MADGE, lupus/fibromyalgia

It was August of 1990 when my hands started swelling to the point that I couldn't wear my rings anymore. Twisting or turning motions of the hands brought much pain. Then I started to get stiff all over. It was especially bad in the mornings or after sitting a couple of hours. Soon the knee and ankle joints became involved and later other joints were affected. I was also running a low grade temperature.

Our family doctor ran a SED rate to test for inflammation, and found it was elevated. He said there was definitely arthritis activity, and he thought it was rheumatoid arthritis. He prescribed Naprosyn, but I only got worse.

I began to get sores on my face and lost my appetite, which resulted in my losing 14 to 15 pounds. I still had the low grade fever, and aching joints, and a rash on my chest. (My doctor was out of town, and I was referred to the doctor covering for him.) Running a CBC (complete blood count), he discovered my white blood count was dangerously low and put me in a hospital that day. Further tests were ordered and a specialist in infectious diseases was called in. While I was in the hospital, they did a biopsy on the rash which proved negative. They didn't come up with a diagnosis. I was put on 40mg. of prednisone a day, and within 24 hours the white blood count started to rise. The doctor released me from the hospital with the recommendation that I see a rheumatologist as soon as possible. My husband made the appointment; and in the meantime, I was to check in with the doctor every other day until the time to see the rheumatologist.

The rheumatologist wasn't sure of the diagnosis either. He immediately started reducing the prednisone and every six weeks did a blood count. At one point, as the prednisone was being reduced, the white blood count dropped; and the prednisone had to be increased. In about six months, he finally decided I had lupus.

I began to have pains in my arms so intense that I couldn't sleep at times and walked the floor. My rheumatologist gave me a prescription for the pain and increased my prednisone to 20 mg. a day, but it didn't help at all. The doctor sent out a stronger prescription, and by the second night I was able to sleep. I was all right for a while but then the attacks returned.

C.J., my husband, and I were walking in a park near our home when we ran across a friend, Pat Kieffer, whose husband, Mick, was suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. We were in a prayer group that had been praying for him. Mick was no longer able to climb ladders or golf. (He was a painter by trade.) He was in great pain, and stiffness quickly engulfed his body the minute he sat down or lay in bed. He could no longer work. We asked Pat about Mick. "It's a miracle!" said Pat.

She then told us how they had learned about the antibiotic treatment which put the disease in remission and Mick back to work again. "He can do anything", she said.

I told Pat about my diagnosis. She said she thought it worked for lupus as well, and suggested I contact Ethel Snooks, who headed up a support group in the area.

My daughter, Michele, was expecting a baby, and I was to take care of her other two children while she was in the hospital. The doctor said if I had any attacks while there, I was to increase the prednisone and take the pain medication. I had an attack the night Michelle came home from the hospital. I was miserable. Since Michele was feeling so well and her husband would be home to help her, she suggested I return home.

I told my daughter about the antibiotic treatment and she felt I should try it. When we returned home, C.J. talked to Ethel Snooks' daughter-in-law, Ellen, at church. Ellen told him how well Ethel was doing on the treatment and encouraged C.J. to have me call for information.

In February 1992, I called Ethel and she asked me to first read the book, "The Arthritis Breakthrough", by Thomas McPherson Brown, M.D. and Henry Scammell. We would discuss the treatment after I read the book.

C.J. and Michele both thought I should try it as I had nothing to lose. Our son, John, also felt I should do it. I knew Ethel had traveled to Virginia for her treatment, and I was willing to do that, but Ethel suggested I call Dr. Mercola and see if he would treat me. Illinois was much closer than Virginia. Dr. Mercola was taking out-of-state patients and I made an appointment for March 14, 1992.

Dr. Mercola started me on 100 mg. of Minocin Monday, Wednesday and Friday and 8-150 mg. capsules of Cleocin on Tuesday. He kept me on 5 mg. of prednisone a day for a while, but he told me to start reducing it if I could. Because he felt part of my problem was due to fibromyalgia, he prescribed Pamelor each evening one hour after the evening meal. The Pamelor did not help. Dr. Mercola also instructed me to be consistent with walking - three miles a day four to five times a week.

All this time I experienced continual fatigue. Six months had gone by and I wasn't feeling any improvement. Ethel reminded me that this treatment took time and I needed to just be patient. She was told it would be 2-1/2 to 3 years before she turned around. Personally, I was so discouraged I felt that maybe I would be one of those who failed the treatment.

I saw Dr. Mercola again in late July 1992. (Dr. Mercola prescribed Voltaren to help me get off the prednisone, and it worked very well.) My lab test results were worse. My SED rate jumped from 50 when I saw Dr. Mercola in March of 1992, to 79, and my sugar was elevated. I was still not seeing any progress. In fact, I felt worse. This was exactly what Dr. Brown had described in his book.

On the next visit to Dr. Mercola in November of 1992, the SED rate was 89 - up 10 points from the last visit. The white blood count was still low and the red blood count was at the low end of normal, but at this time I was physically improving. Again, this was described in "The Arthritis Breakthrough". Some people feel better before test results verify the improvement, and others still feel bad yet the test results show progress.

By Thanksgiving 1992, I was off the prednisone and the Voltaren. By January 1993, I no longer had the sore joints or muscles. Occasionally, (maybe once a month or so) a joint would be sore for a short time, and there would be some swelling. It would last maybe two days and then it would go away.

On my visit to Dr. Mercola in April of 1993, the test results finally showed improvement. The SED rate was down to 39. Finally the blood work was going in the right direction. Dr. Mercola said to discontinue the Cleocin in three more months - maybe a little too soon, for when I went back in October 1993, the SED rate had gone up to 49. However, since I was feeling really good, Dr. Mercola decided not to start the Cleocin again.

It's been a little over five years since I started this therapy. I feel good; seldom do I ever have any symptoms of the disease. I can once again do anything I want. I am working for the Election Commission and work at my church one day a month.

I am in remission, but take a maintenance dose of Minocin, walk at least three miles four or five times a week and take part in a water exercise program twice a week.

I have now found a local physician who has patients on this therapy so no longer need to make that long trip to Schaumburg, Illinois twice a year.

Update May 2001

I am on a maintenance program of 50 miligrams of minocycline three times a week. The doctor said that because my white count is still running low I should keep on the maintenance program. I am still doing great except for the low white blood count.

Madge Lowe, North Carolina.
Phone US 828-686-5266 (CST) or email

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