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Last I posted was at least 6 mths ago. I have been very healthy most my life and have never had a broken bone or major health problem. I'm now 33 and have felt 80 for the past 2 yrs.

My knees and hips started to get "stiff" and painfull very gradually from 1998 until late 1999 when I turned to MSM to keep the pain away when trying to walk and jog. By spring 2000 MSM was no longer enough and I turned to Celebrex. X-rays showed no bone damage in knees, MRI showed a minor meniscus tear from a '92 injury. Doc said I had arthritis.

By fall of 2000, Celebrex was not enough to keep me from feeling stiff but still only knees and hips were stiff. Five days after endometrioma surgery in Nov 2000, almost every joint in my body got stiff and I could barely move without pain, including my neck and right jaw. Strangely, I could not straiten my right middle finger due to a lump at it's base in my palm. The "joint pain" (which almost felt more like muscles or the tendons around joints) always seemed better after a good sleep than after a long day then getting up from a seated position. This didn't sound like arthritis to me. The doc ran many blood tests but all were normal. No arthritis or lupus signs and even my ANA was normal. Because a 5 day dose of prednisone temporarily cleared all but my right hand problem, he said it was arthritis and sent me to a rheumatologist. The rheummy did nothing but give me more Celebrex and guessed it was probably RA due to symptoms, though 30% of patients test negative for RA factor.

I went for a second opinion in March 2001 and stopped the Celebrex a week prior to the appt. I wanted to make sure my condition was at it's peak of symptoms so the doc could best diagnose it, and perhaps the bloodwork would show something that may have been masked before by the meds. I also had done a great deal of yardwork and tree pruning earlier that week, not knowing the outcome. Without the meds, my wrists then swelled enough to make BOTH hands hurt with use, and my body was so weak and painful on the day of my visit, I couldn't push a swinging door open with my hands. The doc didn't run any more tests (but suggested one that I wished I had taken her up on involving heavy metals in the blood) and had no solutions as to what my problem could be, and I cried all the way home. The emotional build up from hopes of finding answers has led to so many extreme lows since this all started. I had to restart the Celebrex right away.

When I returned to the rheummy in April about the extreme hand pain and some numbness that kept me from writing, sleeping and working, he sent me to a neurologist who diagnosed carpel tunnel in both hands. Despite the diagnosis I was afraid they were wrong and that the swelling in my wrists was caused by the joint problem, yet a wrist x-ray was normal. Physical therapy made them worse and I had to take prednisone for two weeks to decrease the swelling and pain. I then switched from Celebrex to Vioxx because it worked better for my joints. I wore braces and took vioxx until the hand pain was tolerable. I was afraid of surgery.

In July the bloodwork was redone to find any additional clues. This time my ANA value was extremely high and SED rate high also, showing my body was fighting SOMETHING, though all tests were inconclusive. By September 2001 I had just about given in to the possibility of needing medications for the rest of my life. The only avenue I hadn't tried was a total elimination diet, which I had been putting off for 6 mths. The vioxx was working so well for me that I could take a 25mg pill every other day most times. When I would wait until 3 days though, the knees, hips, second left toe, and neck would start to get really bad and remind me to take one. On Dec 28th 2001 I had a silver amalgam filling removed for a crown prep. Dentists had told me since 1995 that that filling needed to be replaced by a crown, but since that tooth was always very sensitive, I didn't want to get the work done. By mid-Jan 2002 I was feeling good enough to take vioxx once every 3-4 days but because of an upcoming ski trip, I took it daily to prepare. In addtion, I was already taking a multivitamin but added Pycnogenol and Milk Thistle the week before. Even though I brought prednisone along just in case, I never needed it. In fact, after being back home 3 days, I stopped the vioxx to see what would happen.

I felt nothing in the neck and toe and only the stiffness level in my knees and hips that was present in 1998-99! I continued on the 3 OTC drugs one each per day. I was still getting minor stiffness 2 days after any physically demanding activity but it wasn't bad. I feel like my life has been given back to me. It has now been 6 wks and I am playing chase with the dog again WITHOUT VIOXX, feeling as strong and young as I did at 25, and just today had the last 2 of 5 silver fillings removed that my dentist recommended. I have 4 more in my mouth and am curious to know if the mercury level was higher in my body last year than now. If I could know for sure, I would get them all done. After such an extreme improvement with no other extreme change in my lifestyle to explain it, I checked into silver/mercury fillings on the web. I never realized there were others with the same types of experiences.

My biggest concern is that this miracle healing is possibly a temporary remission of RA or something like it. I wondered if anyone has had flare-ups that last for years and then go away completely for a time. My mom warns me to be cautious with my emotions because arthritis can be intermittent. I can't help celebrating and thanking God everytime I notice another improvement.

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