical doctor for blood tests. These tests just confirm the reduced amounts of pain and swelling in my joints recently.
My disease began after a very bad case of a flu, virus, or some sort of bacteria. To this day, I’m not sure what triggered this disease, but after my body recovered I noticed that I had very puffy-looking knees. Naturally, I went to see my doctor about this. She referred me to a rheumatologist and that’s when the journey to fight for my health began. All the specialists I saw told me the same thing, “Your immune system is attacking itself and therefore you need to be on immunosuppressive medications, probably for the rest of your life.” As a young and never seriously-ill individual, this scared me and caused lots of confusion. My doctor at the time started me on some mild forms of treatment as the RA had not spread anywhere else beyond my knees. This treatment modality had me in and out of the doctor’s office for about 3 years and nothing was stopping the disease, even after trying multiple NSAIDs. I had undergone many cortisone injections just to get temporary relief. Although, I knew that in three months time (when a new flare came along) I would be back at the rheumatologist’s office requesting to have the fluid removed, again.
As time went on, my RA began to get more and more aggressive. Not only did I have swollen knees, but now both of my elbows and an ankle, which caused me to limp from the unbearable pain. Naturally, my doctors wanted to get more aggressive with my treatments, meaning I’d be taking more aggressive drugs. At first, I refused but eventually gave in as the pain and immobility was becoming insufferable. Methotrexate did not work. Humira gave me a fever after the first shot. Enbrel gave me some relief after the first few shots and that was it. My doctor, at this point, recommended that I begin a combination of Enbrel and methotrexate. After hearing this, I closed the door to all conventional treatment modalities. I was determined to find another way. I wanted to find doctors who would look at my case as a whole and dig to find out what was happening in my body and causing all of this.
Just last year, I decided to take matters into my own hands and it has proven to be the most difficult, painful, joyful, emotional, depressing, frustrating and successful year of my life! Last February, my CRP levels were at 111, my joints were on fire, I couldn’t open doors, walking was painful, I dreaded waking up in the morning as this was when I experienced the worst pain. It was so bad that I had to defer from my program for a year as I was in no condition to attend school or lead any “normal” lifestyle, I was homebound at this point.
I had to adjust my life and accommodate my limitations, but I refused to have my life (at such a young age) stolen from me. I was desperate and spent hours on the internet searching for answers and, fortunately, I found this website and began reading the testimonials. I couldn’t believe what I was reading, I found it almost too good to be true! I bought Henry Scammell’s book right away and finished reading it within two days. Since then, I haven’t looked back. I found a doctor in Toronto willing to work with me. After taking my first few doses of minocycline, I couldn’t believe it; I was already feeling so much better. The pain in my ankle reduced significantly, getting out of bed wasn’t as painful as it was two weeks prior to the antibiotic, my energy was a little more stable and I no longer looked so sick.
Since I started my antibiotic therapy, I am extremely happy to say that I have been improving slowly each month and my CRP is currently 37 (reduced from 111 last February). At this time, my joints are still somewhat inflamed (knees, elbows, wrists, fingers and ankle) but walking is no longer unbearable, I am able to take gentle and short walks with my two-year-old pup again, cooking is no longer painful for me, and I’ve been fortunate enough to return to my part time job (tutoring). My morning stiffness is non-existent. I am able to prepare myself breakfast without pain and discomfort. In terms of my diet, I keep it as anti-inflammatory as possible (meaning I am gluten-free, dairy free, etc.) and, since I am taking antibiotics, I do use supplements to support my gut flora and gut lining; this is key. I am by no means in remission yet, but for the first time since this disease presented itself, I feel like I am on the right path and remission is a viable option for me! In the mean time, I spend most of my days educating myself on alternative treatments to this disease, maintaining a healthy diet, and believe it or not I’ve started to do mild workouts to regain all the muscle I’ve lost in the past year. The goal is to return to school this coming fall!
To follow Monika on her Instagram page, click here.