The first sign of change in my system occurred in February, 2004, and it was the onset of Raynaud's Syndrome in my fingers, which makes the fingertips white and numb. It is often triggered in response to cold temperatures. My research informed me that there are two kinds of Raynaud's, Primary and Secondary. Primary is the most common and not as serious. However, Secondary Raynaud's may indicate a more serious cause, and blood tests are given to identify or eliminate potential causes.
In May 2004, I was diagnosed with MCTD, Mixed Connective Tissue Disorder, Rheumatoid Arthritis being the prominent symptom. I had several pertinent blood tests that my rheumatologist, Dr. Schned, used in reaching that conclusion. After doing a significant amount of personal research on treatment options for RA, including reading several books and various Internet resources, I asked the specialist to allow me to begin treatment with a low-dose antibiotic (Minocycline). He agreed to my request, and I have now been on this treatment for one year, taking a 100 mg. tablet of name-brand Minocin twice daily.
During the summer of 2004, I experienced a rapid decline in my energy level, endurance, and physical strength, especially in my legs. I had swelling and stiffness in my hands and feet. I could not think and plan in a normal way. This is a completely opposite scenario from the normal high activity and energy level I have always had. I am definitely not a 'couch potato'! When the school year was to begin, I had to accept that I would be unable to continue my work as tutor and assistant teacher for the year.
I could not climb steps except when absolutely necessary, and then only with great difficulty. I needed assistance to return to a standing position after sitting down, and I could not change positions in bed except with assistance. I would tire when simply walking from one room to another, so I would then need to sit or lie down. I could not plan to go even on short trips due to lack of energy and a generally tired-out feeling, but it was also very difficult to get in and out of our minivan. I normally enjoy walking for exercise, but I was unable to continue. It became difficult to dress myself. My husband would push me in a wheelchair when we occasionally went to a store, so I could at least get out of the house occasionally. He laundered all of our clothes, and he did all of the yard work and most of the cooking during the summer months. I looked and felt 'old' and sick.
My research into low-dose antibiotic treatment had indicated that I might feel worse for a period of time before I would start to feel better. This advice helped me to stay with the treatment when I actually did feel worse for a period of time. My family supported me in my decision, and I remained optimistic and hopeful despite feeling tough.
In September 2004, a friend from the school where I had worked for several years suggested that, in addition to my antibiotic treatment I should consider a natural glyco-nutrient product which does not interfere with any medication one may be taking, and which is described as helping the cells to become healthier. It also increases energy and gives a general feeling of increased good health. In September, I began taking this twice each day, mixed with a glass of water, in addition to the twice-daily Minocin.
In October 2004, I was diagnosed with rectal prolapse, which made it impossible for me to be very active or on my feet. I had surgery for this problem in November and was hospitalized for four days, with several weeks of recovery to follow. Despite this surgery, my energy level came back gradually. I began to feel stronger and was slowly able to begin doing many things I had recently not been able to do. This continued during spring of 2005.
Now, in early summer of 2005, I can walk steps with very little effort. I can walk long distances out of doors and at our community health club, and I can now confidently plan to be included in both long and short trips with my family. In fact, just last month (May 2005), my husband and I took a 9-day driving trip from our home in Minnesota to southern Michigan. I felt great during the whole time and was able to keep up with everyone else. I am now doing the cooking and yard work that I missed out on last summer, and I can be active for full days without wearing out.
Here is the great news! I recently had a doctor's appointment, just one year after beginning the antibiotic treatment. My blood tests were repeated and compared with those of a year ago, and my doctor says there is great improvement! For example, my RNP antibodies test showed a reduction from 1224 last year to this year's count of 307. Also, the anti-DNA test showed 110 in May'04, and now it tested at 30. All of the tests showed a great improvement, which validates my feeling of increased good health. I am so grateful to see this evidence, and I will continue with the Minocin at some level.
Thank God, I have my life back; I can be active again and enjoy my family! I am thankful that I discovered Henry Scammell's book "The New Arthritis Breakthrough". This book gave me hope and direction. I'm also grateful that my doctor and rheumatologist both agreed to the 'non-mainstream' antibiotic treatment instead of insisting on Methotrexate, Prednisone, or other strong medications. And I'm thankful to my family and friends for their prayers and support as I see their amazement in witnessing the change in my condition! I am confident that I will continue to improve.
I urge everyone who is dealing with any of these symptoms, and who may be frustrated with the prospect or the results of other treatments, to read about antibiotic treatment and to talk with your doctor about it. Be your own advocate and find a doctor who will work with you! I also encourage you to learn about Ambrotose, because I believe it has contributed in a major way to my recovery, especially in boosting my energy and encouraging good general health. Please email me if you have any questions that I might respond to. God bless.
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