Rheumatoid Arthritis

Ellen M. 2003 USA

Now on 100mg of minocycline twice a day M-F I am beginning my third month of treatment and very cautiously cheer signs of improvement. At the beginning, an internist measured my sed rate at 95, borderline anemic. I am now 46 years old and was diagnosed with ra at the age of 26. In three months, this is what I’ve noticed: my eyes have more tears, less mucous. My knees do not swell during my period. I have more energy overall. Healthy appetite has returned. My skin has softer texture. My tonsils are no longer chronically infected. I can walk a 14.5 minute mile on a treadmill. Here’s my history. I was diagnosed with RA a year into a marriage and with a new baby. It began probably years earlier with signs I chose to ignore. In college I had sore feet that I felt I had to work through in the mornings. Also suffered strep throats as a child, though treated with antibiotics. In college I had such a bad case of tonsillitis and bronchitis that I was put on a gargle of vaginal douche combined with heavy antibiotics! LOL! Having said that, I was an active person…I walked and rode bikes and swam and built forts as a young person in Michigan. I was on the 4-H softball teams. Several summers, my family would pack up and spend a week or two at the Jersey shore. After college I had shoulder pains that were fleeting and very painful. My foot pain persisted. Because circumstances of post-college life were stressful, that’s what I based pain upon. After my first son was born, I thought I should become more active and did an aerobics class three times a week. It stabilized me and made me stronger. I continued with aerobics into the fourth month of pregnancy with my second son. I felt pretty good. Somehow, I got sidetracked with volunteer work and bringing two children to the gym…and I let the physical activity slide. During the third pregnancy, I began to have flashing severe pains in both knees and they swelled. Fatigue was common, but I was pregnant. After the birth of son #3, I was completely debilitated. He was a very good baby. Yet, it took 6 extra strength Excedrin and an hour’s time each morning to navigate to the stairs and down on my rear end. Walking was excruciating, especially in the morning. Sometimes I’d awaken in the middle of the night tortured by the pain in my feet, get to the tub and run hot or cool water over them…whatever worked. At that time, I also visited a nutritionist in NYC at the urging of my mother in law. It was found that I had a high yeast count, as well as several food allergies – corn, wheat, peanuts. This made sense, as each of my sons was born with thrush. Getting on track nutritionally helped a bit. Overall, I continued to feel exhausted, chronic pain, and my right foot began to change shape with a bunion and the slight curve of toes. About 1993, I developed nodules at my elbows. They didn’t hurt but I was aware of them. Walking was my primary goal, because it hurt to put pressure on each foot. Nodules were nothing but vanity. My hands hurt tremendously. The wrists were stiff on occasion. This was truly a challenge, as I had a home business, computer-based, where I needed to focus intently on massive amounts of detail and be responsive to several medical meetings simultaneously. Once I fell on a wet kitchen floor that I’d mopped. I couldn’t put pressure on my hands or knees to get up. Half hour later, I scooted to a wall with a window sill and put one upper arm on it and edged my way to standing. Another time, I tripped in the basement with a basket of laundry. Oh my gosh, I just laid there, it felt so good to lay down. Pretty funny! Sore wrists and hands, lack of focus, sore feet, aching neck, daily crying jags in the shower, extreme fatigue…I kept thinking it was motherhood, or stress or … always something else, not the unfolding of ra. In 1994, my marriage was over. Although ra was not the cause, his mis-reading of signals was a challenge. I had good days and awful days – contributing to an already erratic way of relating. Plus, I “looked” healthy, I kept up a stoic front, and so when I had episodes of writhing in pain – he thought I was not doing anything to care for myself – being irresponsible as a parent, as a spouse. I bought into this somewhat, because I was so foggy to have clarity on some key relationship as well as health issues. My family was clueless about me. Most lived out of state. My mom said most of what I experienced was stress-induced due to the pending divorce. I agreed that stress factored in. I knew there had to be more to it. There was no history of ra on either side of my family, or autoimmune-related disease. Next, I sold the house I co-owned with my ex-husband in 1999. It was a solo undertaking. Knowing that I had to parcel out my energy, I stopped working with my own company for four months. I figured I’d make up the income after I got myself and the boys settled. I felt pretty healthy overall, only having pain walking. My feet were completely facing opposite directions at this point, but they worked. I limped. I still had nodes on the elbows. By 5 in any afternoon, I needed to lay down with extreme fatigue. It was a wall I hit. Getting up to make dinner and do the rounds with homework and activities for school and more felt superhuman. Having settled into the house, I had a flare up that was unbelievably bad. Again, a challenge to get out of bed and down stairs. Turning ignition keys? There were days I could not drive, waiting for pain and swelling to go down. I then got a scratched cornea. What I thought was a dog hair, was false. The opthalmologist did a comprehensive battery of tests and said that I had a level of infection that needed to be treated immediately with a steroid-based antibiotic and also with Refresh Gel. He told my tears were drying up. Every time I blinked, I scratched. Mucous aggravated it. I made a decision right then, I was not going to curl up and die. I had these beautiful children, was running my own business – and went to school once a week at night for a master degree. I had met the most wonderful new man. Driving into a neighboring town, I stopped at a bookstore called Success Express. I looked all over for something to jump at me. The manager approached and asked what I needed. I told her I was so sore and not well. What books could she recommend? She directed me to the business cards tacked to the bulletin board. “Try Marcia. I had a form of leukemia, saw her many times and I’m healed.” I looked at this woman as if she were nuts. “She does Reiki. She’s not only a healer, but she is healthy.” Hmmm. I met Marcia and I began to understand the miracle of energy work. For me, it was God waking me up and preparing me to heal my body by first healing my spirit. Reiki once a week began to shift me awake in mental clarity, a waking up of some energy, a clearing of intent. I also had a spiritual/physical detox…my cells had a lot of excreting to do – of past trauma and sadness and anger and resentment. It was not pretty. I was so angry and didn’t even know it. Angry at myself and others and on. I cried and yelled and let it out. Never had I allowed that before. All this time I was taking about 3 Extra Strength Excedrin each morning (decreased from six since starting Reiki treatments, then training). I also was on a regimen of blue-green algae and probiotics. I went to a physician for additional options. I was told Prednisone and gold shots. No thanks. It was stubborness. Also, I KNEW that people on steriods got worse and needed more. I would muddle thru. My new love and I began to be more serious and I wanted more than anything to be healthy and strong. I continued Reiki, learned Integrated Energy Therapy, and began work with crystals, as well. I began to get on a treadmill. I would do a mile in 21 minutes. It was a start toward fitness, combined with spiritual health. We became engaged and this past February, I was determined to just see what else I could do. I heard about all these new drugs. I went to Dr. Widman in Morristown. He is a very reputable doctor and graduated Johns Hopkins. He looked at me and said if I were his wife or sister he would recommend Remicaid combined with Methotrexate. He said my hands, feet and upper neck all showed distortions. He said a surgeon would love to get their hands on my hands due to the gnarling and swelling. He said don’t do hand surgery immediately, but instead, investigate foot surgery. I asked about Enbrel, which he said no to, because it hasn’t been widely tested or for long enough. He described the combined chemicals with rat proteins to be iv’d into my body and I felt sick. He said the methotrexate would be in such a small dose as not to be toxic. My gut response – this was more harm than good. Dr. Widman’s findings were sent to my general practitioner. During one of my regular visits to him for tonsillitis, he opened the file from Dr. W. That’s when my life shifted again. “Why didn’t you tell me about this?” he asked. “Have you read ‘The Road Back’? Read it, then come talk to me.” He took a book off his shelf, telling me that Dr. Brown was one of Dr. Widman’s teachers at Johns Hopkins. I read the book cover to cover in two days. He put me in touch with an older gentleman who had been crippled with ra for years, but showed signs of improvement on ap. After getting the necessary bloodwork, a sed rate of 95, I began 100 mgs of minocycline in the mornings and again in the evenings M-F. Herx affect? What a mess. A week after starting, I broke into fevers, hives all over my legs, arms, face and chest. Oh, that’s my whole body! Had nausea almost all day for three weeks. I needed to sleep more. But at the same time, I KNEW IN MY BONES THIS WAS WORKING. I drank gallons of water and took the anti-fungal Primal Defense a.m. and p.m. – 4 tablets each time. I also take Oregamax which is an excellent anti-fungal. I eat a great deal of salmon, good sushi, ginger. Also, I try to eat more greens – broccoli and spinach and salads in general. I still crave chocolates. I take one Excedrin a day. I bore into my treadmill routine and was able to sweat. I didn’t realize that I wasn’t sweating before. Now I was sweating. I was doing a complete physical detox. I used to be afraid that if I over-exerted, I would be laying down for days to recoup. It was not happening that way. If I stretched muscles…it would hurt, but a strengthening hurt. I am immersed in holistic healing avenues, as well as working full-time. John and I married the end of October of this year. I danced in ballet slippers (with arch supports!!!) at my wedding. My sons were my bridesmaids. John has been so supportive the whole way. This is just the beginning.Thank you for letting me share. I never knew I could begin to feel normal. (Anita’s story posted in july of this year was so inspirational, here’s mine in the hope that more can be inspired.)

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