Sunday, August 30, 2009

Beyond the Medicine

I'm not normally one to get that excited about something like this, but this Summer was rather unique. It all started about a year and a half ago. Our son had been suffering from allergies from a young age and the doctor at the time had prescribed Cingular to control his constant nasal congestion. We did as most parents would and listened to the doctor. Then there were reports of severe depression and other such side effects for a small percentage of children on the medication. We didn't want to over-react, but we decided to hold him off the medicine for a week. The results were astonishing. Many of his discipline problems improved and he was less prone to argue with his sister or others, he also had tons more energy. Well we decided this was proof enough.

Initially we were relieved to have our happy-go-lucky bundle of energy boy back. But when the allergies returned we knew we had to find something to help him that wouldn't so impact his energy and general happiness. We decided to get a second opinion on his allergies and full allergy panel. This is a painful procedure for a 6 year old and it was not a decision we came to lightly. When the results came back we were astonished. Not knowing anything about allergies we had missed a lot on our first screening. When he was initially diagnosed with allergies we he was only tested with environmental (those are allergies treatable by an allergy doctor). Our new doctor was playing a hunch. Since our son was rather small for his age he tested him for food allergies. This yielded a positive result for a gluten allergy. It's an untreatable allergy that has to maintained by diet.

After meeting with the doctor he suggested abstaining from gluten and also cutting back on animal protein. Animal protein is what your body uses to produce histamine. So abstaining from animal protein is kinda like taking anti-histamines since it robs your body of the ability to produce histamines. For the first two days, there was no real result, but by the end of the first week his condition was significantly improved. By the end of the first month his condition was as good as we would have gotten with the drugs. And all with no drugs at all, just a lot of selective food shopping.

This was great and he seemed to be gaining weight again. We couldn't be happier. As the months went by his growth rate was astonishing. This (we were told) was the result of the allergen being removed from his diet, allowing his body to ingest and digest a greater portion of what he ate. Sounds good. Then after about a year on his diet he told us that he popped his leg while in karate and it hurt a little. Well we gave him some aspirin and said we'd see if he felt better later. He did, so we didn't give it another thought. Then one day in Karate he said that we needed to sit out cuz of his "bad leg". Well we gave him a few pointed questions and turned out his leg had been bothering him, but that "he could handle it". Being a bit more inquisitive we took him to an orthopedist. Well the doctor found the spot that hurt with spades! He ordered an X-ray and the results were a BROKEN LEG!

Initially we were about as freaked out as any parent could imaginably be, well at least I was. The femur is one of the strongest bones in the body. How in the world could it break in a 7 year old. Well after the doctor explained and soothed us, the fracture was at the point where the muscle meets the bone. There is a small "hook" on your femur that receives this junction. It had a small fracture due to the stress it had been under with his recent dramatic growth. There was nothing he could do but hope that the fracture didn't complete and sheer off that portion of bone. So our poor son was sentenced to a "Summer on the Couch", with a strong warning that any strong impact in the wrong place may complete the break. No jumping, no swimming, No Karate, No football. He took it as well as any 7 year old could. He was totally crushed.

Well convinced to make the best of our house-bound summer, we got the Wii Fit. For those not familiar with it, this is a remarkable product. It's a "balance board" with sensors that can tell when your standing on it and which way you are leaning. It comes with a bunch of "games" intended to provide a very low impact way to help balance and tone muscle formation. It also will set up profiles for each member of your family and chart growth. It records age and gender and will project what your healthy weight should be. It graphs the results and has a few nice reports that you can look over. Well it has helped tremendously. The "body test" is fun and interactive and part of my families daily routine. It will hide your weight and simply tell you if your bigger or smaller than yesterday. It will even let you know if any big swings are too big. Some of the data it records is down right funny. It registered that I was playing Mario Kart at 2am on Saturday, that Sunday morning I had gained a pound. It put two and two together told me avoid late night snacking and ensure a solid 8 hours of sleep for "balanced health". Yep I was busted by my video game.

Now all is well with my son and he has started allergy treatments. His environmental allergies should be gone by next summer and his food allergies may very likely go with them. Catching it when they are still growing is apparently key. A greatful thanks to our doctor for catching the food allergy and leg fracture. And thanks to... of all things... a Video Game.