I was diagnosed with RA in February 8, 2017. This is the most painful experience that I’ve ever been through.
October 2016; after two weeks of training for employees to run new machine, I did a lot of heavy lifting at work which I normally don’t do at work. I felt pain on my right shoulder but I told myself that it must be the cold weather and the heavy lifting that triggered the old surgery wound. I didn’t take any medicine and waited for the pain to disappear as it did in the past. As time passed, I started to feel the mild pain and stiffness on my left hip in the morning and the pain went away as I moved around. If I sat down and relax, the stiffness would come back so I kept myself moving all day until I went to bed.
During Christmas break, the pain is more severe and new pain appeared on my left shoulder and right hip. At this time my wife took me to the see MD. He gave me pain killer and instructed me to have blood test and “Chest X-ray”. I asked him “why do I need chest x-ray while I had a severe pain in all the joins and muscle?”, but he insisted that sometimes something wrong in the lungs can cause the pain elsewhere too. I took his words as he is a DOCTOR.
January 13, 2017, my condition got a lot worse (3 weeks after first Doctor Visit). It was extremely difficult to get out of bed in the morning. I was paralyzed 85% of my body. My arms and legs were locked up as being wrapped around by thousand rounds of rope. At this point, the only parts that pain free were my hands and feet. I also had mild fever in the afternoon and difficult to fall into sleep at night. I woke up every 30 minutes due to the pain and cold. I could not position my blanket to cover myself as I used to. So I decided to sleep on the couch. This helped me to rise up out of the couch whenever I want to. I used heavy coffee table as an anchor. I put my foot under the table and used the muscle of my back to lift myself up.
Then the initial blood test came back. There was no indication of anything besides little inflammation in the blood test and my lungs are OK, so the doctor gave me more pain killer with stronger dose. At this time I got so angry (let me skip the conversation with this Doctor because there was a lot of bad language in that conversation)
On the way home, I called my sister; she is a Register Nurse. I told her about my symptoms. She said I might have Rheumatoid Arthritis . She called and set the appointment with Rheumy for me. I visited the Rheumy the same day. She prescribed 20 mg Prednisone per day and ordered detail blood test
On my second visit with Rheumy, the second blood test result showed that I indeed have RA and extremely low in vitamin D. So She prescribes Methotrexate (gradually increase weekly from 10 mg to 15 mg then 20 mg) along with 50K IU Vitamin D, 30 mg of Prednisone and Folic acid.
I was reluctant to take the MTX because the term “MTX is for Cancer treatment” kept pounding on my nerve. I left the pills on the table for 3 days but finally I took them because the pain was so bad and not going away.
On the second week of taking Methotrexate, I noticed that acnes started to show up on my face and on my back. These were the symptoms of weak liver and MTX is the culprit. My wife told me to take Turmeric pill (500 mg daily) which may help the liver. After a week of taking Turmeric pill along with other pills, I did not see any new Acne and the old one started to heal pretty quickly. Two weeks into MTX and these side effects sent me into high gear of searching for natural alternative treatment.
In regard of natural alternative medicine; my family has a long history and back ground in Vietnamese medicine which dated back 5 generations to my grandfather. My father could not continue this profession due to the Vietnam War. But I had seen a lot of successful results of Vietnamese medicine. In some near death cases, western medicine gave up but the Vietnamese medicine worked wonder.
Since I was on short term disability, I had a lot of free time. Beside daily light exercise, I spend a lot of time online in search for alternative medicine. The gloomy vision of taking bunch of pills daily for the rest of my life and waiting for the side effects is horrible. My youngest boy is only 4 years old. I want to be healthy to spend quality time with him. This thought alone gave me the energy to dig for more information but there is not much information online about alternative medicine for RA. Majority of the posts are not trustworthy or they try to sell you some powerful pills that can cure all sicknesses.
On a phone call with my father, He said that Vietnamese naturopathy has a formula for this but he does not remember the exact ingredients. It is kind of tough for 91 years old memory. So he advised me to call my cousin for more details. After one long waiting week, my cousin emailed me the name of formula which is “Hoạt Huyết Phục Cốt Hoàn” (Translate: improve blood flow and rejuvenises bone structure) and also a lot of advices from the doctor in Vietnam. I asked my cousin to purchase and send them to me.
Finally one month supply of those ingredients arrived. After 6 hours of cooking the medicine, I took my first bowl of the Vietnamese medicine. It was so difficult to swallow the first sip. It was as bitter along with woody aroma as Vietnamese medicine smell and taste like. After 15 minutes I finished my first bowl. I realized that it was not as bad as the first sip, just like drinking strong cup of coffee without sugar.
Note that while waited for this Vietnamese medicine come to my door, I had many long conversations with the doctor in Vietnam about my current condition and all of the medicines that I’m taking right now. He is very familiar with MTX, Prednisone and other popular main stream RA Medicine. He said that it is ok to take this Vietnamese medicine along with all the pills for now but prepare to taper them down as soon as I can. The Vietnamese medicine does not have any side effect at all so it is safe even for 3 months pregnant ladies and children of 2 years of age. He also reminded me that I have to be patience because Vietnamese medicine takes a while to show the result.
2 weeks into the Vietnamese medicine, I decided to stop taking MTX and began to taper the Prednisone. The first 20 mg Prednisone was easy to come off but the last 10 mg was a battle. I had to ask Rheumy to prescribed 1mg pill so I could manage the dose correctly. After 4 weeks I was strategically off prednisone completely. I also I drastically changed my diet and quit smoking and alcohol completely overnight.
During my research I found another alternative way to fight this RA which is the Anti-biotic Protocol (AP) of Dr. Brown. If Vietnamese Med does not work out then AP will be my “Plan B” because it is cheaper and less invasive so I asked my Rheumy about the AP, she said never heard of it and assumed it was another scheme of money making. Less that she knows, AP is approved by RA Board or she was just plainly playing dump. But instead she advised me to take biologic and ordered me to take a test for TB, I walked out of her office and not came back since.
At this point; beside Vietnamese medicine; I only took Vitamin D, C, and Turmeric, not any kind of other forms of pain killer or Big Pharma drugs.
The first 2 months of taking Vietnamese Medicine, I did not see any change except sleeping and eating a lot. The excruciating pain was still there I was frustrated and wanted to give up but the doctor in Vietnam advised me to be patience. At this time, I was still on sick leave so when the worst pain attacked I just bit my tongue or took hot Epsom Salt bath.
At the beginning of the third month, I started to see the result of the Vietnamese Med. Every morning I woke up with a new surprise like miracle. The pain, swelling, bruise and stiffness started to fade away little by little from different location of my body. I could feel the improvement through all the volunteer and non-volunteer movements of my body. My family and friends also observed and surprised at this improvement too. 1 month before they saw me had an extremely hard time to get in and out of the car. 1 month later they saw me ran through the parking lot to get to my car under the rain.
After little over six months of fighting this disease, I feel so good; I don’t feel pain anywhere on my body. Matter of fact, one week ago I ate some left over French fried from my boy and yesterday I ate 1 slide of Pizza but no flare showed up. Oh boy, it tasted so good. But I did not want to push too far because technically my body still weak.
Hopefully this will be the end of my RA journey. I will begin my cleansing plan to push my health up to its optimal.
Now I understand why the Vietnamese Doctor mentioned that suppressing the immune system is not the right approach because it’s just like sending the troops to battle without gun and ammunition while politicians sit in air conditioning room and keeps saying “we win the battle” AKA “Masking the symptom. No more pain”. But the true is the war is silently expanding to other region. As soon as you remove those immune suppression drugs, the pain will come back in revenge.
I just want all the RA fellows to know that there is alternative treatment for this RA.
Update: 11/14/2017 – I’m in complete remission since July 2017. I don’t take any medicine for RA anymore. I regained all the weight that I lost. Bad weather does not bother me anymore. Although, I can consume all the restricted food such as beef, egg, shrimp which triggered the flares during the battle with RA, but I don’t want to consume as much as before I got diagnosed.