SHEILA, reactive and rheumatoid arthritis

My name's Sheila and I live in a glorious part of the U.S.A., near the southern coast of Oregon. That's where my story begins.

All my life I've been as healthy as a horse, as they say. That is up until the age of fifty-two. It all started with a stiff neck back in 1994. I remember going to a chiropractor. But, after a few visits, not only was my neck worse, the stiffness and pain were now in my legs and arms as well. On my fourth visit, the chiropractor did an examination to see what was going on. She lifted my left leg. The pain was so sudden and fierce, I let out a loud yell. She dropped my leg like a hot potato and said something about getting an MRG. I eventually ended up with frozen shoulders and spent most of my time in bed. To move even a fraction of an inch was painful and I ended up surrounding myself with about eight or nine pillows as I lay on my back during the night. It was about this time that I discovered ibuprofen. I was soon taking about six to eight tablets a day. Then a good friend suggested a change of diet. I started juicing and eating organic veggies and fruits, purified water, rice and no condiments, dairy, meat, salt or sugar. On this very strict diet, I improved dramatically in just six weeks and was able to lower my intake of ibuprofen to three a day.

I went to see our family doctor and he referred me to a rheumatologist who diagnosed me as having reactive arthritis. You see, several months before the onset of the arthritis I punctured the palm of my hand. The rheumy said it was the infection from this wound that caused the reactive arthritis. Much to my relief, he said my body would heal itself but that it would take about a year before I was completely healed. I felt like kissing him.What joy! Sure enough, about a year later I was back in high gear and pain free. I fell off my good diet and started eating junk and stopped exercising. I was rebelling big time. After all, I was well again and I enjoyed thumbing my nose at conventional wisdom.

This wonderful state of wellness lasted for over a year. Then, wham. In 1997, I was hit again. But this time it was rheumatoid arthritis. My heart sank. When my rheumy wanted me to take prednisone, I cried. My SED rate was over one hundred and he explained how important it was for the inflammation to come down in order to get well and that the prednisone would do the trick. I started taking 10mg of prednisone a day and later on Plaquenil was added to the cocktail. I hated taking these drugs and when I started feeling normal, I stopped taking them. It wasn't too long before the RA symptoms kicked in - low energy, painful hips and legs. The RXs kept the pain down most of the time, but I knew it was destroying me. Although my body felt better, it really wasn't getting better. But what could I do? If I went off the RXs, I knew I wouldn't be able to take care of my home and family (our youngest child was still at home). Even with the RXs, there were times when I had to use crutches because the pain in my right leg was too great to put any weight on it.

Then, in January, 1999, I met a lovely young woman named Cass. She was only 26 and had rheumatoid arthritis. She told me about this amazing treatment for RA called the antibiotic protocol or AP for short. She gave me the name of a book that she said would explain how it works and also the antibiotic therapy web site, www.rheumatic.org. I bought the book, "The Arthritis Breakthrough", read it, and then set out to find a doctor since my rheumy was not interested. Finally, after exhausting all my leads in Oregon, I decided to call Dr. Franco at the Arthritis Center of Riverside in California. They scheduled an appointment for April 21.

It is now November, 1999, and I can happily report that I'm on the Road Back, too. I'm on Minocin MWF 100mg a.m. and p.m. and taking half the amount of RXs. The prednisone is down to 1-l/4mg every other day and the Plaquenil is down to 250mg daily. My second appointment with Dr. Franco was in October. According to my blood tests, he said I was 39 per cent better. I felt 75 per cent better! In fact, I was feeling so good that in September I started working out at the local gym three days a week - something I couldn't have imagined doing before the antibiotics.

Shortly after visiting Dr. Franco, I went to Chicago for a conference. I was there five days and when I got back home I had a flare. Do you think it could have been because I was off my diet, didn't drink enough water, skipped quite a few of my supplements and led a pretty hectic pace? The flare hit my right arm. I got up one morning and couldn't hold my hand up to my mouth to brush my teeth and what's even worse - put on make up! "Vanity, they name is Sheila." Here I had been sailing along so beautifully since starting the antibiotics. I didn't even have a herx. Just got better and better - and now this! I was feeling pretty low.

It's been a couple of weeks since the flare and my arm is 90 per cent better. I've been back on the protocol "wagon". Still working out at the gym and happy to report that my vanished muscles are coming back. But like sweet Dr. Franco says, "I'm better, but not cured yet!"

My heartfelt thanks to all who so generously man the web site and the support group list. The work they do has been a God send. I hate to think where I would be without them.

I wrote my story at their request and in appreciation for all they have done. I hope my story will encourage you to try the antibiotic protocol or, if you are on it, to stick with it. It's working for me and it will do the same for you. God bless.

Sheila

You can reach me at wight@harborside.com


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