DENISE, rheumatoid arthritis

Though I didn't know it at the time, my story actually began in the fall of 1996. After school started that fall, I was tired and lethargic all the time; I just had no energy. I went to see my doctor, and was diagnosed with anemia.

Then in February of 1997, my son had a strep infection. During the time that he was sick, I had a mild sore throat, though I didn't think it was strep. One day a week or two later, I came home from work exhausted...just did not feel well. I thought maybe I had the flu, but when I went upstairs to change my clothes, there were little red "pin pricks" all over my legs and my trunk. My doctor diagnosed me with scarlet fever due to an untreated strep infection, and put me on an antibiotic. It was while I was recovering from the scarlet fever that I first developed joint pains. I remember walking up the stairs in my house, and my knees just ached! Then one day, I woke up and my knees weren't hurting anymore....the pain had migrated to my wrists....then it moved to my shoulders, then back to my knees. I went to see my doctor and she did all kinds of blood work....checking for Lyme's Disease, Lupus, etc.....everything was negative, so she referred me to a rheumatologist.

I went to see the rheumatologist in March. Even though my rheumatoid factor was 80 and I was having joint pains, he did not think I had rheumatoid arthritis because I did not have morning stiffness. He did tell me though that he wanted to keep an eye on whatever was happening to me. My joint pains persisted and by July my rheumatoid factor was 131.

I decided to do some research that summer because I knew absolutely nothing about rheumatoid arthritis. I found Dr. Brown's book, and to my amazement I read about exactly what had happened to me. Dr. Brown talked about infectious origin, gypsy-like joint pains....even being diagnosed with anemia in the previous year. It all made so much sense to me, especially since my joint pains began after the strep infection. I told my husband that summer if I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, I was definitely going to try the antibiotic protocol.

By December of 1997, my rheumatoid factor was up to 256, the joint pains were becoming more significant, and my rheumatologist officially diagnosed me with rheumatoid arthritis. (We later figured out that the reason I probably did not have morning stiffness was because I slept on a giant heating pad, a water bed, every night.) I spoke to the rheumatologist about Dr. Brown's theory of infectious origin and the antibiotic protocol, but he thought the whole thing sounded ridiculous. He did give me a prescription for Celebrex which I continue to take to this day.

However, I was determined to try Dr. Brown's antibiotic protocol. At the time I was being treated for mid-life acne by a dermatologist. In January, I asked the dermatologist to change my antibiotic from erythromycin to minocycline, and he agreed (thank goodness!).

I returned to the rheumatologist in March, and this time my RA factor was 261....it was stabilizing! The doctor just looked at me and told me to keep doing whatever I was doing. When I returned in June, my RA factor was 267. From June to December of 1997, it had gone up 125 points. From December 1997 to June of 1998, it had only gone up 11 points.

I was happy that my RA factor was stabilizing, but it still wasn't going down. I decided to do some more research. I found out about this website, and spoke to other people who were doing AP. They talked to me about generic minocycline and Minocin. I learned that minocycline capsules contain powder (which basically just dumps into your system), while Minocin has time-release pellets. The people I spoke with at the time suggested that I try the name-brand Minocin....so I did. I started it in July of 1998, and promptly within four days I developed a yeast infection, so I knew it was doing something different. The whole time I took minocycline I never had a yeast infection. Within four months of starting the Minocin, by October of 1998, my rheumatoid factor dropped 78 points to 189!

I continued taking Minocin (100 mg, twice a day, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) and Celebrex. I never returned to the rheumatologist. My family doctor was very open to Dr. Brown's theories and began prescribing Minocin and Celebrex for me. It took about 20 months (March 2000) for my RA factor to return to normal limits (21). I have had several flares over the years. The most significant one occurred in September of 2001 when my brother was diagnosed with a brain tumor (it was a metastasis from colorectal cancer). At the time, my RA factor spiked to 90. I was reassured by people from this group that stress can impact rheumatoid arthritis, so I continued with my Minocin, and eventually the RA factor went down again. At one point in the intervening years, I began to have trouble with recurrent yeast infections. Someone on this site suggested I try Olive Leaf Extract, and it worked like a charm!

Two years ago I began having more joint pain, especially my right thumb joint and the joint on my right foot below my big toe. They were aching all the time. I knew I really needed to find a doctor who was knowledgeable in antibiotic protocol. Through this group, I found Dr. Alan Weiss in Annapolis, MD. On my second visit to him, after my lab work was completed, he told me that I had two genetic markers for a gluten allergy. He said that there was a correlation between RA and gluten allergies, and suggested that I try a gluten-free diet for 8 weeks to see if my symptoms would improve. I was very skeptical, but I agreed to try it....and to my amazement, it worked! The daily pain in those two joints is gone. I still have occasional aches and pains, but otherwise I'm fine.

I hate to think what my life would be like if I hadn't found Dr. Brown's book. I am grateful everyday! I continue to take Minocin and Celebrex. I also take a Glucosomine Chondroitin supplement (Schiff's Move Free) and Olive Leaf Extract (GNC brand) every day. I am 56 years old and loving life!

Denise Applefeld-Hendin
Westminster, MD

You can reach me at nantucket715@gmail.com


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