My Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis, February 14, 2001
I guess one could say it started as a child. I was always going to the doctor for medicine for a high fever. I was skinny and hurt all the time. Somehow I got through high school and got a well-paying job in a car plant. I still was sick but managed till around the age of 30 when everything became a struggle. Doctors said I was fine. It was all in my head - just depression. As I was so extremely tired, the doctors gave me diet pills and they did get me through the day.
At about the age of 32, I was a mess taking two and sometimes three diet pills a day just to get to work, trying to keep my job. All of my blood tests kept saying I was okay, but then the awful pain hit me like hot lava in my veins. I could hardly move and couldn't even stand to be touched. I was barely making it to work - on and off sick leave. I went to the Cleveland Clinic and spent thousands of dollars trying to find out what was wrong. The doctors couldn't find anything so I struggled along for years.
By this time I thought I was crazy, but finally one of my tests showed positive for RA and I was put on high doses of the 'wonder' drug prednisone. I had a lump on my back about the size of a grapefruit where all my tissues were inflamed, and by this time I had high blood pressure and a severe weight problem, and was still trying to work as I couldn't get on disability. I was single and remained single. Finally one day I couldn't get up at all.
It was at this time when my mother and I saw Dr. Thomas McPherson Brown of Arlington, VA. being interviewed on ABC's 20/20 program (1988) about his antibiotic therapy for rheumatoid arthritis. I bought a copy of Dr. Brown's newly published book, "The Road Back, Rheumatoid Arthritis - It's Cause and Its Treatment".* (Off and on for a number of years I had been on a small dose of tetracycline for acne.) After reading the book, I wanted to try the therapy and got my doctor to prescribe the tetracycline so I could start taking it here at home until I could go to Arlington for the IVs. I herxed, but I stayed on it because I had nowhere else to turn.
Finally I got to Arlington, but Dr. Brown had died. I wish I could have met this kind man. Dr. Cap Oliver took over his practice. He was very kind and caring. He ran a number of tests and discovered I had mycoplasma pneumoniae. I had the IVs while I was there and then continued on oral antibiotics at home, herxing on and off for at least six months. I did see some improvement during this time so I stayed on the antibiotics. It took me about three years to 'turn the corner' and finally no RA could be found in my blood work. I had achieved remission. I did make two more visits to Arlington over those three years to get IVs.
Well, now I couldn't get the doctors to give me the antibiotics because they said I didn't have RA anymore. After about a year of being off the antibiotics, I started to get worse again. Since my doctor wouldn't prescribe the tetracycline, I went to my local feed store and bought the tetracycline they use for cows, dissolved it and drank it. I did this until I finally found a doctor who would prescribe it for me again. During this time I developed mild discoid lupus.
I didn't get on the internet until a little over a year ago. This support group and the Road Back have helped me a lot since then.
It has been a very hard road for me, but I am doing pretty good now. I have no deformity. I do a lot now. The terrible pain is gone. I take my doxycycline three times a week, and all my blood tests are normal. The biggest problem I have had, besides the pain and fear, was the fight with the doctors to get the therapy. I got so tired and burned out by them, but I've made it and I hope everyone out there with a rheumatic disease who reads this will decide to try this treatment. It is much easier to obtain it now, and there is help and support and answers to your questions.
All I had back then was Dr. Brown's book and a few people to help. So hang in there. This is the best treatment out there.
Chris - Ohio Muggypc@aol.com
*This book has been updated by Henry Scammell. The new title is "The New Arthritis Breakthrough".
You can reach me at Muggypc@aol.com