Where do I begin? Should I start with my being pregnant and working at a stressful job in New York City? Maybe I should first write about my family history of celiac and not knowing that having undiagnosed celiac/gluten intolerance can have major consequences to your unborn child.
Maybe I should begin with my son’s delivery. I describe the aftermath as being a crime scene, (sorry for the visual). Let’s just say it was the perfect storm of two injections of an epidural, lots of pitocin and a forceps delivery.
The Crying Began
As soon as our bundle of joy came home…the crying began. The doctor diagnosed him with having an awful case of colic, the worst she had ever seen. He was prescribed a cocktail of Maalox and Zantac for the first year and a half of his life. No other suggestion was made other than medicine and changing his formula.
Throughout all of this I was trying to be the perfect mom and follow all the rules and make sure he had all of routine medical interventions. Not only did I do that, I listened to the doctor who told me to give him Tylenol.
In addition to all of this, my son was born with blocked tear ducts, and we were told they were also the worst case of this ailment that the doctor had ever seen. So, at 10 months old my son had his first surgery and a load of antibiotics to go along with it. I was so paranoid about doing everything perfectly. So much of what I was doing was the worst possible thing for him, and yet was the normal protocol for all of our children.
Then Came the Allergies
Unfortunately, this was just the beginning of more issues to come. The first time I gave my son a taste of peanut butter, his whole face started to break out with hives. Then his lips started to swell. I called the pediatrician…she said to give him Benadryl and call 911. Off to the ER we went.
He was fine, but we had to meet with the allergist who told us that we must carry an epi-pen with us for the rest of his life for peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish and eggs allergies.
My son was always restless; he was never at peace when you held him, and he would scream and cry when putting him to sleep. We tried the Ferber method, we tried a “sleep consultant” (if you can imagine). We tried everything. We finally took him for a sleep study where he was diagnosed with sleep apnea.
More Surgery and Antibiotics
We scheduled a surgery to have his tonsils and adenoids taken out. Surgery number two at age four was underway. A month later, I found a hernia in his testicle. It was not mistakable because it would literally blow up like a balloon and then go back to normal again.
I told the pediatrician, and I was told, “Sometimes it’s just parents seeing things.” I kid you not! Then I took him to a urologist who was horrified. A month after the tonsil surgery we were back at it again. More surgery and more antibiotics.
Asthma and Medications
Not surprisingly by age five, my son was also getting sick with bad coughs, losing his breath and going into coughing fits whenever he would exert himself. I was told to go to a pulmonologist to check his lungs. As you may have guessed, he was now diagnosed with asthma.
So I am now armed with Benadryl, Claritin, Nasonex, an epi-pen and an inhaler. Dropping my son off for a play date became daunting. I could see parent’s eyes glaze over as I was teaching them how to jab the enormous epi-pen needle into my son’s thigh and telling them how many pumps to press on the inhaler if he started coughing and couldn’t breathe.
Then Came the Sensory Processing Disorder and ADHD Diagnoses
Around the same time, my husband and I began noticing subtle things about my son that seemed a bit off. He had a tic and spoke in a high-pitched voice whenever anyone else spoke to him. I remember feeling nervous whenever anyone would ask him a question. I knew he would either not answer or it would be an awkward response.
Then finally, a teacher at my son’s pre-K school had a conversation with me. She said his body awareness was off and he had low muscle tone. He was awkward in play situations, not knowing how or when to join in. It took him a very long time to answer simple questions.
The teacher lovingly told me that her son was autistic so she knew what signs to look for and that I should have him evaluated to see if something was going on. And so we did…
We took him to an occupational therapist for an evaluation. I couldn’t believe what I saw. My son couldn’t follow any directions if it was more than one command at a time. He would throw himself on the floor or into a ball pit to avoid completing a task or answering a question.
Prognosis: He had Sensory Processing Disorder and auditory processing disorder that significantly impact his ability to engage in age-appropriate social, academic and play skills. He also exhibited deficiencies in praxis, posture, vision, fine motor and bilateral motor control.
At this point I was wondering if we were also dealing with a learning disability. We had a private test done by a psychiatrist that revealed that my son had a very high IQ but also had ADHD. The psychiatrist asked if he even knew his ABC’s because he couldn’t sing the song and kept swinging around in his chair and kicking the desk.
Her strong recommendation was to put him on medication or else he would just lose time and be behind for the rest of his life. I asked his pediatrician what he thought, and he told me to put him on the medication.
I told him that I had researched some diets online that had been shown to have great improvements in some children diagnosed with ADHD. He told me that there was no real proof, that diets are hard to follow, and that the medications are totally fine and safe to take.
So there you have it, once again I was given the standard solution. “Just take the medication, it’s easy and harmless. Just add some Ritalin to his overloaded medicine pack and be on your way”. By this time, I was dealing with so many doctors my head was spinning. On top of everything else, I would look at him, and he just looked so unhealthy to me. Our neighbor once asked one of my friends if he was ok because she said he looked like a corpse. Harsh but true…
The Beginning of Recovery: The Moms on the Couch, and There’s Nothing Like a Good Book
You will never get better advice than the moms on the couch at a waiting room for occupational therapy. There was no time for exchanging niceties. It was all about, “What are you doing, and what’s working?” One mom on the couch told me that her niece had been diagnosed with ADHD, and they tried the Feingold diet.
The moms on the couch also told me about the “diet doctor“, the “vision doctor“, the “craniosacral master“, the “medical intuitive”, the homeopath and the nutritionist. It seemed like everyone named the same doctors, which said to me they were the best at what they did.
Right around the same time, I started asking myself, “Why are our children so sick?” Then I read that there would be a reading of a new book that had just come out called A Compromised Generation by Beth Lambert at my local library. That night started me on our current path and changed everything.
This woman had gone through so much of what I had been through, and she had found answers. The beginning of the lecture was daunting, but the end was beautiful. It was a message of hope. There is a plan to change the course of my child’s life and heal the damage that had been done? I was hooked…and by the way, Beth Lambert is an angel and a warrior that I can never thank enough.
The Ultimate Cleanse
We began with getting rid of any harsh chemicals in our home and in our food per the instructions of the Feingold handbook. This included unhealthy cleaners, toothpaste, food dyes, artificial flavors and preservatives, etc. If it’s not made naturally, then you better believe it contains carcinogens or many times straight up poison. There are 80,000 untested chemicals in our environment as we speak. How could this be possible you ask? That’s another whole story, but you wonder why our children are so ill?
Then we went to see Dr. Nancy O’Hara in Wilton, CT who changed our lives forever and continues to heal our son. She gives us answers to questions that we would NEVER even have known to ask if not for doctors like her.
These doctors don’t just stop at writing out the prescriptions for what ails you. They are holistic and ask WHY isn’t your child’s body functioning correctly? It seems so simple and makes so much sense. If your child’s body/gut isn’t working right, then the brain won’t work right either.
About 80% of the body’s immune system is located in the gastrointenstinal tract. This is also where most of the essential neurotransmitters for the body and brain to function efficiently are created. At the time of our initial appointment with Dr. O’Hara, we were dealing with the following:
- Mood swings
- Auditory processing disorder
- Sensory Processing Disorder
- Chronic coughs
- Stomach aches
- Low muscle tone
- Sensitivity to sounds, smells, lights and clothing textures
- Poor focus
- Subtle stimming
- Breath holding
- Poor coordination
- Low self esteem
- Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep (up every two hours at age 5)
Dr. O’Hara ran tests that told us what was off in his body. She told us what supplements he needed to take and what foods were negatively affecting him. We worked on healing his gut that had been ravaged by toxicity. The damage had been done by many things, including toxins that never detoxified from his system.
Remember when I mentioned we were told to give him Tylenol? Well, Tylenol lowers glutathione. Glutathione is the most important substance that our body produces to help maintain a healthy immune system as well as being the most powerful detoxifier. So it’s the EXACT thing you need to detox toxins.
My son was also affected by a gluten issue handed down from my family whose background is rampant with celiac. Then there had been an abundance of antibiotics from being sick and having so many surgeries. We found a significant yeast overgrowth in his gut, which again goes back to the antibiotics and diet. Yeast can wreak havoc on your body and your mind.
We took blood tests every three months which told us EXACTLY if things were working or not. It wasn’t pie-in-the-sky hope; it was real testing to tell us if my son was getting healthier or not.
Vicki Kobliner, who is the dietitian who works hand-in-hand with Dr. O’Hara, recommended a craniosacral therapist to take our son to because his birth had been so traumatic. We took him to Joan Faulkner in Wallingford, CT.
It only makes sense that having been pulled out by forceps when you are a tiny infant could cause issues and injury to the spinal cord and nervous system.
It turns out his entire stomach was twisted which explained why he was on Zantac for the first year and a half of his life and where his reflux originated. His head and body had lasting injuries from the forceps. Through gentle manipulation of the sacrum, spine, organs and skull, his injuries and misalignments were corrected.
We also went to see Dr. Randy Schulman who is a behavioral optometrist. She sees many children who are diagnosed with learning disabilities or have reading difficulties where it turns out to be their health and their eyes not working together properly.
Then we went to see Lauren Lee Stone who is a homeopath who worked closely with Dr. O ‘Hara. She helped raise my son’s glutathione, greatly improved his allergies and low energy, killed the yeast and healed his stomach. He went from being anaphylactic when eating a trace of baked egg to eating whole meals cooked with egg in a short time!
Something that EVERY doctor my son has been to has in common is that the current approach to medicine wasn’t working for them or their child so they went outside the box for answers. Their hearts are in the right place because this was now personal, and they needed answers just as I was searching for answers. I’m just so glad they were brave enough to search and find them.
My son has shed all of the labels he was given three years ago except for some lingering allergies. His sensory processing, auditory processing and ADHD issues have turned into report cards with straight A’s, lots of friends to play with and amazing art that is created with his fully functioning mind.
Will I always be tweaking and keeping an eye on him and his health? Of course. He was just diagnosed with Lyme disease this last summer, and I thought all of my hard work was thrown out the window when he was prescribed a three-month course of antibiotics. You know what? He made it out OK and so did I because we had a plan, great doctors and an understanding of how to heal.
– Chris Reilly