MARTHA, rheumatoid arthritis

My story starts in May of 1993. I was an ordinary woman with three kids, owner of a modestly successful flower shop, life was good.

One Sunday the beginning of May, I got a telephone call that changed my life in more ways than one.........my only son, the last child still living at home, had been killed in an auto accident. My world that had once been so bright and full of promise suddenly went black. The next two months went by in a fog. My mind knew what had happened but my heart refused to accept it, and my family was devastated.

By July I was having terrible pains in my neck. Any movement brought excruciating pains. At first I thought I had slept on it wrong but as time went by the pain merely spread. My neck did ease up though, but then my shoulders and right hand started acting up. Eventually it became a game to see what joint was still working. I really did not think much about it, I was in so much depression and pain from my son's death, the physical pain was just another burden I carried.

One morning in the late fall, I dragged myself out of bed and fell flat on my face. My right foot felt like it was broken and I could put no weight on it. I sat on the bed and cried. I called my neighbor who was a general practitioner and he told me to come right down to his office.Slowly I managed to get dressed and drove on down to see him. After many questions he told me he felt I had rheumatoid arthritis. He felt that stress can often bring on serious illness. Hopefully it would cycle off with some meds but if I kept having the pains for more than a year, it was unlikely I would be one of the lucky ones who cycled on and off (sometimes with years in between episodes). Then we would have to do some serious talking. He gave me some painkillers as sample packs and told me he would write me a prescription for whichever one worked best. I was on one for almost 13 months...the pain never went away.

Eventually in spite of the various painkillers, it got so bad I could not sleep through the night. My shoulders got so painful I would get up about 3:00 a.m. and take hot showers trying to relieve the horrible pain. A hot bath was out of the question, my knees had gotten so bad I could not get up and down by myself. On the inside, I felt like someone had cut my heart out, on the outside the RA was making my life hell. Eventually I went back to my neighbor and we had that long talk.

I was put on prednisone (low dose) and new painkillers. My neighbor flat out told me that there was no good dose of prednisone. The trouble is that with my disease it is sometimes the only thing that really works well. I was told to learn everything I could about my disease, and realize that if I stayed on predisone I was probably exchanging quantity for quality. If I wanted to go on the DMARDS, and he was sure it would eventually come to that, I would have to find a rheumatologist as he did not like to work with those drugs. He felt they were very hard on the body and needed to be given by a doc familiar with all the problems. My life was looking blacker and blacker.

I did start roaming bookstores and came across the book "The Road Back". I read it with interest and decided to try it. I gave my neighbor the book to read and he gave me 100 50mg pills of tetracycline. I took them until the bottle was empty...nothing happened. We did not know it was the wrong type med. This is probably why some doctors say it does not work.

Four years had now gone by and I was a wreck. My neighbor was offered a job in another state and gave me the name of a rheumatologist. She immediately put me on plaquenil. Slowly over the first year I got better. I still took low dose prednisone but the pain was bearable. The next year was about the same, not great but I was functional...sort of. The third year I was in a slow decline. The med was losing its ability to help me - we increased the dose but it just was not keeping me on my feet. By this time I was fairly informed on RA and the meds used to treat it, I knew that most meds only worked for a time and then one was back to square one. I got a copy of "The Arthritis Breakthrough", only this time I had become computer literate and had found the Roadback site. I decided the next appointment I would ask my new doc for Minocin...the pelleted kind!!

January of 2001 I could barely walk. I could no longer straighten my arms out and my feet were a wreck. It had been years since I could go up stairs likes a normal person, and my hands were so swollen I could barely hold a pen to write. My right fingers had all swiveled to the side and my left hand was starting to do the same. I was facing having to sell my flower shop and my two story house. I just had to try the Minocin.

When I saw my doc, she was startled at how bad I was. She wanted to put me on larger doses of plaquenil and start MTX immediately. I asked for Minocin. She refused. Fortunately I had become adept at surfing the net. Within two months I had the name of a doctor three hours from me. Dr Joseph Sentef in Chattanooga, TN. Everyone had glowing thing to say about him. I had my first appointment May of 2001.

Sentef is a bit of a maverick as far as the protocol goes. I began immediately on 100mg of Minocin twice a day and 200 mg Nizoral once a day. Later on Flagyl was added. I kept waiting for the herx that everyone talked about. It never came. Each day slowly my pains melted away. Each month my bloodwork dropped toward normal. After two months I was off all meds except an occasional aspirin. Life had never been better. After five months all my blood tests were normal. This was October of 2001.

I am now on a maintenance dose of 100 mg Minocin three times a week. After a year of complete remission I wrote my old doc a letter. So far it has gone unanswered. She told me she had never heard of a patient with longstanding RA doing well on Minocin, and I wanted to make sure she had now heard of one!!

My life is my own once again. I ride horses and do stainglass, I can even pull a 12 hour day on my feet at the flower shop lugging heavy plants and pots of flowers across the store. I do not know what would have happened to me had I not found Minocin. For sure I would be in a wheelchair now.

On that last day with my old rheumy, after she had refused to give me the Minocin, I laid my head down on the steering wheel of my car outside her office and cried. I am not the most religious person around, but that day I prayed to God that if he let this Minocin work, I would spend the rest of my life telling others about it. I did not expect it to work, and certainly not as well as it did, but ever since I have kept copies of Henry Scammell's books at the shop and given them out to others who are interested. It worked for me and it might work for you. Unless one tries they will never know.

You never know how priceless your health is until you lose it.

Martha


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