I'm Bridgett, the mother of an amazing 6-year old son suffering from autism and an adorable 4-year old daughter who's always making me laugh. My husband, Doug, works for an insurance company...oh, the irony! We're an average American family...two cars, a townhouse, a goldfish, a hamster, and three Holland Lop bunnies.
I'm a registered nurse...yes, go ahead and laugh. Conventional medicine and a holistic lifestyle aren't exactly symbiotic. Just one of the many quirks which makes me so lovable. ;o) My professional resume includes renal, urology, and renal transplant medicine, as well as performing peritoneal dialysis on patients; cardiac medicine; and operating room nursing, where I performed both circulating and scrub nurse duties. I took a sabbatical from my 'chosen' profession in 2005 when Parker, my son, was diagnosed on the autism spectrum and my newborn daughter, Autumn, was less than three months old.
Since that long-ago day, many forks have appeared in the road I'm travelling. Forks which have altered the path I always thought my life would take...
I didn't grow up living an exotic lifestyle in any way. I believed in conventional medicine in all it's many facets. I even believed in the vaccination program (but that's a whole other entry).
I no longer do.
I, along with many other parents of autistic children, was told upon my child's diagnosis that nothing could be done.
"Get him some speech and physical therapy, check his hearing, and hopefully he'll progress enough to live a happy life," I was told.
The Parker of 2005 wasn't the happy, giggling, talkative boy he is today. In fact, he literally screamed that entire year. He couldn't verbalize. He went from horrible diarrhea to severe constipation day to day. He cried all night and rarely slept. He wouldn't let us touch him. He didn't know how to play with other children. Loud noises set him off (actually, they still do). Potty training was a dead end.
This was the condition Parker's pediatrician hoped to heal with speech and physical therapy.
Being trained to follow doctor's orders, I did as I was told the first year following his diagnosis. Parker was enrolled in the birth to three program and honestly, we saw very little progress. He wasn't even able to hold a spoon properly so he could feed himself. I would often stay during his therapies and watch him through the window of another room. My little man would spend half his class time standing in the corner and facing the wall because he was too overstimulated by all the noise and commotion. My heart was broken.
Near the end of 2006, I started researching...I wanted to know about any alternative therapies for autism out there. For over two years I researched diets, chelation, HBOT (hyperbaric oxygen therapy), and supplementation. I admit, the information I found intimidated me and prevented me from starting treatment as soon as I should have. The diet information, in particular, made me nervous. Obviously, I'm referring to the GF/CF diet recommended by DAN! (Defeat Autism Now!) doctors.
GF/CF = Gluten Free/Casein Free
Gluten is the general name used to describe proteins found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt, most oats, and other cereal grains. Gluten is a sticky, elastic component of grains and it's quite hard to digest, even for the healthiest individuals.
Casein is a protein found in milk and milk products, including cheese, yogurt, and ice cream.
The molecular structure of both casein and gluten are similar, therefore they both cause similar symptoms in patients suffering from sensitivities to either protein. Soy also has a similar make-up, so if you're sensitive to casein or gluten, you might want to try eliminating soy as well.
The only foods Parker would eat at this time were cheeseburgers, pizza, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, grilled cheese sandwiches, and chicken nuggets or other breaded meats. Obviously, all were loaded with gluten and casein. He also loved drinking milk and adored yogurt. Children are often drawn to, even addicted, to the foods to which they're most sensitive.
As a mother, how could I possibly consider taking away one of the few comforts my child had? How could I possibly deny him a diet so typical in America that people would look at him with pity if he couldn't partake? How could I take away a basic privilege of being alive...yummy food? Making sure our children are well-fed is quintessential motherhood; one of the many ways we show our children we love them...by filling their tummies.
It was these very thoughts floating through my head which caused my initial hesitation about starting biomedical interventions. I just wasn't ready to 'torment' my boy in that way, despite the many success stories I'd read on-line and heard on television.
It wasn't until this past spring 2008 when I signed Doug and me up for the Green Our Vaccines rally in Washington D.C. that I seriously started considering the diet again. At that time, Parker was six years old, still wasn't potty trained, was talking...but not in full sentences, his words were so garbled, only close family could understand him, and was still very sensory and texturally sensitive. His bowel movements were beyond foul...clay-like and sticky; the smell was horrifying. (This coming from a nurse who's smelled odors which would knock most people over, literally). We'd even had reports from his teachers of aggression against his classmates and episodes of screaming at school. I felt as if major regression was imminent.
As I marched down Independence Avenue in the District of Columbia, heading towards the Capitol Building and chanting 'Green Our Vaccines!' on a beautiful June day...it hit me like a ton of bricks. Here I was surrounded by thousands of parents who'd had the guts to put their children on this diet; parents who had spent every last penny trying to make their children well; parents who researched and consulted doctor after doctor; parents who had never given up...and I'd never felt more at peace. I was with folks who understood the agony of watching your child slip into a state worse than death in many ways...a painful, lonely, silent world. I was also with folks who'd brought their children back from the brink. And when I thought of it in that respect...giving up some foods in exchange for a 'normal' life, it didn't seem like much of a trade-off.
Immediately upon arriving home, I joined TACA (Talk About Curing Autism) and started researching the diet in depth. Within two weeks, we'd entirely eliminated dairy from Parker's diet. We eliminated gluten more gradually as it's an ingredient in virtually EVERYTHING. We started the diet bright and early on a Monday morning. On Friday morning of the same week, Parker walked into the bathroom, sat on the potty, and pooped in a toilet for the first time in his life. I sobbed. I'd come to realize I wasn't depriving my son of food. I was protecting him from food which was hazardous to his health. Indeed, if your child has a life-threatening peanut allergy, you're going to do everything in your power to keep him away from peanuts. My situation is the same. Parker has sensitivities to gluten and casein so being a responsible parent, I removed the offending foods from his daily menu. His diet today isn't limited in any way...it's simply not full of artificial dyes, preservatives, MSG, high fructose corn syrup, and aspartame (or other artificial sweeteners). In short, it's healthy. He still gets chicken nuggets, spaghetti, pizza, fish sticks, hot dogs, hamburgers, ice cream, cookies, cake....they're just not the same versions of these foods the average public consumes.
If you'd allow me a brief story....a few weeks ago, I accidentally handed my son a glass of milk meant for his sister. He handed it back to me and said, "Mommy, I can't drink this. It'll make Parker's tummy hurt." That's the first time Parker has acknowledged his awareness of what food was doing to his body. It made me want to weep in pure joy knowing I'd done the right thing for my son.
Because we were unable to see the DAN! doctor for a few months, I decided to start a few of the supplements for Parker on my own. Again I did my research, ordered 20+ books from Amazon, consulted with other parents, and finally decided the gut healing supplements would be the place to start. If Parker's gut was damaged from vaccinations and food sensitivities (and I seriously suspected it was considering the smell and look of his bowel movements), he would be unable to absorb any of the supplements I gave him unless I focused on fixing the gut first. So, I did. Several bottles of digestive enzymes, aloe juice, and probiotics later...Parker was having his first ever healthy stools...in the potty....with no accidents. I was a mother with a mission.
Healing Parker's gut not only allowed him to potty train, it also cleared away the fog of pain in his brain and allowed him to truly communicate with us for the first time. Parker was emerging from his autism cocoon and we were finally getting to know our son. The naysayers in my family were silenced by the obvious improvements in Parker's overall well-being. Everybody was amazed when they saw him.
The more I researched, the more I discovered other supplements which could help Parker's particular issues. Every child with autism is different and treatments which work for one child may do absolutely nothing for another. But I spent many hours fine-tuning Parker supplements especially for him.
I knew I wanted to heal his poor, raw gut (the lovely results of vaccinations, antibiotics, and heavy metal overload). ::check:: I added digestive enzymes, probiotics, magnesium, and aloe juice to accomplish this.
I knew I wanted to boost his fried immune system (again, thank you vaccine program). ::check:: I added vitamin C, vitamin D, elderberry extract, olive leaf extract, Mona Vie juice, a multivitamin, and various other vitamins and minerals which helped.
I knew I wanted to treat yeast. ::check:: I added Saccharomyces Boulardii (probiotic), grapefruit seed extract, and biotin to his daily regimen. I limited sugars and starches, which tend to feed yeast, in his diet. I also used activated charcoal capsules to aid with yeast die-off, which worked like a charm.
I started each supplement slowly (usually one supplement every couple weeks) and closely evaluated for both progressions and regressions. I rarely saw regressions. With each supplement, we noticed more and more improvements. I started thinking to myself, "If this biomedical process is helping my son so impressively, why couldn't it help the rest of us too?"
Lo and behold, we each started an individualized plan for ourselves to suit our own needs. And I can honestly say, my family has never been healthier.
Little by little, my thought processes regarding medicine have changed. I've started to see conventional medicine for what it is...a money-making racket for the pharmaceutical industry. Never before in history have doctors been more beholden to Big Pharmacy. I know, just from personal experiences, every time I went to our ex-family physician I'd find at least three pharmaceutical representatives in the waiting room, bearing gifts, and waiting impatiently to cloud the judgement of our doctors with obvious bribes.
Because of this, instead of trying to find the cause of an individuals high cholesterol, doctors carelessly prescribe Lipitor or Crestor or Zocor or whatever drug they're being paid to tout that day, all of which can have deadly side-effects. But did you know cholesterol can be treated just by clearing certain detoxification pathways within your body?
This is just one example of thousands in which our society is being prescribed medication which simply isn't necessary. I'm sure you've all heard about the over-prescribing of antibiotics and the effects it's having on medicine...it's causing super bugs to develop; infections which are resistant to all antibiotic therapy.
Now that you know how my life journey has led me to this place, let me define holistic medicine for you.
Holistic medicine is a system of health care which fosters a cooperative
relationship among all those involved, leading towards optimal attainment of the
physical, mental emotional, social and spiritual aspects of health. It emphasizes
the need to look at the whole person, including an analysis of physical,
nutritional, environmental, emotional, social, spiritual and lifestyle values.
It encompasses all stated modalities of diagnosis and treatment including drugs
and surgery if no safer alternative exists. Holistic medicine focuses on
education and responsibility for personal efforts to achieve balance and well
Other terms associated with Holistic Medicine are: Alternative Medicine, Complementary Medicine, and Natural Healing. You can learn more by visiting this site:
American Holistic Medicine Association
I plan on discussing many topics here and sharing massive amounts of educational information. I'm also willing to take questions and will answer them to the best of my ability. So, if you have any questions, please leave a comment in the comment section of this blog.
I do hope you'll stick around and follow us on our journey to better health...the natural way.