With CSID – Bad Days Are Inevitable

When Symptoms Change but Tolerance Doesn’t

I think we deceive ourselves only when we change what we can eat just based on that what we think we’re reacting to. In our family, we’ve learned the hard way that just because it doesn’t upset your stomach doesn’t mean it’s not upsetting something in our body.

As a Christian, I’ve learned about listening to the Holy Spirit and that if you don’t listen when you know you’re hearing the voice of God, that’s considered sin. It might be a spiritual consequence that we write off as worrying too much, or over-thinking. But for those of us who have lived long enough we know that when we do something on the contrary to what we know is right, eventually we suffer for it or the people around us do.

This is exactly what happens with dietary limits. Every time I think I can get away with eating something I know I shouldn’t end up suffering for it. And lately that’s suffering seems to come and more intense and immediate episodes.  I’ll get a migraine, or have extreme fatigue or irritability. Almost always I can trace it back to eating or drinking something that I probably shouldn’t have consumed.

The same goes for making exceptions to what my kids can eat.

Now that my oldest son has a positive Celiac diagnosis, we have one more reason to make our home gluten-free. But removing gluten alone doesn’t guarantee a healthy body any more than removing sugar for those with CSID guarantees symptoms will cease for good.

This week, I’m writing a blog on cellular health for Energetic Nutrition. As I research all the many processes and functions our cells go through, I’m learning of the thousands of possible scenarios that could cause a cell’s health to go awry. Of all the components required for a cell to work properly, good nutrition and the ability to combat negative influences are crucial. If the cell doesn’t have what it needs, it can’t duplicate in a healthy manner AND it can’t fight off harmful elements such as free radicals.

This takes me back to my original philosophy when it comes to CSID:

Add what helps, and remove what harms.

Of course, knowing what helps and what harms can be objective. There are many theories out there, and we have to decide what makes the most sense to us and our families. I don’t have access to current statistics, but it’s my understanding that starch tolerance levels can still be quite high for those with CSID. Primarily, sugar, or sucrose, tends to be avoided more than sources of starch.

However, as necessary as starch is as a form of carbohydrate, different types of starch can create very different results. Some forms of starch can cause digestive distress, such as those that come from grains or beans. Others, are dense sources of nutrients and relatively easy to digest, such as those from sweet potatoes or some root vegetables.

The difficulty is learning to know what each individual can manage and what symptoms, in addition to or besides digestive distress, to look for.

The alternative is deciding to eliminate or reduce potentially harmful foods or ingredients to avoid future problems.

For my family, I’ve found that incorporating a majority of Paleo-friendly foods into our household meal plan is beneficial for all of us. We receive ample sources of vegetables and proteins, healthy fats, only natural sources of sugar (fruit and occasional honey, coconut sugar, or maple syrup) and easy to digest carbohydrates. As we shift from our Summer Slide, and considering we now have a child with Celiac, all sources of gluten are gradually leaving our home.

This is the key to keeping me sane — deciding that what we offer in our home will be the ultimate source of health and healing. But not being so concerned with what is consumed away from home. My kids know what is helpful and harmful and are all at the ages where they need to learn to make their own decisions for health. If they give in to a food that could potential make them sick, they will learn their limits and have to decide differently the next time.

However, it is so easy to get discouraged! I also have those times where I think I’m making all the right decisions and dietary limitations and one of us still ends up having symptoms.  The truth is there are just way too many variables for us to control. And since we can’t physically see how everything from food, environment, or even emotional stress can effect each of our cells and ultimately, every system and defense mechanism in our bodies, we have to learn to accept the bad days along with the good ones. We have to do the best we can one day at a time, learn from our mistakes and compromises, and keep educating ourselves and making adjustments as needed.

As much as I still have to learn about digestive health and how it impacts every member of my family, I’m grateful for what I’ve learned in the past ten years about what can truly help and what can possibly harm. At least at the end of the day, I can know I did the best I could with the knowledge I had at the moment. And I believe my husband and my kids all appreciate my efforts and if they aren’t already, will be grateful for the efforts I made to provide them with the knowledge they need to make wise choices for their own health for years to come.

Advertisements

The Summer Slide – When Managing Celiac, CSID, and Allergies Goes Awry

With resources running low in recent months, it’s been difficult to feed my family the ideal diet. Summertime makes it all that much harder with teens coming and going and making their own choices regarding what to eat and drink when they are not home.

One thing that has made it difficult to keep taboo foods out of the house is that my oldest son, Dawson, is scheduled for a small bowel biopsy next week, and has doctor’s orders to eat gluten every day in order to confirm his Celiac diagnosis.

On the other hand, Parker (my youngest son and the reason I started this blog in the first place) had repeated food allergy tests done at the start of summer and is no longer “allergic” to wheat, eggs, or milk. Of course at 12 years old, he took that as a green light to eat all the wheat and milk he wants. When his GI Dr. said he didn’t see a problem with it due to the fact Parker has gained 10 pounds in the last year, I didn’t have a lot of ground to stand on to insist on continuing his modified diet.

So, this summer I’ve allowed our family to consume many of the foods I’d normally avoid and never allow in my home.

For those that don’t live with food allergies or sensitivities, this may seem like a blessing. But when as a whole, I begin to see signs and symptoms that may indicate distress among myself and my kids, I know it’s due to the over-consumption of processed foods.

Parker’s eczema has returned and although I’d hoped he’d be rash free on his first day of 7th grade, we haven’t been able to rid him of a few patches. Now, granted, he’s been swimming a lot and spending time outside in public areas with tons of grass, trees, and dogs around (all of which he is still allergic to). But he’s also been eating a lot of refined carbohydrates and drinking beverages with high-fructose corn syrup.

I could avoid sharing these details with the world, but the struggle is real. It’s not easy sticking to the ideal diet of select carbohydrates, clean meats, and plenty of fresh vegetables. Especially when my older teenage boys both end up with their first jobs at fast-food restaurants!

Back-to-School Means Back to Healthy!

So what is a mom to do? First, getting my husband to support the transition back to a Paleo-based diet at home is crucial. Since he experienced feeling better on a gluten-free diet last winter, this shouldn’t be too hard.

Second, between my own gluten sensitivity and our oldest son most likely having Celiac, we really need to remove gluten from the house to avoid cross-contamination.

This only leaves our middle son a “victim” due to his ability to eat anything. Yet, I believe he will also feel better, have more control over his hyperactive personality and do better in school.

However, to avoid burn out on my part, this is going to be a transition. School starts tomorrow so my plan is for the month of September, to focus on breakfast and dinner at home and allow the two boys without Celiac to eat school lunches. As fall approaches, I will assess the results and go from there.

Time to dust off my Paleo cook books and make a meal plan for the week.

Questions for you …

How hard is it for you to stick with a strict diet for yourself or your child(children) with dietary restrictions?

Do you find the medical community in support of extreme diet adjustments or are they indifferent to anything not backed by extensive research?

If you have a larger family or teens, I’d love to know of the ways you’ve been successful in feeding your family and encouraging healthy choices when not at home.

Candex May Help with Sugar Digestion

Epiphany Regarding Increased Sugar Tolerance in My Daughter

First of all, I want to express my sincere sympathy for those families suffering as a result of the Sucraid shortage. Our family has a high enough sucrose tolerance that we are able to use enzyme supplements from various nutritional companies to offset any excess sugar consumption. Though we all experience mild to moderate symptoms when we eat foods containing added sucrose (mostly cane sugar as we avoid high fructose corn syrup when possible). I won’t pretend to relate to those who have ZERO TOLERANCE TO SUGARS, even in natural foods such as fruit or root vegetables.

However, I wanted to share a ray of hope! My oldest daughter, diagnosed with CSID at 14, has always had very low sugar tolerance. She is still able to have some starches and grains in moderation, so she can take in enough carb-based calories. One of her chronic symptoms associated with CSID is recurring yeast infections. Since this form of yeast (Candida albicans) thrives on starch and sugar, I believe finding a way to minimize the overgrowth of this yeast could help curb this issue.

She is currently 22 years old a pregnant and I was concerned that she wouldn’t be getting enough calories once typical cravings set in. For us, I’ve noticed a pattern that leads to craving food we shouldn’t eat the more we partake in sugary or starchy foods. It’s actually not just a theory — sugar is an addictive substance. Especially the processed, white form.

Candex Enzymes for Intestinal HealthAnyway, before I go off on an anti-sugar rant, my daughter is an adult and makes her own choices. But I recently learned of a supplement, containing mostly enzymes, that supports digestive health by targeting the specific types of cells that make up Candida albicans. As a bonus, this supplement also contains Amylase, Invertase, and Glucomylase.– the enzymes that break down different forms of sugar!

CANDEX is manufactured by Pure Essence Labs and sold through various online retailers including Energetic Nutrition (my former employer and currently still a freelance client – but I get no form of compensation for mentioning this product).

After checking with her doctor and getting approval to take while pregnant, my daughter started taking Candex about a month ago. In a totally unrelated conversation a little over a week ago, she asked me if I’d ever heard of someone with CSID who experienced a higher tolerance to sugar while pregnant.

I told her honestly, I hadn’t been in touch with many adults with CSID or discussed their diets in enough detail to know. Then it occurred to me that she had been taking Candex (be it not consistently and not even on an empty stomach as recommended by the manufacturer). This is totally theory based on one individual, but this supplement may actually be helping my daughter to have a higher tolerance to sucrose! She had also lost weight in her first trimester but has gained 6 pounds in the past month.

Now, I don’t condone or encourage regular consumption of sugary foods – especially when the food itself only offers empty calories and no nutritional value. But I would like to offer this as a possible help in assisting with sucrose digestion.

Can Candex HELP THOSE WITH CSID?

The only way to know the answer to this is for others to be willing to try it. If the manufacturer can claim it is safe for pregnant women and children (note this is not a medical claim as they are not citing a specific disease), there is theoretically little risk.

However, I can only say that Candex appears to be helping in my own family. But if – and this is a BIG IF – others were willing to try it after consulting their health care provider or dietitian, and then to share the result in a comment on this blog, then maybe the answer could help others.

Side Note on the Differences Between FDA-Approved Drugs and Nutritional Supplements

Nutritional supplements (such as Candex) are not approved by the FDA. One reason being the loopholes supplement companies would have to jump through (current Sucraid shortage point in case) to get approval. Another being that the natural ingredients that comprise supplements vary due to them being – well – natural  and not created in a lab. And a third reason is that the FDA only approves DRUGS used to treat disease or symptoms of disease. They don’t approve natural remedies that can help prevent imbalances that may lead to disease, or bring a body back into balance after experiencing illness or stress. FDA approval does NOT mean that the drug is safe or doesn’t have side-effects. It means that they have determined the benefits of a drug outweigh the risks or side-effects in taking it.

With that said, there are many nutritional supplement companies out there that have gone above and beyond in order to show consumers that they can manufacture products of high-quality and with safety standards. This means using pure ingredients, minimal fillers or additives, and testing for quality. But no matter how many trials or scientific studies may indicate a certain supplement may help with a specific health issue, they are not permitted to make a medical claim in describing their product.

This is a nutshell explanation and is actually very complicated. But I’ve spent the better part of the past year having to re-write product descriptions for Energetic Nutrition to comply with this standard of DSHEA (Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act). I have yet to finish revisions on this blog as a result, but I wanted to explain that any vague or non-specific descriptions are a result of this Act.

Your thoughts?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions about taking supplements for digestive health. Regardless of how well we curb our children’s or our own diets to compensate for CSID, taking something to help support healthy digestion, or assist our bodies in reducing symptoms associated with poor digestion, seems like a smart choice to me.

Getting diagnosed with CSID as an adult or teen

As difficult as it is for parents to adjust to feeding their young child with a recent CSID diagnosis, suspecting or receiving a CSID diagnosis is even harder as a teen or adult. Babies and young children have the advantage of never knowing a life of consuming excess sugar or starch. If regulated and monitored, they will at least know how beneficial living without these foods can be. Even if they experiment as older teens or adults, they will quickly learn their tolerance levels and have their childhood lessons on proper food choices to fall back on

My miserable teen years

I often reflect back to my teen years and a point where I was so frustrated from getting an upset stomach or gas every time I ate, I wished I could just take a pill to satisfy my hunger. Eating has rarely been a pleasure for me. I used to blame it on stress alone, and I’m sure stress played a part, but if I had only known how to curb some of my common eating habits at a younger age – I wonder how different my life would look now.

You see, it wasn’t until after two of my children were diagnosed with CSID and I decided I would only eat what they could as I began experimenting with recipes, that I realized I, too, likely had CSID. But that was back in 2007 when I was a stay-at-home-mom and my time and financial resources were plenty.

Confirming what I already knew

Finally, a visit with the genetics department and a GI doctor back in 2014 confirmed my suspicions. However, there still wasn’t a pill out there that could help my cause! I had to make a daily choice – meal by meal – and avoid those foods I knew were harmful to me. I also learned that if I chose to continue consuming gluten or sugar (at that point I thought that moderation wouldn’t hurt me) – that it could lead to other problems. Eventually I realized my fibromyalgia symptoms were linked to gluten and sugar consumption as well. Beyond stomach upset, consuming taboo foods could also trigger a flare-up of chronic pain, severe PMS, or a migraine that lasted for days.

Bad habits die hard

But curbing poor eating habits and fighting the urge to consume what’s in front of me (especially when hunger demanded I eat something) is easier said than done. Despite knowing I am setting an example for my teenage and adult children (they are ages 12-22 as of the date of this post), I still give in on occasion – and always pay a price.

However, after experiencing a horrible migraine the day before heading off on a week-long writer’s conference at the end of March, my resolve strengthened. Enough is enough – I must learn to care for my own digestive health in hopes that my children will see me benefiting and make their own wise choices. (See PREPARING FOR THE 21-DAY SUGAR DETOX  to read more on my own commitment to change.)

A new reason to get well – I’m going to be a grandmother!

My oldest daughter is pregnant and constantly hungry  while she and her husband balance working 2 jobs each. Now that we are living close to each other, I desire to model proper eating habits regardless of the chaos of life. With a grandchild on the way, my motivation is stronger than ever. I want to be healthy and capable of spending as much time with him or her as possible!

 

Digestive Enzyme Deficiency Support

During the better part of the past year, I have had the privilege of working for an online retailer of various brands of high-quality supplements. Part of my job has been to write or rewrite their blog content and one of my first projects was to write a blog on digestive enzyme deficiency. My boss was eager for me to share my knowledge related to CSID with their general readership and we both learned a lot in the process.

I have posted the first part here with a link to read the entire article on the Energetic Nutrition blog.

Finding Support for Digestive Enzyme Deficiency

More than Occasional Tummy Troubles

A healthy, fully functioning digestive system provides essential detoxification, immune system support, and energy from the proper breakdown of food. It is a well-known fact that over 70% of our immune system is located in our digestive tract.

Many times symptoms of compromised digestion do not become apparent until disease or chronic illness are present.

If the digestive system is unable to function properly, various symptoms can surface from something as simple as occasional stomach ache, acid indigestion, or flatulence to more serious chronic conditions such as food allergies or digestive disease.

When digestive problems begin to interfere with everyday life, a quick, over-the-counter solution may be the first line of defense. However, these remedies often only cover up symptoms and do not address the root of digestive distress. For long-term results, adding digestive enzyme supplements can provide the body with added digestive support in addition to alleviating symptoms.

CONTINUE READING AT ENERGETIC NUTRITION/BLOG

Managing CSID when time and money are limited

Challenges of CSID during life changes

Over the past 18 months or so, our family has endured many challenges. Sticking with the ideal food and supplement choices has not only been hard, but impossible at times. I’ve had to allow compromises, only to see my children or myself suffer as a result. And as much as I want to be that “perfect” example for all those parents or adults out there struggling with a recent CSID or GSID diagnosis – I also want them to know there will always be challenges.

Yet, because of all the knowledge and experience I have gained from trial and error, and understanding from resources that focus on providing our bodies with digestive support – I am hopeful that in time we will get back on track.

I am also learning how different each CSID case is – along with how close relatives may experience various levels of carbohydrate intolerance, autoimmune diseases, or mild digestive upset. As of today, 4 of my 5 children as well as my husband recognize associated symptoms when they choose to partake in food containing sugar, starch, or dairy products. In June, my 17 year-old son, Dawson, received a Celiac Disease diagnosis after several unexplained events related to inflamed joints. (See Our CSID Story and scroll down to 1999 to read how we’ve had warning signs since he was young). I will write a separate post about the challenges and blessings that have resulted from this diagnosis. Ultimately, we are learning that our entire family should avoid sugar (processed, artificial, or corn syrup based), starch (from wheat and most grains), or dairy (except grass-fed organic on occasion) as much as possible.

And this is really the purpose behind my blog and my book A Place to Start Without Sugar or Starch. It’s about knowing we are not alone in this daily battle. It’s about understanding we will fail at times, but that it is possible to gain ground again and seek out the resources and answers that can provide a lifestyle of true health and wellness again

Here are my most recent tips to providing CSID-friendly meals while on the go and on a tight budget!

Tips for quick and easy CSID Meals

For some of these meals, a digestive enzyme may be required to help the individual process any naturally occurring sugars or starches. Choose one options per bullet point and modify them as needed.

Breakfast

  • Nitrate-free bacon with a semi-ripe banana, one slice of gluten-free toast (Schar brand is also egg free!)
  • Sweet potato (we use the light ones with white flesh) hash browns with chopped tomatoes and egg prepared as desired
  • Gluten-free, non-GMO cold cereal with unsweetened almond milk (digestive enzymes recommended)
  • Bob’s Red Mill Rice Farina (super excited to have recently discovered this as Cream of Wheat used to be our favorite years ago!) NOTE: This contains approximately 32 grams of starch per 1/4 cup, yet for unknown reasons everyone in our family seems to tolerate any food derived from brown rice very well.

Lunch/Snack

  • Raw almonds
  • KIND bars granola bars (gluten-free and non-GMO)
  • Unsweetened applesauce or semi-sweet fruit such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, grapes, or red pears.
  • Nitrate-free, gluten-free lunch meat sandwich on gluten-free bread (we use smashed avocado in place of mayo due to Parker’s egg white allergy)
  • Tuna salad (albacore, wild-caught tuna blended with avocado, olive oil, sea salt and a dash of white vinegar on a bed of romaine lettuce with black olives and grape tomatoes)
  • Non-GMO peanut or almond butter sandwich or cup with celery. We use Simply Fruit jam or honey.
  • Non-GMO chips (moderation recommended if they contain corn ingredients)
  • Fresh bite-sized, non-starchy veggies such as sugar snap peas, celery, cucumber

Dinner

  • Brown rice pasta with organic spaghetti sauce (if buying jarred sauce, check ingredients carefully), with ground turkey or grass-fed ground beef
  • Sweet potato skillet (1 pound ground turkey, beef, or leftover chicken plus 2-3 white sweet potatoes shredded or sliced and cooked until crispy, and a steamed vegetable such as green beans or broccoli). On occassion, we use brown rice in place of sweet potatoes.
  • Crockpot chicken with fresh rosemary, sea salt, and pepper. Add carrots, red potatoes, or non-GMO brown rice. Add sliced oranges or fresh cranberries if desired.
  • Most Thai or Asian meals are easy to duplicate at home and many Thai Kitchen products and recipes are suitable.
  • White bean turkey chili

 

Food Intolerance and the Immune System

When Undigested Carbohydrates Wreak Havoc

With the popularity of probiotics hitting main stream media, I have to ask why food intolerance is not considered a serious risk to the immune system. I have heard more than one celebrity promoting yogurt or another food containing healthy bacteria state that 70-80% of our immune system is in our gut.

Search “food allergies” vs “food intolerance” and you will likely come across the difference being that food allergies effect the immune system and food intolerance does not. You will also find that the only type of food referenced as “intolerant” is that for lactose, or milk products.

I have not come across a single article or medical reference discussing the fact that people can also be intolerant to sugar and starch. How are people suppose to know that milk is not the only culprit?

Beyond Lactose Intolerance

My research indicates that undigested food—specifically undigested carbohydrates (lactose, sugar and starch)— promote the growth of harmful bacteria in the large intestine and can lead to other health problems.

The message I hear in general is a promotion of adding “good” but no talk of removing the “bad” and this confuses me.

There is no question that diets high in refined flours and sugars create other health problems such as obesity and diabetes. So why is it so difficult to find concrete data and articles regarding the harm these foods also cause in our digestive systems?

This post is more rhetorical than scientific. Aside from research associated with the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, I have not been able to locate additional evidence that omitting harmful carbohydrates in the light of digestive imbalance is also a benefit to the immune system.

I only have my personal experience and knowledge regarding CSID and the inability to break down sugars and starches. If you have a personal experience related to food intolerance and the immune system, I would love to learn about it.

Getting Ready for Spring: The Challenge of Environmental Allergies in Addition to CSID

After over a year of requesting a referral to an allergist to re-test Parker for both food and environmental allergies, he was finally seen by a new allergist at the beginning of February. I had really hoped the test would conclude that at least some of his allergies had subsided. After all, his eczema issues have been cleared up for nearly a year.

The poor guy was so brave as he lie on his belly squirming in response to the skin test. I felt awful for him, but grateful to have a clear picture of his current status, even in the absence of eczema. After the test, the doctor reviewed the results from Parker’s blood test back in June of 2013. I was shocked to learn that the environmental allergies included oak and other tree pollen in addition to learning that his shrimp allergy could be potentially severe.

After a silent prayer of thanks that he had not been exposed to shrimp in recent years, I asked for more details. Apparently the blood test had revealed a significant difference (x100) in antibodies for shrimp–so much that she did not feel comfortable re-testing on the skin along with the other allergens. The doctor then highly recommended Parker have an epi-pin until we could re-test the shrimp in isolation.

Thus the trial and journey of seeking insurance approval, filling out school forms, etc. began. I won’t go into the details here, but I will share that so far, Parker has not been “approved.”

As we prepare for spring and his unavoidable exposure to environmental allergens (dust mites, oak tree pollen, grass pollen), we are taking a pro-active approach. Daily showers after school, protective lotions, a regimen of daily antihistamine, and going back to 100% cotton clothing to allow his skin to breath.

Due to a significant loss in income prior to the holidays, we had to move into a smaller home that has carpet in the bedrooms. This is adding a new challenge of reducing dust-mite exposure as well.

I hope to report the results of our efforts soon. As much as I strive to report success, I have to face that this journey is more often a trial-and-error process. I look forward to your comments and learning how you handle multiple health issues in addition to dietary restrictions.

Possible Allergic Reaction From Handling Offensive Foods

Last night, a thought occurred to me regarding Parker’s tendency to acquire a fever for a day without any other obvious symptoms. This has happened twice in the past few months.

Yesterday, he participated in holiday gingerbread making and homemade play dough at school. I instructed him not to eat anything, but his hands were in contact with the foods he is allergic to (milk, wheat, candy coated with food dye and full of sugar) for several hours. Although he did wake up with a headache, by the time he came home from school he was talkative and did not complain. However, at about 9pm, he spiked a fever of 101 degrees F, and was complaining of a headache again.

This morning, he had no fever, but was complaining of a headache and leg pain again.

I will note that the past couple of weeks have been tough on him. He has not had consistent sleep schedule and just finished as the star of the church Christmas Play. This is amazing given his history the past two years, and I didn’t want a few compromises to his diet to hold him back. After all, his skin looks amazing and he has been in good spirits. However, his intake of “fast food” (aka–canned beans and pre-packaged gluten-free breads) has also increased.

All of this could have slowly worn down his immune system, thus leading to a “reaction” of sorts to the handling of flour, sugar, and milk throughout the day.

This is all conjecture, of course, but I thought I would put the idea out there in case anyone else has experienced strange symptoms that may be related to handling (but not ingesting) offensive foods.

NOTE: To be safe, I did take Parker to the doctor to cancel out infection such as strep throat. The nurse practitioner diagnosed an ear infection, though his other symptoms of neck ache, sore throat, and leg pain do not seem to coincide.

(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i[‘GoogleAnalyticsObject’]=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,’script’,’//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js’,’ga’); ga(‘create’, ‘UA-31248654-1’, ‘auto’); ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’);

What My Son’s Eczema Has Taught Me About Parenting a Child with Unique Needs

(NOTE: This is a duplicate blog post originally published on http://www.SacramentoParent.com in October 2013. I am sharing it here to reach a broader audience.)

My nine-year old has faced many health challenges in his life, including failure-to-thrive as an infant, seizures through age 4, and food intolerance. However, more recently he has acquired chronic and severe eczema. The last flare-up lasted over six-months due to unknown environmental and food allergies.

My husband and I often ask ourselves why Parker–with the heart and attitude of an angel–must suffer so much. He just wants to be a normal kid and do the things normal kids do.

When his rash began to spread up his neck and onto his face, he also had to endure stares from his classmates and constant comments from strangers such as “Ooo…bad sunburn!” or “What’d he get into?” I even caught a grocery bagger coming up behind us to “sanitize the aisle” after a shopping trip where he was particularly irritated and scratching non-stop as we stood in line.

Thankfully, I was able to pinpoint a few major triggers and after a lot of research, discovered the perfect and individualized combination of natural and prescription remedies to help him heal both inside and out.

After making the difficult and challenging choice to homeschool him for the remainder of the school year, we began finally seeing his condition improve. Today, I am happy to announce my 9-year-old looks great and is back to his old goofy self. He sings and dances in the bathroom as I apply all his creams and ointments post-shower. He can’t wait to be Hawkeye for Halloween and told me earlier this week, “Mom, I do NOT want to be that house that doesn’t give out candy just because I can’t have any!” As soon as he is up for a break from his schoolwork, he is running around the house practicing shooting his arrows.

So what I have learned from all of this?

1. Maybe it’s obvious, but children are resilient. No matter how awful he felt or looked, Parker would still tag along with me on errands, and even to work when needed. Sure, there was a point where he watched a lot of T.V. and didn’t do much. But as soon as his energy returned he was up and ready to face the world. A day doesn’t pass without several hugs and smiles. He knows intuitively I have done all I have in my power to help him get better.

2. People will stare but we don’t have to care. Parker seemed completely oblivious to the looks he got when we were out in public. He didn’t try to “hide” himself and on his good days, actually drew attention singing along to the radio, or making sure I understood exactly which sports car he liked in the parking lot.

3. There is only so much we can do as parents; the rest we have to let go. There is a part of me that wants Parker to get better for good. I am tired of micro-managing every piece of food that touches his mouth and being concerned about his exposure to dust or hair or chemicals in the air. But stressing about all of it just puts everyone in a bad mood. I have my arsenal of remedies at hand, and have resolved to take action as soon as I see a problem arise–instead of going crazy trying to prevent a flare-up in the first place.

4. Normal is a state of mind. What is “normal” anyway? Normal isn’t always a good thing, or even a great thing. As parents of children with unique needs, our normal may look different, but it is still normal to us. So what if we can’t participate in gorging all the Halloween candy next week. At this point, Parker is too excited about trading in his candy for tickets to see Thor to care!