With everything going on with A, N fell to second place on the priority list for a while. For those of you who have followed for a while, N is our 2, soon to be 3-year-old. When he turned 12 months, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. After 5 months of intensive therapy, he caught up developmentally, and has been going pretty good ever since. You can read a bit about his symptoms, diagnosis, early therapy, casting, more casting, and finally, his braces.
Over the last 2 years, he has continued to develop better than we could have imagined. Most people have no clue he has CP, and some have even tried to convince us he was mis-diagnosed. To the experienced eye, however, you can see that he still has some muscular troubles. Chewing tough food (steak) is difficult for him due to the muscle weakness (which affects the whole body to some extent). He does well, so we have not pursued oral therapy, but meal times often take him twice as long to eat as everyone else. Then again, he’s 2 and likes to play, so I’m sure that is a factor as well. Also, his right side remains his strong side, and I have to be careful to monitor that he uses both sides as evenly as possible. He naturally has a tendency to favor his right side when climbing or descending steps, for example, and I have to force him use his “other leg.” He hates it when I do that, and on occasion will get very frustrated with the level of difficulty he experiences. That is why the therapeutic riding is so critical for him. Whereas A needs the practice balancing, N needs the stretching that Shiloh can offer.
Over the past year, we have begun focusing on several other issues he had, that seemed less critical early on. He has coughed, gagged, and choked since he was born. Occasionally, he will throw up esophageal contents and mucous. He voice sounds nasal when he talks, he sneezes, has a lot of trouble with his nose (to include thick, sticky mucous), and was becoming an increasingly cranky and tired child. Much like A, I have mentioned these symptoms to docs, but it was either blamed on the shape of his nose, possibly swollen tonsils and adnoids (but they don’t worry about them until they’re at least 5), or on his CP muscle issues. Over the spring, the issues just got worse and worse. Finally, S took him to the pediatrician, and convinced him to at least order an allergy test. They actually did the quite thorough blood allergy testing. We got the results, and of all things, discovered he was mildly allergic to dogs and moderately to cats. That’s good to know now that we live on a farm!
The doc gave us permission to keep the dog, but told us we needed to get rid of the cat. As you know, I have issues with trusting doctor’s opinions and advice, so we began researching. So many studies showed that children put in a more hypo-allergenic environment got worse as they aged, while children left in a clean, but similiar environment as before, would often improve as they aged. Seeing as I’ve had the cat for 11 years, and since her issues, make her “unadoptable” by even no-kill shelters (we know because we tried to place her in one last year). So, getting rid of her wasn’t really an option, as euthansia would be our only choice. Nonetheless, we did what we could. Since we had moved into our new home, we changed out all the carpets, and had the furnace and all air ducts cleaned.
Despite the changes, N’s sleeping habit got worse. He got crankier with each passing week, and I began noticing that he was often lying in his bed, quietly, but wide awake, even after mid-night. I was puzzled by this. Finally, about 2 months ago, after we began using the Naturopathic doc for A, I took N to see him as well. The doc listened to his symptoms, and said simply, “He’s dehydrated. Make him drink more.” I was a little frustrated, as N rarely complained of thirst, and never “acted” dehydrated. It couldn’t be that simple. He assured me it would work. Having no choice, I paid the bill and left. When we got home, I encouraged N to drink twice the fluid as normal for the rest of the day. He fought me a little, but I got a pretty good bit into him as the day wore on. That night, every time I checked him, he was actually asleep. The next morning, he was happy! I couldn’t believe it.
I quite literally had 2 toddlers who were dehydrated–yet, one drank too much (A), while the other drank too little (N). Good gracious. So, both the boys were given free-choice access to their water-bottles. A drank easily because of his kidney issues, but N had to be reminded and encouraged throughout the day. It took about two weeks, but he finally began taking greater interest in drinking, so I didn’t have to push or remind as much. He also started sleeping fairly well, and the thick, nasal mucous cleared up almost entirely. I was amazed and impressed with the doc once again.
He still coughed, choked, and threw up on occasion, though, and the coughing would sometimes get so bad at night, it would wake him–and everyone else in his room (all 3 boys share a room). Sometimes, he would have a coughing spell that would last a couple of hours, waking the entire household. At our next appointment, we decided to work on that issue. The doc “prescribed” two things. First, he agreed that we should NOT get rid of the cat. However, he said N just needed a semi-sterile, pet-free place to go where his little body and immune system could have a break. He instructed me to clean his room as thoroughly as possible, then make it off-limits to pets. Secondly, to work on the mucous and gagging, he wanted me to try a dairy-free diet for a week or two.
So, this week, with JR’s help, we spent about 6 hours one day cleaning the boy’s room as thoroughly as possible. We tore apart every bed, vaccumed and dusted every crevice, dusted all window and door frames, washed the walls, cleaned out and wiped every drawer and shelf, etc. We removed all the linens in the room, vaccuumed the matresses and boxsprings, vacuumed the carpets, and finally used our carpet shampooer to clean the carpet with vinegar. It took me another 2 days to finish laundering all the curtains, bedspreads, sheets, pillows, and blankets, but everything eventually got returned to its rightful place, only a little cleaner and dander-free. That night, for the first time in several weeks, N slept through the night without coughing. It was wonderful, and once again, he was in a good mood when he woke up.
We are also about 4 days into our dairy-free diet (for him–not the rest of us! I MUST have milk, and crave it almost as much as chocolate!! Almost.) N has been a great sport about it, rarely complaining or getting upset that he is getting something different. He almost seems to understand, and JR and M have been wonderful at helping me remember not to feed him dairy. So far, I have seen no real difference there, so I suspect we will gradually wean him back on to the dairy within another week or so to make sure nothing worsens as we do so. Nonetheless, it is so comforting to know he is coughing less with the “break”-room he now has.
At our next appointment, the doc is going to attempt a chiropractic spinal adjustment to see if we can help even out the use of each side of his body at all. We don’t know if it will help, but we know it won’t hurt to try. As tight as his muscles always are, if we can help anything relax, he would probably sleep even better, and be even happier each day.
I will never understand why God placed these particular little boys (A and N) in our home, but I know that He has truly provided the care we needed when we seemed to need it most. I have my frustrating moments with medical doctors, but all in all, it always seems to work out. I truly enjoy using the resources He provides us to be able to help these innocent little boys have a much better, healthier life. It is truly rewarding!