Exploring chronic disease
18 Jan 2008
Several years ago this West Virginia native feared for his life. He had managed to survive two heart attacks, but his sarcoidosis of the heart, myopathy, atrial fibrillation, and fluid-filled lungs were only getting worse. Now, after 2 1/2 years on Autoimmunity Research Foundation’s Marshall Protocol, this 69-year old is active again thanks to the fact that his heart conditions and sarcoidosis symptoms have improved considerably. Meet Freddie Ash.
As a child I was fed canned milk fortified with vitamin D. Early on I was deficient in iron. They made me eat molasses to try to bring the level of iron up, but in grade school it was so low I saw the doctor almost every day. They had to pull out my baby teeth because they rotted too quickly.
In grade school they had a nurse come in to check our hearts. Later that day I was given a slip – I never did find out what it said. A doctor examined me with a forescope but could find nothing wrong. I was dismissed.
But I began to feel there was something wrong with my heart. During the 50s, we had a glider on the front porch. When I would lie on the glider it felt as if the whole glider would jump every time my heart would beat.
In December of ’78 I had a high fever. I was so cold that my wife had to put socks on my feet while I was in bed. I was shaking and shivering. When my fever reached 104 degrees I went to the hospital and they did an EKG. I was told that not enough oxygen was flowing to my heart and that I should get a stress test done.
But when I went to my family doctor the next day he said, “Oh, the low oxygen was just the result of a fever, you don’t need a heart test!” Looking back, I can’t imagine that he didn’t have my heart checked.
In August ’72 I went to the doctor because I was starting to feel stiff all over. My ankles were red and extremely swollen. My doctor said he’d never seen anything like it before. They thought maybe I had arthritis, yet my bloodwork didn’t confirm that diagnosis.
That March of ‘73 I began to have trouble with my left eye. It felt as if somebody had stuck their finger in it – it was red and hurt as if there was a piece of broken glass inside. A doctor at the Huntington Eye Clinic diagnosed me with iritis. I started to take the steroid eye-drop prednisolone. A few days later I was back. The symptoms had spread to my right eye. At that point I began to think, “Hey, maybe my eye symptoms are connected to my other disease symptoms!”, but my doctors didn’t have the same view. My spleen was enlarged – a symptom I now know was a result of sarcoidosis. During this time I lost about 40 pounds in 30 days. My friends thought I might die.
I began to suffer from chest pain and saw a different doctor in ’82. This time he did run an EKG and found a blockage in my heart and also in my lungs. I also had swollen lymph nodes. I was sent to see a heart specialist in Dayton Ohio. After some testing he told me I had sarcoidosis and sent me to the emergency room. I refused to take an ambulance to the ER and drove myself. Once there, I was hooked up to a heart machine. I could see on the screen of the machine that where the lines are supposed to go up and down with each heart beat, my lines were only going down. It felt like an electric shock was going through my entire body. Immediately after, I was told I had 1st degree blockage, myopathy, and sarcoidosis of the heart.
In 2000 a heart test showed that the wide parts of my arteries were blocked by 95%. My ejection fraction went down to 15%. I was told I needed to have bypass surgery. The Cleveland Clinic also thought I might need a heart transplant. The whole time I kept telling my doctors “My sarcoidodis and my heart problems are connected!” I had researched sarcoidosis in great depth and read papers stating that sarcoidosis and heart disease were both bacterial illnesses. Yet my doctors always insisted on viewing them as two separate diseases. At one point when I was being interviewed by a doctor he said, “You know more about sarcoidosis than we do!”
The bypass surgery was scheduled for March 20th. On March 10th I had a heart attack. They gave me ten days to recover, then flew my by plane to get the bypasses done. My insurance company never did cover the flight – I had to pay $8,600 out of pocket.
It took me a long time to recuperate from that heart attack and the surgery. But in August 2003 I went on vacation with my wife. I started to feel nauseous, my back hurt, and there was a pain down my left arm. I was flown by helicopter to West Virginia University Hospital and treated for another heart attack. When the nurse took my blood pressure she refused to write it down because it was so low.
The doctors at the hospital told me there was something wrong with my bypasses. In fact, they couldn’t even find the bypasses. My doctor said my level of CRP was elevated. I shook my finger at him and said, “CRP is a marker of inflammation! Sacoidosis is an inflammatory disease and my heart disease is connected to my sarcoidosis!”, but he still didn’t acknowledge the connection. Today I know that view was correct. Dr. Marshall’s research has confirmed that both sarcoidosis and heart disease are connected because they are both diseases caused by L-form bacteria.
I had a second round of bypass surgery done. It turned out that all of the previous bypasses had become calcified. The doctor said he had never seen anything like it. My lymph nodes and aorta were also calcified. I was also told that I had atrial fibriliation. My left leg was swollen with scars and was in very bad shape because the veins had been pulled out during my first bypass surgery. I had to start seeing the doctor every week so that 2 liters of fluid could be drained from my lungs at each visit. I thought for sure I’d be a dead man in 3-4 years.
Before starting the Marshall Protocol my atrial fibrillation (AF) was at 97%. When I started the Marshall Protocol it went away, most likely due to the anti-inflammatory effects of Benicar. I was able to stop all blood thinners. However an EKG revealed that the atrial fibrillation returned in March of 2006 as a result of an increase in the inflammation generated by bacterial die-off. At that point I started taking one blood thinner again. However, after getting the AF test results, I visited two different doctors and a nurse. Based on my heart rhythm, none of them could tell that the AF had returned. Just a few days ago I had a visit with yet another doctor who repeated that my heart rhythm was too good for me to be in atrial fibrillation. They were very surprised at how even my heart rhythm is. So it appears that the MP has allowed my heart rhythm to become so much steadier that the AF has little effect.
Now, I can lie on my left side without my heart beating so hard that it feels like it is coming out of my chest. My ejection fraction has improved from 33-35% (it was 15% at one time) to about 45%. My cholesterol level has dropped from 225-247 to 150 and 147 at my last two appointments. Before the MP my tryiglyceride levels were in the range of 295-395. My last blood test showed they have dropped to 61 and 62. My blood pressure used to run low – around 84/45 (as low as 48/26 on time). Now it reads 110/58.
After my first bypasses were done, I started to have problems with my left leg. It was cut again in eight places during my second round of bypass surgery. I started to have red swelling and fever blisters on the leg which reached all the way down to my knee. The Cleveland Clinic could not figure out what was wrong. Finally a cardiologist told me that the leg would never get any better. But after starting Benicar, the leg started to improve. The redness and blisters have gone away. There is still swelling from time to time, but it is less than before, and comes and goes depending on my dose of antibiotics.
After my heart attacks I could barely walk across the room. Now I can walk for over an hour and make a point of trying to walk at least 30 minutes every day. I can carry a basketload of clothes up the steps without a problem, something that was very difficult for me to do before the MP.
I can breathe so much more easily and the condition of my lung has greatly improved. There are days when I can just breathe and breathe and breathe! At the start of the MP I was forced to visit a pulmonologist every three months, but now my doctor has told me that I only need to come for a visit once a year.
I no longer require supplemental oxygen at night. In 2005, after starting the Marshall Protocol, a person from the oxygen company came to check my machine and found that it wasn’t working. I hadn’t even noticed! She administered a test which showed that my oxygen only fell below 90% for 8 seconds (a good score). Two days later she called to say she was coming to pick up the machine because I no longer needed it.
I take substantially fewer painkillers. I was on some sort of pain medication since August of 1972 up until August of 2006. Now I no longer take pain medication on a continual basis – only once in a while if my immunopathology (bacterial die-off reaction) becomes too strong.
Starting in 1968, I began to experience a bad ringing sensation in my ears. Since starting the Marshall Protocol the ringing has diminished by 95% or more. Also, in 1972 I was told that my left ear was unable to hear high-pitched sounds. I have not had a hearing test since starting the MP, but I’ve noticed that I now hear sounds in songs that I never heard before.
After starting the MP, my urologist informed me that my prostate had shrunk. I also used to have problems with hemorrhoids since the 1980s. Back then I found that every time I was admitted to the hospital I would develop hemorrhoids. Since starting the MP I have not had any hemorrhoid problems at all and I have not used any hemorrhoid medications since August 2005.
My iritis is completely gone. Furthermore, my eye doctor has detected no signs of inflammation in my eyes. People my age tend to develop granulomas, cataracts, or macular degeneration, but I have no signs of those illnesses at all.
Starting on Thanksgiving day 1964, I started to have bad migraine headaches. Since starting the MP I have experienced the vision part of an ocular migrane, but it is no longer accompanied by headache or finger numbness.
This year I also noticed that my fingernails no longer crack, peal, or split like they did before the MP. Before the MP I had to keep them very short, but now they grow long before I have to cut them. Starting in 1982 my forehead had a sandpaper feel to it. Now the bumps have gone away and the skin feels smooth and much improved.
In the late 1980s I lost most of my sense of smell but after being on the MP for a while I find that I can smell things that I have not been able to smell for years.
After I had my first bypasses done in March 2001, I noticed that I would become sick if I spent time in stores with bright lights such as Walmart, Krogers or Kmart. Since starting the Marshall Protocol the light no longer bothers me and I don’t get sick in those stores.
This past year was the first time in about five years that I have not had pneumonia or bronchitis. I feel stronger and much more resilient. My doctors have warned me that someone my age is at risk for a stroke, but I am not concerned about strokes because I have read many studies about how Benicar is often able to prevent strokes by reducing inflammation.
Both myself and Marshall Protocol moderator Belinda Fenter were members of the World Sarcoidosis Society. She told me about the Marshall Protocol and sent me a lot of papers on the subject. I had already read some articles about how vitamin D negatively affects people with sarcoidosis so Dr. Marshall’s research caught my interest right away. I started to watch the progress of others on the Marshall Protocol and was impressed. One day, Belinda even called me to help clarify some of my questions about the MP. We became friends and still are today. At that point I was confident that I wanted to start the MP. I went to my family doctor and said, “Call doctor Marshall!”
He’s very interested in my progress. He’s especially interested in Dr. Marshall’s work with vitamin D. Any time he’s had a question I’ve posted in on the Marshall Protocol study site and Dr. Marshall has been nice enough to answer it. My family doctor is impressed with Benicar. In August of 2006 he told me he had been in a meeting with the Benicar reps. They gave him information about Benicar and how it lowers inflammation & CRP among other things. He said, “FREDDIE, YOU TOLD ME ABOUT ALL THIS TWO YEARS AGO!” I replied that I had learned it all from Dr Marshall.
This is the only cure for chronic disease. I am confident that I will regain complete health thanks to the MP. Because so many people need to know about the treatment, I go to support group meetings and pass out DVDs with Dr. Marshall’s presentations. I go to health fairs and tell people about the MP. The MP is not easy but neither is your disease, and it will kill you if you don’t take action.
Unless somebody proves something different, I plan to preach about the MP.
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.