MARILYN, rheumatoid arthritis

April 2001

As a very busy 45 year old with 3 grownup sons and a loving husband, my life was turned upside down when my rheumatoid arthritis began. I was extremely fit, jogging every day, eating a balanced diet with no alcohol. I was always reluctant to even take a headache tablet.

In October 1992, I visited a locum doctor (perfectly healthy to that point, I didn't have a regular doctor) for a sudden onset severe rash which developed all over my torso. He prescribed just one 60 mg dose of Prednisone (no tapering off dose) and thus began the nightmare. The rash was gone next morning but within 3 days my thumb joints felt dislocated. Next was one shoulder and then the other, each 24 hours, alternately feeling dislocated. Sleep was impossible with such pain until I went back to the same doctor's office (different doctor by then, of course) and after blood tests, began a prescription of 1gm of Naprosyn per day.

Two G.P.s, one physician and two rheumatologists later, the diagnosis was R.A. One particular rheumatologist was brave enough to admit that ONE only dose of Prednisone was probably to blame for my immune system in chaos. (Why didn't he give you an antihistamine injection?) My feet, hands, wrists, knees, shoulders were all affected severely and with the extreme fatigue, I had to quit work. My life activities were all curtailed and after more tests, Salazopyrine was added to Naprosyn. This didn't help so Plaquenil was added.

After 4 years of agony, it was decided that either gold injections or methotrexate would be the next step. In September 1996 I decided to choose gold because it was a "natural product" and the least harmful of the two options. Hand splints were helping my night sleeping, but my right knee was, by this time, seized and extremely painful. Walking, even shopping in a supermarket, was impossible.

Gold injections made everything worse each time. I would just start to recover when the weekly dose caused me to be bedridden again. Over time .. though nearly a year, this improved and my ESR dropped back considerably. However, every virus that went sneezing or coughing along, was mine. Various tests were done which proved (apparently) that I would never lose the rheumatoid factor from my body. I would never recover from this disease .. just get progressively worse.

After 16 months on gold, the agony began to return. I was now told that unless I began methotrexate quickly, I would be in a wheelchair sooner rather than later which served to terrify me.

It was at this point - early 1998 - that a friend told me about the antibiotic therapy and the website. I was extremely cynical - the word "hope" is blocked out of a rheumatoid sufferer's vocabulary - but after reading "The Arthritis Breakthrough" and related papers, I asked my rheumatologist if I could try it. He told me it was "an old treatment that didn't work" and, I would get very sick and I should leave trying it until we had moved, as planned, to Queensland from South Australia in April 1998.

In June 1998 I had found a rheumatologist in Brisbane and when I explained what I needed from her, she replied "Do you have any information on that? I have a woman who has weaned herself off methotrexate with minocycline." I handed over all my information and on June 10th 1998, began 100 mg on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights. Slowly, day by day, within one month I was a new woman. My rheumatologist insisted that I continue with the gold injections as well as Plaquenil and Salasopyrine. I had begun to reclaim my life!

In October 1998 I had a total knee replacement and this has been just amazing. My hands are still a little distorted but I no longer limp and I look just like everybody else when I move instead of being in constant pain just to get through my everyday. I can now do my own housework, go for walks with my husband, lift up my grandchildren, do up my own bra and those (before) impossible things. Previously, my painful shoulders made even washing my own hair, agony.

By January 1999, all of the harmful medications I could then gradually dispense with and I now only take Minocycline and 200 mg of Celebrex each day so that any inflammation is kept to a minimum. This is apparently an important part of the therapy.

My ESR which previously hovered around 72, is now 4. My only health issue is an elevated platelet count - one's average should be between 150 and 400. Mine is around 800 which indicates that the bone marrow is producing more platelets than it should. Information that I've gleaned from the net indicates that gold injections and plaquenil could be responsible for this condition and I'm not at all surprised. I am advised to take Cartia (a low dose aspirin) each day to avoid stroke or blood clotting.

I am saddened that I had to wait so long to find out about minocycline and so I am quite vocal to everyone (including doctors and specialists) about my new healthy condition thanks to antibiotic therapy.

I would like to take this opportunity of thanking Chris Adlard, Ethel Snooks and everyone else who has been so wonderful in relaying all the information possible via the net .. especially Dr. Brown who discovered this incredible breakthrough. I will always be extremely grateful.

Thank you everyone and thank you Lord for providing these wonderful people.

You can reach me at m_l_baker@msn.com


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