Brayden was sick. He was so sick for so long. He didn’t have a terminal illness but his constant coughing, his incessant runny nose, the inability for my 11 month old to fall asleep for any length of time without gagging and chocking was killing us. We don’t have a picture of him before the age of two where his little mouth isn’t draped open as he struggled to breathe.
|At Children's Hospital, with a Sinus Infection|
The first time we saw the ENT, he took one look into his happy, cherub cheeked ears and asked how long our little fellow had been this way. I counted back the months as he asked me if my beautiful little fellow was always this happy. I proudly answered yes and sheepishly told him “That is why no one believes me when he is sick”.
|Happy little boy, struggeling to breathe|
After his procedure the Harvard educated doctor came out to meet with me and tell me how it went. They had to remove quite a bit of gunk, but with the drops he gently placed in my hands that would help with healing, instructions for keeping water out of his ears and wishes for a merry Christmas, he predicted far fewer ear infections for the future.
|Cheerios can get stuck pretty easily when your nose never stops running!|
No one could tell us why our little one, the first love of our combined lives, was so sick all of the time.
|Learning to cover his cough|
When Brayden was first troubled by ear infections we had heard others had great success with chiropractors. I had met a pediatric certified chiropractor that was covered by our insurance, and I kept her card. When Jack’s fever started and he began rubbing his ears, I didn’t even bother with the doctor. I went straight to the chiropractor’s office. She adjusted baby Jack while he wiggled and massaged his lymph fluid away while we talked. She supported my efforts to improve their health and decrease the ear infections by cutting dairy out of their diet.Cutting dairy out of our diet (I was breastfeeding baby Jack) was the only thing that had done what the Eustachian tubes were supposed to do: stop the ear infections for Brayden. It also cut Jack’s reflux and gas issues; he was no longer as stiff as a board all day and night. We remained puzzled by cradle cap, eczema and “toddler diarrhea”, but were exceedingly relieved to be able to sleep at night without waking up to coughing and choking. It had been a long road and we were becoming worn out.
While Brayden was busy struggling to grow and breathe, my sister started to see a naturopath. He lifted the fog that enveloped her every day. He helped her to stop her near constant migraine pain and avoid a costly gall bladder removal. She recommended repeatedly that we take Brayden to go see him. We weren’t opposed to natural remedies; we had such wonderful success with our sweet chiropractor. But we struggled with the upfront costs that weren’t covered by insurance. Those up front costs that were in addition to the medical costs that actually were covered by insurance but that we were already struggling heavily to pay. We knew we had to do something different. Gratefully, Brayden’s C-Difficile tests came back negative, but he was still struggling. So I made an appointment and sold our horse trailer to raise the cash for his appointment and some of his conventional medical bills.
The majority of our appointment with the naturopath was spent in education. He took about 10 minutes to diagnose Brayden and didn’t even need to listen to his long medical history. Brayden’s diagnosis was simple but frightening…and changeable. He had a toxic level of yeast in his short little body. He was only absorbing about half of his vitamins and minerals. He explained why my short, well fed toddler was growing so very slowly. He explained that eliminating the dairy had helped with the symptoms, but never completely eliminated the problems leaving behind the tummy and skin troubles. He explained that grains go undigested and unabsorbed by those under the age of five. He sent us home with supplements for both of our children and dietary changes that would help them become healthy children with growth and breathing unhindered.
We followed his “prescription” to the T. Drops were taken three times a day and no grains or sweets for Brayden, Jack or the mommy who was making his milk, until our follow up appointment two months later. Miraculously, things began to change. Baby Jack’s gas pains subsided, his reflux faded away and so did his eczema, cradle cap and the stiffness that held him like a board every day. The best news of all was that Brayden’s diarrhea stopped (even though he still drank juice!). Brayden’s snoring stopped. During the day, he could breathe without wheezing and could even pass air through his nose. He didn’t cough through his sleep or gag on his tonsils anymore.
I don’t wake up at night anymore because the house is quite, because no one is snoring or chocking and I am afraid that means not breathing. I wake up because Brayden is growing and his little legs and feet hurt. I get to watch him sniff at flowers, and spices, and dirty diapers and mommy’s hair and daddy’s shaving cream and try to figure out what smells and why. We are back to sitting with books, reading and telling silly stories and jokes with baby Jack. His low moods are few and far between and don’t last for hours, but for much more normal toddler lengths of time. In addition to running around and acting silly he will color or paint on his own again. He works on puzzles with concentration and success.
|Brayden and Baby Jack, "reading" a book together|
He is well on his way to a healthy life, saved from an eternity of sickness, of discomfort and mysterious pain and freed to a life that is comfortable and long, God willing. When we look back at those pictures, I wince at how sick he was. His cheeks always flushed, his mouth always agape, struggling for air or blood dripping from his ears-all of that is such a stark contrast to the beautiful calm face we are graced with today. The same beautiful, happy eyes, ringed with his daddy’s dark lashes, the same cherubian cheeks, always in a smile. Now his closed lips curve into that smile too. It was a very hard fought, very expensive lesson in parenthood, nutrition, life and grace. And we will never be afraid to be “on the fringe” again.