The "Best" for Patrick
Arthritis is not just a disease of adults.
According to estimates, as many as 200,000 children in the United States
have juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA). Most children who have juvenile
rheumatoid arthritis will recover and function normally; however,
JRA is a chronic disease -- one that lasts for many years, or throughout
the child's entire life. A few children can be severely disabled
by the disease, and a very few die from it.
There are three forms of juvenile rheumatoid
Systemic JRA - affects many body areas, including
Polyarticular JRA - affects many joints ("poly" means
several or many and "articular" means joint)
Pauciarticular JRA - affects only a few joints ("pauci" means
few and "articular" means joint)
Five-year-old Patrick Morley Landfair of North Little Rock, Arkansas,
was diagnosed with systemic juvenile rheumatoid arthritis in December
of 1986, two months before his third birthday. Patrick had had
flu-like symptoms with fevers up to 105 degrees for several weeks.
He complained of soreness in his knees. When a salmon-colored rash
appeared on his body, a common feature of JRA, a rheumatologist
was called in and a diagnosis of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
Patrick began taking large amounts of
aspirin for several months, but his fevers continued, spiking in the
evenings as is typical of systemic JRA. All his joints hurt and his
mobility was severely limited. Patrick's parents, Martha and Craig Landfair,
were most concerned about his lethargy. He had no appetite, no energy.
Patrick's parents were concerned about the side effects of aspirin and
the possibility of aspirin poisoning. At this point the physician switched
Patrick to ibuprofen, but again, after several months, there
was no improvement in Patrick. He was a frail, listless, very ill child
who was able to walk very little and who suffered from chronic
constipation, a side effect of the medication.
Patrick's mother began to focus on his
diet, providing him with nutritious foods and vitamins. She felt that
he improved somewhat but by the following December, a year after his
diagnosis, he was still experiencing the joint inflammation and pain
and the high fevers which usually started in the late afternoon and
evening. Patrick's parents switched rheumatologists at this point in
an attempt to find a physician who would communicate more effectively
with them and who would respect them as members of Patrick's
health-care team. (Three cheers for Patrick's parents!)
The new rheumatologist recommended a
more aggressive treatment, so Patrick began taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory
drug (NSAID). But Patrick's condition continued to deteriorate. He spoke
in a whisper, he had to be carried to the bathroom, he was so uncomfortable
that his chin rested on his chest. He could painfully raise
his arms only as high as his shoulders and had very little wrist movement.
The slight weight of a bed sheet on his swollen joints caused
him pain. He was severely anemic and his constipation, still chronic.
Gold treatments were then recommended
for Patrick. Martha and Craig Landfair knew about gold therapy and were
gravely concerned about the serious side effects.
Patrick's uncle -- Martha's brother,
Dr. Morley Honey -- is a chiropractor
in the Chicago area. He had become interested in traditional
Chinese medicine and was studying under Dr. Zhangang Guo, an
M.D. as well as a traditional Chinese herbalist. He had urged
Patrick's parents to consider taking Patrick to see Dr. Guo. It was
something they had been thinking about for some time but had been hoping
that Patrick would respond to conventional medical treatment
so they would not have to take that difficult "leap of faith" into
nontraditional medicine. When gold therapy was prescribed for
Patrick, his parents felt the time had come to at least consult
with Dr. Guo. Patrick, in a wheel chair, and his mother thus
flew to Chicago to see Dr. Guo.
Upon seeing Patrick, Dr. Guo commented
that he did not see many children who were as sick as Patrick. He remarked
that Patrick's liver was in severe distress (blood profiles earlier
had revealed this same information). He told Martha that he did not
know if he could cure Patrick, but he could help him. He prescribed
Chinese herbs and a tea. Dr. Guo said that Patrick did not have to
discontinue his present medication, but that his response to
the Chinese herbs and tea would be more effective if he did stop taking
it. What a difficult decision for Patrick's mother! (At this point in
the interview Martha said that it's easy to "just go to doctors and
do what they say." Yet now the responsibility for Patrick's
health was very much in her hands. She was frightened that
Patrick's fevers might shoot even higher if she discontinued
his regular medication.)
The next day's event, however, made
the decision easy. After taking the herbs and tea for a day,
Patrick woke up and said "Mom, I'm
hungry" -- words his mother had not heard in over a year. Usually
Martha had to force Patrick to eat even as little as a single
slice of banana for breakfast. Yet this morning he ate a bowl
of cereal with banana slices and then asked for a cup of soup.
This followed with two more bowls of cereal and two cups of
Patrick's mother then decided to discontinue
the medication he had been on for the past couple of months.
Her fears about his fevers going out of control were for twenty-one days
after he began the Chinese herbal treatment.
Dr. Guo then saw Patrick every six weeks.
Over the next eight months Patrick slowly but steadily improved. He
would have periods when his fever would return and his joints would
be inflamed and painful, but he was never as ill as he had been when
he first saw Dr. Guo. His mother continued his nutritional program and
his Uncle Morley, the chiropractor, developed an exercise regimen for
him to do daily. The Landfairs also stress the importance of the prayers
of their family, friends, and church members (Patrick's father
is a minister). Patrick was even taken to a healing service
once and anointed with oil. The Landfairs feel that all of these factors
have played a role in Patrick's recovery.
Since last October Patrick's parents
feel that he has "turned
the corner" with his arthritis. He is now a healthy, normal,
energetic five-year-old who enjoys playing with his two younger
sisters. He continues his Chinese herbal therapy, his exercises,
and his nutritional program. His mother states that the only
evidence of the arthritis or its residual effects is some restriction
in his neck movements. This Fourth of July his parents watched
his running with other children and lighting fireworks -- a
quite different little boy than he was a year ago when he hand
to be propped up in a chair to watch a fireworks display.
Recently Patrick and his mother returned
to the rheumatologist. Martha was interested to see the physician's
reaction to Patrick's dramatic improvement. When the doctor
asked Patrick to raise his arms as high as he would, with a
big grin he shot his arms up over his head. When asked to move
his hands, he flapped his wrists vigorously. His blood profiles
were markedly improved. The physician commented, "Truth
is stranger than fiction" and then called in three of
his colleagues to see Patrick. Martha told him about
discontinuing the standard therapy and about Dr. Guo's treatment
and the nutrition and exercise pro gram. The physician stated
these modalities had worked for Patrick and he would recommend
that Patrick continue the therapeutic regimen.
The rheumatologist said that he would
be interested in seeing Patrick from time to time and the Landfairs
agreed to this.
Martha and Craig Landfair emphasize
the fact that they are not "against Western medicine." They
just wanted everyone's "best" for
Patrick, and most of all, they wanted a healthy son. Today
Patrick looks and acts like a normal child rather than the
invalid that he was for almost two years. He has boundless
energy, sleeps well, has a good appetite, walks and runs normally.
While it cannot be known yet whether Patrick is cured, in temporary
remission, or in complete remission, the Landfairs celebrate
and feel grateful that they discovered a combination of therapies
which have been effective for their son.
Copyright © The Health Resource, 1989. All rights reserved.