DAVID, sero negative rheumatoid arthritis

My problems started in the early spring of 1996 and by September 1996 I was a wreck.

Although all of my blood tests came back negative for rheumatoid arthritis I had all of the symptoms - stiffness in my fingers in the morning, painful joints, fatigue, acid reflux in my stomach, etc. My doctor said it was likely that I had rheumatoid arthritis and prescribed aspirin.

I did my own investigation and found out about the Road Back Foundation. However, I took a summary of the 1995 National Institute of Health minocycline study to him (more "official" you know) and said I wanted to try antibiotics. He said "Well, it can't hurt," so he prescribed the minocycline for me. But I followed the Road Back Foundation protocol not the National Institute of Health one.

I started antibiotics in late September and after about three months I was definitely approaching a normal state. It is now three and a half months after starting treatment and I am even better still.

My health was very up and down during those early months, with good days and bad days. As a series of steps, here is what happened to me:

1st month: - I had a major flare when I first increased the dosage in minocycline and even my jaw started to lock up, - later I experienced decreased fatigue and increased energy, - then elimination of finger stiffness in the mornings.

2nd month: - I had much less overall joint pain with some good days and some very bad days. The timing of the bad days was definitely related to when I took the minocycline, usually twe elve to twenty four hours later.

3rd month: - I had improvement in internal problems such as decreased acid reflux, better digestion, etc. - and a much longer period between minor flares.

Last week I had a minor increase in joint aching which went away after a few days. I realized later that I had probably gone through what would have been a major flare before and was now reduced to minor aches that were easily handled by a few extra aspirin every day. So, right now I am in pretty good shape and I am hoping that things will continue this way.

Update December 7, 1997

After a year and 3 months I am now just about back to normal. Reading over my daily journal from a year ago it is incredible that I was that sick and depressed. I am now normal most of the time. Over the last 3 months I have had only one flare and it was so minor that I barely noticed it. I know that the future is not certain and at any time I can get a major flare, but I also know that my history for the last year has been one of continuous overall improvement.

I hardly know what more to say about this treatment other than it does work. I would like everyone starting this antibiotic treatment to know that it is very easy to get discouraged when you are feeling bad in the early months. That has a great deal to do with the depression that comes with having rheumatoid arthritis. You have to fight that feeling.

You are in a struggle with those nasty ol' bugs and they don't give up easily. But always keep going - eventually you will win.

David Cook, Toronto, Canada.

You can reach me at dcook@idirect.com

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