Exploring chronic disease
8 Nov 2007
In 2003, this school teacher from Indiana was suffering from sarocoidosis, fibromyalgia, CFS, and myriad other symptoms. Today, thanks to Autoimmunity Research Foundation’s Marshall Protocol, she considers herself healthy and is traveling the world with her husband. Meet Carole Morgan.
Before I found the MP, I was actually undergoing tests for cancer. I had originally visited the emergency room in December 2003 because my legs had become so swollen and painful that I could hardly walk. An abnormal chest x-ray revealed extremely swollen lymph nodes. My physician referred me to a pulmonologist who ordered more tests, including a CT scan for my bloated and painful stomach. He then referred me to an oncologist, feeling that I probably had cancer. More scans and tests were performed because they just weren’t sure what form of cancer I might be suffering from. First they thought it was lymphoma, then bone cancer, then finally lung cancer. While they were pondering a diagnosis, I started to do my own research on the Internet. Since the second possibility listed from the CT and PET scan reports was sarcoidosis (a disease that I had never before heard of), I started to research sarcoidosis on the web and found sarcinfo.com—a website created by Autoimmunity Research Foundation that was the predecessor to MarshallProtocol.com.
The science behind the Marshall Protocol seemed to make so much sense. Also, I realized that I had nearly every symptom of sarcoidosis, as well as hypervitaminosis-D—a condition in which exposure to light flares a person’s disease symptoms. I could literally go down the list of symptoms and check each one off, such as swollen salivary glands or a metallic taste in my mouth. Since I was sensitive to light, it was another clue that I was on the right track. During the testing process, I shared this information with my family doctor, who luckily agreed to support me in the MP. Since I wanted to start the treatment immediately, he ordered the blood tests, prescribed the medicines, and began to follow my progress.
However, my oncologist was still adamant that I might have cancer, insisting that I have a mediastinoscopy—a surgical procedure to examine the inside of the upper chest between and in front of the lungs. I did not want to have the surgery done because I was convinced that I had sarcoidosis and could use the MP to treat my illness. Plus, at the time, I had extremely high blood pressure, which put me at greater risk for problems during surgery. Nevertheless, he insisted that I have the mediastinoscopy, so I went along with his wishes in order to prove that I was right.
Sure enough, when the procedure was over, the surgeon immediately turned to my husband and said, “She definitely has sarcoidosis.” So I had diagnosed myself correctly from the start. I then proceeded with the first antibiotic of the Marshall Protocol.
My health had been deteriorating for decades before my doctors started thinking that I might have cancer. When I was a young child, I had chronic inflammation involving my kidneys, tonsils, and sinuses. I also had prolonged pain behind my knees. In retrospect I realize that I was very light sensitive at an early age. In family photos I was always shielding or closing my eyes. By the time I had reached my late 20s, I had gone to numerous doctors looking for ways to treat what had developed into severe back pain. I was told that my x-rays resembled those of an 80-year-old woman. Later I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis and had back surgery in 1980.
Many breast lumpectomies were performed throughout the years, beginning in 1975. In 1982, I developed a pituitary tumor that was also removed by surgery. In 1992, my gallbladder was taken out, and a complete hysterectomy was performed in 1999. In the meantime, I was dealing with colon polyps and began to have serious thyroid issues as well as blurred vision. On occasion when I turned my head, my view became distorted and I had reduced peripheral vision. Sometimes it would seem as if the person I was looking at only had one eye. I also began to have excruciating migraines and often ended up in the emergency room because they were so painful and accompanied by non-stop vomiting. Then, I developed Temporo-Mandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder, and my neck and back pain got worse. I also had big-time cardiovascular issues as detected by various EKGs.
Furthermore, I had a host of gastrointestinal symptoms and a history of recurring colon polyps. I had severe muscle and joint pain and was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. During the mid 1990s, I had a case of mononucleosis that never really went away. The flu-like feeling and the symptoms of fatigue persisted, and I was also diagnosed with CFS. I went through a spell where I felt that I was in respiratory distress, unable to naturally inhale or exhale. I was also plagued with unrelenting bladder infections and chronic bronchitis. My blood pressure was increasing, as were the PVCs and tachycardia, so I was put on a beta blocker. Eventually the high blood pressure caused the development of left ventricular hypertrophy which leads to heart failure.
My teeth also started to fracture, and my fingernails would break off at the level of the cuticle. My throat would tighten when I tried to eat, and I would often choke on food that would get stuck in my throat. My hair started to fall out. I lost all strength in my legs. When I was young I was a dancer, but later in life I had problems even bending without falling over. I also had inner ear problems in that when I would turn my head, I got extremely dizzy and on occasion would need help in order to walk straight. Because of my vision it was very difficult to work at the computer screen.
Finally, I was deteriorating mentally. I often wasn’t thinking clearly. Sometimes I couldn’t remember how to spell certain words. One time I was engaged in a normal conversation when the word “goat” just came out of my mouth. It was in no way relevant to the conversation. I also developed a buzzing and fluttering feeling in my brain.
When I first got onto sarcinfo.com, I read that I should stop taking any supplements (other than those needed to correct a recognized deficiency), and I did exactly that. I had been taking extra vitamin D because I was told that it would help my bones, as well as a multivitamin that also contained vitamin D. I had also sought out foods high in vitamin D because I incorrectly assumed that my bones might benefit from high amounts of the “vitamin.” Within just a few weeks of stopping the supplements, I started to feel better. Soon after I started Benicar, I could bend my knees to an improved angle. I was also used to my muscles feeling like mush – to the point where even my massage therapist didn’t think it was a good idea to massage them. But once on Benicar they started to feel different and more stable.
I felt symptoms of immunopathology as soon as I started taking minocycline. Since I’m pretty sure that every inch of my body had been infected with L-form bacteria, I did experience strong and diverse immune responses. At first, the immunopathology in the area behind my knees was the hardest to deal with. At one point I even contacted a surgeon to see if there was some way he could help the knee pain, but the board moderators told me to hang in there—that if I put in enough time, it would go away. And they were right. Now, over three years into the MP, I no longer have pain behind my knees.
Three months into the MP, a CT scan showed a slight decrease in lymph node size. I was encouraged. Then, three months later, another CT showed significant improvement, with resolution of infiltrates! At that point my doctor dropped any skepticism he might have had about the MP. He too was convinced that it was working. The sores in my nose went away, and my migraines improved tremendously. With each new CT scan, my results were better and better. At about a year to a year-and-a-half into the protocol, my CT scan was normal! My other blood markers also returned to normal. My last pulmonary function test showed that my lungs are working even better than what is considered normal.
No matter how much I was covered, when I got too much sun I experienced sensitivity with increased throat pressure or tightness, palpitations, a headache, nausea, or swelling. I did not become super sensitive visually until I had been on the MP for about six months.
I can do just about anything I want. I still don’t spend prolonged periods of time in the sun, but I can tolerate a good amount of light. This past summer I even got a small tan on my face, chest, and hands with no rise in symptoms.
My fatigue has been replaced with renewed energy. I have better balance and agility. I have strength and muscle tone in my legs again, and my back/neck issues are totally gone. I can now lift, twist, and engage in all kinds of movement. The pain and swelling in my stomach, legs, and feet are gone. My digestion and sleep patterns have normalized. My hair is growing back thickly again; and every time I go to the hair dresser, she says, “Ah! I’m so glad you’re beyond that!” For the most part, my headaches and blurriness are gone, although I may have a slight headache here and there, which is quickly dampened or eliminated with an extra Benicar.
My blood pressure readings are back to normal, and the chest pain and pressure have disappeared. The TMJ and teeth sensitivity have resolved. Until recently, if I tried to carry a shopping bag, the pressure on my joints would mess up my fingers for a very long time. Now, I can carry shopping bags without any resulting issues. Plus, my two trigger fingers have returned to normal. I have reduced my thyroid meds to a level that is less than half of what they used to be.
Really, all my symptoms are gone or greatly improved. Some of them were so bad that I feel like I’m 1000% better. There is no doubt in my mind that the MP has literally saved my life. But I still am experiencing immunopathology, which tells me that I still have bacteria to kill. I don’t mind staying on antibiotics for a few more years, because I feel I’ve already regained my health. Now I’m just tweaking my health until I am absolutely confident that I am 100% better. For example, the cyst on my liver is still there, although it might be a little smaller. Perhaps it will go away completely.
Oh, yes! Last spring the Dexa scan revealed that the MP is working toward suppressing my bone reabsorption. My T readings have improved and are reversing direction.
My family physician has been incredibly supportive since day one on the MP. He reads the information that I provide him about the treatment and writes whatever scripts are needed. He definitely vouches for my progress. He has told me on several occasions, “This treatment has worked for you!” He has also told me that he is very willing to treat other patients with the MP.
Hmmm…I can’t think of anything. Oh, well it was difficult to realize that during the times when I was sensitive to light I could no longer garden. I love to work in my flowerbeds. There is also a rather sunny beautification project that I helped to develop downtown that I could no longer tend to, so this made me a little disappointed. But I soon realized that the guidelines were there for a reason. At the start, even when I would go outside covered from head to toe, I would often still get a rise in symptoms from the sun. However, that reaction has gradually improved and is not a big issue anymore.
Not everyone has as severe sun sensitivity problems and many are able to use sunscreens that contain zinc oxide or use prescription ketoconazole cream, which allow them to have more sun exposure. See here.
Do your research. You must follow the guidelines diligently. Try to be patient because the MP is not a quick fix.
After 34 years of teaching, I am working as a substitute teacher almost every day. Just today, I spent four straight hours singing with primary children. I am now able to participate in outside recess duty, where I am often in the sun. I have also been traveling with my husband and actively enjoying our retirement together. In May, we visited the Middle East. I walked and climbed through the pyramids in Egypt, and later in July walked throughout the large cities in Italy. On an earlier trip, I hiked around 10,000 ft. of mountainous terrain. Despite the fact that I had not exercised much while on the MP, except for walking our dog, I fared very well. Since I was not “physically fit” as in prior times, I was assuming I would be sore from the exertion. To my surprise, I only had very minimal muscle soreness that went away quickly. Even after a fall, I was hardly sore. So basically I plan to continue enjoying life!
Amy Proal graduated from Georgetown University in 2005 with a degree in biology. While at Georgetown, she wrote her senior thesis on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the Marshall Protocol.