No one told me my son had an autoimmune disorder. No one told me his gut had been compromised somehow. No one told me that maybe I should change things to try and make life better for him. No one in the medical field said anything about how his condition could possibly be related to the health of his gut. I had to figure all that out for myself. In fact, all I was told was that at 14 months of age, Raleigh had food allergies, eczema, and would likely develop asthma and seasonal allergies as he grew up. I was given tubs and tubs of corticosteriods to put on his body when the eczema flared. I was told to give him benadryl as often as he needed. I was given a prescription for an Epi pen. That was supposed to do the trick, make the eczema go away and make our lives normal.
However, Raleigh’s condition progressed quickly, and soon his eczema was classified as Atopic Dermatitis (AD), and a difficult case at that. We spent a week at National Jewish Hospital in Denver in 2015 to learn how to manage his AD. It was there that we learned how to wet-wrap his body and face. Wet wraps have become a guide post in his young life, and he doesn’t recall the days before they began. He sleeps in them nearly every night of his life and lives in them throughout the day. My every day tends to revolve around his baths and wet wraps. It’s constant and at times overwhelming, but it’s amazing how resilient children are, and I know God does that for many reasons. Raleigh has taught me many things about joy and true blessings.
Raleigh is four now, and for the last year and a half his AD has worsened. There have been times when he has itched his skin to a bloody pulp. There have been days when we couldn’t see even a patch a skin not covered in red, itchy eczema. There were months when his sweet face was plagued by dry, cracked and scabbed skin around his mouth. It was so horrible that he would wake in the middle of the night screaming and attacking his face in unthinkable amounts of pain. Not only has the AD worsened, but so has his asthma. He now needs his inhaler a handful of times a week, sometimes multiple times a day, and it seems to be connected to how often we use the corticosteroids on his AD.
Here are some pictures with varying degrees of his AD:
In February of this year, we decided to take Raleigh to an NAET practitioner. We saw some positive changes in his skin, but in the 4 months and 15 treatments he underwent, we just weren’t seeing the kind of change we had hoped for.
Ever since Raleigh’s initial diagnosis in 2014, I have spent countless hours researching the why, how, and what I can do to change this. And in my research, I always find myself full-circle back to the health of the gut. To bottom line it for you, his gut is in shambles. He has what is called a leaky gut. Many things destroy your good gut bacteria: antibiotics, eating a poor, typical American diet of GMO foods, immunizations, sugar – I could keep listing, but I won’t. I was on antibiotics when he was born, and if I could change any one thing, it would be that fact. I know being on antibiotics during his birth was a huge piece of the puzzle in the formation of his gut microbiome. It wasn’t the only piece but a significant one, nonetheless. But alas, this is his story. This is my story. This is our family’s story, and God has a purpose for it.
If you know me at all, you know I don’t ever stop researching. In the three years we’ve been dealing with all of these health related things, we’ve changed so much, and, for the most part, we’re much healthier because of it. We’ve even said a handful of times how, in many ways, this has been a blessing in disguise. However, things are progressively getting worse for Raleigh, and, in all my research, I kept coming back to something called the GAPS diet, but I quickly dismissed it as just too difficult to pull off for such a young kid. Raleigh’s food allergies, AD, and asthma are all flashing bright red warning signs that something is terribly wrong in his body. He has an autoimmune disorder and is on the on-ramp to a more severe autoimmune disorder if something doesn’t change for him. Autoimmune disorders don’t just get better on their own, and doctors don’t seem to be in the habit of treating the actual disease, or many times figuring out what the actual disease is, they just treat the symptoms.
So we find ourselves at a crossroads of sorts. We’re tired of treating symptoms because treating symptoms has only led to more, new, worsening symptoms. This isn’t the life we want for Raleigh. In fact, I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. It has been the most difficult and challenging life experience I’ve had so far, and I’ve had my fair share of difficult life experiences. But even in the midst of this pain, I believe this challenge has a purpose, and that is why I’m going to blog about this experience. It is my hope that Raleigh is healed as we go through the Intro GAPS diet and live out the Full Gaps diet for two years – likely it will be a two-year journey. I’ve had many emotions this week. I’ve cried a lot. I’ve felt guilty for taking foods away from him that he loves; like cereal first thing in the morning and pizza on Friday nights. But for his gut to heal, certain things must be removed for a time and other, more healing foods substituted in. So we are here, and we believe this is where God has led us, and we must follow.
In the last three years we have gone from eating the typical American diet to me cooking every meal from scratch, going organic, removing chemicals from our home, learning how to ferment things, making bread, and the list goes on and on. This change was born of a need to survive my son’s food allergies and has evolved into a realization that real food tastes so good, and we feel better after eating it. I believe it’s all been in preparation for this task. God knew I needed some time to really hone some skills in the kitchen and get comfortable with the old ways of cooking. I learned yesterday that I have a “working kitchen”, something that isn’t seen all that often anymore. It truly is something I’ve grown to love, and I hope to pass on to my children these new-to-me but ancient ways of preparing food that nourish the body. This has become my purpose.
On Tuesday, June 13th, we start this new journey to healing Raleigh’s gut. The GAPS diet is long, intense, and likely going to conjure many emotions. There will be a detox phase, and I don’t know what that will look like or how difficult it will be for him and us as a family. So I’m here to document his journey, the food he’s eating, how he’s feeling, what he’s looking like and so on. All the changes, all the feels. So if you’re along for the ride, we would covet your prayers. We are praying for complete healing of all of Raleigh’s symptoms and complete healing of his gut.