Tuesday, October 12, 2010

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Seeing polka dots!

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Today is very special for the Logan's blog because we have the privilege of reading about another family's journey. Jamie Ervin,  PolkaDotMommy of the blog Looks Good in Polka Dots , and mother of three darling girls has graciously consented to share some of her family's story with us. We hope, from time to time, Jamie will treat us to updates and successes in their ongoing journey.

Our thanks and appreciation to Jamie! See their story, below.

The Polka Dot Families Journey to Health

With the birth of my first daughter, I was just like any other new Mommy. We were blessed with this beautiful, healthy, nearly perfect angel baby. She nursed like a champ after only a few rough days. She hit all her milestones on time, rarely fussed, and was a joy to be around, all the time. I was lulled into complacency, this Mothering stuff was EASY!

When our second daughter was born 20 months later, I had a reality check. Kenzie’s delivery was a nightmare. She came screaming into the world weighing in at 2 lbs heavier than her older sister. I was at serious risk during the delivery and so was she, we both survived with minimal lasting damage. The only birth trauma that remains is nerve pain in her right shoulder. She had severe dystocia and Erb’s Palsy. Thankfully, she regained full use of her arm.

Born at 9lbs 7oz, Kenzie weighed in at only 16lbs 2oz at 12 months of age. There began a battery of tests. No one even mentioned food as a possible cause for the health issues we were beginning to see… failure to thrive, eczema, major bowel issues, screaming fits…

Once the “scary” tests were complete with no diagnosis, Kenzie was labeled a “difficult” child and symptomatically treated for her issues (miralax for bowel, pediasure for growth).

That was the end of her medical investigation until she was 5 and this Mom wizened up. During the summer before kindergarten, we spent our week long vacation at the cabin with several other families. One of the moms is a long time peds nurse. She pointed out that my Kenzie had many signs of a child with food allergies. She also mentioned that Doctors often miss this because they see them for such a short period of time.

I began doing research and took Kenzie to a highly recommended allergist. The new Doctor performed a skin scratch test and determined she had no food allergies. He also said that often the food/behavior correlation was “in the parents head”.

After that visit, I took matters into my own hands. Immediately, we removed everything artificial from her diet. Gone were the colorants, corn syrup, preservatives and artificial flavorings. We saw drastic improvement in her behavior. However, there were still numerous occurrences with skin blotchiness, rashes, bowel and overall feeling of being unwell.

At that point, I chose to take her to a Naturopathic Physician. In the following months, not only did we discover numerous food allergies/intolerances, but we also confirmed the presence of Celiac Disease which had been “ruled out” when she was a year old.

Once we removed all gluten and dairy from her diet (in addition to staying all natural), we had a different child on our hands. To this day, we see an immediate reaction to gluten and dairy (eczema, asthma flares, long lasting colds, bowel issues). And huge behavioral issues anytime she gets HFCS or artificial colorants (preservatives as well, but seem to take longer to affect behavior).

We’ve decided to stay out of the medical world as much as possible… I know that choice isn’t for everyone. I can tell right away if Kenzie is getting an allergenic food in her body or if she has consumed chemicals. It took time to learn her reactions to specific items; for instance, it was only this week that I was able to correlate her dairy allergy with severe asthma flares and long lasting colds. The last two autumns were awesome, while she was completely off dairy. This year, we’d been trying a dairy challenge and the kid has been sick for over a month. She also had an eczema flare on her face.

Supplement-wise we’ve tried a couple different paths. Our base includes probiotics, a children’s whole food multi, calcium + D, Zinc + C (kids immunity), and DHA. We are still figuring things out… changing our diet and supplements on a regular basis, but I finally feel like we are making real improvement. Our family has had success with a gluten free/ casein free/ all natural diet low in sugar. We consume healthy fats such coconut oil and real butter and eat a diet low in modern convenience foods with a focus on lots of fresh, raw fruits and vegetables.

It’s been a daily challenge, but seeing the improvement in all our health has been worth it!

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