A Story of Courage and Challenge in the Fight Against Rheumatoid Arthritis
As most people with chronic illnesses do, I see my life in two distinct parts:
BEFORE Illness and AFTER Illness.
BEFORE, I was an active person: riding roller coasters and thrill rides on family vacations,< xml="true" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" prefix="o" namespace="">
hitting the golf course or the ski slopes, hiking with my sons and our dog, and cheering at my sons'
ballgames. I also worked long hours as a Bank Manager. This was only 9 years ago, but it feels like
an eternity, maybe even a dream.
AFTER, I became a shell of my former self: lying in bed or on a couch, completely absorbed in my
own pain and suffering. This agony has only been 8 years, but it too feels like an eternity, maybe
even a nightmare. My nightmare came in the form of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Psoriatic Arthritis,
two inflammatory immune system diseases that crippled me in many ways. It crippled my ability
to work because I couldn't keep up the pace; it crippled my high energy with never-ending fatigue;
it crippled my enthusiasm with relentless, agonizing pain; it crippled my confidence by putting me
on a cane, then crutches, and at times, a wheelchair; it crippled my body with attacks on my joints,
bones, muscles, heart, lungs and digestive system; and it crippled my family's time because they
had to care for me. My Rheumatologist labeled me her 'worst R.A. patient' because it took 4 years
to get any of my symptoms under control. And the worst: symptom, PAIN, never got under control.
I THOUGHT IT COULDN'T GET ANY WORSE, but I was wrong. One day, as I sat in a
transplant room with my brother who had cancer, I noticed tiny red dots on my palms. The dots
began to spread to my feet, legs, arms, trunk, and scalp, everywhere except my face. The dots
first turned to blisters, then into large, scaling, oozing, bleeding, sores. The skin literally sloughed
off my hands and feet in large strips, and my feet and legs became swollen more than 3 times
normal size. I developed nodules in my lungs, inflammation around my heart, and diverticulitis in my
colon. My pain jumped to levels I didn't think possible; even the air felt like acid on my sore riddled
body. I went on 32 doctor appointments in 4 months, because no one could truly diagnose me!
At first they thought it was Lymphoma, but it was finally diagnosed as Psoriatic Arthritis.
The specialists said the medicine I was taking to treat R.A. may have caused these new, horrifying
symptoms. I was treated with massive doses of the steroid Prednisone, a whopping 80mg per day!
My Rheumatologist told me "the only safe dosage of steroids is l mg PER MONTH, so we have to
find another answer FAST, before you lose bone!" Too late- I developed osteoporosis anyway, and
gained 60 pounds from the steroids. Worse, I only improved while on the higher dosage of steroids,
and every time the dosage was reduced my symptoms actually came back worse than they were
I began to pray for death; I had prayed for a healing in the past but now I sincerely begged
God to take me home and end this agony. I didn't think my sons would miss me that much; I hadn't
been able to be a good mom in years: I couldn't walk, let alone hike, ski, sit through a ballgame, cook
or clean. All I could do was lie in my bed, moaning in pain and looking like a burn victim with my body
slathered in prescription ointment and covered with plastic wrap, Second-Skin patches, white
cotton gloves, and men's X-Large size white cotton clothing. Shirt sleeves and pant legs had to be
cut to fit over my swollen, raw body. I began an aggressive regime of Methotrexate injections
(a type of chemotherapy), and Remicade LV. infusions. These were also dangerous drugs, but I was
desperate! So were my specialists. And the treatment did provide some relief: my skin began to heal,
and my pain level went back down to a level 8 out of 10. Yes, my pain was still 8 out of 10, plus I still
had horrible stiffness, and energy-draining fatigue. I was grateful for the improvement but still very ill I
had to sell my house and buy one with my Mom and Sister so they could care for me. Of course moving
caused me new problems. I began to have horrible throat infections, one after another. Only the biggest,
strongest antibiotics worked and then only temporarily. But I didn't have time to worry about this new
ailment because something else was about to happen and this time it was not happening to me,
but to my beloved mother.
The Big Whammy! My 86 year old mother developed multiple infections, including Staph,
when her colon was perforated during a colonscopy, spewing deadly bacteria into her abdomen.
My 2 sisters and 1 brought her home after 2 1/2 months in the hospital and although her infections
were under control, her nutrition levels had dropped so low that she was near death. She couldn't
tolerate the feeding tube, and couldn't keep down Boost or Ensure drinks. Also we discovered she
had a second hole in her colon called a 'fistula'. A Colo-Rectal Surgeon said this type and
size of fistula NEVER heals on its own and the only solution was surgery to perform a
PERMANENT COLOSTOMY! We were devastated. Mom had lived through all those infections,
2 blood infusions, compression fractures, and ulcers-only to face being physically altered forever!
Mom was too weak for surgery and the surgeon set it up for 2 months later, giving us
time to improve her strength and nutrition levels.
We prayed for a miracle. And that’s when my old friends Craig and Teresa Jefferson called
to tell me about NIKKEN. They'd heard I was ill, but I told them we needed to save my mom first.
My dear friends said "let's save you both". We immediately bought the Pi-Mag Water system, and
Protein Shakes. astounded to read on the label that the Kenzen shakes have double the nutrition
of Boost or Ensure! And we mixed the shake powder with V -8 brand V -Fusion juice because it gives
you 1 full serving of fruit and vegetables in every 8 ounce glass. My mom's results were almost
instantaneous: she walked for the first time in 6 months! And after using the FIR Light on her
abdomen and backside, daily for 2 months, the Impossible happened- her fistula HEALED completely!!
The Cola-Rectal Surgeon was amazed, first at mom's energy, and then at the disappearance of the
fistula. He confided that after her first appointment, he didn't think she'd live through the surgery!
And now she didn't need surgery at all; the horror of a Permanent Colostomy was avoided! Her
recovery was nothing short of a miracle. It was some time later that I realized my throat infections
stopped when I began drinking Pi~ Mag Water.
We wanted more! Next we borrowed a Sleep System, and got Insoles, a Seat Pad, and
loose magnets to place in our clothing pockets. I ordered myself the Joint Support but couldn't take
it right away because I developed a new set of symptoms: a rash of hives, migraine headaches, nausea
& vomiting, high blood pressure and rapid heart rate. I began to have allergy-type reactions to
everything I put into my body, including food and medications. Every chemical, like air freshener, or
candles, made the symptoms worse. I went to the Emergency Room thinking I was having a stroke.
It wasn't a stroke.
Another challenge had come my way: my liver function was failing, because of the
chemotherapy drug. I was told to stop taking the drug, get a liver biopsy and start treatment I was
terrified because that drug, coupled with my I.V. infusions were the only thing keeping the sores
away. I begged for a two month delay to see if my liver would heal on its own. I didn't really think
it would, but I was overwhelmed at the thought of more treatments, or worse, having the sores return.
Again Craig and Teresa Jefferson came to my rescue. Out of the thousands of emails floating around
the NIKKEN world, Craig read the story of Cari Roundy, a courageous gal from Texas. Her ailments
and symptoms seemed nearly identical to mine. So I took my lead from her story and began the Liver
Support. ALL MY LIVER SYMPTOMS WERE GONE IN 4 DAYS!
Now it was time to tackle the arthritis pain!
Healing takes time is something my brother told me when he was battling cancer 2 years ago.
"Miracles come in an instant, but healings take time", he said. He and I also promised each other that
WHEN we were healed we would start a business to help sick people. We also had a sister with cancer,
and between the 3 of us, we knew more medical jargon than any non-medical people should know.
didn't know what type of business it would be; we just wanted to help other sick and hurting people. My
sister beat cancer but our brother passed away November 2005. I was still so ill I didn't know if I could
get through his funeral. I had to wear men's house slippers and use crutches. I was also miserable because
I knew I couldn't keep that promise "to help others". I recalled his words again when at first, I didn't get better
on the Sleep System when 2, then 5, then 7 weeks went by and no change. But during the 8th week I
began to heal. I woke up one day and did not need my wheelchair. An other week and I no longer needed
my crutches or cane to get around!
My life had always revolved around the 13+ pills I took every day: pills for arthritis, pain, sleep,
muscle spasms, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and Diverticulitis. I had weekly injections and an I.V.
infusion every 6 weeks. And now I've reduced my daily intake from 13 pills, down to 2. I no longer take
the chemotherapy injections, so my liver should remain healthy. CIAGA has quieted the Diverticulitis
and I've just started the Joint Support which I fully believe wil1 bring me closer to the before illness me.
My brother was right...Healings Do Take Time! It took 8 years for my body to deteriorate, but only
8 weeks to begin healing it.
The answer to my prayers was not death, it was LIFE! On my last visit to the pain management
clinic, my doctor DID NOT RECOGNIZE ME--HE even INTRODUCED himself to me. When he opened my
chart and saw my name he said "Holy Mackerel, Emma I didn't recognize you; you look healthy, and
well! He called for his staff to come see me saying "Do you remember Ms Coccari, she was in a
wheelchair before, and look at her now!" I gave him lots of NIKKEN information to review. He says he is a
True Believer because he has seen it work--he has seen ME! Dr. Ackerman has asked if he could refer
certain patients to me and I've invited him to attend NIKKEN meetings. Finally, I can again be a good Mom,
Sister, Daughter, and Friend. I have a new prayer: "God, please let me be bold for NIKKEN".
This is the business my brother and I dreamed about. I can keep that promise now! And after being a
pain-controlled recluse for years, I now invite everyone to come see me in Berea, Kentucky.
But you won't find me at home: I'll be sitting high up in the center bleachers at my son's ballgames,
cheering wildly! God Bless NIKKEN, and everyone who helped me!
Emma Mullins Coccari, Berea, KY