In August of 2008 year my then two and a half year old son was admitted to the hospital in respiratory distress. Horror is the only word to describe the experience of watching ones own child gasping for breath. The day started innocently enough; breakfast, laughter, playtime, mom leaves to run errands as dad stays on to play with kids in the August sun. By late afternoon, upon my return, my little boy was sitting on the side of the street looking suspiciously lethargic. It took one quick listen to realize his breathing was off and twenty minutes to get to the hospital. By the next morning, as nurses continued to give him brews of steroid meds, and doctors advised we see pulmonary specialists, it became clear that my life would not be the same. How is it possible that my healthy, rambunctious, bundle of joy who has been raised on organic foods in a home filled with Eco-friendly household cleaners, with not a single relative with any respiratory issues - have them?
Weeks passed filled with repeated episodes of respiratory distress, repeated visits to the hospital, visits to specialists and a diagnosis; Reactive Airway Syndrome (essentially, asthma). Doctors insisted that his condition would be set off by both allergies and viruses. We left doctors offices with medical scripts pages long; Singular- year round, Claritan if necessary or maybe Zyrtec, Xopenex on hand at all times, Pulmicort as a preventative etc etc. With horror I did as advised, I gave one medication at a time to watch my son turn from a cheerful easy going boy, to a hyper and angry child with digestive issues. He had nightmares, stomach cramps, tantrums, dark circles under his eyes and was barely eating. When speaking with his doctors about side effects I heard; " you have to choose between two evils Mrs. Fenster...breathing trumps everything - he might be hyper and angry and thin...but he's breathing." I knew that if I did not search out some other solution, dig under every rock for any other hope I would have a child with a suppressed respiratory challenge and a growing series of conditions from the side effects. Who knows of what would be left of my son in the long run. So I turned to the net, to my friends and to an amazing network of holistic healers I have been blessed to know through my work. And piece by piece the answers came...
I started seeing a pediatric chiropractor with an expertise in cranial sacral therapy, who with twice weekly adjustments managed to keep flare ups at bay. I put my family on a raw dairy diet, and gave my kids daily dose of bovine colostrum. I added mega doses of Vitamin C, probiotics, and fermented cod liver oils. I cut their sugar back to reduce yeast and last but not least, thanks to the advice of friend and contributing writer to The Lohasian, Lisa Fyfe, I turned to the use of essential oils to address boosting immunity and keeping allergies at bay. It has been seven months now and my son, barring a few minutes of itchy eyes on high pollen days, is a normal active boy. His cheeks are bigger and rosier then ever, and his lungs are clear. Our life has resumed to its blessed normalcy. The one cold he has had, that was in fact accompanied by a cough, showed zero signs of inflammation - his doctor was stunned and pleased. The two times he had a cough for unknown reasons was remedied with twenty minutes by a diffusion of an essential oil. The condition, as doctors said, was being managed by a laundry list of substance...it's just that our list is quite different then that which they intended.
Along the way we got kicked out of the pediatric practice we used since our sons birth- for non-compliance. Apparently our choice to not give our child Singulair daily along with other meds, was enough reason to lose us as patients. We found another doctor, one who leaves us with our rights to parent and care for our kids how we choose. I wonder sometimes what would have been had I listened to his original doctors and put him on a stew of medications- what would have happened to my little boy who was struggling so much after a short week of their use? I got lucky, an so did he, by simply choosing to explore all our choices.
My son's asthma has been the biggest challenge and the biggest blessing for our family. It had forced us to prioritize the care of our family first. It demanded that we look for sustainable solutions for our well being - beyond symptoms management. It forced me to look at the places where I still compromised on my family's well being through simple modern day short cuts that actually were not short cuts at all. It has taught me one valuable life long lesson, when faced with a choice of two evils (as one doctors suggested) - choose neither, choose to look for another choice...and for that - we all breathe a sigh of relief.