Saturday, February 22, 2014

Healing with a Positive Attitude

 I am blessed to be married to an optimistic man.  Every problem (or opportunity) is met with:  “It’s good to have options.”  Or “We can handle this.”  Or “It’s okay to feel how you feel.  Now let’s figure this out.”  His attitude tends to rub off on those around him.

The best advice I ever got when starting on this journey of recovery was to keep a journal.  To keep track of progress.  To see what works and what doesn’t.  To keep a log of your child’s behaviors – both good and bad.  To watch the progress and the setbacks.  The leaps and the regressions because all this knowledge can lead you to the next step.

Recently, I took some time out to review old journals.  They date back almost ten years now.  They are mostly just notes from when I first started giving her supplements.  The first was fish oil.  She was non-verbal then and it was a really tough time.  In my head, I remember how awful it was -- But as I read my journal, I read things like:

11-30-04 (age 2)
“When reading a book that had a baby’s eyes highlighted, she pointed to my eyes.  Did great at TEACCH.  No crying spells and did almost all her tasks!”

12/9/04 (age 2)
“I asked Marley what a ladybug says and she made a squeaking noise!  This is HUGE because she did something on command.  YAY Marley!”

And the entries go on like this…..highlighting all her accomplishments – no matter how very small.  I actually cheered her on in my writing with YAYs and WOWs!

Then I cried as I read about how she gets sicker and sicker.  How I suspected seizures because of the blank stares, flickering eyelids and terrible tantrums followed by a “what-the-hell-happened” look on her face.  Then I started timing the tantrums and noting how long they go on (over an hour each time) and how very violent they are and noting her triggers….being pulled out of the bath tub & changing her diaper could set her off for an hour or longer.

Her bowel movements were sometimes up to 10 per day.  Her poor butt was burning.  Nothing I did could control her unstoppable GI problems and messy stools.

I wrote about how I discovered DMG could help kids with seizures and how I was elated when the DMG stopped her tantrums…..but made her extremely hyper.  I was doing all this on my own.  No one to guide me.  But I recorded all my notes….all the studies I was reading and my heartache when I took her to the neurodevelopmental pediatrician who doubted every last thing I told him about her improvements on fish oil and DMG. 

But then I found a new doctor and the happy, positive entries came back:

4/8/05 (age 2 ½)
2nd day of methylfolate and no DMG & new diet with no white sugars or white flours and only two pieces of fruit per day.   For the first time today, at Little Gym, she stopped when the teacher said, “Freeze”.  She did this THREE TIMES.  Awesome!  She also began to walk on the balance beam with me holding her hands. YAY!

Changes since adding methylfolate (FolaPro) Chris and Nana both notice more babbling, good spirits and generally happy and starting to walk down stairs. Go baby!

I was cheering her on in my writing again.  With every successful intervention, I got more and more excited.  You can see it in my writing.  “I can do this….she CAN get better” was the sentiment. Little by little, I gained more confidence as I could see her slowly, slowly blooming.  There were lots of lows along the way but we just kept plugging along and what I learned was….Attitude is EVERYTHING.

If you want something, go get it.  Hire a good doctor that will stand behind you.  You are going to hit bumps in the road…but without the bumps, the little things are not worth as much.  This journey is not what I wanted for myself (or anyone else), but I have learned so much.  I have learned the importance of the right foods.  I have learned that the body can heal itself if given the right tools.  I have learned that you have to fight for what is right.  I have learned to follow my intuition.  I have learned that love is there…even in the darkest hours.  I have learned to trust the man I love because he has got my back.  And I have learned that it is all about attitude.  Being grateful everyday for your blessings is essential. 

So be grateful.  Be mindful.  Be positive.  You can do this.

***This post is dedicated to the Steffens family who have made positive thinking an art.  They taught my husband how it is done and he taught me.  And to my father-in-law, who would have celebrated his 69th birthday today.  I love you.  And attitude IS everything. ***

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.  Attitude, to me, is more important than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do.  It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill.  It will make or break a company…a church…a home.  The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we embrace for that day.  We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people act a certain way.  We cannot change the inevitable.  The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.  And so it is with you…we are in charge of our ATTITUDES.  -Chuck Swindol, Author of “Attitude.”      

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Diet changes alone won't heal leaky gut

Two years ago, we put my middle daughter on a gluten free, casein free, soy free diet and within a week she was better.  No more chronic headaches.  No more complaining of tummy aches.  No more bedwetting.  No more scary night terrors.  And her picky eating was so much better.  Clearly food was a problem for her.  And I thought I had fixed it.  I gave digestive enzymes for about 6 months into her new diet.  But she was so much better I dropped the digestive enzymes but continued with this diet.

Fast forward two years.  Now she is in second grade and is a funny, smart, active sensitive kid.  However, this past Fall, she started complaining of daily headaches.  The kind of headaches that took her to the school nurse daily.  The kind of headaches that made her sensitive to light and she didn't want to eat.  And at the same exact time, she started wetting the bed again.  She had not done this in two years with the exception of the time that she accidentally ingested gluten. 

After two weeks of this, I made an appointment with the eye doctor.  When there are chronic headaches in a child – the first thing I think about is vision problems.  The eye doctor said she has 20/20 vision but her eyes “relaxed” when he gave her a weak prescription for up-close reading, so we ordered her some reading glasses.  While we waited on the glasses, I took her to the chiropractor.  He adjusted her and her headaches went away only to return two days later.

In my heart, I knew there was more to it-- especially because she was wetting the bed again.  So, I made an appointment with our integrative allergist and ENT who can do IgE (true food allergy) and IgG (food sensitivity) testing.  While waiting for the allergist appointment, the glasses came in.  Unfortunately, there was no change in her headaches when wearing her glasses.  There’s $200 down the drain.

With my girl still suffering, we finally got in to see the doctor.  He ran a food IgE panel and an IgG food sensitivity panel.  He also ran an environmental IgE blood test.  The IgE food allergy testing came back clean but she came back with loads of IgE environmental allergies (which we already knew about). 

The IgG food sensitivity testing came back next.  I expected it to be better than two years ago but it was not.  Now she is reacting to the foods in her new diet.  This can only mean one thing.  Her leaky gut is not healed.  Changing her diet alone was not enough. 

Back to the drawing board I went.  Looking for the perfect combination of supplements to heal her leaky gut and make those terrible headaches go away, I settled on L-Glutamine twice per day to seal her GI tract, IgG 2000DF to provide aggressive immune support and very strong probiotics (stronger than her daily probiotics) to repopulate the gut with good flora.

And amazingly, within two days of the new supplement protocol the headaches went away.  And so did the bed-wetting.  She was back to her normal self -- able to play soccer again and no longer at the nurse’s office daily.  I kept her on this regime for a month. That is the amount of time it takes to heal the average leaky gut.  However, if it is severe, it could take longer. 

Leaky gut has many symptoms and they can vary from person to person.  It may present as gas or bloating.  It may present as reactions to foods including rashes, headaches or just plain not feeling right after eating.  And food sensitivities are a delayed response.  The can occur up to 72 hours after ingesting the food.  Leaky gut has also been shown to cause depression because it allows bacteria to enter the bloodstream.  Another thing to consider is that leaky gut is caused BY inflammation and it causes inflammation in the body – which can lead to autoimmune diseases or disorders.

L-Glutamine works very fast to heal the gut lining.  See study here.  However, following a gluten free, dairy free, soy free and low sugar diet is your first line of defense against leaky gut.  Once you have your diet in place, you can use many things to heal the GI tract.  Homemade bone broth works well because of the gelatin.  Deglycyrrhizinated licorice helps to repair the intestinal lining.  Aloe leaf extract and slippery elm bark can both reduce inflammation and sooth the GI lining.  So, there a host of options to help seal the GI tract and reduce inflammation.

Thanks for reading about our journey.  I am forever learning how to keep my kiddos healthy! 

Here's my girl, now EIGHT years old....happy again!