Until November of 1996, I thought I was on the top of the world. I was attending college and everything in my life was heading in the right the direction. But all of a sudden, the good feelings shattered. Never have I ever felt so weak and helpless. At first, I noticed symptoms associated with my Raynaud (a syndrome which includes restriction of blood flow, particularly noticeable in the fingers), then I began losing skin pigmentation (patches of color). As my illness progressed, I became very susceptible to colds and flu. I became a frequent visitor of the local ER. Each time, though, the doctors there would tell me that I merely had the flu and that the virus would soon run its course.
By November 1996, my condition had deteriorated and due to breathing difficulties, I was not even able to walk on leveled ground. I ended up in the school’s health clinic. A nurse detected irregularities in my heartbeat. With her advice I went to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. After being hospitalized for almost three weeks and undergone a series of tests, I was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension plus a mixed connective tissue disease (an auto–immune disease). In addition, I was told that my conditions were chronic and that there were no known cures for this disease. The doctors informed me that the best I could hope for would be treatment of the associated symptoms. My immediate need, however, was to address the pulmonary hypertension .The most effective treatment for pulmonary hypertension—at the time—was Flolan, a medicine administered by continuous infusion through a permanent central line catheter (surgically implanted through my chest directly into a blood vessel leading to my heart). This treatment was both inconvenient (I had to carry a medicine pump around 24–7.) and invasive to my skin, causing frequent skin irritations and left me susceptible to potentially deadly infections via the catheter. On top of everything, all those inconveniences were only to ease the symptoms, not a cure for the root cause of the disease itself. During the time of my treatment, Flolan was only administered—on a limited basis—through clinical studies. People who began taking Flolan were expected to remain dependent on the medicine for the rest of their lives. Despite those expectations, I was determined to find a cure for my disease and release my dependency on Flolan.
With the help of my family, I researched and discovered a cure for my disease that uses eastern medicine. My family, friends, and relatives searched all over the world, including major cities in China, and Chinese medical practitioners in New York, and Washington D.C. for the most qualified doctor of eastern medicine. Most of those doctors did not have any knowledge of my disease, let alone any concept of possible cures. Just as my hopes were beginning to fade, God sent me Dr. Hou from All Natural Medicine Clinic in Rockville, MD. Dr. Hou is a physician who is well–versed in both eastern and western medicine. The first time I visited Dr. Hou, I brought my lab results. I did not tell her the diagnosis that the other doctors had given me; but she was able to independently diagnose me after studying my lab results. Most importantly, Dr. Hou explained how she could help me. After our first visit with Dr. Hou, my family and I knew that we had found the right doctor. However, one of the conflicts that I faced was this: one of the conditions in entering the Flolan clinical trials was that patient could not accept herbal medicine or acupuncture treatment at any point during the study. Despite my desire to start treatment immediately, I was unable to accept Dr. Hou’s help. Because herbal medicine treatments work slowly for chronic diseases, Dr. Hou recommended that I continue with the Flolan study to treat my pulmonary hypertension and wait for my condition to stabilize. Even after the Flolan clinical studies ended, I continued to rely on Flolan. However, now I was pairing the western medicine treatment, Flolan, with Dr. Hou’s eastern medicine treatment, herbal medicine and acupuncture.
Dr. Hou’s first treatment required me to drink herbal medicines and eventually included acupuncture. I took the medicine twice a day and received acupuncture treatments every other week. My herbal medicine prescriptions depended upon the symptoms I experienced that week in addition to the results of my most recent lab tests. As time progressed, I noticed my health condition improving. I began to feel much healthier and much more energetic. Moreover, the positive lab results that I received after beginning Dr. Hou’s treatment proved that I was not just imagining my better health. Dr. Hou explained her treatment plans for me each time I visited her clinic. During the last five years, she has not only treated me for my Raynaud and pulmonary hypertension, but has also treated many other symptoms, such as dry skin, dry skin bumps and rashes, pain at my joints, loss of skin pigmentation, and the constant–occurring flus! During the time that I have been treated by Dr. Hou, she has collaborated extensively with my western doctors to keep track of all my treatment plans, and also has kept my western doctors well informed of her treatment plans for me. Dr. Hou’s experience with western medicine has allowed her to help me reduce, and in some cases, eliminate any side effects of my western medicines.
After two years of treatment under Dr Hou, combining both western and eastern medicines, my pulmonary specialist advised me that my health had improved so much that I was strong enough to be weaned from Flolan! At the time that this recommendation was given, Flolan had not yet been approved as a treatment for secondary pulmonary hypertension by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). I was advised that if I decided to discontinue the Flolan—and for any reason needed to restart it—I might not be able to obtain Flolan again. In addition, I was told that there are very few people in the world who have been able to permanently stop needing Flolan medication. We waited for a while till Flolan was approved by the FDA [for secondary PH], then my pulmonary specialist and I agreed to discontinue the Flolan by slowly tapering down my dosages until I was completely off the medication. During my weaning period, my catheter site developed an infection, so I was monitored closely by the Johns Hopkins Hospital physicians. I was also told that I am the first patient to ever be completely removed from Flolan medication at the Johns Hopkins Hospital! I have been off Flolan for several months now and my lung pressure at rest is still normal. My health has made tremendous—previously unimaginable—progresses since starting my eastern medicine treatments with Dr. Hou. Although I have yet to be cured of my Mixed Connective Tissue Disease, my symptoms have been dramatically reduced. I continue to improve and believe in the effectiveness of eastern medicine as I receive treatments from Dr. Hou every week. I recognize that the improvement of my health is the result of both eastern and western medicine and I appreciate all of the treatment and the care that I received from all of my doctors. Dr. Frederick Wigley, Rheumatologist and Dr. Sean Gaine, Pulmonary Specialist from Johns Hopkins Hospital and Dr. Victor Tapson, Pulmonary Specialist from Duke University Medical Center have all provided their expertise and helped me tremendously throughout my treatment. I am sure they will continue to help many patients like me in the future. If anyone of you who read this story and want to try herbal medicine as part of your treatment or just want to talk someone who experienced PH, feel free to contact me.