What an independent spirit this one has, and a penchant for controlling things. A trait he inherited from his mother. At age 6 it is clear that he strong willed enough to become a leader yet sensitive enough to care about what others think. This picture suits him well; with gorgeous hair and an infectious laugh he is always pulling up his ever falling pants. He is also symptom free.
At age 2 I was constantly telling my son not to laugh. If he got into a fit of giggles, he would start coughing and throw up, whether it was at home on the carpet or on a friends carpet who we were visiting. He couldn’t run around and play like a normal child and I was constantly worrying about when his next episode would strike. My husband dreaded every moment knowing that he was unable to help his wife and child; a feeling that leaves a man angry, despondent, and depressed. It is hard to wade the unknown territory of an ailing child and it was taking a toll on our marriage.
We visited the hospital ER a dozen times over the course of those two years. I was always the “last minute” parent, waiting until I was truly worried about what could happen if we didn’t get him to a doctor. There was nothing more frustrating. My little child was coughing so frequently and so violently that he couldn’t speak without gasping for breath. It would start out like a normal cough and then peak when he couldn’t speak and was vomiting several times from the exertion. Did any of the doctors know what was going on? Surprisingly no. Despite his nebulizer at home and rescue inhaler, at the hospital Clark was given double the dose of albuterol along with morphine, steroids, and heavy pain killers. This was not what I wanted for my son. I had such a strong feeling that this was also not good for him. Did the albuterol ever ease his airways and stop the cough? No. Every time, ER or no, his body would recognize at the peak of stress, how to relax the airways and he would start to recover.
These episodes continued several times a week. After struggling with his stubborn pediatrician, we switched doctors and scheduled him for an endoscopy. This revealed a rare allergy called eosinophilic esophagitis. It is where the white blood cells from the intestines travel upwards into the esophagus and attack certain benign food proteins causing inflammation and tissue damage. Apart from frequent vomiting, this allergy also spurred a breathing condition called reactive airway disease. Like asthma, triggers (allergies, exertion, viruses), could cause his airways to spasm and constrict because of the damage that was being inflicted from his white blood cells. Despite the ordeal, it was freeing to have a diagnosis. Now how do we treat it?
With my husband’s full support we went for an elimination diet which cut out all of the top 8 allergens in Clark’s diet. It wasn’t cheap and it wasn’t easy. After what seemed like some progress, we found his symptoms still persisted. There was something we were missing so we decided to get him allergy tested. After many appointments and tear-wrenching back pricks we discovered that not only was he allergic to dairy and cats, he was allergic to apples as well. If you haven’t checked food labels for kids, everything is sweetened with apples. I had to re-evaluate what he was eating and fully accept the role I had in his recovery.
This is how my journey to natural health began.
My son can now drink milk, eat cheese and apples, and hasn’t even had a cough from a cold in two years. I attribute this entirely to eliminating the foods his body was rejecting, as well as taking out all processed and non-organic foods, and feeding him nourishing, cultured meals. This doesn’t mean we never flubbed on a special occasion or grabbed some grilled nuggets from chik-fil-a (something we realized we had to cut out completely) but recovery is a journey and a life change, it isn’t always easy. After a few years, we have fully incorportated dairy back into his diet with great success and continue to see a healthy boy.