I started studying my Advanced Certificate in Nutrition when my son appeared to be suddenly allergic to many foods. I’m not talking about the typical allergies that require an Epi-pen, I am talking about really strange foods like Bananas, Zucchini and really wholesome foods that everyday people just ate all of the time that were making his lips swell and his breathing laboured – and the list was growing on a daily basis .He was having real trouble swallowing and was vomiting his food back up daily.
We saw countless doctors, immunologists and specialists and were told by many that “IT WAS ALL IN HIS HEAD” he was not anaphylactic to anything tested.
There were no answers from the doctors and he was prescribed lifelong antihistamines and Gaviscon daily as a precautionary measure. I made it my mission to figure out what was going on with him.
He became depressed. Clinically depressed according to his psychologist and at age 11 they wanted him to be medicated for it. Using my new found knowledge we decided instead (with the support of an ND) to try an Elimination Diet to see if any foods were triggering his mental health issues. SOY was the culprit. We removed it fully from his diet and to this day he has not had any more symptoms of depression. #WINNING! This was life-changing and I needed to know more!
I obtained my certificate and then enrolled to further study Nutrition for Adolescent Mental Health. Meanwhile, he still had countless foods that were causing him serious problems in other areas.
MY AH-HA MOMENT:
My AH-HA moment came when I was studying at home and stumbled across an article on Eosinophilic Oesophagitis (It’s a mouth full!) . A rare and chronic Auto-Immune condition. He had almost EVERY symptom! WHY had no doctor noticed?
My son had a terrible accident. He fell almost 8 meters from a tree in our back yard (yep it higher than you think!) . It was by far the most traumatic event in our lives so far. He shattered his pelvis, broke his lower back and almost lost his left arm. The next 2 weeks were a blur of anaesthetics, Surgeries, Dr’s , Nurses and trying to sleep on the couches at the Royal Childrens Hospital. We altered our home to accommodate a wheelchair and I had to take a leave of absence from work as he needed full time care. We were then travelling into Melbourne 2-3 times a week for countless appointments and rehabilitation.
While this story seems quite tragic, we were exactly where we needed to be!
- For the first time ever – I was not working and could focus my energy 100% on his FOOD and REHABILITATION! Everything he ate was clean and home made. (and he was a captured audience haha)
- We had landed in a hospital with the most incredible doctors and they have a specialist allergy clinic AND that clinic had one of the very few Doctors in Australia that specialised in Eosinophilic Oesophagitis ! #WINNING once again.
His recovery was one of true determination and strength. We were told that he would be in a wheelchair for 3 months and that he may not play football again. We were told that he might get 80% of the movement back in his fingers.(*FUN FACT – he lost his fingerprints on his left hand from the trauma & nerve damage to his arm!)
WELL – when it came time to try and walk again , we arrived at the hospital and the Doctor asked him to try and stand. He stood – and then proceeded to walk slowly to the other side of the room without a problem! There were phone calls to other specialists at the hospital to come and witness his amazing progress.
His hand therapist was the same – the hard work in focusing on his health and rehab exercises paid off. He had 95% movement back within 4 months.
His accident happened in November and he played his first game of football in the following MAY.
THE DIAGNOSIS OF EOSINOPHILIC OESOPHAGITIS:
We needed a referral from a specialist to have him tested for Eosinophilic Oesophagitis and to be transferred to the Royal Childrens for treatment by the experts. To say that it was difficult was an understatement.
Our Immunologist was quick to jump onto his high horse and declare to us that “In my 42 years of immunology, I have NEVER come across it” . This was met with a “NEW ME” . This “NEW ME” was a stronger and more determined mother – who was fighting with a Dr to get answers for her son. I insisted that we would be tested and that we would go private if necessary and if he wouldn’t help then we would appreciate it if he told us of someone who would. He did – we were in surgery the following week and his results were that of an extreme case.
Its funny, we spend all of this time trying to get a diagnosis for what is wrong with us , but do we ever really think about what we will do with it when we have it?
My son has an INCURABLE disease. There is actually no approved treatment. There are a few studies proving that steroidal treatment can help with the immune response to foods and that eliminating trigger foods can also help. It will be a LIFE LONG chronic disease.
ENTER FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE:
Being the way that I am (stubborn mostly – just ask my husband! 😉 ) I started to explore the world of Functional Medicine. There were incredible stories of HOPE and INSPIRATION from those who are living amazing and fulfilling lives almost symptom free from terrible diseases by following the principles of Functional Medicine.
Doctors from all over the world study Functional Medicine through the Institute of Functional Medicine. These doctors are now training Functional Medicine Health Coaches to help to curb the rise of chronic disease.
I stopped work and I signed up to study full time with the Functional Medicine Coaching Academy in 2017 and have not looked back!
THE AMAZING RESULTS:
On our most recent trip to the Royal Children’s Hospital, my sons test results came back and he still has significant active disease. His doctor said that given the results my son “should be really sick” but he is not. So we are to keep doing what we are doing as this is giving him the best quality of life.
We are re-introducing foods regularly with great results. He is playing local footy , is happy , social and fit.
My learning continues. Next step is a Bachelor of Health Science !