Caretaker of My Child’s Health

Stories for the Journey

 

Note: This week, I will be sharing stories of my physical  journey. All of these are intended to tell what happened to me, not to tell you what to do. They are anecdotes NOT advice. You have your own journey and have to do your own research. Feel free to share your stories in the comments or in an email. I would love to read them! 

Other than the two medical problems I shared yesterday, I never saw the doctor much until I had kids. From the time my daughter was born, I was in the doctor’s office more than I went to the mall. (The mall is cheaper!)

I was used to the well-child visits, but then I began to have issues with each child that made me explore health a little deeper yet.

Chronic Ear Infections

My oldest got her first ear infection at 3 months. From that time until the time she turned 2, she had one about every month. In my ignorance, I gave her round after round of antibiotics. It never occurred to me that they didn’t seem to be helping or that they might be hurting her. We were in ER at least once for an ear infection and she began to see a specialist. When she was nearing 2, he showed us videos about putting tubes in her ears, and we discussed the possibilities if the infections should continue.

When I allowed her to go off milk after the magical age of 2, the ear infections and her frequent spitting up stopped. Her mild eczema also cleared. To this day, she does not drink milk. I don’t know if she had a milk allergy, but I think it was a possibility.

What I Learned:

  • If a high fever doesn’t respond to Tylenol, switch to Motrin (or a store brand).
  • Sometimes a cure can come from taking a simple substance away rather than adding more medication.
  • Antibiotics usually do more harm than good in chronic conditions.

Amblyopia

My second child went in for his first eye test at age 4. What I thought was a routine test turned into another medical concern. He had amblyopia and another condition that aggravated it a bit more than usual. Amblyopia has been called “lazy eye”, but it actually has less to do with the eye itself and more to do with a nerve reaction between the eye and brain. Essentially, my son’s right eye was doing most of the work of vision while his left eye was worsening.

I didn’t realize the magnitude of it until after the treatment was over. The doctor told me, “Our first concern was that he would be able to see enough to drive when he got older. We kept adjusting until he could see to drive at night with both eyes. Anything more is just icing on the cake.”

I’m so glad the Lord led me to a doctor that had studied amblyopia in particular with a specialist. He told me that the window of opportunity to correct amblyopia is before age 6. After that age, very little can be done to adjust it. I’m thankful the Lord led me to take him at age 4 so we had time to work on it. Instead of patching his eye around the clock like many doctors do, our doctor told us that it was more effective to patch for 2 hours each day with concentrated activities to make his bad eye work during that time.

So, we undertook “pirate time”. I bought him an eye patch that looked like a pirate patch, and for 2 consecutive hours a day, we did activities. My son was very hyper at 4, so we had to change activities every 15 minutes to keep him occupied. I was also homeschooling my oldest, so we had an interesting day. We would string beads, lace yarn through holes in a board, pick up buttons with tweezers, sort beans by color, put together small building sets, and play with play dough.

Today, the only evidences of my son’s amblyopia are his glasses and his lack of 3D vision.

What I Learned:

  • Treatment that minimizes the lasting effect to the child with the maximum benefit is best, including emotional effects.
  • The parent must be a participant in the treatment of the child, and it is very rewarding in the end.

Delayed Development

Other than repeated eye infections for the first three months of his life, my third child seemed to be giving us a break from doctor visits. However, when he didn’t crawl until 11 months or walk until 15 months or talk until after age 3, I must confess I worried. I have since found that he just likes to take his time. 🙂

What I Learned:

  • Don’t panic or compare your child to others. He is unique.
  • Carrying a 15-month-old on one’s hip 12 hours a day can be great strength training but may require a chiropractor.

Eczema

It was my fourth child that really accelerated my journey to healthier food. He got horrible eczema at 3 months, and nothing we did stopped it for a year. This is what his face looked like on a good day with chubby little hands to match:

FOT17EF

 

On a bad day, it might be crusty and yellowish from infection. Or bleeding from little hands rubbing and scratching it.

I got lots of worried looks from other moms wondering if it was contagious. I got pitying looks from strangers as if I had birthed a child with two heads. One store clerk looked in the cart at my baby and only commented, “Oh my!” I got lots of advice from older ladies, “Honey, his little cheeks are chapped. You need to put something on them.”

Oh, if they only knew! I still have the large collection of creams, ointments and medications I used. If it were not for insurance we had at the time, I would have been paying $100 a tube. I tried natural creams and ointments, at $13 a bottle. We saw two allergists, followed a regimen of internal and external treatments, endured skin tests and blood tests ($1000 worth), and changed formula 3 times. I patiently bathed him several times a day, then I tried not bathing him as often. I layered lotion, petroleum jelly, cortizone cream and sometimes an ointment for infection.

We switched to all scent free soap in the laundry and bathtub, and did not use fabric softener. We removed all his blankets and pajamas except the cotton ones.

He did not eat wheat, soy, peanuts, milk or eggs. I could not feed him baby cereal. I spoke with some kind of biochemist who offered free 30 minute phone consultations. He told me that I should have breastfed him, recommended a very expensive formula and gave me some prescription supplements to try. I squeezed open the capsules and crushed little pills into his applesauce. I decided to forgo the formula since we couldn’t afford it at the time.

I finally took him completely off formula at 10 months with my doctor’s permission. I gave him as much real food as possible and kept up the scent-free regimen in the laundry. I learned the healing properties of coconut oil. Today, he gets slight rough patches on his legs during the colder months, but his face and hands stay clear of eczema.

What I Learned:

  • Sometimes our children will suffer no matter what we do or how hard we try to fix it.
  • Things sometimes resolve themselves and leave us scratching our heads wondering how and why.
  • There are no easy answers or miracle cures, and sometimes treatment is layering a lot of different things.
  • Even little babies are sometimes judged by their external appearance which crushes their mamas internally.
  • Every time I see a little baby in the store with eczema on his little face, tears come to my eyes and I want to tell his mama, “You have such a beautiful baby!”

We also have dealt with behavioral issues and migraines over the years among other things. I’m still experimenting on these. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned though is this: What you put into and onto your child’s body and his environment matters.

These are just a few of the issues we’ve had over the last 12 years. I know some of your children are suffering with cancer or life-threatening food allergies or special needs. My heart breaks for you, and I think of you often and mention you in my prayers. Feel free to share your story with me. I would love to hold you up in prayer and encouragement.

 

 

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