Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My Story (part 3)

Anyway, for years I felt the same way. I dragged myself out of bed. I considered it a huge success if I could make a real breakfast and get the kids out of the house that day. I always cleaned the house though. I can’t stand a dirty house. Also, I think it was my way of coping “If I was dishes at 11, make lunch at 12, sweep the floors at one, then I can make it to nap time. Then movies at 3, outside at 4, dinner at five, and then they go to bed!”

What kind of existence is that?  Poor kids. Poor Tom. And sad for me. I so wanted to be super mom, and I felt like my body was my own worst enemy.
Needless to say, I couldn’t sleep well and therefore had very little patience. I tried to keep up with Tom and all his doings, but it didn’t always work. Some days the house was messy and that’s just he way it had to be. It took me a few years to get through all of Tom’s books… I spent years feeling like a complete failure.

Going from the day of my wedding to when Amy was a year old I was sixty pounds heavier. This made no sense to me given that I spent three years throwing up constantly.  I’ve been told that my body was in starvation mode because of the HG and because of that, it now stores anything I eat and will not let the body use it as fuel. So I did/do retain what I eat and boy does it stick! I worked out for a year at a gym, had a trainer that entire time, was down to 1500 calories a day, and I lost a grand total of FOUR pounds. My trainer was sure I was eating at McD’s every day and if I would just stop eating, then I’d lose the weight.

I really hated that. I told him I was working hard at it. I’m a dedicated person and if I wanted to lose weight then I should be able to do it, right?  Well after a year I decided I was not going to put in all that work just to have nothing to show for it, so I did go back to eating fast food and drinking soda and all that other stuff. Why not? was my thinking.

About this time I decided that I’d go to a doctor and see if he could help me out. Before I went in for my first appointment I thought I’d type up all of my symptoms, how long I’ve had them, and what I’ve tried.

It was two pages long.

I took it in with me, and the nurse looked at it and said “if you were 40, I’d say you’re going through menopause, but you’re half that age, so I have no idea what this could be. Let me give it to the doctor.”

What did the doctor say?  Do you want to guess? 

If you guessed that he said “wow, you poor thing, you’ve really had it rough these last few years, let’s see what we can do!”  I would laugh at you. Well, not really…

Instead he browsed the letter and then said “you know, doctors don’t really like it when people do this.” 

 ::::since I don’t curse, you may insert your own bad words here:::

I stuttered a “oh, I’m sorry. I just thought it might help…” and he said “look, I can’t treat you for every little thing.”  I said “Oh, I know, and I don’t want you to. I just thought that maybe seeing all the symptoms at once might trigger a “this sounds like…” kinda deal.” 

He didn’t respond.

He said I needed to be on anti-depressants. I said absolutely not.
He said “well, we at least need to get you sleeping (I would go to be at 11, but still not fall asleep until 2am)  so I’m going to put you on Ambien.” I have a great-aunt who died from sleeping pills, and I’ve always been afraid of them, but I decided that I would take the Ambien because I hadn’t slept in three years, and I was desperate.

He said I should lose weight---even though my second symptom was “inability to lose weight”—and I should be on blood pressure medication. I don’t remember the numbers, but I do know they were borderline, so I’m not sure why the rush for meds.

I asked “is there anything else I can do, so that I don’t have to be on meds?” He said “oh sure. You can eat right and exercise.”  What really astounded me was the lack of compassion… I could barely function and he’s telling me to just get up and exercise. It seemed more of a “if you weren’t so fat, you’d be fine” rather than a concerned “Wow, I know this is difficult, let’s start working on it.

I’m open to the idea that maybe he found me annoying, too confident, or maybe I just downright irked him, but at this point it is obvious that this doctor has *some* issue with me. I didn’t (and still don’t) get it because my other friends had rave reviews of this doctor. And when I would relay my story, they couldn’t even comprehend him behaving this way. I don’t know if we just clashed, or it’s because I didn’t go in with the mentality of “well, you’re the doctor, I’ll do whatever you say.”  I would assume it’s the latter, but I hate to make him sound that… immature.


I took the Ambien for about three months and really did start to feel better. I would look forward to going to bed at night because I knew I could sleep without being awake every 45 minutes, and sleep works wonders! After the three months the doctor said he didn’t want to renew the prescription, which was fine with me. He thought I should be being active enough at this point to be tired naturally. Well, I’m sure if I had energy that idea would have worked.... A few months later I found a natural sleep aid (melatonin and chamomile, mainly) and would take that. I still take it.

So even with the sleep I still felt like I had no energy, I was depressed, and found that I could barely interact with the kids above caring for the basic necessities. This is never how I pictured the lives of my children. It just made me feel that much worse.  If I got up and swept the floors for 30 minutes, I’d then have to sit on the couch for two hours just to recover. When I woke up in the morning, it would take me an hour of getting around, before I could stand up straight without pain. Everything just hurt all the time.

In 2008 we found out we were expecting another baby. I think we were both terrified, but we knew we’d just get through it. We did have to find a 5 day a week sitter who could come in the mornings, so I could sleep, which made things a little easier (on me, at least). However, we lost Grace at 17 weeks along (cord wrapped around the neck), and thought that might emotionally break me.  Well, the good news is: I’m not an alcoholic! I figure if I can go through all the stuff I’ve been through and not turn to the bottle, I never will.

About seven months later we were happy to announce we were expecting again. This pregnancy was a little easier because Tom was wonderful and paid sitters to help with kids, let me sleep, and he brought food home every day. Not only could I not cook, but no body in the house could use the oven or the microwave, because the smell would stay in the air for hours, and I just couldn’t handle it. Tom’s mother was also invaluable: she would take kids on the weekends, do my laundry, and generally be on call. It was a much easier pregnancy, but still full of issues.

Finally, after Elizabeth had been born and after my family had been seeing Dr. Rob for about two years, it was finally my turn to get treated.

Dr. Rob figured out that I had several pinched nerves in my back, hence the pain in walking, the inability to sleep, and why I couldn’t hold babies for more than five minutes at a time. I had some issues with several vertebrae in my back, one (or two?) was so bad that Dr. Rob couldn’t even touch it. He used some magic red laser treatment thing, and after a few weeks or so, Dr. Rob really worked some magic. Even though I dreaded going to my appointments, because it hurt like h.e.c.k. and it typically made me cry, I could tell it was doing more good than harm. I don’t think it was anything Dr. Rob was doing wrong, but it does go to show how inflamed I had been. I was finally able to sleep for hours at a time, rather than waking up every 30-45 minutes. I couldn’t believe it. My constant headaches were lessening considerably. Instead, of 3-4 migraines a week and a daily “annoying” headache, I then had 1 migraine a week and the annoying headache had disappeared. My arm stopped being so numb, and I could hold kids for longer stretches of time.

It was like a miracle.

After a few more months of treatment the weekly migraine went down to maybe once a month, if that. Sleep was rapidly improving. And I felt hopeful for the first time in a long time. Again, Dr. Rob took his time with me, answered any question I had in great detail, he generously offered new treatments at a reduced or free cost and really cared about me and the family, and most importantly, he never once spoke down to me, implied that I was lazy, or doubted my commitment to helping my family.

Unfortunately, about two months after I started working with him as a patient, my family had to move to another state. Dr. Rob and his staff were one of the reasons we were so bummed about leaving AL… how many doctors can (honestly) say “my patients appreciate me so much that they hesitate to move.”?  Dr. Rob even offered to research new chiropractors for me. And he did… not long after we moved to Kansas, Dr. Rob sent me a list of chiro’s who could help me.  It did take about 8 months for me to get into the office, because I was too stressed with getting kids into a new school, moving into a (then) massive house, and still taking care of a new baby, but I did eventually get in with Dr. Stacy who is awesome.  She’s been working with me for about a year. My migraines are now a rare occurrence, thankfully. However, my back is still out of whack a lot. My pinched nerves tend to flare up often, and while getting adjusted does help somewhat, I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever be pain free. 
Tom introduced me to “this great guy” a little over a year ago. His name is Robert Scott Bell, and he really is amazing. He had never had any interaction with me, but sometime last year I was fairly sure I was pregnant, so I panicked (Tom doesn’t even know this) and I emailed RSB and said “I’m the wife of Tom Woods and I’ve had horrible pregnancies, do you have any tricks for perhaps helping me before I get sick?”  He responded five minutes later and said “call me, here’s my number!”  So I did. He was really kind and compassionate and didn’t say anything like “why the heck would you be pregnant again?!” He was very chill and said “wow, let’s see what we can do for this little child.” -- So why is it that the M.D’s are such jerks (not all of them) and yet the “weirdo health people” are the ones with real answers and are the most truly compassionate? –he said “Uh yeah, it’s your liver… it’s over-taxed.” And then he proceeded to give me a list of five supplements, the dosages, and the reasons behind why I was taking them… and then he says “Okay, it’s time for me to get back to my radio!” 

Whaaa? He talked to me during a radio break?  Now that’s what I call awesome. He also gave me some great advice for my kids on their food and gut issues, so between Dr. Rob, Dr. Stacy, and RSB, we feel like we have an all-star team.

That pregnancy didn’t end up “sticking”, but I’ve been trying to clean my liver ever since. And Robert Scott Bell is always available when we need some quick advice. Thanks, Robert!

When Tom came to be last October and suggested the Primal blueprint, I thought “thank you, God!” because I knew the whole family needed an food overhaul, but that Tom would never do it if I just threw it out there. So we planned for a few months, and began GP in January of 2012.
Six months later and here are the changes I’ve seen in myself:
My sleep is better (except when my nerves act up)
I feel happier
My headaches happen rarely
My aches and pains in all my joints have gone away
My hair has gone from falling out in handfuls, to maybe half a handful
I have more energy
My depression has significantly gotten better
My complexion is much clearer
My memory is ten times better (still not optimal though)
I dropped 20 lbs
I wake up easier in the mornings
I don’t have to walk around for an hour before I can stand up straight anymore
My blood pressure dropped by 20 points
My eyesight changed! It is now 20/20 and 20/40 with glasses. Pretty awesome.

While things are getting better things are still not quite right:

Despite diet (Primal) and working out I stalled at 20lbs weight lost. It just won’t budge beyond that.
My nerves and back still give me trouble
I still have trouble falling asleep
Mood swings still occur, but perhaps that’s just going to happen for forever
I still don’t have that “boundless energy” that so many Primalist talk about.
My hair still falls out
I can either be starving or not hungry at all
I am still sensitive to heat. 

The main thing to me is my weight loss. I am still about 50lbs overweight. I’ve never been the pretty girl, so I’ve never wanted to be skinny out of pride. I would like to get back to my size eights because they fit better, their easier to find in stores, and my family has blood pressure and heart issues, and I’d like to minimize my chances of dealing with these issues. And if losing weight means that I’d have more energy and be happier, than that’s another reason I’d want to lose it.

What I really want to know is why my body so messed up? I know the soda and pregnancies did not help it, but I know there’s something more to it. And I’d like somebody to figure it out and just tell me how to fix it for once and for all. 

Oh, and I'd also like to write "The Doctor" and say something like "You dismissed not only me but my entire family saying "it's all normal." when in fact: one had severe reactions to gluten, dairy, and eggs. The other one had severe food intolerances and metals poisoning. One had nerve damage in her spine. And the other had yeast infections that you should have spotted right away. Thanks for all the love and concern you showed us, and all the amazing support you offered our way. Not."

And I would if I weren't so nice. And a coward.

My Story (part 2)


So fast forward to getting married…. I started college courses two weeks after Tom and I married. A few weeks after that, we found out that we were expecting. I was overjoyed, and Tom was a little freaked out at first, but quickly warmed up to the idea. All was great until I hit six weeks. I remember that quite well. I felt absolutely wonderful and then one day I woke up and thought I just might die.

My OB doctor said it was normal. He said that all women have morning sickness and to just eat crackers and take it easy. Well… okay… I guess. A few months into it, I had lost about 12 pounds, couldn’t drink anything, and had a very difficult time functioning. My OB told me to suck it up. I was just being a baby, and maybe I shouldn’t be having babies at such a young age.  I pretty much thought he’d know best…right?  Being my first baby, how would I know if this was normal or not? 

There were days that I could function okay. I might be able to eat some peanut butter. Or ice cream sundaes. I had developed a routine in the mornings. Wake up, eat some peanut butter toast, sit with a trash can in hand. Get sick. About ten times. Get ready for school. And sleep the whole way there (Tom would drive). Drag myself through classes. Cry. And be sick about twenty times in between. The doctors said if I could still function then I couldn’t be that sick. I suppose. Or maybe I’m just that awesome.

There were many trips to the ER for fluid IV lines and blood work. Some days I just couldn’t get off the couch I was so weak. I remember wanting to suck on ice because I was so dehydrated, but I couldn’t without getting sick. I really wanted to cry, but I didn’t want to let go of any more water than I already had.

At 20+ weeks, I finally went into the OB and said “this is not normal.” He asked in a very condescending tone “do you even throw up five times a day?”  I laughed and said “try thirty.”   I left his office with a diagnosis of Hyperemesis Gravidarum (Latin for: throwing up all the freakin’ time) and a prescription for Zofran. Zofran is a medication that they give chemo patients to try and keep the nausea at bay. It worked okay. I would still get sick, and the constant nausea was still there. It just allowed me to drink fluids—sometimes—and eat a little here and there. Towards the end of the pregnancy I was so mentally exhausted  from the turmoil this condition causes, I remember being sick in the bathroom and trying to knock my head on the toilet hard enough so that I could knock myself out. Looking back, it really makes me sad to think of that. I should have been hospitalized, but nobody –including me—knew how sick I was.

Towards the end of the pregnancy I developed mild pre-eclampsia. I had no amniotic fluid, which was not surprising given that I couldn’t even keep my body probably hydrated, and my mental state was pretty precarious.

I kept talking to the doctors, telling them something was wrong, that I couldn’t do this much longer, and to please help me. All I ever got (and I saw many doctors) was “you poor young thing. This is why little girls shouldn’t have babies.”  What the heck? They were treating me like a 13 year old girl who decided pregnancy would be a fun experiment. I was married (before I fell pregnant, I might add) and I was very responsible, thank you very much. And, anyway, I’m paying them, so what do they care?

I figured I must just be a big baby when it came to pregnancy. I recalled my days of being on birth control and wondered if there was a link. I mentioned that to my OB, but he laughed and said “the thing about being on birth control early is that it tells you how your pregnancies will be later.” 

Regina was born nine days late. Every day past her due date was absolute torture. I just needed this to be over. I was so mentally out of it, and physically ruined by the time she was born that I couldn’t even deal with her being born. All I could think was “glad that’s over. Now, let me eat and sleep.”  It took six months for me to be able to bond with her. Not because I resented her, but because I just had no energy for emotional stuff. The pregnancy had taken everything out of me. I was able to take care of her well enough, but my body was drained of nutrients, sleep, and strength… how do you bond with a new person while you have all that going on?

Thankfully she breastfed well, but by two weeks old she had her issues, and then I had to deal with colic for the next nine months, which meant I couldn't recover the way I needed to. And by the time she was ten months old, I found out I was pregnant with Veronica.

The doctor said not to worry, that most moms who have HG only get it with the first one. Not true. Yet again I was the 1% of women who get it with each pregnancy, and not only that, but I would also be one of the lucky few who would have it the entire pregnancy.
Veronica pregnancy was horrid. Again, all the stuff of vomiting like crazy, being on pills, and being in and out of the hospital. Only this time, I had a toddler to deal with.  At 18 weeks along, I woke up with a massive migraine. It. Never. Went. Away.  It was one long migraine from 18 weeks and lasted until a month after Veronica was born. How is that even possible?  I saw a brain doctor and he tried several narcotics, migraine meds, and tests. Nothing worked. He finally decided that it could be a brain tumor, so I was scheduled for an MRI at seven months pregnant. It was clear. Thank God.

At this point I was a zombie. I just didn’t have anything in me. My head constantly felt as if it were in a vice. I just wanted a hammer so somebody could knock me out.  The pills I had to take for the nausea (Zofran) had its own set of problems. I can’t eve remember all the side-effects it had, but I know severe constipation and dry mouth was amoung them. The cure was worse than the problem at times.

I was pretty miserable. I’m sure Tom was too. I did my best with Regina. I took her out places, we watched movies, we read books and played games, but I couldn’t be fully present because I was always thinking either “don’t throw up, don’t throw up” or  “can I put her in bed yet, so I can take a nap?”.

It was really sad. 

As with Regina, I developed pre eclampsia and no fluid with Veronica, so I was induced the day before she was due. Fine with me, let’s get this over with. When she was born I cried. The nurses thought it was cute. I was really crying because I couldn’t believe all this suffering was at an end. Of course I was very happy to have two healthy little girls, too.

Back at home I felt like I was barely alive. I don’t know how to explain it other than I had this overwhelming desire to just sleep all day, every day. Poor Tom had it rough. I tried to be happy and upbeat, but I’m sure I failed miserably most of the time. I know now that my body just didn’t have any reserves and the idea of running around with two babies, keeping up the house, and being a nice person AFTER surviving two horrific pregnancies is just laughable. I probably needed to be admitted to the hospital for IV vitamins and minerals, but … my doctors said everything I was experiencing was normal, and stop complaining about it.

I am not a complainer. At least, I try not to be… so it was very difficult to say “I can’t do this” to only be met with “you’re such a wuss.”  I wish I had known how sick I was, because if I did, I would have told Tom who would have stopped at nothing to get me well. And I wish I hadn’t been so afraid of doctors who were jerks.

Pregnancy with Amy was about the same. Only this time I was also battling severe depression. I didn’t know that at the time, though. Sometimes when you’re Catholic, you know you’ll be popping out sweet little babies all the time, and I just couldn’t cope with the idea that my whole life would consist of throwing up, going to the hospital all the time, fighting with doctors, and not being able to walk from my couch to the bathroom because I was so out of it.

Amy’s came into the world too early and that caused a whole new set of worries. I was constantly paranoid that she’d die suddenly. I don’t know why, but it was a real fear, and it really drained me of anything I might have had left in my body’s stores.

When Amy was 3 weeks (maybe a little older) we moved from NY to AL. I thought it would get better. And it was okay in the sense that I didn’t get pregnant immediately (thank you, Jesus), but I was almost catatonic. Being a good mom and wife was my only goal, so sleeping the day away was not an option for me… however, I still had a very difficult time waking up in the mornings. Many times I couldn’t even get out of bed until 10am… sometimes it was later. I hated it because I wanted to be up at dawn doing all those wonderful supermom things, like having breakfast before the kids woke up, the dishes done, and the orange juice freshly squeezed… but I couldn’t do.

I remember one day Tom very gently mentioned something about me being up as soon as the kids woke up because it would be great for them to see that. I think I cried for a week about it. The worst thing about being physically and emotionally run down is that nobody understands it. Tom was always great, and very patient and kind to me. He picked up the slack even when I didn’t ask him to… he was always wonderful. So in no way was his comment meant to be an insult to me, but it hurt just the same.

When Amy was five months old Tom said we should get a babysitter to come in a help me out. I said absolutely not. What kind of mom would I be if I didn’t work, I barely cleaned, and on top of that I couldn’t even take care of my kids?  In my mind having a sitter would have just screamed :”you’ve failed at it all.”  So I trudged along. There were days when I would get the girls all dressed, fed, napped, and hair brushed, snacks ready, so we could go to the park or to Chuck E Cheese, I’d buckle them into their carseats,, I’d plop into the drivers seat, and just sit there. I’d sit and stare for about ten minutes, and then realize there was no way I could take them out. I’d get out of the van, unbuckle all the kids, and put them in for a nap. Those poor babies.

 There were many of those days. It was pretty depressing.

One day (Amy must have been about six months old) I had to take a forgotten phone to Tom’s office. He walked out and said “Dear…! What is wrong?”  And all I could do was cry and say “I don’t know what’s wrong with me!”  He then ordered me to find a babysitter, so we did.

She was awesome. I loved her. She was young, but very responsible. She didn’t even blink at having three kids ages 3 and under to care for. She came for four hours a day, three days a week. I lived for those times. Every time I thought I might die I could say “but in just a few hours, she’ll be here.”
On the weekends, Tom’s mother would take Regina and Veronica. Our babysitter left at 3pm on Friday. Walda would pick the girls up at 4pm. The saddest thing was in that one hour I had to take care of them myself, I would panic “how am I going to do this?!”  That one hour or Fridays always dragged. And it wasn’t that I didn’t want to be with my kids… as far as kids go they were pretty awesome. It was more that all of my energy had to go into standing, or walking, or not crying, and I didn’t have anything left to give.

I figured three pregnancies had taken their toll and eventually I would feel okay. I didn’t realize how sick I truly was. And I wonder now how different things might have been for the girls if I had realized it, and if I had known what to do about it? But… you can’t change the past, I suppose.

My Story (part 1)

My Story

It’s been such a long journey-and it’s still ongoing!-that I hardly know where to begin.  I suppose it would be a good idea to give some of my childhood background. 

I was born on May 1, 1983 and weighed in at 6lbs 7oz and short. 

I was a pretty good kid, I think. I liked to be in charge. I was probably a pain in the neck, but I could get anything done if I set my mind to it.

At the age of eight I would go to early morning Mass on Monday mornings. My grandparents would pick me up at 6:30am and we’d head off for Mass at 7am. That’s probably the first time I noticed I wasn’t quite right. I would wake up about 6:20 and feel so sick and nauseated. I would complain to my grandparents or to my mother, but I didn’t get much sympathy. I think they thought I was just looking for attention . . . which was annoying because I rarely complain/ed about anything unless it was really an issue. Anyway, this sick feeling would last for hours. Sometimes I could eat and make it go away, and other times I couldn’t eat at all.  One day I actually vomited in my grandmother’s car, to which she said “Well, good heavens, you really *are* sick!”  Even though I felt rotten, I was quietly happy that she know knew I was really not well.

I always wondered why I felt so icky in the mornings. Blood sugar? Maybe, but then why wouldn’t I feel better when eating?  About this time I also began noticing that I was constantly hot. And I mean constantly… it never went away. During the winter in the 30 degree weather I would feel as if I were suffocating, and then have panic attacks, if I were forced to wear a coat. There were so many times I would be in arguments with my grandmother (aka: Mana) and my mom about me wearing a coat. Or they wanted to know why I was wearing sandals when there was snow on the ground. “Because my feet are hot and I can’t stand to be hot!” is what I would say. I typically won the arguments. I’m not sure if that’s because they were nice and knew I was telling the truth, or if I was really just that much of a brat.

Around age 8 or 9 I was sick, so my mom took my temp…. only it was with those old glasses thermometers with the mercury inside. I somehow bit the thermometer and the mercury ended up in my mouth. My mother called poison control, and they said “no big deal.”  

What the heck? It’s no big deal to swallow pure mercury?!

I think about the age of ten I began to notice I was constantly constipated. I was always thirsty. I couldn’t sleep well. And I would have headaches often. My memory began to get fuzzy. And I was quick to anger.  The anger could have been just a character flaw for all I know, but it seemed to have cycles of being better and worse.

I needed glasses around this time. With glasses my left eye was 20/60 and the right was 20/40.  However, I could see no difference when wearing glasses and when I didn’t wear glasses.

A few months after my 11th birthday I “became a woman”… I was so annoyed by this, I was still a kid after all! It seemed strange to me that I would be so young and have this happen. (Here’s hoping it means an early menopause!)

Soon after this time I began to experience these weird pains that would leave me feeling tired, angry, and bloated. I was told it was par for the course. Okay, fine, so I dealt with it. A month after I turned 12 my parents took us kids on a camping trip. The last day of the trip I remember lying down on a concrete bench and feeling like I might explode. My mom thought I was being overly-dramatic, gave me some Advil, and took me home. I kept complaining and was told to rest in bed and use a heating pad. So I did. Two days later my cousin asked if I would spend the night. My mom said if I hurt that much then I shouldn’t go. Me being my stubborn self said I would be fine and went to hang out with Jessica.  By a few hours later I couldn’t sit up straight. I couldn’t walk upright. And I couldn’t’ really eat much.  I tried laying flat on my stomach, but it made it worse. So I called my mom around 11pm and crying said “please take me to the emergency room!” 

I ended up at the ER a little after midnight. The doctors embarrassed me to death by asking how many sexual partners I had had, could I be pregnant, did I know what normal menstrual pain was like…?  I about died.  They finally brought in an ultrasound machine, put it on my abdomen, and there they discovered an ovarian cyst the size of a grapefruit.

A grapefruit?!  

The doctors recommended emergency surgery given that it was growing rapidly. They talked about taking out the whole ovary… I don’t remember why. I do remember being hysterical that I was losing a body part, I was going to be sliced open, and I really didn’t even understand what a cyst was. The surgery was schedule for 8am, but for some reason, they decided I needed to go in sooner.

Turns out they left the ovary in place, because they were able to drain the cyst. Recovery was not fun. Turns out your body does not like to cut open, and it really dislikes being cut open without having adequate time to process the information.

It was after the surgery that I found my body was now a complete stranger. I have yet to find my old self. I began to gain weight. I was sad and depressed. I completely stopped growing… which is not cool considering I only made it to 5ft 1in. And in addition, the cysts kept forming. I can’t tell you how many ultrasounds/sonograms I’ve had. We had to keep a close eye on them. If another cyst grew to a large size and the burst, it could result in hemorrhages and other bad stuff. Not to mention the pain. The pain was horrible. My doctor prescribed oxycotin for the pain. It didn’t even touch it. They tried a few other meds, but nothing helped. It was torture.

Finally my mother took me to another doctor who tried to talk me into taking Birth Control Pills. Uhhhh… no, thanks. He said I really should take them since it would regulate my hormones, get rid of my pain, and “you could go have fun with the boys!”  Real funny. I really didn’t want to take the pills, mostly because I was a good Catholic girl and birth control is strictly forbidden. Once I spoke to my priest, who said it was fine to take for medical issues, unless I were married, but I wasn’t so I could take it with a clear conscience. I was still uneasy. I just felt like it was a bad idea. My mom was sympathetic, but said “we can’t afford more surgeries, and you don’t want to go through that again anyway.”  Well, that was true, so… I took the pills.

Worst. Mistake. Ever.

 For three months I gained weight like crazy, which was odd given that I spent my days with my head in the toilet. I was very depressed. I couldn’t focus. And I am fairly certain I was one big ball of emotions. I hated it. The doctor said my body would take three months to get used to the pills, and to keep at it. Once I hit the three month mark and saw no improvement, I announced very matter-of-factly to my mother that I would no longer be taking the pills. She didn’t contest it. She did take me back to the doctor though.

He agreed that the pills weren’t working, but that I did need to be on something. He really tried hard to get me to take a shot: Depo-vera. He explained that I would just come in a few times a year and get a shot. The shot would harden the uterine lining and would prevent estrogen from function correctly so that I could not longer ovulate. I said that didn’t sound like a good idea. He laughed, and said “maybe not, but it will work.”  I don’t remember what my mom thought about that idea, but I was almost 13 and had the attitude to go with it. I absolutely refused to take this shot. . . or any other form of “birth control”. I remember looking up depo-vera and reading the risks and thinking “I absolutely hate this doctor. He could have made me sterile!”  It’s awful, vile stuff.

I am certain that being on The Pill at that young of an age was the first step in ruining my metabolism. I don’t have any hard facts on this. Call it a gut-feeling.

At the age of 14 I decided I was tired of being fat, so I ate very little, often went to bed hungry, and walked a lot. Within six weeks I lost 40 lbs. I got down to 105 and would have kept falling—which was scary—but I then added some extra calories and seemed to stabilize at 120.  

By the age of 16 I was constantly tired, as in “I have to pray to get through this day” kind of tired. I couldn’t remember a thing. I could hold a phone in one hand, a paper with a number in the other hand, and still I couldn’t remember the number long enough to punch it in. I’d have to look at the paper the entire time. I had a difficult time reading because words would just melt into each other. I would re-read the passage knowing that I misread it, and I still couldn’t read it correctly. It was as if my brain just couldn’t comprehend it, which was weird since I had/have always been a great reader.

I couldn’t sleep at night either. I’d lie awake for hours. I had constant headaches. I had bouts of inexplicable anger. I mean, I did have some rough stuff happen as a kid/teen, so that may have been half the explanation, but sometimes it was just like I couldn’t control it. I never did anything other than yell, but being the eldest daughter, you can’t really do that when you are in charge of setting good examples.

Ages 17-18-19 I worked 50-60 hour weeks being the most awesome hostess ever. I remember standing at the door, waiting on customers, and wanting to cry because I was so tired. And I was a teenager… how is that normal?!  I was never hungry, but constantly drank Coke. I gained 20 lbs but stayed there no matter what I ate or what I drank (primarily Coke and sometimes water). I was definitely addicted to sugar. (As a side note: this was not my parents’ fault. They rarely ever allowed us to have soda. I picked up that habit all on my own.)

Anyway, after a year (about 13 months) of odd symptoms, I finally found out that I what I had was a bad yeast infection. I am pretty sure that suffering through that for over a year should put me on the fast track for sainthood.  Of course it makes total sense I would have a yeast infection given that most  my diet consisted of sugar. I didn’t know anything about sugar and yeast and all that back then, unfortunately, so I just took meds.

I also suffered from bronchitis and terrible sinus infections nearly all the time. It seems like I would get bronchitis twice a year, and sinus infections 4 or 5 times a year. I wasn’t a big complainer so I typically just dealt with it. Most sinus infections took about six weeks to clear up… but then a month later, I’d have another one it seemed.

We didn’t ever really go to the doctor as children. We didn’t have the money for it. We basically went in if we had a serious infection or broken bones. My mom was an RN and could usually diagnose all the small stuff. She was also very hesitant about antibiotics and vaccines. We did have some vaccines, but not all.

My mom wasn’t into nutrition and clean foods and all that jazz, at least, not while I was growing up, but she was one of the reasons I learned to think for myself and not always believe what doctors tell me. Also, to say away from overuse of antibiotics and vaccines might do more harm than good at times would probably be a good idea as well.

                                                 (to be continued)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Little Old Lady Smackdown

My kids are taking swimming lessons at the YMCA this week, so I was sitting in the outside room watching them participate in their lessons. 

Behind me was a nurse who was giving free health screenings. From what I could tell, she was checking blood pressure, sugar levels, and a couple other things. I didn't pay much attention to her and went on to watch Veronica try and dive (which was quite comical--she would get into a beautiful diving pose, and then.. just plop into the water). 

About ten minutes later I hear an older lady, who had to be in her 60s, begin to scold the nurse (in her 40's) about mocking people who question doctors and live a more health-conscious lifestyle. I couldn't pick up the beginning of the conversation, but I knew the older lady was really upset. 

What I could pick up was something like "I am highly offended you would just brush off thoughts of alternative cures to ailments. You think we should just blindly lead the doctors and do everything they tell us to do. If you want to spew that stuff to people, fine, but don't say it around me! I have known people who have died from following doctors' orders, and that really upsets me!"  

The nurse kinda mumbles something a bit hostile, so the old lady is trying not to cry, and says: "You know, that's just wrong. Shelia is not crazy because she doesn't want chemo. Chemo kills people! If she wants to look into other treatment options, that's he right! She's not crazy at all. You would have all people believe that it's crazy to do anything other than blindly follow doctors and just swallow up any pill [the doctors] hand out. If you ask me, *that's* crazy!"

The nurse obviously had no idea what to say to this. Then she said "well, at the very least, Sheila could be considered eccentric." The old lady says "yes, perhaps, she is, but that's her right! I am just so angry you would tell people not to get themselves better, but to just go do what his doctor says to do. Where's the sense in that?  People can eat better. People can walk. People can do a lot of things that are not crazy and still do better than pills!"

The nurse mumbled something of a half-hearted apology.  And with that, the old woman left. 

It seems to me that more and more of society is waking up to the fact that pushing pills and just hunkering down on the couch is really not the way to go. And they are also taking a more serious interest in their food and their way of life. I really was happy to hear the exchange. 

A few minutes later the kids had finished up, so we were headed out of the door... I looked over to the nurse, and there she sat happily munching on vending machine "food" and a Diet Pepsi. But don't worry, she works for a doctor... there's a pill for that.

Elizabeth's Story (so far)

Elizabeth Kathryn was born two weeks early on January 25, 2010.

My pregnancy with Elizabeth was somewhat better, but towards the end my blood pressure skyrocketed, I was having headaches, and just not feeling great. I had a great doctor who actually listened to me and trusted me when I said things weren't right. So when I woke up one morning and just felt off, I just walked right into his office without even calling for an appointment. My blood pressure was "wow, kinda high" they said, and said I had other signs of preeclampsia. He said he knew something wasn't right because I told him it was time for this to be over and crying. I never cry.  He said okay and sent me to the hospital. 

I went in to the hospital and it turns out my blood pressure was 200/116 (way too high). So, yet again, I was induced. I was really hoping to finally have one labor start naturally, but I guess it wasn't to be. Tom arrived at the hospital and the doctor gave me an epidural. I didn't really want one, but because of my BP they thought it would be best to have as little pain as possible. I felt pretty good, and then...

I crashed. 

I remember waking up in a fog and hearing "okay, we might be out of the Woods!"  I wondered why they were talking about getting out of me....  They thought the epidural had lowered my blood pressure too much, and they had trouble getting it back up. Ironic. 

A little while later nurses and doctors were in my room having me flip, turn, and all sorts of tricks. I just did it... had no idea why. About five minutes later I hear "call it, we gotta go now! ... but all O.R.s are full!...get the one downstairs prepped!" 

Finally my OB says "her heart rate is not coming up, it's getting lower and I've tried every trick. Don't try to figure it out, we don't have time." 

When I crashed it wasn't because of the epidural, it was because I was beginning to hemorrhage, and now the placenta was abrupting (separating from the uterine wall) which leads to death for the baby, and can also be deadly for the mother.

I had to tell Tom to call my mom and his mother... "what do I tell them?" he asked.  I didn't have the courage to say "tell them one of us is dying,"  At this point it wasn't clear how much danger I was in myself.  

As they are pushing me down the hall to the operating room (which, I have to tell you, was the longest, most heart-stopping moment I've ever had) the OBs and the Anesthesiologist were arguing over whether or not I could stay awake. The OB was saying there wasn't time, I had to be put out. The Anesthesiologist said I could just have hyper-doses of epidural drugs since I already had one in. I really believe it was God's intervention that I was semi-forced to have an epidrual at the beginning...

They let me stay awake (although, I really didn't like the idea) but Tom could not be present. I don't know how much time elapsed from the call until she was born, but it was crazy fast. She came out screaming and fighting.  And then they took her away. 

She was 5lbs 8oz and 18" long. They said she had stopped growing about three weeks prior. The placenta was too small and had really stopped function well. And if I hadn't come in to the doctor that day, she definitely would have died, and there was a high probability I wouldn't have made it either. 

That still gives me chills. 

It was four or five hours before I could hold her. I was so sick from all the drugs and trauma that I couldn't do anything but lay flat. And vomit. Continuously. 

I finally was able to get Elizabeth into my room. She did not look happy. I was sure she was just as traumatized as I was. She wouldn't eat at all, really. She was losing weight fast. After three days, the doctor said I should go home (even though my pain was running rampant) because babies tend to perk up when mom's are home and more comfortable. 

We went home and I literally did nothing but hold her and try to feed her. By the time we went in for her check up three days later, she was down to 4lbs 8oz and had jaundice. I was desperate to make breastfeeding work... especially since I was unable to nurse Amy as a baby... so I tried everything. About day five she did finally start eating, and eating well... however, she was still losing weight. By her two week check up, she hadn't even broken 5 pounds. 

I had to borrow a baby scale and weigh her daily. We thought maybe she was too little to eat effectively, so I was also pumping and feeding her from a "closet to the breast" type of bottle. She still lost weight. I tried the tube trick. I tried dripping milk in her mouth. I tried force-feeding her. I tried the syringe... and anything else I could think of. She either lost weight or maintained, but never gained.

During this time, Tom and I were in and out of the pediatrician's office every other day. He was concerned and asked about giving Elizabeth formula. I said I really didn't want to, but maybe I could mix a bottle with half formula and half breast milk. He was okay with that. I have to say he was much less pushy than I expected him to be. He clearly wanted me to do formula, but was very respectful when I said I wanted to try other things.

At a few check-ups I told the doctor that she was very lazy when eating. She was constipated. She was irritable. I don't remember him offering much advice. Just that all of that is common in babies who aren't gaining weight. 

At her six week check up she was just a little over 5lbs, but still didn't seem right. She was still too lazy, she didn't want to eat, but cried a lot, and her stools didn't make sense to me. I said "well, I give up, I guess we'll just go ahead and switch to formula."  He thought that was great. And then he asked "when do you want to do vaccines?"

Are you kidding me?  This baby was born too early, into a very traumatic situation, hasn't been growing and is always irritable, and he wants to shoot her up with whoknowswhat?  Yeah, right. 

I sleep deprived. I was an emotional wreck. . . I mean, my baby wouldn't grow, I had a horrid c-section, I couldn't even walk on my own, and now I have to fight him on vaccines? I feebly said "you know, I really would rather wait until she's older to deal with vaccines."  His demeanor immediately switched from "happy and helpful" to "on edge and condescending".  "What are you thinking you're going to do about this then?"  I said I wanted to wait and there's no rush for it now. 
He said, yes, babies need to be protected and if she caught whooping cough in her fragile state, well, it might not end well.  I said I was sure she'd be fine for the next few months. He said "are you sure?"  I asked him about rates of measals and mumps, and haven't those rates dropped drastically over the last few decades, and didn't clean water and better living conditions contribute to this, more-so than the vaccines? He said "well.... yes... but measels are on the rise again!"  I asked "Oh, wow. So how many children have you seen in the last five years with measels?"  His answer? "Two."

So I have to vaccinate my tiny baby against something that basically doesn't exist, and it would really be an issue to wait a year or two?  He said it would be an issue, and we really shouldn't delay. I asked why, and he said--I kid you not!--"well, if she gets a fever or has an issue in the meantime, I'd have to admit her to the hospital right away... and... I'd have to test her... for several things...all at once!" 
 I said "so I should vaccinate her because you might have to run extra tests if she gets ill?"  I don't think he said much to that. 

I don't remember what we ended up doing with her. I think we did two vaccines when she was a couple of months old.  I feel like he knew I was not in a position to make a rational decision given that I was still on pain meds, had no sleep, and was really focused on Elizabeth growing. I think it was bullying. Why not say "as a doctor I disagree with you, but here's some info to think about, and we'll talk about it next time you come in." ?  

Anyway... after Elizabeth's six week check up, literally a day later, I noticed a white splotch in her mouth. What a minute... I saw that splotch when she was two weeks old, now that I think about it.   It suddenly dawned on me: she has thrush! And she had probably had it since she was a few days old. Thrush in newborns leads them to not eat well because their mouths hurt. They're gut is all of track, so their stools are funky. They don't gain weight well. And they are very irritable. How, how, how did the doctor miss this? This is a routine problem with newborns and doctors are supposed to check for this at every check up. How could he not have put all this together?  

I looked more closely at her mouth and saw that it was c.o.v.e.r.e.d. in white stuff.  Should I have spotted this earlier?  Yes, probably. My job as a mother is to nurture and feed and take care of the baby. His job as a doctor is to look for health problems and make sure babies are doing well. This was inexcusable. I was also miffed that my OB hadn't told me they have me antibiotics after my surgery, which would be a cause of thrush for the baby. 

I took Elizabeth back into the doctor. I was a little miffed and said "She has thrush!" the doctor said "Oh, is that what it is? Here you go, give her nystatin."  I took it just so I could avoid an argument, but I had no intention of using it. Nystatin kills yeast, but it also kills other things in the process. On the label it says "can cause diarrhea; mouth irritation; nausea; upset stomach; vomiting"

Yup, if I had a baby who couldn't eat, wasn't gaining weight, and generally not doing well, that's exactly the drug I would have her take.   

I went to our local health food store and told the owner the issues, what the doctor gave me and she said "what? He want her to die?"  Of course I know he didn't want that, but it did make me chuckle. She helped me find a yogurt with live cultures. I had to take it home, and then strain the yogurt so that it would make a paste. Then I'd take the paste it spread it on the inside of Elizabeth's mouth. I did this twice a day for ten days, and the yeast problem went away completely. (Nystatin must be used a few times a day for two weeks.) 

By this point Elizabeth was used to bottles and would not go back to breast feeding. I was so upset, but I had to appreciate the fact that she made it through the rough pregnancy, through delivery, and was now gaining weight, and just be happy about it. Once we switched to formula she took off, she did really well.   

If this was the only problem I had with this particular doctor, I would have just let it slide... we all make mistakes... but this is the same doctor who had misdiagnosed all of my girls, and hadn't been too nice in the process. So, yeah, I pretty much did not like him anymore. At all. 

So we get everything squared away, Elizabeth starts growing, she stays on formula (mixed with breast milk for a few months) and I held her constantly for a year. She is still petite, but has hit all her milestones and is a really smart, stubborn kid. 

When Elizabeth was about seven months old we moved to Kansas. She was a little cranky, but I figured it was just the stress of the move and the disruption in her routine, so we waited for her to chill out. At about a year old she started crying all day. Every day. Non-stop. She was really high maintenance, nothing made her happy, really. It was really tough on the family, it is such a downer to have a baby/child constantly angry and crying, and knowing there is nothing you can do. I tried everything I knew how: schedules, no schedules, new foods, old foods, movies, reading, keeping her mind busy, doing more quiet time,traveling, staying home ... everything!  She did like to be outside, so we tried to do that a lot, but you can't live your whole life outside, even if you are Primal ;)

I kept telling Tom that she would grow out of it, that she's just high maintenance and needs a lot of attention. We waited for months for her to grow out of this phase. Once we settled into Kansas we had a friend who would come over to my house a few times a week and help watch Elizabeth (and Amy at the time) so I could go out and run errands. My friend told me that Elizabeth was always good for her and she didn't see any of the behavior that Tom and I would see all the time. That made things a little more complicated... it really made me wonder if I wasn't being a good enough mom, or if the stress of starting a new school (for the kids), moving into a huge house, and having the new experience of Tom working from home--which meant coordinating schedules most of the time--, not to mention cleaning the 5200 sqft house, had really just upset Elizabeth too much.  I had taken her into a new pediatrician here in Kansas for a check up, and as I feared, her growth chart line was falling, not rising.  Here we go again!

I really tried to tone things down and get Elizabeth relaxed, but it didn't seem to help much. I added in more high fat foods and tried to make sure she always had something to much on. I don't think it worked much. By this point she is two years old and her behavior is getting worse. She was constantly angry. I mean anything and everything set her off. 

If anybody looked at her the wrong way she would scream, throw toys, scratch (and draw blood), she would even rip out her hair... and all the while she'd look at you like a wild animal. It was really scary at times. I started wondering if she had some sort of mental issue. Or could she have some sort of sensory issues? All of this continued for months and months. The family was held hostage to her moods. We couldn't go out anywhere because there was 100% chance she'd be disruptive and cut our trip short. We even had to switch off going to Mass on Sundays. There was no way we could even step into a quiet church with her. Thankfully, Grandma would take her every other week so we could attend Mass as a family.

I think also about this time we discovered she had another yeast infection. So I did all the routine things: took her off sugar, added probiotics, and lots of water and rest. It helped her irritability somewhat, but not for long. 

I took her back to the pediatrician, desperate for ideas, but all I got was "feed her more food. And you might want to make an appointment with a nutritionist so you can learn about healthy foods."  That is a common theme with doctors and nurses, they look at me and decide that since I'm big, it must be that my kids subsist on french fries and fried chicken nuggets. It didn't how much I would talk about the kids eating fruits and vegetables, and meats, and whole grains... they never quiet believed it. Anyway, I never went it for a $50 class on how to feed your baby.

Still, her behavior continued and it was really wearing us down. I even thought about enrolling her in a preschool. My thought was that if she were nice enough for other people, maybe she'd be happier in a different enviroment. I was sad though, because I really didn't want to "send her away."

About this time I decided to write a post about Veronica's health issues, and while I was writing about it, I thought how similiar Veronica's behavior and that of Elizabeth's seemed to be. This made me wonder if, just by chance, Elizabeth's rage, and tiredness, and poor growth had more to do with dairy than it did with environment. So Tom and I decided to take her off dairy for two weeks just to see what happened. 

Within five days we could tell a major difference. We were cautiously optimistic since she had briefly gotten better after we went Primal, but then it came back. So after two weeks and she was still improving, we decided that it was indeed the dairy causing the problems. She can have yogurt and butter, but anything else seems to be a trigger for her.

She is now a completely different child. We attend Mass as a family. We are able to eat out at restaurants. I can even take her grocery shopping now. She refuses to sit in the cart, of course, but she'll walk happily along side of me.  She is still very stubborn, and she still has days where she wants what she wants and she'll let you know it, but at least you can redirect her attention and get her to be happy at some point.I no longer have to think about putting her in preschool either, and that is a big relief.

She is sleeping better as well, but the best part is that she has started growing again! She is putting on more weight and is getting a bit taller, thankfully. At 2.5 years old, she can still wear some clothes size 18 months, and some size 24 months, which I consider a success. Thankfully she seems to have no long term effects from the placental abruption, and we look forward to seeing what she accomplishes in life with her strong will and her "can do" attitude.  

We are very grateful that we decided to take the whole family primal. Who knows where we'd be mentally *and* physically if we had never taken the leap. So we are a real testament to the great effects of Going Primal. 

And hopefully the rest of Elizabeth's life will be very healthy and she won't need extra paragraphs added to her health story.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Quick and Easy Pizza "crust"


A reader (hi, Lisa!) sent this recipe for a quick, and easy primal-friendly pizza crust. 

I'll have to wait until Grandma has the kids--they are all off dairy-- before I can make myself. But do try it out and comment here so we can see what you think!

The Primal kids

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Amy's Story

Amy Rose Woods, born on April 28th, 2006 --- five weeks early. 

Amy on her sixth birthday

My pregnancy with Amy was just like all the other ones... very difficult. This one was made worse by the fact that I now had two other babies to care for AND I was in my last semester of school--trying to earn my associates in Liberal Arts. I was rushing to finish this so I could have some type of degree should the police ever come after me for homeschooling my own kids...eventually. 

So I was in and out of the hospital many times, but I thought all was going well, until I went in--for the 30th time--to the hospital for fluids/check-up and I asked them for an ultrasound within a week or two. The doctor asked why and I said "she needs to be checked on."  He didn't seem convinced, but his nurse was really nice and said "Look, she's already had two, if she thinks there is a problem, we should look."  Thank God for that nurse, because she scheduled me for an ultrasound the next day. 

I went in for what I thought would be a routine U/S and instead it took well over an hour. I was alone since Tom was at home with Regina and Veronica (we really had no sitters in NY at this time)... anyway, I sensed something was off, but was too afraid to ask. I know now they did a stage 4 u/s, which means they were checking organ function, blood flow, and other signs of life/trouble. 

They told me to come in the very next day for an induction and that she would probably be fine. I asked why and the doctor said "Oh, you have no amniotic fluid. Best to just induce you right away."  I knew that wasn't all since I had the same issue with the first two pregnancies, and all they said was "drink water and bedrest".  But... whatever. I was tired of being sick, and sick of being pregnant, so whatever, let's have a baby! 

Amy was born the next day about six hours after labor begun. Turns out, she had a triple nuchal cord and the more she grew the more it was closing off her airway and blood flow. The doctor said it was so serious that if I had come in three days later, she would have been stillborn. . . that still gives me the chills.

She was in the NICU for five days due to breathing issues. I was told, after they released her, that I was very lucky she did so well.  Don't know what that means, but hey, I knew then that she was going to be my feisty-fighter kid. And she is! 

Amy weighed in at 5lbs 2oz and 18 inches long. She dropped to 4lbs 10oz in the hospital--not bad, really, but sounded so tiny!  She had developed a bad case of jaundice, but we fixed it eventually. Her mouth was so small she couldn't feed well, so we had to use tiny bottles. I was so sad that I couldn't get her to nurse. I tried everything I could, but gave up after three weeks when she wasn't gaining weight and her jaundice still lingered. She really was just too small and the energy it took to eat was too much for her.  I was really sad, but relieved that her angels had told me to get her out while we could--at least she was alive!

I finished finals while Amy was in the NICU. I still don't know how I did it. I graduated when she was three weeks old. And we moved from NY to AL when she was six weeks old, I think? So in all the hubbub we weren't forced by her doctor to give her all the vaccine shots. I did have her checked out in AL since I was still worried about her growth... I went into the doctor's office... they had me wait 2.5 hours!!...with all three girls (who at this point are just 3, 1.5, and newborn) and waited to see the doctor. To say I was tired in an understatement. I was almost catatonic. We finally walk into the exam room and the nurse comes in saying "she needs all the vaccines"  I was so frazzled at this point because Amy had been freaking out screaming for the last 20 minutes, and the other two were crying loudly for the last hour because it was way past lunch time.  I said "no, she was five weeks early, so really she's only about a week old, and I don't want her to have anything at this point."   The nurse didn't like that at all... so she talked to the doctor who also urged me to give Amy, a preemie, not one vaccine but SIX all at once.  I was so tired, and so frazzled, and so sad I just couldn't move, so all I could say was "No."  

They did it anyway. Yes, I asked them not to, twice, and they did it anyway... even the stupid one! I forget what it's called but I said "why does she need that" and they said "because she might get a cold and it would mean she needs to be hospitalized if she throws up or has diarrhea."  I said "I'll take my chances, she doesn't need it for a possible cold."  

They gave it to her anyway.

I felt so abused at this point:  Waiting in a waiting room for nearly three hours with three crying kids, all of us hungry, they made no attempt at an apology, and then I was bullied once I got back there. I am sure they sensed how rundown I was and knew I couldn't fight, so they just did what they wanted. It still makes me angry to even think about it. And it makes me sad, not only for Amy, but for me that I was that ill myself, and nobody--not even me--knew it. 

I forced myself to get the kids and get to the car. I cried the whole way home. I then decided I wouldn't ever go back to a doctor for routine care. There are definitely legitimate reasons to see a doctor, but being bullied isn't one of them. 

I tore up the appointment card and never went back.

Amy seemed to do well. She was on fully on formula at this point and seemed to thrive on it. I received a lot of wonderful comments about it... such as "you know she'll have weight problem when she's older...formula does that to them"  or "You know they use rat poison in that, right" or "her brain won't develop correctly if you don't breastfeed." and "she is always going to be sick, you shouldn't give that to her!"   All said by well-intentioned people, but all I knew is that I couldn't pump round the clock with two other kids running around and me being in a perpetual zombie-like state. 

Ironically, Amy has turned out to be my most thin, healthy, smart kids.... not that that's saying much for how sick the family is, but just goes to show that while breastfeeding is best, you will not ruin your baby if you have to go with formula.

About this time is when Veronica began to have all her issues, so I can't remember Amy having any real issues during this time.

Fast forward a few years... Amy was fully potty trained a few months after her 2nd birthday (if I remember correctly). She was trained for a good six, or more, months and all was well. Until one day she began having "accidents" all over the place, all day long. I thought it was a bladder infection, but everything was okay with that. I took her to the doctor (not the one who gave her shots, but the one who had been seeing Veronica) thinking it might be a kidney problem.  His answer?  Guess. Go ahead. Guess! 

"She's a little girl. That's what they do."   Yes, I say, but not to this degree. And Amy hates to be out of control of things, and she's very much a neat-nik, everything must be perfect, or she's not happy... this is very unlike her.  "Well" he says "you're pregnant. Again (this time with Elizabeth). And she's probably reverting back to her babyish ways."   I suppose, I said, but I don't think so.  He told me to go home and let her grow out of it. 

We tried everything... bribes, taking away toys, being super nice, sitting all day in the bathroom, getting angry, and crying. A lot.  This went on from ages three to four. I could not believe this really smart kid would just refuse to go to the bathroom and instead go on everything in sight. Tom and I were pulling our hair out with her.  I took her back to the doctor thinking it must be some sort of genetic defect. And I was really scared it had to be something from her days in utero where she had no fluid (which does have a lot to do with the formation of kidneys) or maybe the cord cut off too much blood flow to something in her brain... kinda seems silly now, but it was scary back then. 

So he says "oh, she's still little.  And she is probably constipated which can put pressure on her bladder and make her go. You should feed her a more balanced diet and lots of fiber."   Well, I took exception to this since my whole life at this point revolved around making sure my kids ate well. No, it was Primal, but I am fairly certain my kids were the only kids on the street who enjoyed eating salad and vegetables and ate things other than chicken nuggets and french fries. If that's what you feed your kids, I'm not judging that... I just wanted my kids to eat a lot of good for you food and so I really took that seriously. We would often talk about food at the table "who wants strawberries! What kind of nutrients are in strawberries... onions...broccoli...etc".  So I didn't like the idea that I must be a mom who is just stuffing cookies down Amy's throat and couldn't tell between constipation and a real problem.

I said "look, my kids probably eat better than 90% of your patients... she is not constipated. She has plenty of vegetables and whole grains and lots of water."  He didn't like that so he challenged me by saying "Okay, then we'll just have to get an x-ray to look at her colon."  I hate it when doctors try to prove points based on nothing...  "Okay. Go ahead."   

The xray came back a few days later. I had a phone call from the nurse saying "well, she's not constipated... but the dr wants you to go ahead and give her heavy doses of Miralax for a week."

Miralax is a white powder that you mix into liquid and it bulks up while in your intestines creating "fake fiber".  I said I was not going to give my 4 year old fake fiber just because, and since it is not constipation causing this bladder issue... what else could we do?   She said "He won't do anything until you try the miralax."   

What. Ever. 

We held off on giving her the miralax for a few months. I tried to up her vegetable intake and her water intake to see if that would help things. After another few months I told Tom she was getting worse and maybe we should try the miralax for a few days just so the doctor would take us seriously. Tom said ok, so we did.  Of course it did nothing to help Amy. I went back to the doctor (only because I needed him to order tests for me)  and he said "well, she's probably constipated, give her miralax."   Seriously? I mean, seriously?!   I said "you already checked her for constipation and the xray said she was clear."  He said that couldn't be true and he was going to check the xray again...only his computer wouldn't pull it up, so he was going to assume it was constipation anyway.   What the???

He said "well, I could refer you to a specialist but they'll be like "why are you wasting my time, she's four and this happens all the time."   I felt like punching him. Three visits to his office ... we've dealt with this for a year... and he has the nerve to tell me I'm wasting their time?  I said "I still want to do it."  And he said "they usually grow out of it by six months. Don't worry."  I wanted to scream :you do have *her* chart on the computer you have been staring at non-stop for the last five minutes, right?!  Instead I just said "it's been double that."  He said it must be because we had a new baby. I said "then why did it begin before the new baby was born?"  He said "it's not a big deal."  I said "yes, it is." 

I did take Amy to the chiropractor who had been helping us with Veronica. He worked on her a little, but it didn't seem to help. He did say that he's not specialized with little kids, so maybe a pedi chiro would work better. 

At this point Tom called in favors from one of his Harvard friends who went on to become a pediatrician. She didn't have much to say, if I recall correctly. I think she knew a couple of doctors in AL who might be able to help, but at this point I was burnt out on AL doctors (no offense, anyone!) so I said "we're moving in six months. Let's just wait until we get to Kansas."   So we did. 

Once we got to Kansas we had an ultrasound ordered for her... her kidneys showed that everything was well except that they couldn't find one of the tubes going from the kidney to the bladder. I said "oh good, is that the problem?!  The tech said "well, they kinda float around, so it could still be there."   They think it probably was hiding since there was no fluid backed up into the kidney and all else looked well.  Darn. I was hoping for an answer. 

We finally settled in with school and the new house and all that, so Dr. Rob (in AL) helped me find a chiropractor here in Kansas who might be good for the whole family. 

We found Dr. Stacy and she was really great from the start. I told her Amy's issues, said "Amy is now five and and still having these issues and I have nothing left to try."  She said "of course there is a problem. How could any doctor let this go on for so long?!"  I thought that was a great question. Dr Stacy has been working with Amy for about nine months now. Dr. Stacy said it was a nerve issue, that she had such a kink in her spine (and you could feel it) that it had to be blocking the nerve signal to her brain telling Amy "get to the bathroom" and so her bladder would just release whenever there was something in there.   Made sense. The ironic part is that Amy did become constipated at some point because she stopped drinking fluids "but Moooom, they always make me go to the bathroom!"

So it took about four months of Dr. S working on Amy to get her better. We still have no idea what would have happened to make the spine get all kinked up. And it's taken another two months for Amy's brain to relearn the "go to the bathroom" signal. We did have a few time periods where Amy (ever the strong willed child) used the "I'm not going to the bathroom just because you told me to" weapon.  Never worked. She would definitely get in trouble for that, but was often excused for the "I just got busy and forgot" accidents.  Still dealing with this issue for basically 3 1/2 years has really been draining (haha). 

Dr. Stacy has been amazing. She really worked very closely with us. She tried many different techniques, she gave us a lot of time and support, and after the first few visits, she treated Amy for FREE. She said if she could help our family, and especially help Amy to get back to normal, that would really make her day. What a 180 turn for us... going from such a dismissive, rude doctor to an all-out caring one. I was really touched. 

Even when Amy was going through her stubborn "you can't make me go to the bathroom" stage, Dr. Stacy went to the store and with her own money bought Amy "prizes" for every week she went to the bathroom five times (daily). I mean, really... she was off the clock and still took the time to work on Amy, even though she wasn't getting paid!   

Chiropractors rock. 

Okay, so what does this have to do with being Primal?  Well, not much, I suppose. At least, this part of the story isn't too primal, but she's always getting left out of stuff, so I thought it only fair to share her story as well.  Once we cleared up her bladder issue we had the time and energy to focus on her other health needs. 

She's, by far, my pickiest eater. She has to have foods cooked a certain way. She hates bone-in chicken because it's slimy and has "icky bones and stuff." She must be a texture person, because most of her complaints aren't about taste, but about how it feels or looks. Ugh. I don't know if it's a new power-play move or what, but I'm not playing. I serve her what I serve everyone else and she can choose to eat it or not.  She always loved pizza and mac 'n' cheese (whole grain) but she's been a job and a half since going Primal.  Thankfully she will willingly eat many vegetables and fruits and dairy, but she's difficult to please with meats. 

Amy is prone to anger outbursts. It can be pretty bad at times. Her sisters bear the many marks and a few scars from Amy's scratching and biting. I was really surprised when this behavior began since my other kids had never even really hit each other. Amy's anger was (and still can be) out of control. She is a perfectionist, and must be in charge, and has the final say, and is *never* wrong. I see a lot of myself in her, unfortunately. I don't bite though. 

Anyway, the whole house would kind of have an "aww man" moment when Amy would wake up for the day. We all knew it was going to be fighting and screaming and power struggles all day. It was really not a lot of fun to be around her. She was always angry. I tried the usual parental tricks of "this is your thing you are in charge of and nobody else can do it/touch it" or "as soon as you get angry, go to your room and sing a song" and "think of how much it hurts Jesus when you hurt your sisters" kinds of things. Nothing worked. 

About a month or two after Going Primal Tom and I both said one day "Hey... Amy is like a different kid!"  And she was/is. She is still prone to anger outbursts, and you can still find a claw mark on her sisters every once in a while (by the way, any advice on how to punish for that?) but overall, she has a lot of happy moments and fun-filled days.

I'm not sure what dietary thing she was eating (corn syrup, too much sugar, grain, food coloring, etc) that was magnifying these issues... but I'm glad it stopped! I really thought I was going to be dealing with a crazy-hulk-like kid for the next 12 years, and though I love her, I wasn't too thrilled about the idea of fighting all day, every day.

I've been allowing her to pick her own cheats since choosing stuff makes her feel in charge of herself, and because I want to see how her cheats affect her. Corn syrup is now on the "I don't care how much you beg, you can't have it" list. It turns her into a scary little thing within 20 minutes. No, thanks. 

Looking at all the changes my kids have made--just from diet!--it makes me wonder how many kids today are on medications, in therapy, or are labeled as "problem kids" needlessly?  And if the parents knew it could be controlled (at least to some degree) with monitoring food intake, would they choose to do it?  It does take a lot of time and energy to be a foodie.

Two morals to this story. 1) Always trust your parental gut. And 2) It's worth Going Primal, even if it's just two or three weeks, because you never know what kind of positive effect it will have on you and your children. I never would have thought to even seek a cure for Amy's anger, and it was a very great gift to have it reduced by just a few simple food choices.