JACK, rheumatoid arthritis

I've had what I'm reasonably sure is RA for my entire life and I'm 79 now. I suppose I'm one of the luckier ones in that most of this time it was only lurking and manifested itself in relatively manageable ways. I can remember back to when I was eight or nine when I had painful ankles and knees. My knees particularly were a problem by becoming puffy, red and painful. Supporting my weight with my knees slightly flexed was not possible. Fortunately these symptoms would appear intermittently and would last only a few days.

In the Army, the knee problem gradually manifested itself less and less and almost disappeared entirely.

In 1969, the RA became much more pronounced with a severe shoulder tendonitis that almost precluded the use of my arms. Steroid injections would bring relief only for a short time.

By 1986 or 87, it became next to impossible to climb the stairs to the bedroom. I was unable to sleep because I was in such pain in the supine position. I tried to get some rest in an easy chair, but managed only very short catnaps. After some four months with virtually no sleep, I found a rheumatologist who prescribed 10 mg. of prednisone. I managed four solid hours of sleep that night. The prednisone put things under control.

When one of my feet started paining a year later and kept me from walking without a severe limp, I was put on Ridaura (gold) and Feldene. This seemed to put things right.

In 1996, I was feeling so good my doctor took me off the gold. I promptly went back to square one. This time he suggested methotrexate. He expressed a greater love for methotrexate than gold anyway. Within six months I was certain the methotrexate would do me in. I developed world class headaches every afternoon accompanied by an irregular heart beat. My heart would miss a beat out of every thirty or forty. I quit the methotrexate and went back to the gold. My headaches stopped and the ticker went back to normal.

My daughter, who is an anesthesiologist in Buffalo, had me up to see a cardiologist friend, who decided I was in remarkably good shape considering my age. Obviously the methotrexate had created the problems.

I discovered the antibiotic protocol on the net by pure accident, and found Chris back in May. It took some doing to get my rheumatologist to prescribe the Minocin. He claimed to know all about the use of tetracycline for RA but was certain it was of value only for those patients in the first year of the disease. He wrote the script directing 200 mg. daily! My daughter had offered to write the script since she could see no harm in trying the treatment.

I've been on the Minocin since 1 June 1998, starting with 100 mg. MWF, and went to the 200 mg. MWF about 15 July. I quit all gold and naproxyn on 21 July when I seemed to be feeling somewhat better - remaining on only 4 mg. of prednisone daily. I'm hurting some, but managing reasonably well. I'm looking forward to a complete remission!

The above is an approximately correct chronology. I am still very active and work every day in my own business. Movement makes me feel infinitely better.

Jack Blumenthal, New York.

Update: Nov 1998 - Jack is reducing the prednisone. He is on 1,000 mg. of Relafen but plans to reduce that when he is off the prednisone. He reports, "The important thing for me is how well I'm doing with no metho, gold or Plaquenil. At 79, he still goes to work everyday and puts in a full day, and is planning a trip in their new motor home.

You can reach me at jack@blumenthals.com

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