I have heard of homeopathic, naturopathic, etc. doctors.  Every conventional article I read called them quacks, advised to avoid them at all costs.  After all they were likely uncertified, untrained, herbal junkies, just trying to sell me something and take my hard-earned cash.  While I have used a chiropractor a few times, I avoided anything else.  Acupuncture?  Forget it!  Why would I want little needles stuck all over me under “therapeutic” terms, when, after all, I have a needle stuck in my side 24/7 already!  (I am a Type 1 diabetic on an insulin pump).

Then we experienced health issues, went a little crazy, joined the “freaky people” crowd, and began living more naturally.  We wanted to avoid medicines and chemical drugs as much as possible.  I began learning about herbal remedies with my goats.  It was quite fascinating.  I saw firsthand how our new lifestyle was affecting the results in my routine lab work and my family’s overall health.  I couldn’t help but wonder how many problems now-a-days are diet and food related. 

Then there was A.  A, bless his little heart, has been a case from the beginning. He was born with issues that were blamed on his birthmom’s suspected use of meth.  The pediatricians just told me he would outgrow most things.  Research told me ADHD should be the only long-term side-effect.  Still, I knew things were NOT normal, and I couldn’t imagine them just going away like that.  He had a terrible odor that only increased if he sweated or urinated.  It was repulsive, and I felt terribly guilty being repulsed by my child.  I eventually convinced the docs to run blood and urine samples, but they found nothing wrong.  They just told me that “some children have a naturally stronger ammonia odor about them.”  This made no sense to me.  As A grew, he developed other issues.  He was very clumsy, falling frequently, and injuring himself on a daily basis.  It broke our hearts to see him injured so often, but rather than improve, he seemed to steadily be getting worse.  He ran with his feet going in a “paddling” motion to the side.  He gradually began running on his toes instead of his entire foot.  Then I noticed he leaned forward more as time went by, which left him more unstable and prone to falls.  We had a few opportunities to ride horses, and I quickly observed that he could not stay balanced on top of a slowly walking pony.  It was crazy, and I was baffled.  But his pediatricians wouldn’t listen.  “He’ll outgrow it” is all I ever heard.  His comprehension of things did not grow at the same rate as his body.  Mentally, he is easily confused, and comprehends about as much as our 2-year-old.  Then there was his drinking fetish and constant urinating.  His output is always more than in his input, which has never made sense.  You would think the child hadn’t had a drink in days the way he craves liquid non-stop.  I was forced to eliminate most household chemicals for fear he would drink them.  I had to accept that his drinking the dog’s water and dirty bath water were part of daily life if I turned my back.  I was getting increasingly frustrated, but the doctors just wouldn’t listen.  My gut screamed that something was wrong, but I didn’t know what exactly (other than the drugs may have screwed him up), yet I didn’t know if or how I could help him, and they just wouldn’t listen. 

It just “happened” this year, our CSA host drop site was the office of a Naturopathic doctor and chiropractor.  Through our weekly communication, I began to contemplate whether he might be able to offer any help.  S and I talked and decided that we would try a couple of visits for A.  Worst case scenario, we were out a little cash and nothing changed.  Best case, maybe we could figure out what was wrong and how to fix it.  I did a little research, saw he had been in business in our little town for quite some years (which I figure has to say something).  Our first visit was this past Sunday afternoon. 

First, the doc spent a few minutes discussing A’s history and symptoms with me, while making friends with A (who has been scared of doctors since his surgery last year).  We decided to focus on his balance first, as we felt this was the most easily corrected.  Based on the symptoms, he said it was common that a certain area was injured during c-sections, causing similiar symptoms.  He asked how A was delivered (c-section), and decided to start there.  He then put A through a series of evaluations, by having him perform several actions to test his balance and hand-eye coordination.  Then, he asked A to walk to the wall on the other side of the room.  He asked me what I saw, and sure enough, I never noticed before that A’s left leg/foot turned out much further than his right when he walked.  Then he had A run, which I had explained was in a “paddling” fashion.  He asked me to observe again, and sure enough, that left side was distinctly worse than the right.  I had never noticed in that much detail.  Then he had A come stand in front of him and pointed to his feet.  I noticed that A’s feet did not really touch.  Basically, each of his legs cocked out slightly at the knee, which, the doc explained, was responsible for the paddling appearance when he runs. 

This pic is about a year old, but shows A's natural stance. Notice, even a year ago, he stood with his feet well apart, slightly knock-kneed, and left foot turned out.

 Then, he had A do some exercises with his eyes closed.  As I had told him, A couldn’t balance without concerted effort.  The doc had to hold his hands on each side of A, just in case he leaned a little too far.  After having his eyes closed a moment, the doc said “Look at him.”  I was amazed as A began slowly turning his head, followed by his torso toward his left side.  We started over, and he did it again. 

The doctor explained that this particular injury was neurological, usually affecting the connections around the base of the brain.  It essentially prevented or slowed the signals from the lower body to the brain, so A’s brain never really knew which direction was which, or which way was upright.  He had naturally begun to compensate for it in lazy, short-cut ways, by finding ways around the break in communication.  One of those ways had allowed his left hip to lock up to some extent to help him stay on his feet.  This in turn, caused the knock-kneed stance, with caused the paddling motion of his legs to compensate for the locked hip.  A veritable “snowball” of muscles being trained the wrong way.  In regards to his body turning when his eyes were closed, he said it was just proving his brain did not know which direction was which, so, in seeking the balance he needed, his muscles would tighten to compensate for the disorientation, which caused the gradual turning (tightening muscles literally pulling his torso around). 

Next, he had A jump up on the table, sitting, with his legs straight out in front of him.  He tried to turn both feet in and down (to the center line).  The right foot/leg was normally flexible and laid down quite a bit.  The left would hardly turn at all.  He said that was part of the locked hip.  He then had A lay down on his back, and began playing with his head/neck.  He turned A’s head slightly up and to the right easily.  As he began turning up and toward the left (nothing drastic, mind you), I noticed A quit smiling, winced, and began turning his torso with his head, to the point his right leg came slightly off the table.  He explained it was all the same injury, just different areas of the body compensating in different ways.  In this case, the muscles and tendons at the top of the neck/base of the skull had tightened to protect the injured area.  This limited his rotation, likely putting pressure on nerves, which in turn, likely worsened the overall problem. 

He requested permission to do a minor chiropractic adjustment of the spine (at no extra cost).  He told A he was going to make “popcorn” in his neck, which got A excited!  After a couple fake, easy turns to help A relax, he adjusted it.  That little neck popped and crackled quite a bit.  He then had A lay on his right side and did a hip adjustment of that stiff left hip.  Then, he asked A to get up and repeat several of his exercises.  I was absolutely shocked at the instant difference!  A did not wince when he rotated his neck up and to the left again.  He walked and ran with a more even gait.  His left foot tilted easily to the inside.  When A was asked to put his feet together, he did! 

A pic I took today of A with his feet together, looking better already! Compare it to the one above taken last year.

This was after 2 quick adjustments!  He asked me to put A on my knee and gently rock him, asking if we ever did that.  I told him we had done it, but A’s balance was so poor, he would fall off if we didn’t hold him on our knee, so we rarely did it.  He asked me to do it there, so I carefully held one hand off to each side of A, and began rocking my knee back and forth.  Sure enough, A began to list.  He said, “A, sit up straight.”  A did.  Normally, A didn’t know what that meant (like when riding the horses).  The doc explained that, while it was the same root issue of the brain injury, this aspect differed somewhat.  Due to the lack of neurologic connection to help the brain orient itself directionally, his body/brain had compensated by using the feel of the ground/floor on the bottom of his feet to know up from down.  If we took away that feel (ie. putting him on our knee, a ball, or a horse) that compensation was gone, and his brain couldn’t find direction.  The nerves in the spine had never learned how to compensate or communicate with the brain for balance.  Thus, we had to do it for him, and he had learned we would always catch him if he started to fall. 

So, basically, everything about his balance was related to a communication issue between spinal neurons and the brain, which was exaserbated by the tightened muscles on his left side.  The increasing tension was causing him to lean forward more as time went on, his gait to get increasingly worse, and his balance to get increasingly worse.  Finally, he recommended we put A on a daily dose of omega-3 fatty acid (fish oil) to help encourage rebuilding of the neurons.  Then, he wanted us to do as much therapeutic riding on the donkey as possible to help encourage the spine-brain communication, which in-turn would improve his overall balance and sense of orientation.  He explained that normally he prescribed a therapy ball (which I already had), but the problem was that A would eventually just learn to cheat with that, not rolling around to difficult areas.  He said that, in a case like this, therapeutic riding was one of the best things we could do (YAY! an excuse for me to play with the donkey!), and he was thrilled I had the capability to do that with A.  It was a better option because A could not control the movement of the donkey, and therefore could not cheat.  He would be forced to learn to balance.  I was also ordered to make sure, for now, I give A a reminder to “sit up straight” when he began to slide off to one side, as his brain and neurons would literally have to be retrained.  With the spinal adjustment he had received, he would likely now be more capable, but we could help with simple reminders, until A could begin to sense it on his own. 

That evening, I went home, and we put A on the donkey.  I led the donkey while S walked beside A, keeping a hand on his loose shirt at all times.  As much as he loves horses, it was quickly obvious that A was very insecure since he had no saddle or mane to hold onto like he had in the past (bareback is best for therapy in this case–good thing since I don’t have a saddle yet!) and not being able to feel S holding him.  Nonetheless, we positioned his hands on either side of the donkey’s shoulder “cross” (wither area, but donkeys don’t have withers).  We started walking.  When A would began to slide, we would remind, and A would immediately pick himself up and reposition!  This was something I had never seen him do without physical help!  I used to work with equi-therapy programs, so I was familiar with a few of the exercises they asked of students.  So, we then asked A to do his “airplane arms” and hold his arms out to the side.  His balance was not good enough to do both at the same time that first night, and he became very nervous.  So we asked for one at a time.  He did so, and was so happy to have pleased us and done well!  Then, I had him lean forward, one side at a time, and pet the donkey on the side of his neck.  Of course, the donkey was walking the whole time.  A got better the more we practiced.  We only had to remind him to sit up periodically, and as he grew more confident, he began sitting up automatically after each exercise. 

A showing off his single "airplane arm." Notice, in the pic, the donkey is standing still, yet you can still see how tense and difficult it is for A to balance himself on her while lifting his arm. This is a very difficult exercise for him, especially when she is moving!

Tonight, for the second day in a row, we had A ride the donkey again.  Tonight, I think we only had to remind him to sit up straight a couple times, AND he felt balanced enough to lift both of his arms up to the side SIMULTANEOUSLY!  I know, this is no big deal for most riders, but for A, this was monumental!  He had to balance for that 2 seconds that his arms were up in the air, on a moving donkey!  He did really well with the one arm lifts, and the reaching forward, so we then introduced some new exercises.  I asked him to lean all the way forward, one hand at a time, and touch Shiloh’s halter behind her ears.  He did it, and then sat back upright!  Then I asked him to turn around, look at her tail, and touch her rump.  He did, though this exercise was much more difficult for him, so we will work on that one. 

A showing how he reaches up to pet the donkey's neck and touch her halter.

I cannot begin to tell you the elation I feel right now!  It has only been one session with the doc and 2 riding sessions, and I am well aware of the fact that I am probably searching/hoping waaay to hard for the improvement, and therefore, possibly seeing things that aren’t there.  What I can’t argue with, however, is the fact that neither S nor I have seen A fall down or run into something since his appointment yesterday–that’s exactly 24 hours now–and I did see him lift both arms and BALANCE for a split second while riding a moving donkey.  I think I can say with confidence that has NEVER happened since he learned to walk!  In addition, I saw him lose his balance twice while playing, and correct it by shifting his weight to heel of his foot.  That is also not something he does regularly.  He is not healed, and I know we have a lot of work ahead of us.  Yet, the peace I feel just knowing that a doctor is finally taking me seriously; that not only does the doc agree A is not behaving normally, but he also has a pretty good idea of how to fix the problem;  that the fix can be done without medicine or chemicals.  He reminded me as I left that the drugs and the c-section probably did their damage, and there is nothing we can do about that.  He will always have those scars in his brain.  However, he seems optimistic that we should be able to help his body and brain adapt to those scarred areas, rebuild solid neurological connections, and teach his brain proper ways to balance his body.  Only time will tell, but we are certainly willing to try a few more visits at this point.  So, quackery or not, I can’t yet say, but right now, it seems to be A’s only hope.  I thank God for allowing us to meet the doctor, and for providing this resource, even if just to give me hope.  On the other hand, if participating and supporting a bit of quackery helps my son prevent more injuries, then I am willing to join with the other faithful quacks 100%!

The plan for now is that we are going to focus on his balance for the first couple visits (weekly at this point), as his frequent head injuries from falls are the most worrisome right now.  After we see progress there, we are going to be looking at his liver.  Again, the doctor has a very good theory that just “makes sense” to me (unlike anything else I’ve heard).  His theory (completely untested at this point, so just a theory that will give us a direction to go) is that the meth likely caused a problem with the liver, which has, in turn, had a snowball effect on the other bodily functions, thereby causing the smell, drinking fetish, frequent urinating, etc.  There is a lot more to it, but I will save that for after we see what the tests show.

As a side note, should you be interested in seeing a homeopathic doctor, as with anything, I would recommend you not take it lightly.  Pray about it, research it, research the doctor himself.  Make sure he has had competent training, established a good reputation.  Certifications for naturopaths are a bit different than MD’s (though some are MD’s), and it is easier, apparently, for a fake one to set up shop and treat folks.  Those are the true quacks and they can be dangerous.  Do be careful.  If, however, you find a good one that is well trained and trustworthy, then I say, “Go for it!”