In September of 2008 I had a small cut on my right thumb knuckle that became infected.This caused my right hand to swell up and go red.During this time I traveled to Tonga for a surfing trip and fell very tired.One week after returing from Tonga the hand seemed to heal up.

About 10 days later (October 2008) I had a bad fever in the night and woke up in the moring with painful and swollen feet.I thought I had a bad “flu” but after a couple of days many other joints had became painful and swollen.By this time it had became very difficult to move about even going to the toilet was a challenge.

I went to a G.P who thought I might have rheumatic fever and he referred me to Waikato Hosipital,and also proscribed a course of Penicillin.On admission to the hospital the doctors decided to stop the course of antibiotics and procceded to conduct many tests for a wide variety of diseases including tropical diseas (following my trip to Tonga).after a week of this the doctors said I had “Reactive Artritis” but were not sure what had coused it.They processed Prednisone Steroid which seemed to help,after 2 days and the joint pain reduced significantly.I was then discharged from the hospital but 1 day after being home my feet started to swell up again followed by knees,hips,hands,elbows,shoulders,spine.This was all despite still being on the course of this point I went to stay with my sister who is a G.P. but also very astute with nutritional and homeopathic medicines.she organized a number of vitamin and herbal supplement for me.Unfortunately my joints were very bad at this point and I could not move out of bed on my own.

My condition fluctuated over the next two weeks but I was steadily losing weight as my immune system which had gone out of control,metabolized my muscles to then go and attack my joints.A very painful and depressing process.During this time my sister who was taking routine tests,heard a heart murmur and decided I should go back to hospital.

On arrival back at hospital I was given a cardiology echo scan which showed some Aortic valve leakage.The cardiologist then decided,because of the heart problem,that I most likely did infect have Rheumatic fever.The doctors at the hospital then put me on a full course of penicillin (Inter muscular injections and oral pills).My weight continued to drop but the joint pain gradually started to lessen and the swelling reduced slightly.

By now it was mid December and my sister and father had talked with a friend (Dr.Peter) who suggested I see Dr. Win Huang for some traditional Chinese acupuncture.By this time my joints had been not moving for about 6-7 weeks and I could only walk for short distances with cratches.My shoulders were very locked and I could not lift my arms above elbow height.

At my first treatment I was quite impressed with the speed and precision that Huang applied the needles.He also had good clear advice on keeping an upbeat,positive frame of mind.Immediately after the session I felt much more positive and my joints had loosened a bit.In fact I actually managed to laugh for the first time since I got sick.I continued weekly treatments of Acupuncture for 2 and have found that these,in conjunction with the strong Chinese herbs,have significantly improved my condition and aided in my recovery.I am still receiving occasional treatments to help me get to 100 per cent.

Barclay Armstrong