Monday, July 28, 2008

Heartbreak & Food

Over my life, I have experienced many different types of heartbreak. You know the ones: loss of a friendship, loss of a pet, loss of grandparents, miscarriage, divorce, even losing the big game. The list goes on and on. With all heartbreaks, you feel helpless and sometimes hopeless.
One of my worst heartbreaks was in 2002. It was supposed to be one of my happiest times. I turned 30, married Tom, and was expecting my first daughter (child #3). But it wasn't all a bed of roses. My oldest son, Lord Humble, was struggling. At first we said it was because there was so much change going on in his young life: moved to a new state, new school, step-dad, and there was going to be a new sibling.
But, we started seeing odd behavior at school. He would get frustrated and shredd his work, flip his desk over, break his pencils, and remember none of it later. He was suspended several times. The school refused to take him back unless we had him put on ADHD medication. So, to the doctor we went and came home with one medicine. But quickly, one turned into 3 and we were continously increasing the dosage. Things escalated. He was expelled from school. I was crushed. My nerdy gifted child was struggling and I didn't know what to do.
We petitioned the court and had to have him committed to a hospital for evaluation for 48 hours. Again I was crushed. Tom had to carry me away from the door to the car! I still remember him screaming and crying. I could hear him call, "MOM! MOM!! I WILL BE A BETTER BOY! I'M A GOOD BOY!! PLEASE DON'T LEAVE ME!! MOM!"
I didn't know what else to do! Every bone in my body ached and I felt completely numb. I started having contractions and had to be monitored. Red was scared and worried. It was taxing.
After his release, he was on 3 different medications. Those didn't work and were changed quickly. They ran a battery of tests: bipolar--NO, temporal lobe seizures--NO, ADD/ADHD--NO. So, we were back to square one.
We brought in a behavorialist and 2 different counselors that visited us at home and at the new school. We tried different sports to give him a physical outlet.
Finally, we tried gymnastics. He fell in love with the sport and I met a mom who intoduced me to Sylvie (our DOM).
With the help of Sylvie and our new pediatrician, it took us several months to figure out what was causing such behavioral problems.
It was a severe food allergy!
We learned that Lord Humble is severely allergic to food coloring and sulfites. Both of which he was eating in his school lunch, packaged foods, and of course fast food. We also learned that he has liver damage. We will never know if it was caused by all of the different medications or if his ALT levels were high before the meds.
It has been a long hard road for our entire family. Lord Humble has been off all meds (both western and eastern herbs) for over 4 years. We maintain a very strict diet for him at home and he is thriving! Although I homeschool him, he is taking all honors classes and is already a full grade level ahead. He is also dreaming of being an Olympic gymnast and wants to help kids like him oneday.
I am proud of him and our family. We pushed through the storm and came out of it better informed.
There are times when I wish that it wouldn't have happened to my children, to my family. But, because of Lord Humble's allergies, we have been able to help other children who are having similar behavorial issues.
For more stories of heartbreak, please visit Absolutely Bananas.


wendy said...

Oh my word - that is heart wrenching! I'm so sorry you had to go through all of that but what a wonderful outcome. I have a friend in her early 50s who *just* learned she is allergic to wheat. She's been killing herself by trying to "just get half a bagel down" all this time! It's amazing to see her getting healthy again.

I wish Lord Humble the very best the world has to offer. He deserves it.

Harmony said...

Thanks so much for sharing this story. I think it is an important one to share. There are so many kids these days diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and while that is a real health issue, reading your story makes me wonder if some of them suffer from allergies like your son did. I didn't realize how an allergy like that could affect their behaviour! Again thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

seeing your child struggle is truly a heartbreak. I'm so glad you found the answers.

Ry said...

Wow! What a remarkable story! I had no idea food allergies could cause such behavior, it's truly fascinating.

I'm thrilled you were able to get him off the drugs and he's doing better. I was almost diagnosed with ADD when I was younger and couldn't be happier that I managed to slip by. Turns out I just have a lot of pent up energy that I *need* to get out before I 'splode. I guess that's why I turned out to be such a tomboy. :)

It sounds like you have an amazing child. This is a great story and a wonderful read. Thanks for sharing!

NeeCee said...

I know the pain of having to leave your child in a hospital. My son is adopted and has Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). He has had to be in the hospital several times over the years and it never gets easier. DH has had to drag me to the car every time with my son's cries ringing in my ears.

I am so glad you were able to find the reason for your son's struggles and find a way to help him. Huge KUDOS to your son and for your entire family for all his accomplishments.

Domestic Spaz said...

Wow, the way you describe leaving him there is truly painful!

I didn't realize an allergy like that would affect their behavior, either! What an eye opener.

Wendy said...

wow, I think you could have a whole blog about this issue! great to have it figured out!

Rachael said...

Truly a story of heartbreak... my son is only two, but I can't even imagine what you went through. I'm so, so glad that you figured things out and that he's doing so well!

Domestic Spaz said...

You know, I had to come back and comment that your post really had me thinking. I know you read about my daughter who seems to have just LOST her little mind lately and I wonder how much of it has to do with her diet. I'm not saying she has a severe food allergy, but all that sugar and those preservatives can't be good for her. Thanks for making me *think*... I went to the grocery tonight and made a conscious effort to only pick up stuff with no preservatives or added sugar. We'll see how it goes!

Anonymous said...

you could also tell about the diet your brother was on that help turn his life around.
I am so proud of you. And thanks for being my best friend.

Love mom

Honey Mommy said...

It is so difficult to see your little ones have a hard time... especially when they can't tell you what's wrong! I am SO happy to hear that you figured out what the problem was.

Heather said...

I am so happy to hear that all worked out, though was sure it would with such a loving family. I am hearing of the food allergy related behavioral problems a lot lately. We get a lot of flack for Esther's somewhat-strict diet, but I think it is worth it. When we are around other children who are hyper, fussy, and generally out of control, I feel good about what we do. Sending love to you and yours!