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A Future Back on Track: LDN Helps Kat Recover from RA (and improves her ADHD!)

Kat Murphy
December 15, 2019

About Rheumatoid Arthritis:

Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, is an autoimmune inflammatory disease. The immune system attacks healthy cells in the body in error, causing painful swelling in various parts of the body. According to the Centers for Disease Control, RA mainly attacks the joints, usually many simultaneously. The most commonly affected joints are the hands, wrists, and knees. The joint lining becomes inflamed, causing damage to the surrounding tissue. This tissue damage can cause long-lasting or chronic pain, unsteadiness, and deformities. RA can also affect other tissues throughout the body and cause problems in organs such as the lungs, heart, and eyes. Signs and symptoms of RA include: pain, aching, stiffness, tenderness and swelling in more than one joint, usually involving both sides of the body, weight loss, fever, fatigue, and weakness.

About ADHD:

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by difficulty paying attention, excessive activity, and acting without regards to consequences, which are otherwise not appropriate for a person's age.

Kat, what kind of health situation were you dealing with?

At age 20, my life changed overnight. On September 13th, 2018, I woke up swollen, unable to move my fingers, with a rash, and in awful pain that made me cry. I called my mom immediately, and sent her pictures of my wrist and rash. Her response was, "That sounds entirely too familiar. Call the rheumatologist at 8am. Get the first appointment available." I was horrified. My mom had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) 10 years ago and had fought it like crazy. Suddenly, I was now diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis too. I was shocked to the core. Soon after, I was also diagnosed with Familial Mediterranean Fever (a genetic auto-inflammatory disorder that causes recurrent fevers and painful inflammation) and Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria (hives), which made the pain and swelling much worse. It was a lot of curveballs to handle all at once.

How did all this impact you?

I slowly deteriorated from September to December. Some days just getting out of bed was too difficult. Sometimes squeezing a bottle of dish soap was impossible. I couldn’t go out of the house if I was having a “flare”, and even if I was feeling well enough to go out, I was afraid to do something that would cause a flare. I was basically bedbound. I had just begun nursing school and didn’t know what to do. By December, I was barely passing classes, and was in and out of my rheumatologist's office every week trying to get help with the pain, swelling, fatigue, and other symptoms.

On those other medications, I had significant side effects, such as my hair falling out, disabling brain fog, and a lot of weight gain.
How had your conditions been treated initially?

I was given methotrexate, steroids, and NSAIDs, among other things. On those other medications, I had significant side effects, such as my hair falling out, disabling brain fog, and a lot of weight gain. Even on those meds, I was still having extreme pain and fatigue.

Kat - Pre LDN How were you coping with all of this?

I felt pretty hopeless. I couldn’t do the regular activities of daily living, let alone things that I enjoyed. That brought me down. I was also upset about my changed appearance (big weight gain), which led to further social isolation and depression that I was already experiencing due to being housebound. I was miserable.

Who made you aware of LDN?

I’m very lucky, because one day my wonderful rheumatologist, Dr. Sisera Reddy, told me about it. She said, "Listen, I know of this medication called low dose naltrexone (LDN). I have a few patients on it, treating various conditions. None of them have had any crazy side effects. You are so hypersensitive, though, so I'm not sure you won't have a side effect, but LDN has helped my other patients tremendously. Do some research, talk to your mom, and let me know what you think." After I researched it, I told my rheumatologist I would try it.

My pain reduced immensely after taking LDN for one month. My fatigue also improved, and I lost 15 pounds without even trying.
What was your response to taking LDN?

I started taking 4.5mg of LDN and it reduced my pain and inflammation when 60mg of prednisone couldn't. My pain reduced immensely after taking LDN for one month. My fatigue also improved, and I lost 15 pounds without even trying. Eventually my blood tests even went from being highly abnormal to being totally normal for the first time.

How has being on LDN impacted your professional aspirations?
LDN saved my life and my future…it restored my dreams to become a nurse.

I can't imagine where I would be now, had I not started LDN when I did. I was convinced I wouldn't last in nursing school. Nurses can tell you that nursing school is hard and stressful enough, even when one isn’t dealing with a body that is fighting itself. I was entirely too tired and in too much pain to leave our house, to leave my bed. My professional future was looking pretty bleak. LDN saved my life and my future…it restored my dreams to become a nurse. After starting LDN, I found myself able to resume normal college student activities. It helped relieve my RA pain, and reduced my inflammation and fatigue. I have been able to pull my grades up, take care of patients, and relate to patients about being a patient. I have rediscovered my love of nursing, and am currently thriving in my second year of school.

Kat - Nursing Did your loved ones notice the changes too?

Absolutely. After I experienced the huge improvements on LDN, my mom shared with me that she had been afraid that I wouldn’t make it through this...she had been very concerned. Also, since I was unable to leave the house, I was dependent on my boyfriend to bring me things and take care of things that I couldn’t. After I was feeling better, I was able to be social again and to do the things that normal 21 year olds do…it is awesome! My mom thanks God that my rheumatologist was so educated and knew about LDN.

I realized that my thoughts were more organized while taking LDN. I could focus on one topic (instead of 8 at once!) and drive without being distracted.
You also experienced an unexpected benefit from the LDN. What was it?

I didn't think things could get any better, but they did. I had started taking ADHD medication when I was around age 13, and was often referred to as the "poster child" for ADHD. When I first started LDN, I wasn't in school, so I was taking a break from my ADHD medication. I realized that my thoughts were more organized while taking LDN. I could focus on one topic (instead of 8 at once!) and drive without being distracted. Because of the LDN, I’m able to go off my ADHD medication a lot more than I could before, which is a huge thing, because the less medication the better.

As a student or nursing, do you have any special wisdom you’d like to offer people about LDN?

A lot of patients do their own research about LDN, then go to their doctors to ask for LDN, and the doctors aren’t educated about it. They are probably thrown off by the fact that doctors don’t know anything about LDN, and that makes them second-guess it. Patients think that if a doctor doesn’t know about something, then it must not be legitimate. But that’s not always the case. Being in nursing school, I now see that doctors don’t necessarily know about medications.

Kat How would you advise patients whose doctors don’t know about LDN?

I’d suggest printing out some articles about LDN, and ask them to please read into it for you. Maybe even give the LDN articles to your nurse, because nurses may have some extra time and can bring it to the doctor’s attention. For better or worse, the doctor might be more likely to listen to a nurse than the patient. Also, in some states, nurse practitioners can prescribe LDN.

Any final thoughts you’d like to share?

I’m so thankful to people like you all, who have dedicated their professional lives to helping others by researching and sharing information about low dose naltrexone. The impact is so immense, and I’m so grateful.

More About Kat:

I am a 21-year old nursing student who lives in Atlanta, Ga. I find nursing school very rewarding and am looking forward to becoming a registered nurse! Although I don't have a lot of free time outside of school and studying, I love to travel and shop when I get the chance. Giving back is important to me, and I'm so grateful for LDN.

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