The Wrong Choices

Often I find myself thinking back and reflecting on all we have been through with Liam.  Lately, I have been filled with anger for following the wrong advice when I didn’t know any better.

My husband is Afrikaans, and when Liam was born Ray would only talk to him in Afrikaans, we thought it important at the time for him to grow up with exposure to both English and Afrikaans as we weren’t planning on living in the UK forever.

Within a year of our return to SA, when Liam was about two and a half, his teacher voiced her concerns that Liam wasn’t putting sentences together like the other children his age were, the other children were ‘way more advanced’.  We told her that Ray speaks to Liam in Afrikaans and I speak to him in English, which may delay him a little.  She told us that she felt it was probably confusing him and that we should maybe consider dropping a language.  I know that she didn’t have us at gunpoint, and at the end of the day it was our decision, but we were concerned that he would fall behind his classmates and that we were somehow messing him up, so Ray stopped speaking to him in Afrikaans.

Liam is now in Grade 2, he’s had Afrikaans classes for the past three years and he is struggling.  He has to attend extra lessons each week to help him along.  When I see him struggle, or we receive his report and his marks aren’t good, I get frustrated at the bad decision we made years ago.  If we had of brushed off that teachers advice and continued as we were, Liam wouldn’t be struggling so.  Yes, maybe he wouldn’t have started forming sentences when he did, but he would have put a sentence together eventually.

We thought that we could get Ray to talk to him only in Afrikaans again and see if that would help, but it was just so frustrating.  Ray works all day during the week and when he gets home it’s usually between 6-7pm.  He would get home and speak to Liam in Afrikaans and Liam would keep saying ‘What does that mean?’, ‘I don’t know what that means.’  Liam would end up frustrated because he couldn’t communicate with his dad and Ray didn’t feel like he’d spent much time with Liam.  I then suggested that Ray speak to him in Afrikaans only on weekends as there was then more time for them to spend together, but that hasn’t worked because Ray keeps forgetting to speak in Afrikaans.

The next bad decision we made was when we were seeing the Ophthalmologist with Liam’s Strabismus, I would frequently ask him if there were any eye exercises we could do to help him with his vision, every time his Ophthalmologist would tell me that exercises wouldn’t help.  During one of our visits, he told us that he felt eye muscle surgery would be best option, and so we booked him in for the operation.

Years later we found out about Vision Therapy.  We were told that, because Liam had eye muscle surgery, the chances that the therapy would work were slim, but we thought we would try it anyway.

The Optometrist worked with Liam closely, her objective was to get Liam to use both eyes simultaneously (binocular vision), and they had near successes, but at the end of the day, Vision Therapy didn’t work.  I wonder if we would have had more luck if we didn’t decide to go ahead with eye muscle surgery.

More recently we had the appointment with the Neurologist where she advised that an EEG wasn’t necessary and put Liam onto Ritalin.  Again, at the end of the day, it was our choice to give him Ritalin.  Liam developed motor and vocal tics, which eventually lead me into the direction of Nutrition, which has been key in helping him with his tics.

I have made a promise to myself that from now on I will follow my gut, we will research pros and cons and we will do what we feel is best.  Teachers, Doctors and Specialists are also just human, the information and advice they give us is just that, information and advice.  That is why we have opted to not put Liam onto Strattera.  It’s good to know exactly what the issues are, but we will find alternative ways to help him along.

Liam’s main problem is focus and concentration, and so I am now looking for alternative ways to help him with that, by way of supplements, and by teaching him some techniques to help him focus.

The next step we’ll take is to have Liam tested for mineral/vitamin deficiencies and to supplement where needed.  I’m hoping to get the tests done next week and take it from there 🙂


August Winds

Growing up watching movies and TV series filmed in America or England, Christmas seemed so much more magical with snow, it just fits so beautifully.  It is the one thing I really loved about living in the UK, although it wouldn’t always be a white Christmas, we were guaranteed a cold and wet Christmas, and it was lovely.

In South Africa, the summer months are just beginning in December, and so our Christmas’s are usually spent by the poolside (apart from the last two years where it drizzled all day long – lovely).

Our winters aren’t very pretty at all, in fact, winters in Johannesburg can become extremely depressing.  Winter begins in June and we don’t usually get rain.  Most trees are already bare by June, the grass becomes brown from the lack of water and everything is dull.  Then the controlled veld fires begin, leaving us with the charred remains of what was brown, dead grass.

By the end of July I usually feel a little demotivated, despondent and depressed.  I lack the drive to do anything, let alone pull myself out of the rut I find myself in year after year… and then, in August, the winds start.

Strong gales of wind that usually bring in a cold front just as you think it’s safe to pack your winter woollies away.  After so many months of no rainfall whatsoever, these winds are extremely frustrating.  By the end of each day I feel like I have the whole city up my nose and in my ears, my hair is knotted from it being blown in every direction (I never remember to take a hair band everywhere I go), and I have to be so careful when I open or close my car doors in a parking lot in case the wind catches it and smacks the car next to me.

August is the month that makes me feel like winter will never end.  I long to see some colour in the landscape.  I feel demotivated and down in the dumps.  I don’t feel like doing anything, but yet, I feel like I need a big adventure, or some change, just to wake me up.

I know that I will get through this depressing season, I have done so many times before.  Once we get our first rains and the grass turns green again, the leaves on the trees start appearing, flowers start to blossom and the weather gets warmer, I will feel better.  I love this city so much between September and May, and so there are only 3 months of dull, depressing weather to endure.

Jacaranda Trees, Ruimsig, Gauteng, Nov 2016

There is so much beauty to look forward to in this country we call home.  In November, the Jacaranda trees begin to flower, they are magnificent.  A stunning purple flower that fills the horizon with splashes of colour and leaves a blanket of purple on the ground when the flowers start to fall off.

Sometimes you are lucky and spot the beautiful colours of Bougainvilleas in amongst the Jacaranda trees, what a sight!

The Bougainvillea flowers last much longer than the Jacaranda flowers, so even when the flowers on the Jacaranda trees fall off, we still have stunning pops of colour to look out for.

When the rains do finally come we are usually given spectacular, passionate performances of thunder, lightning and downpours that make your heart race and make your body tense up.

Our storms are thrilling, scary and breathtaking.  While my heart beats faster and faster as the lightning strikes around our house I am filled with the overwhelming consciousness of being alive and being home.  There is nothing quite like an African thunderstorm to wake up your senses.

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Rhino & Lion Park, Cradle of Humankind, Gauteng, Jul 2015

We have some pretty amazing panoramic views too.  I stumbled across this picture I took at the Rhino and Lion Park in July 2015.  Having been taken in winter, the grass was brown, but the view was still striking.

Between May and June, the Cosmos flowers usually bloom, giving us pretty colours of pink, purple and white.

I haven’t done much travelling within South Africa, but I have been feeling the need to see more of it lately.  I was born in Port Elizabeth, we moved to Johannesburg when I was 7 years old but returned for family occasions and visits frequently.

Most recently we visited Cape Town for an engagement party, but we didn’t get to do all of the touristy stuff while we were there apart from the Aquarium, Waterfront and viewing Table Mountain in the distance from Blouberg.  It would be nice to return for a visit and see a bit more.

The last time I went to Durban I was very young, probably about 12 years old.  We have a holiday planned in Umhlanga soon, I’m really looking forward to that.

I truly do love every season for the change it brings, I just love Winter less, it really feels like the longest and most boring.  For now, it’s August, and the winds are blowing, and the land is dull and depressing, but soon the lands will transform into magnificent colours, flowers will bloom and the thunderstorms will come and I’ll see beauty everywhere I look.

Our Jasmine bush has already started to flower, filling the air with its signature fragrance and the promise that Spring is coming!  I couldn’t be more excited!

EEG Round Two – Liam’s Story

With the warmer weather approaching us here in beautiful South Africa, I decided to take Liam for another EEG.

With his first EEG at the beginning of the year, we received a diagnosis of Epilepsy and I was devastated, but also relieved to know what the problem was.  The only trouble was that I had this niggling feeling of doubt once I received the chronic meds form from our Doctor.  Attached to the form was the Neurologists fax to our Doctor, only a few lines, which advised that Liam ‘may have’ Epilepsy and that the EEG was an ‘awake EEG’.

What concerned me, and which I raised with our Doctor, is that Liam had actually fallen asleep while the technician was still putting the electrode things onto his head.  He had remained asleep for the most part of the test until the technician asked me to wake him gently for the strobe and breathing part of the test.  Even then he was extremely dozy and probably nodded off a little.  So I didn’t agree that it was an ‘awake’ EEG, as he was only awake for around 5 minutes.  I had put my concerns down on paper for our Doctor.  About a month later he emailed me to say that he was still waiting for the Neurologist to get back to him.  I still have not had any answers.

Liam loves to swim, and I was worried that, with him not being on the Epilepsy meds, we may end up with an emergency and so I decided that I would book an EEG and consultation with another Neurologist.

Liam’s appointment was on 1 August and he remained awake throughout the EEG, which made me happy.  The Neurologist saw us afterwards and asked me so many questions about Liam, questions which made me think he had known Liam for years!  At the end of the consultation, his diagnosis was ADD.  I asked him if there was any way Liam could have Childhood Absence Epilepsy and he said not at all.  He prescribed Strattera and we went home.

At first I felt that I should fill the script for Strattera, but wanted to do some research beforehand.  I’m glad I did, because I decided to not fill the script.  As with Ritalin and Concerta, there are the ones that say it worked well, and others that complained about the awful side-effects.  At the end of the day I want my son to be who he is, I feel he is far too young to put him on these chemicals that, at the end of the day, alter his brain function whilst his brain is still developing.  We saw the awful effects Ritalin had on him, and although Strattera is a non-stimulant medication, I didn’t like the extremely long list of potential side-effects one could experience, one being depression.  I don’t think I would like to solve one problem by potentially creating another one.

At the end of the day, Liam has trouble focussing, he is not hyperactive, disruptive or loud.  If he could just focus in class, then he would be doing very well.  So now I will put all my efforts into helping him focus.

I started researching Nootropics, something I had never heard of up until a couple of weeks ago.  Basically Nootropics are ‘brain stacks’ or cognitive enhancers made up from drugs, supplements or other substances, to help improve cognitive function.

My main focus of interest is obviously supplemental Nootropics.  Liam is already on Omegagenics, BarleyLife and FloraFood supplements.  I wondered if there was another supplement I could include to assist with focus.

I came across an extremely long winded name of a supplement which has been proven to help with focus in small groups of studies on ADD/ADHD children, Phosphatidylserine…  I bought a bottle from Clicks and Liam has been taking one each day for the last week.  I’m hoping to see a difference in his school and homework.

I’m wondering if I should maybe take Liam for a blood test to see what vitamin and mineral levels are too high or low in his system (if there is such a test) and taking it from there.  I have read that low levels of magnesium, zinc or iron (or all 3) could also contribute to lack of concentration.  I think that knowing exactly what is lacking in his system may help us supplement more effectively.

I would be very interested in any advice out there 🙂

Nutrition – Raising Awareness

I started this blog when Liam’s tics started getting really bad, we had also just received his epilepsy diagnosis, I was in quite a state as we had been battling over the years with concentration, transition and fine motor troubles.  When his tic appeared, I was at the end of my tether.

I had been dragging Liam from one appointment to the next, therapy session after therapy session and then the tic formed and I just didn’t know what to do anymore.  I must say, I hit rock bottom when we received his epilepsy diagnosis after his EEG.

Mom guilt set in quite deeply, especially since he should never have been put on Ritalin.  I should have demanded an EEG before that Ritalin prescription was handed over, but ever trusting, I accepted the word of his Neurologist who said that an EEG wasn’t necessary.  I was so angry and upset and felt like I had been failing Liam over the years.  Just before we stopped giving him Ritalin, he developed both motor and vocal tics, one which included throwing his head back, so reading was becoming more and more challenging as he would keep losing his place.

We had been witnessing his tics for over 4 months when I decided to look at how nutrition can play a part in ones mental and physical well-being.  In the fifth month, after attending a nutritional talk on brain fog, I started giving Liam AIM BarleyLife and AIM FloraFood supplements and we started to notice his tics change.  Before the supplements, he was thrusting his shoulders up, throwing his head back and making a uh-huh sound – you can view the video here.  After starting the supplements his tics changed to just a sound like he was clearing his lungs of air – you can view the video here.

Once we introduced Metagenics Omegagenics and did the food intolerance test, eliminating gluten, dairy and eggs from his diet, we haven’t seen any tics at all.  We haven’t received any complaints from his school about his concentration.  At the last feedback session we had with his teacher, the only thing that was an issue, but not a serious one, was his handwriting.  We have also seen a massive change in his behaviour overall, he is no longer randomly screeching when he gets excited about something, he barely interrupts us when we are talking anymore, he’s concentrating for longer periods at a time when he’s doing something he doesn’t particularly enjoy, and he’s remembering his manners more often now too.

I decided to start this blog, not only to try to help others who may be going through what we have been going through, but also in the hopes of finding others who have been through this and have managed to help their children without medication.

I would always brush off any nutritional information in the past, I think mainly because of news headlines, one-day fat is bad for you, the next day fat is good for you, one day eggs are bad for you, the next day they’re good for you, and so it goes on.  You actually just don’t know what to do, so you just do what’s easiest.  I had heard about how bad aspartame is for you, but why would corporations put it into diet drinks, so I shrugged it off.  At the end of the day, if you like the taste of something, you will probably dismiss any information saying that that food is bad for you.  How could it possibly affect you anyway, right?  But it does, and that’s the scary part, we just don’t realise what we are putting into our bodies and HOW it really affects our mental and physical well-being.

On top of all the food advice and research going around, you also don’t want to be ‘that person’ who doesn’t eat this and doesn’t eat that, the picky eater, the one who brings their own snacks to a party, the one who says ‘oh no, I can’t eat that, it has gluten in it’, the one that people complain about and dread inviting over.

Soon after getting Liam and Ray’s results back we received a dinner invite at a friends house.  I accepted and mentioned that we are now gluten, dairy and egg free, but we can eat meat, fish, rice, veg and maize.  My friend replied thanking me for the heads-up. Then a couple of days before the dinner I received a message from her saying that she didn’t know what to do for pudding because of the ‘gluten, lactose, fructose and glucose people’.  I felt so guilty and embarrassed – eeeeeek I’m one of THOSE friends now.  I replied and told her I would bring chocolates along.

Even though I may have felt embarrassed, I still feel it is incredibly important to stick to my guns.  We have seen a remarkable difference in Liam, especially with his tics, so I will push through any embarrassment, or comments and eye rolls.  I want to talk to everyone about the differences we have seen in Liam, I want them to also try help their children nutritionally.

I realise that some children are picky eaters, so healthy eating isn’t always an option and medication is an easier alternative.  I’m not anti-meds, I’m just incredibly weary of the side-effects they can cause.  I will be taking Liam for another EEG before the year is over, and if the results still show that he has epilepsy, then I will consider putting him back onto his meds, especially when the warmer months approach and he will be swimming again, but I am hoping that that won’t be necessary.  I truly believe that we are on the right path.

I have spoken at length about AIM BarleyLife, AIM FloraFood and Metagenics Omegagenics.  If you would like to read up on what these supplements are, and their benefits, click on the links below:-

The links above do take you to American based websites, however, you can get all of the above products in South Africa, through a Nutritionist or Wellness Coach.

Gluten, Dairy & Egg Free

When I received the food intolerance results saying that Liam and Ray are gluten, casein and egg intolerant, my first reaction was relief.  I was just so happy to know what was potentially causing Liam’s concentration, tic and possibly his CAE problems, as well as Ray’s weight loss problems.

Soon panic set in when I realised that gluten, dairy and eggs were in pretty much everything we ate.

I received their results on a Friday and had an appointment to see our Nutritionist, Madaleiné, the following Tuesday.  In between, I managed to spend a small fortune on gluten, dairy, egg free products.  I bought two 250g boxes of gluten & egg free penné for R120.00, spent about R50.00 on potato starch, R100.00 on gluten & egg free spaghetti, R35.00 on a tiny bag of almond milk powder, R180.00 on a kg of almonds, R20.00 on cheesecloth (I watched a few youtube videos on how to make almond milk…).

The two boxes of penné are still in our cupboard, the potato starch hasn’t been touched since March (I used it once), we have used the spaghetti, the almond milk powder had casein in it… didn’t think to check that, most of the almonds are still in the cupboard because I soon discovered that you can’t make almond milk in a food processor (I have now ordered a blender which I should receive this week).

I realised after seeing Madaleiné that you can keep it extremely simple, there was no need to complicate things.  So I adopted the KISS strategy – Keep It Simple Stupid.

Kids like to snack, so my first point was, what do I give Liam to snack on.  Luckily there are a few products available that we used to eat before and that we can continue eating which are free from gluten, dairy and eggs:

  • Crisps: Lays Salted is the least unhealthy option, you can also buy Lays Sour Cream & Onion, Lays Balsamic Vinegar, Simba Smoked Beef, Willards Flings (as well as many others, but these are the ones we regularly buy).  Popcorn is also a winner.
  • Sweets: Jelly Tots, Wine Gums (most jelly type sweets, you just need to read the label), Manhattan marshmallows.
  • Chocolate: Beacon Midnight Velvet, Lindt Excellence 70% & 85% Cocoa Dark (we basically only buy the Beacon Midnight Velvet, as it’s cheaper than Lindt.  Some of the Nestlé Albany chocolates are also dairy and gluten free.

Realising that there are still loads of ‘snacks and treats’ that can still be consumed made me feel much better.  I always keep some sweets hidden in the house for the times when there is a party at school and Liam can’t eat what’s in the party pack, so we swap it out for something he can eat.  Lindt also do a dark chocolate bunny which helped so much during Easter, he was given an Easter egg at school, which he couldn’t eat, so he gave it away, when we got home I gave him the dark chocolate bunny and he was so happy.

I did find that, during Easter, there wasn’t much choice in Easter eggs, apart from the Lindt dark chocolate bunny.  Beacon did bring out a dark chocolate marshmallow egg, but it had dairy or gluten in it (I can’t remember which), so that wasn’t an option.  Luckily my colleague was visiting from Austria the week before the Easter weekend, so he brought over a nice selection of dairy and gluten free Easter eggs.  He saved the day!  I’m going to have to get creative next Easter though and may end up buying stacks of Midnight Velvet to melt and mold into bunnies and eggs, and then foil them up in some bright colours.

As for lunches, Liam has always been easy.  Before the food intolerance test he would always ask for cucumber, cheese and tomato… hence the blog name, but now it’s just cucumber and tomato ha ha.  I usually put a plate of fruits and veg together for him, whatever is in season.  At the moment, as it’s winter, he gets a naartjie, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, carrots, sometimes broccoli, and then a slice of ham or some shaved chicken breast.  In the summer months he gets grapes and watermelon instead of naartjie.  Most days he asks for another plate of fruits and veg after his first plate.  Then he has a bowl or two of Flings, or Lays as a snack in between lunch and dinner.  He’s also happy to have a plate of fruits and veg for breakfast.

Then for Ray, I have been pre-cooking and freezing lunches for him to take to work.  The easiest one has been a black rice, onions, peas, mushrooms and boerewors mix.  My dad used to make this dish when I was younger, but with white rice, he used to call it ‘Gemors’.  I was buying black rice from our local Pick ‘n Pay, but they have been out of stock now for the past month or so, and I’ve been searching every Pick ‘n Pay I go to.  I am about to use the last bit of what I have left, so I’m not sure what I’ll do once it’s finished.  I’ll probably use brown rice…  I also pre-cook, mash up and freeze veg for him, so when he gets bored of the Gemors dish then he cooks himself a chicken breast in the morning, or some boerewors and takes some frozen veg to work.

Dinner time is easy too.  I try to stick to a rotating meal plan, but sometimes that doesn’t pan out.  Generally we eat chicken breasts and rice with peas, or fish, mash potatoes and peas or mixed veg, or spaghetti with gluten free pasta, or steak and chips with veg.  Liam doesn’t like avocados, but Ray and I love them, so we eat avo’s almost every night now that they are back in season, yay!  I always try to cook more than what’s needed for dinner to carry over for breakfast

Some days a little bug bites me and I throw the KISS strategy out of the window and try and make something I have found on Pinterest.

In April Liam was begging me for pizza, and I found an awesome quinoa base recipe, so I soaked the quinoa the whole day, and that evening I made the base (it was hard work the first time.  I put the quinoa ‘batter’ onto baking paper, just like the recipe said, but then once cooked, the baking paper had soaked into the base, so I had to peel every little bit off it – it was piping hot as it had just come out of the oven too, so my fingers were very sore).  I had bought dairy free cheese from Woolworths and made Liam a pizza I was super proud of, it had bacon, banana and cheese on it, yum!  Liam was over the moon with his pizza and tucked in.  I returned to the kitchen to re-do the recipe for Ray so he could also eat pizza.  While I was busy in the kitchen, Liam brought his plate through, told me how much he LOVED the pizza and put his plate on the counter… he had eaten everything apart from the quinoa base lol!  He said he didn’t really like the taste of it, but the rest was very nice.

Most recently I attempted making chocolate fudge…. The recipe called for only three ingredients, coconut milk, icing sugar and dark chocolate…. seemed quite simple.  I knocked it all together, followed the recipe step-by-step and ended up with chocolate sludge.  It was sickly sweet and quite revolting actually.  I think that the problem is that the ingredients are a little different to those we have in South Africa, so most of them won’t work out perfectly, for instance, the icing sugar we have is made with corn starch, but in America you can get icing sugar made with tapioca starch, which was apparently the key in the recipe I was following.

I’m going to make coconut bomb things next, I know that it will work out as I made them when we were banting, so it’s a safe bet.

It hasn’t always been perfect though, cutting gluten, dairy and eggs out of ones diet is difficult, just not as difficult as I had expected.  Luckily the intolerance’s aren’t allergies, so when mistakes are made, there aren’t terrible consequences.

There was a ‘slip ‘n slide day’ at Liam’s school the one day, and I hadn’t received the newsletter about it, but there was a reminder on D6 about the money that needed to be sent for it, so I put the money into an envelope and sent it to school so that Liam didn’t miss out on the fun.  That afternoon I collected him from school and Liam told me that he made a mistake and had eaten a chicken and mayo roll.  I told him that it was fine and that we all make mistakes.  His cousin had a sleepover that night, by 19:00 Liam was so grumpy and tired, he told me he just wanted to go to bed and he was asleep by 19:15.  Very out of character for him as usually, when his cousins come over, he’s still awake at 21:00.  I found out the next week that there were options on the newsletter, which I had never received, to choose a snack for the kids for slip ‘n slide day.

We have also attended quite a few birthday parties and Liam loves cake, so I always tell him that he can have a small slice of cake.  Most often he falls asleep on the backseat of the car on our way home from all the fun, gluten, dairy and eggs ha ha.

Initially I was buying almond milk, which is quite pricey, so two months ago we switched to soya milk, which was a terrible idea.  I had been having trouble with my hormones and basically felt that I had just got a nice balance when we started drinking soya milk in our tea.  It wasn’t long and my hormones were way off balance once again.  A couple of weeks ago I read in one of the information packs that Madaleiné gave me that soya can throw your hormones off balance quite badly, so that made sense and I stopped buying soya milk.  I bought Renewed Balance cream from AIM and have been drinking my BarleyLife and Peak Endurance every morning and think that maybe I have started balancing my hormones again.

Ray started losing weight really nicely to begin with, but has plateaued again, he thinks it’s from the sugar (it may have been from the soya milk too…), so we are going to concentrate on eliminating sugar from his diet.

I have taken Liam off his epilepsy meds now that it’s winter and he isn’t swimming anymore.  I worried about the potential liver damage and suicidal thoughts side-effects that the meds can cause and feel much better now that he’s off them.

So far, we have had no serious illnesses this winter, Liam had a little cough about a week and a half ago, I gave him nose spray and put the humidifier on in his room at night and his cough has gone.  Ray hasn’t been sick at all so far, and I had a bit of a sore throat, and what felt like the beginning stages of laryngitis last week, but that’s cleared up now with the help of nose spray.

So far so good!

Nutrition Talk & Food Intolerance Tests

Soon after Liam’s epilepsy diagnosis, I attended a nutrition talk with a friend about ‘Brain Fog’.

The talk was extremely eye opening and touched on many of the problems we had been experiencing with Liam over the years.

After the talk I chatted with the Nutritionist, Madaleiné, and briefly explained what we had been going through and she suggested we do a food intolerance test and to also start Liam on BarleyLife, FloraFood and Omegagenics supplements (something my sister-in-law had been telling me to do for about a year and a half, but I never listened *hangs head in shame*).  Madaleiné also suggested we cut Aspartame out of Liam’s diet completely, which we had done already as our Doctor advised it would be best when we received Liam’s epilepsy diagnosis.

The food intolerance test was quite pricey, and medical aid won’t cover the cost of the test as it’s nutrition based *eye roll*, so we couldn’t do the test immediately.  In the meantime I bought Liam AIM BarleyLife and AIM FloraFood and started him on the supplements.  Metagenics’ Omegagenics was also a little bit expensive, so I had to wait for the next month to buy them for Liam.

After about two weeks of Liam drinking BarleyLife and Flora Food, we noticed that his tics eased, they weren’t as disruptive anymore.  I took another video, which you can view here.  His tic was now more of a vocal clearing air from the lungs sound.  Every now and again we’d notice a motor tic, but nothing as frequent as before.

Needless to say, I was sold!  I knew we were on the right track and it felt great!

The next month we did the ImuPro food intolerance test on 90 foods.  We also decided that Ray should get tested, as he has been struggling with his weight for many years, so both him and Liam went into Lancet with the paperwork and Lancet sent the blood and paperwork to the MDS lab in Durban for testing.

What the ImuPro test does is test for the presence of specific IgG antibodies to particular foods.  The test will then outline the levels of IgG antibodies to those specific foods depending on how elevated the levels are and list them as ‘not elevated, ‘elevated’ or ‘highly elevated’.  The ‘highly elevated’ foods will be your type III food hypersensitivities; not to be confused with a type I food allergy, which is detected by testing for IgE-mediated food allergies that can cause serious reactions like anaphylactic shock, vomiting, itching, rashes etc.

Type III food hypersensitivities can cause problems in your body that you are probably aware of, but not aware that the food you are eating is causing the trouble, specifically inflammatory processes.  They are also very difficult to detect as symptoms caused by a type III food hypersensitivity can sometimes only occur after a few hours or even a few days after consuming a particular food.

I’m going to liken my example of the small intestine to a battle you would see in, let’s say, Lord of the Rings:

So a person is intolerant to casein (in dairy) and gluten, and they eat a cheeseburger; the food reaches the small intestine.  The primary function of the small intestine is to break down and absorb nutrients and minerals from the food and release them into the blood stream through the intestinal wall (the wall blocking the invaders getting through to the citadel); but the villi in the small intestine and the intestinal walls are damaged due to many years of eating foods containing casein and gluten (the wall is damaged due to boulders being thrown at it by the enemy).  Proteins and enzymes from the casein and gluten get through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream without being broken down (the enemy breaches the wall in one piece).  The immune system initiates an immune reaction against these food proteins as they are seen as invaders.  In the process, immune complexes are destroyed and inflammatory processes begin (soldiers try to stop the enemy from going any further, but many soldiers and villagers are killed, and the enemy gets closer and closer to reaching the castle, once there, the enemy takes over the kingdom). With inflammation in the intestinal lining you could experience cramps, IBS, diarrhea, bloating or vomiting and for inflammation in the blood you could experience sinusitis, skin conditions like eczema, ear infections, diabetes or even heart conditions, ADHD, depression or other neurological conditions.

We received the results of their tests about a week later and we were so surprised by both Liam and Ray’s food intolerance’s.  Both of them were dairy, gluten and egg intolerant.  Ray also had a pretty high peanut intolerance, and Liam had ‘elevated’ IgG levels for cucumber and apple too.

At first I must admit, the results made my heart beat super fast.  I didn’t know how I was going to be able to cut all of that our of their diets.  Gluten free products are extremely expensive, but then most of them still contain egg, so my mind was going a mile a minute.

I made an appointment to see Madaleiné once I had the results and she spent an amazing 2 hours chatting with me and put my mind at ease completely.  She advised that for Liam’s cucumber and apple intolerance’s, I should cut them out of his diet for 5 weeks only and then reintroduce them (this gave me a lot of relief as Liam loves cucumber so much).  She also told me that both Ray and Liam will never be able to reintroduce dairy, gluten or eggs as their intolerance’s were just too high and most likely the cause of their villi being damaged and causing other issues within their bodies.  She helped me so much.  It wasn’t all doom and gloom!  I’ll cover the appointment with Madaleiné in more detail in a separate blog post.

Although I did end up buying some very expensive gluten and egg free pasta’s and other overpriced gluten free rubbish, after about a week I decided to adopt the KISS approach – Keep It Simple Stupid!

Luckily Liam loves most fruits and veggies, and he prefers them raw.  Ever since he was a toddler he would ask me for ‘cucumber, cheese and tomato’, hence the blog name.  Unfortunately I couldn’t give him cucumber for the next 5 weeks, and cheese is now completely out of the question, so I prepared plates of grapes, watermelon, carrots, broccoli and cherry tomatoes with some chicken breast or cooked ham for lunches and he’s been perfectly happy with that.

Dinners I would make fish, peas and mash, or chicken, rice and mixed veg, or spaghetti with gluten/egg free pasta, or steak, chips and peas.

Now that it’s winter, grapes and watermelon are no longer in season, so I give him naartjies in their place.

As for Ray, he started losing weight quite nicely, but has since plateaued again, but we think that may be because of his sweet tooth and plan on cutting sugar out over the next month or so to see if that will jump start his weight loss again.

We have noticed a remarkable difference in Liam’s behaviour.  Before he would interrupt us constantly while we spoke, now he waits his turn before talking.  He used to randomly scream when he’d get excited about something (everything would excite him), we haven’t heard him shriek/scream for ages.  He seems more focused, much more helpful around the house, he’s remembering his manners more often than not.

EEG – Liam’s Story

Liam’s appointment for his EEG was scheduled for 19 January 2017, I had explained the process to him the day before and told him that he would need to sit as still as possible.  I was a little worried that he wouldn’t be able to with his motor tics, but figured that the technician would know how to deal with that.

When we were called in, Liam was asked to lie down on the bed and to be as still as possible while the technician popped the electrodes onto his head.  Liam ticced once during the process and the technician asked me what that was, so I explained Liam’s motor and vocal tics to her.  She nodded and continued popping the electrodes onto his head.  Liam fell asleep before she was done placing the electrodes and I asked her if it would be a problem with him asleep, she said it was fine and began the test.

She asked me a series of questions about Liam, like whether he usually falls asleep so easily, when did the tics start, what medication he was on etc.

After a little while she asked me to wake Liam up gently so that he didn’t move too much when he awoke.  I went to the bed and called his name and gently shook his shoulder until his eyes started to open and asked him not to move, but to stay awake.  His eyes were so heavy he could barely keep them open.

The technician asked him to breathe in and out deeply, which he did, but it looked to me like he was dozing off between breaths.  She then asked him to focus on something in the room without moving his head and to stare at the object.  After that she asked him to keep his eyes closed and placed a light in front of his face and then the light began to flash.  Once that was all done, she started taking the electrodes off his head and we were done.  The test ran for about 30 minutes from the time the electrodes were on his head until she took them off his head, and he was asleep for about 25 minutes of the test.

As mentioned in my previous blog post ‘What Makes You Tic – Liam’s Story‘, Liam caught a bit of a cold the next day, and I started giving him cold meds to clear it up.  He only wanted to eat raw fruits and vegetables and he did a pH test for fun which showed his alkaline levels were quite high.  We didn’t notice him tic between 21 and 25 January.

On 25 January our family Doctor told me that he really needed to see me about Liam’s EEG results and I made an appointment to see him on the afternoon of 26 January.

Once again, I thought that maybe now we would get a diagnosis of ADD, ADHD or Autism, but he told me that Liam has epilepsy.  I was shocked!  Epilepsy had never crossed our minds, and so I didn’t have any questions prepared for him.

He explained that Liam would ‘shut down’ for 2-5 seconds at a time, multiple times during the day and that it was a very difficult thing to spot, but it would explain why he had trouble following instructions and concentrating.  He said that Liam should never have been put on Ritalin and he should never be given any stimulant medication, as that would increase his episodes.  He told me that it’s not the convulsing kind of epilepsy and that many people immediately think of that, and what they see in the movies, when they hear the word ‘epilepsy’.  Liam will simply start doing something, he would ‘shut down’ for between 2-5 seconds, and then continue what he was doing.  In fact, the most dangerous part of this kind of epilepsy would be if he were swimming, and knowing how much Liam loved to swim, said he was quite relieved that nothing terrible had happened in the pool.  Liam would need to go onto anticonvulsant medication and he would more than likely grow out of it by his 18th birthday.

He didn’t call it CAE, or Childhood Absence Epilepsy, but as a mommy does, when I got home I consulted the great oracle Google and read as much as I could with the symptoms our Doctor had described to me.  With those symptoms in mind, I read that it was called CAE.

With the new found fear I had of medications, I read the package insert for Navalpro CR200 which was prescribed.  I read that it could cause liver damage, suicidal thoughts and a variety of other side-effects, and that the drug was also given to Bipolar patients.  Our Doctor had handed me a blood test form before leaving his rooms to test Liam’s liver after 2 months of being on the new meds, urgh!

Nevertheless, I gave Liam the meds as directed, but wasn’t entirely happy about it.  I was very worried that the meds would cause other problems.

About a week later, I popped into our Doctors rooms to collect the chronic medication form he had filled in.  Attached to the form was the Neurologists brief letter to our Doctor with his findings.  In the letter he noted that the EEG was ‘an awake EEG’.  This concerned me, as Liam was asleep for most of the test, and I wondered if he was aware of that fact, and if not, if the results would be different if he knew Liam was asleep.

I had also had time to do some research on CAE and so when I went in to collect the form, I also dropped off a list of questions I had for our Doctor.  In one of the questions I mentioned that Liam was asleep for most of the test.  It has been over 2 months now since dropping off the questions and I have still not had any answers.  Our Doctor has emailed me to say that he has been having difficulty getting in touch with the Neurologist, and that Liam’s file is on his desk and will remain there until he can get the answers to my questions.

In the meantime, I am still convinced there is a nutrition connection to all of the issues that have been popping up over the years, and I have been pursuing that idea.