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Rheumatoid Arthritis: Case Study

by Jaye Rambaran(more info)

listed in arthritis, originally published in issue 17 - January 1997

Mrs Jaye Rambaran opens the door to me, a picture of health, casually dressed in a track suit and sweat shirt, as she explains she has been doing P.E. today at school where she teaches lively 9 year olds. Originally from Mauritius, Jaye is extremely vivacious and looks 10 years younger than her 48 years. Naturally a sporty person, it is hard to believe that only a short while ago she was crippled with rheumatoid arthritis and faced with the prospect of a wheel chair in order to achieve any sort of mobility.

“I first had problems with my hands in my twenties before I was married. I was nursing at the time, and I remember certain tasks were increasingly difficult to perform – just simple things like carrying a tray. I had a blood test at the hospital and they diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis.

“Though the joints were quite swollen from time to time, which was restricting, I wasn’t in a lot of pain. I took soluble aspirin and other non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs, such as naproxen off and on, which definitely helped keep it at bay – the sense of relief was immediate. I tried one or two new drugs, taking part in trials, and I even had gold injections at one time – so I did try various things over the years. I married and had two boys. I went back to Mauritius for a time and maybe the climate was helpful there.  But it was when we moved to Gloucester in about 1987 that I started having pains in my fingers one summer. I went back to the doctor who prescribed me some ibuprofen, but I was reluctant to take this for any length of time because I find it upsets my stomach.

“Anyway, I muddled on, with some bad days and some good. I found increasingly that there were more and more things around the house that I couldn’t do, due to limited movement in my hands. And by November my hands had completely seized up, and all my joints were in crisis. I was really crippled for a while: I couldn’t get up the stairs, so I slept in the living room. I was referred to a consultant who prescribed various different steroids such as prednisolone and periodically drained fluid from my knees. The steroids were extremely helpful as temporary relief, but I did not feel this was a long-term solution.

“I had a relapse shortly afterwards – my knees and ankles in particular were like balloons. My hands were completely distorted, my knuckles huge. I had two young boys and it was a hopeless situation. Having always been such an active, sporty person, I found it so hard to accept that there were certain things I couldn’t do any more. I was quite low, but refused to agree with my consultant who said I should accept I was never going to get completely better, and that it was just a question of keeping the rheumatoid arthritis under control, and “coping”. He held out no hope for homoeopathic treatment.

“We were on the point of putting in a special stair lift for me. A friend put me in touch with an occupational therapist to adjust a few things around the house – door handles and things. I told him that I had seen a homoeopath once in London for another problem, and he gave me the names of a couple of homoeopathic GPs locally, one of which was Marianna Allen who is now my doctor. My previous GP was extremely sympathetic and supportive, but he had no personal interest in homoeopathy and the surgery did not offer any form of complementary medicine. My own nursing training meant I was quite sceptical about alternatives, whilst I was an SRN. But, maybe because I was born in Mauritius where complementary medicine and herbal medicine are quite widely used, my personal interest was renewed some years later when I no longer felt that drugs offered me any long-term solution. I would have loved to train as an anthroposophical nurse, if I’d known about it years ago, but I had to give up nursing some years ago due to my rheumatoid arthritis because nursing is physically very demanding.

“Marianna started me on a selection of homoeopathic and anthroposophic medicines. We tried various things until we found a combination that worked best: four lots of drops Capsicum, Arnica, Rheumadoron and Ferrum per Urtica. They are all dispensed specials, and I get them through my local pharmacist on prescription. With this combination of Weleda medicines we gradually reduced the volume of steroids I was on until we had phased them out altogether over a couple of months.

But then in 1989 the rheumatoid arthritis in my hands flared up, and Marianna suggested Park Attwood Clinic in Worcestershire.”

Park Attwood is different from other hospitals in that it treats patients according to anthroposophic principles, taking into consideration the whole person – body, soul and spirit. (See Positive Health issue 14 for a review of Anthroposophical Medicine by Donald Watson, plus an article on Park Attwood Clinic.)

“I could hardly walk on the day I went to Park Attwood. My doctor there, Frank Mulder, prescribed Choleodoron, another anthroposophic medicine, and I continued with the Capsicum. These are drops that I take (just a few in a glass of water) three times a day. It is so preferable to swallowing all those tablets everyday, and they don’t upset my stomach or give any other side-effects. And because all the ingredients are natural, they are more sympathetic to my body, working with my own natural forces of recovery rather than just fighting or masking individual symptoms.

“I had an initial consultation and was advised that I would need to stay four to six weeks because of the poor condition I was in. Having arrived, we started with a diagnostic massage on the first day, to ascertain what areas needed more attention. I had massage twice a week after that. Then we started some hydrotherapy which was marvellous. We used sulphur at one point, for its enlivening properties, which was to lift me and promote a sense of well-being because I was completely depleted of energy with all the pain which was very draining.  I had very little motivation to get well because I was so low. I couldn’t try eurythmy at all to begin with, not even the smallest movements, because my joints were too swollen and painful. But gradually with the baths twice weekly and the massage, and some painting therapy, I started to pick up.

I had some wonderful compresses that the nurses tried – horseradish and mustard for their warming, stimulating qualities. I had birch tea to drink as well. I also had some Rheumadoron Ointment which the nurses rubbed into my joints, it was very soothing. I use that myself now, if I’ve been quite active at work. I keep it by my bed and put it on last thing. 

Of all the artistic therapies I was intrigued by the veil painting which was a very calming, strengthening technique of applying thin washes of colour to paper. But I remember, thinking consciously “Now what are they trying to get me to do because I need to get it right!” The painting therapist, John, relaxed me and reassured me that he wasn’t so much interested in the end result of my painting, just that the process should be therapeutic and helpful. John and I talked a lot while I was painting; it brought to the surface a lot of old problems that I had tucked away.

Above all, the counselling from my doctor was invaluable. They don’t have time for that in an ordinary hospital, but it changes the whole context of treatment. Sometimes I’d go and see Frank, and we’d start talking and all sorts of things would come up in the course of the consultation dealing with old problems from the past, working them through, in order to move forward. This happened quite a lot during my first stay there. I realised later how therapeutic that process was for me, to release all the things I had bottled up. It was just as much a part of the healing process as the natural medication I was prescribed. And it was a wonderful feeling to have such a caring doctor, who wanted to know what’s wrong with you – to get to the root the problem. It’s a completely different approach to treating illness – its not just a question of addressing the symptoms.

By the time I left Park Attwood after six weeks in their care, all the swelling had gone down, I was mobile again – my children didn’t recognise me. I was busy round the house again, full of energy. I was able to complete my teacher-training and get a job. It really, in retrospect, helped me gather up my life again.
In May 1990, I went back for a 2 week top up because my hands were bad again. There was no huge crisis: we nipped it in the bud. In December 1991 I went for 10 days, and again we caught it before it became a major problem.

Whenever I was faced with a bad patch, I resorted to taking a mild non-steroid anti-inflammatory, just for a few days or two to arrest the pain and damage to my joints – because rheumatoid arthritis can be permanently damaging. With the help of my GP and the more intensive care of Park Attwood as a safety net, I have been able to avoid long-term use of drugs, which is a major achievement, and with none of the complications and side-effects, and no painful draining of fluid. I now feel far more positive about managing my health myself.

There is plenty of support available after you leave Park Attwood. There’s an out-patients clinic if you need a follow-up consultation, and there are GP practices over quite a wide geographical area offering the anthroposophical approach. I continue with the massage at a local anthroposophical medical centre, which usually helps avoid any crisis. For example, at the end of a busy school term, rushing about and reports to write, my joints are often very painful, and I have a massage to relieve that.

I’ve joined the Park Attwood patient plan now because it’s so wonderful to feel I can go back. When I was on income support (during my training), it was quite straight forward to get funding for my first stay, but now it’s no longer guaranteed that I can get any funding for future treatment. So the Patient Plan is my assurance, if you like. I like the feeling that I am contributing, because they have given me so much and it’s a way of keeping in touch with all their activity.

For further information about the Clinic or anthroposophic medicines, readers should contact Park Attwood Clinic, Trimpley, Bewdley, Worcestershire DY12 1RE, or telephone 01299 861444. The Clinic can also give you information about doctors and therapists in your area.

Comments:

  1. Samir Khan said..


    No need to suffer from pain of Ankylosing Spondylitis,
    Cervical Spondylitis , Arthritis , Neck Pain , Joint Pain , Back Pain, Accidental Traumatic Injuries and other Musculoskeletal / Neuromuscular painful disorders.
    When cure is there why to suffer with severe pain .
    If you are tired and Fed Up using painkiller tablets and ointments/cream/spray/patchs etc.
    The use of Pain killers ( NSAID) and taking painful Steroids Injection in Joints are not the Cure of Arthritis.

    Save your family and friends from painful condition.

    contact - engr.samirkhan@gmail.com


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