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Testimony & Presentation - The "best" for Patrick

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 arthritis:

•  Systemic JRA - affects many body areas, including internal organs

•  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 was made.

   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 soup!

   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 that obviously 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 his recovery 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.

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