Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Why I Won’t Do the Ice Bucket Challenge

Given the exponentially growing trend of ice-bucket challenge videos popping up, I’m sure many will disagree with me on this, but if called upon I will not do the ice-bucket challenge.

It's been quite a phenomenon and I appreciate the awareness this has brought and I’m sure those with ALS appreciate the support. But what does awareness accomplish and what do the funds support? I personally don’t know anyone with ALS - probably because a very small percentage of the world has it. There are many diseases and disorders afflicting a growing number of our population, some more debilitating or deadly than others. Despite that I do not support fund raising for organizations such as Susan G. Komen, The American Cancer Society, Livestrong, The Heart Association, or The ALS Association. 

You might ask, “How is that possible? How can you be so selfish? Don’t you support anything?” Part of my reasoning for not supporting these causes were eloquently captured in this article. Even more so, I believe that the declining health of our population is the outcome of a few controllable factors manifesting itself in different forms of disease and disorders. I think it can all be traced back to our food, our pharmaceuticals, and our environment. I believe that if you want to make real change and help fight diseases – all diseases – we need to support changes that protect not only ourselves but our children and generations to come. That being said, I don't want to put my money toward research conducted by pharmaceutical companies to create more drugs that only cover up the problem, sometimes creating even more damage, all while profiting from it. Billions of dollars go into cancer research not only from the aforementioned organizations but also from our government yet little progress has been made. While alternative, natural therapies that have been shown to be very effective in fighting cancer such as Gerson Therapy do exist the American Cancer Society doesn't support their practice (perhaps because there isn't much profit in a natural cure??).

With information and recommendations changing everyday, not to mention ongoing controversies of various health topics such as vaccines, it is clear that scientists don't know everything. It is now coming to light that saturated fats are not the culprit of heart disease and are in fact essential to our health. I think we'll see a lot coming out in the world of epigenetics that will connect our diet and toxic load to varying conditions seen in our children. There are studies that indicate our grandparent’s exposure to toxins could be affecting our DNA. New articles are coming out everyday (examples A, B, and C) about the importance of our gut bacteria and how they directly affect our immune system response (think eczema, allergies, arthritis, diabetes, thyroid disorders, MS, and ALS).  Our diets, medications, and sterile environments are destroying these essential microbes. And I predict we'll be hearing a lot more about toxins such heavy metals, chemicals, fluoride, and pesticides being linked to cancer, autism, Alzheimer's, etc (see this article).

My daughter has a genetic disorder known as Kabuki Syndrome. Piggybacking on the ice-bucket challenge concept, there is now a singing challenge to raise awareness for Kabuki Syndrome. I love watching the videos of these beautiful kids and their loving families singing their songs. I'm battling internally with the choice to not participate in something that hits so close to home. But again, what does bringing awareness to one condition accomplish? While I personally connect with those families also affected by Kabuki Syndrome and I want to support them as part of my Kabuki Family, I don’t feel that bringing awareness to this one rare syndrome is going garner the type of change I'd like to see.

While raising awareness for one single disease such as ALS may seem like a worthy cause, what are you really accomplishing? But what if we could raise awareness for all diseases and disorders as a collective whole. One against big agriculture. One against the use of pesticides. One against exposure to toxins. One for a change in our food system. One for supporting local farmers. One for regaining control of our health. One collective whole thinking freely and standing up for our rights. 

So no, I won’t be dumping ice on my head in support of ALS awareness. Nor will I don a pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness. You won’t even find me singing a song for Kabuki Syndrome awareness. What you will find me doing is spending exorbitant amounts of money on good, high-quality food (that is more expensive because it is not subsidized by the government like Big-Ag). I will vote against Monsanto and GMO foods. I will avoid drugs and vaccines. I will buy water until they stop adding fluoride. I will put my time, money, energy into things I believe in not because I’m being pressured with guilt by social media outlets but because I believe it will bring true health to me and my family and hopefully bring about real change in our global health.

But maybe you don't agree with me. So I challenge you, don’t support causes just because someone called you out on Facebook. Think for yourself and support whatever cause you connect with.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Charli's Story - Part 2


After writing "Charli's Story, Part 1" I received so many wonderful and supportive comments all with a similar message: "Charli is so lucky to have such an amazing mom." While I absolutely appreciate these kind words they made me realize I may need to clarify a couple of things.

One, my intentions of writing this blog and especially Charli's Story was never to portray myself as some extraordinary mom. The purpose of this entire blog is to share my story in hopes of helping other mothers in the same way other blogs have helped me. It was the personal stories that gave me the knowledge and the strength to take Charli's health into my own hands. To empower us as parents. I hope to contribute to the many success stories of GAPS healing children.

Second, I'm really not any sort of an extraordinary mom. I'm just a mom. Any other mom (well most any other mom) given the same set of circumstances, resources, knowledge, and beliefs would do the same. Believe me, if I could have followed the typical course with Charli, I would have. By all means, she was eating organic baby food out of a pouch and organic corn puffs, well on her way to organic macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets. We, as mothers, love our children. We are constantly striving to do what we believe is best for them. I'm no different. That's it. Back to Charli's Story now.


Charli is 10 months old and we now have a diagnosis of Kabuki Syndrome. What now? In this part I'm going to cover the medical side of the transpiring events. Part 3 will cover the non-medical events.

So, we read the packet of information provided by the geneticist. It didn't provide much insight other than pointing out some physical features we hadn't noticed and a couple of other common conditions for Kabuki Kids. Because of Charli's already apparent conditions as well as other common conditions with Kabuki we were given several referrals:

  • Gastroenterology/Dietetics
  • Cardiology
  • Ear, Nose and Throat
  • Radiology (for spinal x-rays and an ultrasound of her sacral dimple)
  • Immunoglobulin studies
  • Neurology (possible seizures)
  • Annual hearing and eye exams
  • Developmental evaluations

By the time we saw the GI and dietitian, Charli was reliant on Miralax and getting worse. I was slowly starting to implement GAPS. The GI recommended Miralax with an initial "cleanout" followed by a daily dosage of 2 teaspoons for 6 months repeating "cleanouts" as necessary. They said Miralax isn't absorbed by the body and is completely safe AT ANY AMOUNT as needed. The dietitian was open to GAPS but expressed concern that the diet may lack in sufficient B vitamins, vitamins A, D and E, calcium, and fiber. She also recommended we find a GAPS practitioner to help monitor and guide us if we do decide to implement the GAPS diet.

The cardiology appointment revealed an Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) and Tricuspid Valve Stenosis. We would follow up again in 3 months (and then again in 6 months and again in 12 moths). She may require surgery when she is older with the procedure for the ASD being non-invasive and pretty standard. If she requires surgery for the Tricuspid Valve Stenosis it would be more invasive and would likely need additional surgeries as she grows.

I asked for the referral for Ear, Nose and Throat because Charli's palate was clearly abnormal. It's very narrow and high arched. We always said it looked like a snake's mouth - seriously! They looked at her palate and said it was abnormal but not cleft. They advised us to monitor her speech and if we have concerns to consider following up with a speech pathologist for VPI (velopharyngeal insufficiency) evaluation. They also recommended routine hearing and vision assessments. As I write this today her palate and other oral defects are weighing heavily on me. I'm quite certain she has a lip tie and a tongue tie which I'd like to have corrected. This is something that is likely affecting her speech but could also be affecting her eating and later could affect her oral health and teeth alignment (lip ties cause gaps in the front teeth). I'm also pretty certain that at some point she'll need a spacer or something to fix her high palate.

The ultrasound and spinal x-rays took us for a real twist. While her spine and sacral dimple seemed to be fine, a couple of other things showed up. She had a broken collar bone (say what?!) and hip dysplasia. Her collar bone, we later figured out, was a congenital condition where the bone never fused together.It's called congenital pseudarthrosis of the clavical. It doesn't seem to affect her in any way, so we're leaving it be. For her hips we saw another specialist, a genetic orthopedist. They took more x-rays a few months after the first set and determined that the dyspasia wasn't closing up and she may need surgery later down the road, probably around school age - you know, about the time she  might need heart surgery. Maybe we can do both at the same time and get a discount! I kid. I kid.

Her broken collar bone

She got blood tests for immunoglobulin studies. They came up slightly abnormal but they said it was pretty common. After several attempts to schedule an appointment with a specialist I gave up and decided GAPS was my answer for that anyway. No need for more needle poking and trauma.

We did a couple of MRI's to see if we could determine a cause for her nystagmus. This was a TRAUMATIC endeavor because she had to be put under general anesthesia which meant she had to be given an IV. When she was hospitalized for RSV they did her IV in her head cause they couldn't get it in anywhere else. For the MRI they at least were able to avoid doing it in her head and after much prodding managed to get it in her hand. Of course she was hysterical the entire time. The MRI didn't reveal anything that clearly indicated a reason for her nystagmus but they did find a small mass, likely a Rathke's Cleft Cyst. We would return a year later to check on the mass. That time the IV went in her neck (awesome!) and brought the good news that the mass hadn't changed. Yay! One victory!

We saw the neurologist once again for an EEG to check for seizures which are common for Kabuki kids. It also seemed like Charli was experiencing Petit Mal Seizures. She would stare off into space and be non-responsive for about 15 seconds and when she would "come back" she'd get kind of upset. She also would have these crazy, full body tremors or shivers. Her EEG Came back negative although I continued to see what I still consider to be seizures well into doing GAPS. Through GAPS I'd learn that seizures are the body's way of dealing with toxins in the brain. Once significant healing had occurred her seizures stopped. Every so often I will think that she has one. It's certainly possible as her body continues to clear out the toxins built up in her body.

She had her hearing checked and it came back normal. She had a follow up with the opthomologist with no changes. Yay for a few more victories!

Once we were well into our GAPS journey we visited a naturopath that was GAPS certified. She ordered some lab tests and made several recommendations which I will cover in another post.

After all of these appointments we now have a good picture of Charli's health and conditions. We will continue to keep an eye on specific concerns like her heart conditions, dysplasia, brain mass, vision, and hearing. However, I'm trying to keep these visits at a minimum as they cause much stress and anxiety for Charli that seem to have a lasting effect. Eventually I hope to help her overcome these anxieties with different modalities like craniosacral therapy and NUCCA. Until then, I'm trying to limit the exposure to stressors and my focus will continue to be dietary intervention with GAPS.

To be continued....

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Charli's Story - Part 1

My beautiful, thriving daughter Charli is now over two years old. It has been a challenging two years and she wasn't always thriving. It took until Charli was 10 months old for her to be diagnosed with Kabuki syndrome but the first sign came at our anatomy ultrasound around 20 weeks gestation: She only had one kidney. 

I'm generally not one to over worry about things. She otherwise seemed to be healthy and the one kidney was functioning fine with plenty of amniotic fluid. That was all I needed to know. Hippie Husband took a little longer to come around to this mindset, but eventually he did. They monitored my pregnancy closely with regular ultrasounds (also to make sure there was indeed only one kidney). I did have Braxton Hicks contractions which did land me in the hospital once. This prompted regular stress testing. All of these came out fine.

I had an uneventful vaginal birth at full term. She was a healthy 7 lbs 2 oz, 19.75 inches. Her head was tiny (which we knew from her ultrasounds) but everything else seemed to be normal. There was a little bit of meconium in her amniotic fluid when my water broke, so they monitored her a little more closely for signs of distress. Mostly they monitored her temperature and blood sugar levels which had to reach a certain level before we could be released. Otherwise they would make us feed her formula. Thank goodness, we escaped that although she did seem to struggle with breastfeeding. Her body temperature also got a little low so they had me hold her skin-to-skin (why don't they have you do this anyway - noted for next time). She failed her hearing screening. They assured us that was very common, especially with vaginal births and with girls. We scheduled a second screening for two weeks later (which she did pass, just barely) and off we were, one happy family of three!

Although I was new at being a mom, I felt like I had a good idea of what I was doing going into it. You know, I have three nieces and all my friends have kids. I know what to expect. Oh, wait, it's true what they say - "Every kid is different." My kid had a hard time breastfeeding and at her two week check up had lost nearly a pound. I was told I had to supplement Charli with formula to get her weight up. I cried. She guzzled down the formula like she was starved. I cried some more. I had been starving my baby! I quickly requested to have a breast pump. Apparently there is an art to pumping just like there is to breastfeeding, and, let me tell you, I have no artistic ability. But I did manage to pump until she was five months old. We'll get to that later. 

My kid also didn't sleep very well. She wasn't colic but she kind of was. I shrugged it off. I mean, babies cry. That's what they do. But something wasn't right. Now that she was getting a full tummy she started throwing up quite frequently after eating. Her doctor said she has reflux and prescribed some Ranitidine (Zantac). This seemed to help for awhile but eventually we'd switch to another medication to see if that worked better. She also started to display signs of stomach pains and was starting to get constipated. I decided to take her off of the  medication since it didn't seem to be helping much and I felt like it was causing her the other issues. So I did what I could following the advice to feed smaller amounts more frequently, wait to lay her down after eating, and elevate her head. We managed ok. Every so often she'd projectile vomit EVERYTHING up and everyone would have to change and we'd have a big mess to clean up. The worst was always when it happened in the car. I'll never forget the time I was with my mom. She of course thought Charli was dying (not literally but you know what I mean). It was the middle of winter and in the evening. I had to pull off the road and get her out and of the car seat and comfort her. Understand, when she threw up, it came out of all openings. It's really unsettling to was a bunch of milk come out of your baby's nose while she gags and sputters like she can't breath. As she writhes in pain, scared I imagine since it probably feels like she's drowning. It's extreme and unusual, but after so many times of it happening, I was used to it. It was our normal.

I returned to work when Charli was only 2 months old. I continued to pump. It was difficult. My milk production wasn't all that great. I realize now that it was probably due my diet lacking in sufficient calories combined with my stress and lack of sleep. It's hard to eat enough and get enough sleep and not be stressed when your baby doesn't sleep and is never happy without being held. It felt like I was constantly attached to a machine. Even in the middle of the night. In between when she woke every two hours. I remember bottle feeding her in a stroller while I pumped. It was awkward, but I found some magical way to make it work.

As she got older I noticed she had very jerky movements. Her arms were constantly flailing. At 4 months old my aunt pointed out Charli's eyes. When it's your own child and you see them everyday without seeing other children at the same age you tend to overlook or miss oddities. At least in this case I did. Her eyes had a constant movement and she wouldn't look at you or focus on much of anything except lights. She loved bright lights. At her 6 month check-up her pediatrician immediately said we need to have her eyes checked. Apparently she had noticed it at 3 months but wasn't sure. At 6 months it was unmistakable. The eye doctor diagnosed her with nystagmus, which is really just the medical term that describes the eye movement. It came at no surprise as I had already done my research and basically arrived at the same determination. The cause was the real question which of course he could not answer. He said her vision was limited but he would be unable to determine to what extent it was impaired until she was older. He referred us to a neurologist and we went back to our new life.

Remember how I said earlier that I stopped pumping at 5 months? That's when Charli started getting formula, completely being on formula by 6 months. Charli was just over 6 months old we spent Valentines Day in the hospital while she was treated for RSV. I didn't give it much mind at the time, but it's very significant to me now as well as the fact that she lost her hair at this time. It happened gradually and again I overlooked it. As I look back at pictures now, I can't believe this wasn't alarming to me or anyone else. She also soon started to show clear digestive issues with constipation becoming a real concern.

Her development progressed, only mildly behind on milestones. Nothing unusual or notable. She was rolling over by 7 months and sat on her own by 9 months. It was also about 9 months that she got an ear infection which of course she was prescribed amoxicillan for. Shortly thereafter she another respiratory infection. The doctor assured us this was common following an RSV infection and they prescribed albuterol nebulizer treatments. Somewhere around this time we also started giving her Miralax as recommended by her doctors to combat the constipation.

This was also about the time we finally got in to see the neurologist. At her consultation the doctor pointed out that Charli had low muscle tone, or hypotonia. She ordered an MRI to see if we could find something that could be causing the nystagmus. She also suggested we see a geneticist.

On June 14, 2012, the geneticist diagnosed Charli with Kabuki Syndrome. She based this on her medical history and certain physical characteristics such as high arched, broken eyebrows, long eyelashes, large palpebral fissures (large openings of the eyes), flat broad nose, a protruding ear, fetal finger pads (the pads of her fingertips are conical or come to a point), short pinky fingers, high arched palate. Her diagnosis would later be confirmed by a blood test that stated:

This patient was found to be heterozygous for the above described alterations in exons 4 and 34 of the MLL2 gene. The p.W141X alteration in exon 4 has not been previously reported in the literature; however, given that it is a truncating alteration, it likely confirms a diagnosis of Kabuki syndrome. The p.R2860H alteration in exon 34 has not previously been reported in literature, thus its clinical significance is unknown.

When we received this diagnosis, I will never forget the doctor saying how sorry she was and how "this is always the hardest thing to have to tell parents." With her serious tone Hippie Husband and I both kept waiting for some bomb to drop like she only had 6 months to live. All she told us was that she'd have some developmental delays. Well, we already knew that. With her hypotonia and nystagmus we were already anticipating developmental delays. This time we were sent home with a packet of information, resources, referrals, and lots of unanswered questions.

To be continued...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Happy "Hippie" Birthday, Charli!

Charli walking through the tunnel at the park

Charli turned 2! 

I can't believe it! It feels really weird partly because it feels like it's been more like three years but then it seems like she was just born. For her first birthday I had put together a collage of pictures of her. I was looking back at this collage and I teared up. I was overwhelmed with all kinds of emotions. It has been a very tough two years, not just for me but for my sweet little girl. She endured a lot her first two years of life. It's been two years of doctor appointments, blood draws, procedures, hospital visits, discomfort, pain, crying, stress, anxiety, frustration. Yes there were times of joy and happiness but they seemed outweighed by all the challenges. But finally we are reaching a good place.

She really is doing great. Yes, we still have a lot ahead of us but I know we are on the right path. The morning of her birthday I said to Hippie Husband, "She's officially two," as she she finished throwing a tantrum. It wasn't a fit like we were used to; it was an actual tantrum. Like a two year old is expected to act. I'm sure eventually I will join other parents in their disdain for tantrums. But for now, I smile at them with joy as it is a sign of PROGRESS. But enough of my emotional reaction to her turning two; now for the fun stuff!!

Of course we had a party for her 2nd birthday! I tried to keep it simple, only having family and a couple of close friends. It was at a local park that's all wooded and feels like your in the middle of nowhere but you're not. My mother-in-law generously offered to do decorations (otherwise I was going to skip it). The one thing I was insistent upon was that the food ALL be GAPS legal. Charli has progressed to full GAPS (excluding a couple of foods she's not quite ready for (or I'm not ready for, ha!). I wanted a GAPS menu for a couple of reasons. One, Charli would be able to eat ANYTHING there. No need to worry about a kid (or adult) slipping her something she isn't supposed to have. Second, I wanted to set the tone for later birthdays that she can have wonderful party and "fit in" even with dietary restrictions. Yes, she is a bit young now to even notice, but I feel like it starts the trend or tradition for later parties. And finally, I wanted to show everyone that GAPS food is very "NORMAL" and can TASTE GOOD. I sensed the skepticism when I said it was time to eat, but in the end I think everyone was pretty happy. I failed to take pictures of the food, but here's what I did:

I had Hippie Grandma cut up fruit for a fruit tray. Nothing special there. She also made deviled eggs using homemade mayonnaise based on the recipe in the GAPS book:

1 Whole egg (Farm fresh if possible)
1 Tbs Vinegar for fresh lemon juice 
1 Cup Oil (Extra virgin olive oil is usually recommended but the flavor is very strong. I'm still trying to find a balance using a combination with avocado oil for a more mild flavor)
Salt, pepper, mustard powder, & honey to taste

Place all ingredients except for the oil in a food processor or blender of sorts and blend enough to combine. Then add the oil in a slow steady stream. You'll watch it transform before your eyes into a beautiful, thick, mayonnaise - like magic! 

I had my mother-in-law roast veggies in the oven (LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this basic version of veggies):

Roasted Veggies:
  • Assorted veggies (I got zucchini, carrots, bell peppers, red onions, & mushrooms)
  • Melted fat of choice (I did butter and coconut oil as they are heat stable fats, but use whatever you like. You need just enough to coat the veggies.)
  • Garlic (minced)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
Chop veggies into bite sizes and coat with fat (I usually use a plastic bag for convenience sake). Place on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with minced garlic, salt & pepper. Bake at 400 for about 45-60 minutes.

I made the rest. This included infused water, jello, PB&J sandwiches, kahluah pig, vanilla cupcakes, and chocolate cake. Sounds like a lot, but it was actually really easy, just takes a little planning. I break everything down by step and then do a little each day leading up to the party. Here are the recipes:

Infused Water inspired by Home Food Heals (I did lemon, cucumber, mint and lime, raspberry, mint)

  • 4 Tbs Gelatin
  • 2 cups juice, fresh pressed (I did apple)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup berries (I used frozen raspberries and sliced strawberries)
  • Honey to taste
Look! I did get a picture of the cake and
you can also see the PB&J sandwiches!
Bring water to a boil and add berries. Turn burner to low and cook for about 20 minutes stirring often. Add gelatin and stir until completely dissolved. Stir in honey and juice and pour into a dish of choice (I used a Pyrex dish). Cover and place in fridge until completely cooled. Slice and serve.

PB&J Sandwiches (Again, I took this from the wonderful Dawn at Home Food Heals. These were absolutely amazing. WAY better than the standard if you ask me)

Kalua Pig (By far the easiest main dish I've ever made so I make it fairly often. It was a HUGE hit with several people requesting the recipe)

Vanilla Cupcakes (I didn't end up serving these because they didn't turn out very pretty. They didn't rise and were very dense. I ate them later and they were delicious - tasted exactly like boxed cupcakes.)

Chocolate Cake (This was A-MAZ-ING. I made it exactly as is minus the orange zest. I layered the ganache between the two cakes along with a little left over jelly from the PB&J's. I then cover the top with ganache and then frosted the whole thing with butter cream frosting from the above cupcake recipe. I didn't shoot for pretty and didn't even bother decorating it.)

That's it! And it only took me a month and half to post about it! Life's been hectic but it's easing up now, so more to come soon (if all goes according to plan)!

Here are a few pictures from the party. I really need to get better about taking pictures!

Her 1st Tonka truck!!!


Sitting with Baby A from A Touch of Grace

Opening gifts and giving a high-five. Oh, and look, another picture of the food - the fruit tray and Kalua Pig!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The [Point of] View


It was recently announced that Jenny McCarthy will soon be co-hosting on The View. I don't watch the show, but when I first heard the announcement I thought, "Wow, what a good selection! She's funny, intelligent, opinionated, fearless, and beautiful. They might actually draw some new viewers to this otherwise obnoxious show."

Then I read this and I was infuriated! I COULD NOT BELIEVE how outrageous, misguided, and slanted this and the quoted articles were (Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C)! The USA Today article was at least somewhat balanced (Exhibit D). That's what REALLY got to me. I understand there is a lot of controversy around the topic of vaccinating/not vaccinating. It is a SERIOUS and hot topic. But this article was pumped full of quotes that not only painted a skewed picture of Ms. McCarthy as some lunatic but even outright called her a "homicidal maniac":

"I think a network hiring a homicidal maniac, giving her a forum in front of people who have young children and are impressionable, is the most irresponsible thing I've heard of in a long time," New Yorker writer Michael Specter rants to the Los Angeles Times. "She's very dangerous. It's unfortunate that in our society, scientific evidence is now just taken as some other point of view."

Believe it or not, calling her a "homicidal maniac" isn't even the worst part of this quote. It's the last statement which is also parroted in a later quote from Time magazine TV critic James Poniewozik:

"To say that you can simply shrug off differences about medical fact as 'outrageousness' or 'controversy' is to feed the belief that science in general, be it vaccines or climate change or evolution, is simply subjective: You have your truth and I have mine. But we don't. The Earth didn't revolve around the sun only for Galileo."

From my point of view, scientific evidence is by no means rock solid. Just look at his examples of climate change and evolution. These topics are still up for debate (not that I don't believe them to be true). Not to mention some scientist also believe in Sasquatch. Here's a fact that'll blow your mind - SCIENTIFIC DATA CAN BE MANIPULATED TO SHOW THE DESIRED RESULTS.

When it comes to expert advice we should take it as just some other point of view and subjective. As an example, for quite some time now doctors have been correlating cholesterol to heart disease. We are now learning that cholesterol is NOT the bad guy - it is actually essential to our health. Inflammation is largely the cause of heart disease. What causes most inflammation in our country? Sugar, grains, trans fats, foods cooked at high temperature (processed foods). Yet we have been duped by a single study on cholesterol that turned out to be false. Now people are eating egg white omelettes and "low fat" processed foods and have deemed red meats as unhealthy but then are then turning to statin drugs to cobat their heart disease. This is all very well explained in The Cholesterol Myth That Could Be Harming Your Health by Dr. Mercola. I haven't had a chance to read Put Your Heart in Your Mouth yet, but based on her GAPS book, I highly recommend reading this for more insight on heart health. As Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride says on


Back to the topic of discussion. The article eventually ends with two more quotes:

"On her side is her anecdotal claim that vaccination gave her son autism, and a debunked study from 1998," says Poniewozik. "On the other is, pretty much, the entire pediatric community."

Concludes Specter in the New Yorker, "By preaching her message of scientific illiteracy from one end of this country to the other, she has helped make it possible for people to turn away from rational thought. And that is deadly."

Did any of you also note the "pretty much" in the first quote? So not the whole pediatric community? So the the "truth" about the benefits isn't scientific fact? Because I imagine if it was, ALL pediatricians would be against her message. But the truth is, there is still A LOT of uncertainty around the safety, effectiveness, and possible long term damage. I had first hand experience of a pediatrician that would not weigh in on the matter because there is SO much information supporting both sides of the argument. For her, the best recommendation was to thoroughly research the options and make the best decision for OUR family.

In my experience most people have vaccinated their children blindly - without thorough research. It is done in complete trust of current practice and pediatric recommendations. It is done in fear. Fear induced by the media, the medical community, the school system, the government, and articles like this.

On the contrary, those that have chosen NOT to vaccinate their children have typically done their research. In most cases I have found that it was a VERY educated and thought out decision that was NOT taken lightly. In my own experience, when I started to consider not vaccinating Charli, my biggest reservation was social backlash. I knew many wouldn't agree with that decision (friends, family, coworkers) and many would think I was nuts. I'm willing to live with that if I truly believe it is the best choice for my daughter but that decision wouldn't be made on a whim.

Vaccines are marketed to us like all other drugs and no one hardly questions any of it. So long as our doctors say it's what we should do, we do it. This is especially the case with vaccines.  That is, until in recent years. What sparked the change? People like Jenny McCarthy who are strong enough to stand up and speak out. And guess what? There are tons of people out there standing up and speaking out - they just aren't celebrities.

We cannot and should not, without question, lay down and accept ALL "healthcare" recommendations especially when it comes to anything influenced by pharmaceutical companies. Vaccines may work for some (although there is plenty of evidence available that says otherwise). For others, say those who are immune compromised, it could be dangerous - even deadly. Maybe it does CAUSE autism; maybe it is the final straw that breaks the camel's back and pushes a kid into autism (the latter is my opinion). I have read several stories like Kennedy's story where vaccines did just that. Kennedy ended up with Dravet Syndrome after receiving vaccines.

I know plenty of people in the real food, hippie, GAPS, Paleo etc communities that have chosen NOT to vaccinate, and it was a VERY conscience decision, not influenced by a Hollywood celebrity. I'm not here to try and persuade you either way. I am encouraging you to do your research and make the best decision for you, your children, and your family. DO NOT FALL VICTIM TO SUCH FEAR MONGERING as shown in this article. For additional resources on this subject I recommend reading:

Where to Start

Why Vaccines Are Scientific Fraud

If You Are In Support of Vaccinations, Read This If You Dare

Vaccinations: Parents’ Informed Choice

Monday, July 8, 2013

Bla, Bla, Blogs

As I said in my first blog entry, "I didn't pay any attention to blogs and thought it all sounded a bit, umm, stupid and trendy". And then I had my daughter, Charli (I'll be sharing her story in a later post). Charli was diagnosed with Kabuki Syndrome at 10 months. That's when I discovered the value of blogs. 

In my quest to learn all I could about this diagnosis I joined a Kabuki support group on Facebook. Within that group someone stood out to me that seemed brilliant and knowledgeable - someone that just "got it". When I started considering dietary interventions and posed the question to the group this person, again, stood out and stated that she was following the GAPS diet with her daughter. She had a blog that shared her story of her daughter, Juliana, Healthy Hope. I felt like a bit of a stalker, but I really felt connected with Liz. Even crazier, her daughter Juliana looks just like Charli (not sure if you think the same Liz) only she's about 6 months older. But her blog was and continues to be so helpful and inspiring for me.

Juliana (Funny part is at first glance Hippie
Husband thought this was Charli) 
Charli (I really wanted to find pictures that
showed just how much they look alike
but I didn't seem to have any - maybe it's
all in my head)

From there I continued to "stalk" Liz and joined the GAPS Kids group on Facebook. WHAT AN AMAZING GROUP!! When diving into the world of GAPS it is nearly impossible to not feel overwhelmed. By all means, if you are considering the GAPS diet for your child, you are probably already overwhelmed just by life with a GAPS kid. Then the diet just seems confusing, challenging, and outright intimidating when starting out. There are TONS of resources, mainly in the form of blogs, but many have conflicting information not to mention everything is so foreign it's hard to feel confident in what you're doing. Essentially, purchasing and reading the GAPS book is required. This is a bit of an investment for a book when you're not sure it's what you want to do. I feel like somewhat of a seasoned veteran in the Facebook group now, but I remember what it was like starting down this path and thinking Charli was just a mild case and all I really wanted to do was cure her constipation. Everyone in this group was supportive and kindly answered my questions gently guiding me to acceptance that I just needed to start implementing the intro diet. I understand now that GAPS truly is a commitment and an all or nothing deal. But my fear held me back in the beginning. But all of the amazing stories pushed me along and eventually made me comfortable in the decision to do GAPS. 

The most impactful story came from Nichole Sawatzky. Her daughter Ellie was diagnosed with FPIES (Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome). Ellie Belly, from beginning to end and it changed the entire way I viewed food and the medical community. This story alone was enough to convince me that GAPS was safe (the main question that kept cropping up for me). Nichole started the GAPS Kids Facebook group and also had created a website, GAPS and Kids, which shared many similar stories. I was entranced by stories like Carter's FPIES Maze, and Home Food Heals. These brave mommas gave me the strength and confidence I needed to move forward with the GAPS Diet. 
Basically she was allergic to food. That's right, FOOD. Ellie was on the brink of death when Nichole made the leap to GAPS. I read her entire blog,

I hope I didn't offend anyone by saying that I thought blogs were "stupid and trendy". I just wasn't aware of such a positive use for this type of forum. Now that my life has been so positively influenced I hope my blog can help someone else gain the confidence to follow their instincts. I'll also say that blogs are darn fun! I love blogs that give great recipes and share fun DIY projects or provide awesome resources (my friend Tiffany has a blog that covers all of these, A Touch of Grace). I'm still digging around in We Can Do All Things to find tools for Charli's development (thanks for this one Liz). And since Ellie is now well on her way to healing, Nichole has started up a new blog more focused on hope, healing, and real food, Hopecentric. She is also a contributor for GNOWFGLINS (God's natural, organic, whole foods, grown locally, in season). For a good laugh I highly recommend Parenting. Illustrated With Crappy Pictures. And I follow a few local blogs for inside info on all the good deals. I've also been meaning to check out a blog that my friend follows, 100 Days of Real Food.  So please forgive my ignorance and accept my apologies. It's official and undeniable: I LOVE BLOGS!

Do you have any blogs that you think I should be following??

Friday, June 28, 2013

Blogger Bandwagon

In a not so distant past I didn't pay any attention to blogs and thought it all sounded a bit, umm, stupid and trendy. Then as I started researching things like Kabuki Sydrome, GAPS, and any other random topic that  roused my curiosity I found that people's personal stories and experiences posed more helpful than most resources, including doctors. As I started to follow more and more stories and made more connections my desire to blog grew stronger and stronger. When my childhood best friend started her blog A Touch of Grace it really motivated me to finally jump on the blog bandwagon. Hey, we grew up together, got married in the same year, and had our daughters exactly two months apart. So why not continue the pattern, right?

I had been toying with a name for some time. I knew my blog was going to be a reflection of my own life, focusing mostly on the transition to healthier living. My husband jokes about how I've become such a "hippie". What he doesn't know is that I'm still far from it. I've learned a lot in the past year-ish but I'm still learning and having a hard time "practicing what I preach" while still maintaining some balance and sanity. But, I digress. Back to the name. Before I used the word "hippie" for my blog name, I wanted to confirm that this term applied. So, how does one conduct comprehensive research to ensure accuracy? Of course! Google! I quickly found a WikiHow article How to Be a Modern Hippie. Let's examine this for a moment:
  1. Listen to oldies music - Check! I've grown up listening to just about all of the artists they list. Honestly, I like almost any genre of music. I'm currently infatuated with what I consider to be a group that represents the "modern hippie" style of music - Mumford & Sons. Best concert ever!!
  2. Be organic - Check! Well, almost. This lands in the financial aspect of that balancing act. I buy mostly organic produce, especially for my daughter. I buy free range/grass fed meats and meat products as much as possible, but $25 for a single chicken!! Sorry, not there yet. I aspire to someday have some land and grow some of my own produce and meats. And no, you'll never catch me being a vegetarian or supporting it. For more info on this click here.
  3. Look like a hippie - Check! While I haven't fallen victim to tie-dye apparel, floral prints, or headbands, I do typically dress comfortably and not according to current trends. My weekend attire could easily land on People of Walmart. I do shower and shave (although not as often as I'd prefer -  sorry Hippie Husband) but I use baking soda and apple cider vinegar on my hair and an oil based soap to wash up and shave. I've always reserved make-up for special occasions (again, sorry Hippie Husband) and keep it relatively natural as far as that goes too. 
    Yes, I would wear this in public and probably did

  4. Be an individual - Check! I've always been a rebel and love to argue my point, even if I'm wrong (which is never). 
  5. Be calm, cool, and collected - Check! Hippie Husband tends to get frustrated with my blasé attitude. I tend to not be very animated or excitable nor easily agitated. Hippie Grandma tends to overreact when it comes to Hippie Baby and thinks I am a little too laid-back. I will say, my stress has greatly increased with the addition of Hippy Baby and transitioning to a traditional diet - it's A LOT of work! Maybe I need to start meditating.
  6. Find your opinion and voice it - Check! I'm constantly forming new opinions and changing as I learn new things. While I'm not an activist, if you give your opinion you better be ready for mine. I believe everyone has a right to their opinion and I try not to judge people for their ignorance (for lack of a better word). After-all, there was a time that I thought organic food was nothing more than just expensive.
  7. Be in touch with nature - Check! I love the outdoors - so long as it's not cold! I love nature and animals and outdoor activities like hiking. I just wish I got out more often. 
    Hippie Husband and Hippie Baby on a
    wonderful Sunday morning stroll.
  8. Know that you DO NOT and should not get in drugs just because you want to be a hippie - Check! Wait, does coffee count as a drug? Not in this context? Then Check. I have no desire to use any substances, even abstaining from widely excepted things like pain relievers and alcohol. This isn't even because of my new hippie status. I just never thought OTC drugs made any sense and I've never really enjoyed drinking. Maybe I do need to meditate and go hiking more often, as the article suggests.
  9. Be open minded - Ummmm... I might need to work on this, which I am. I try to preface a lot of my comments with "In my opinion..." or "If you ask me...". I know that just because it's something I currently believe that does not mean that I'm correct. But a lot of times I really do think I'm right - especially when arguing with Hippie Grandma. So I know there's lots of room for improvement in this category.
  10. Be smart - Does blog reading count? I have read the GAPS book. That counts, right? In all seriousness, I do love to learn and I hope to start school this fall and maybe pursue a career in Nutrition or Dietetics. Can you tell I'm scared of this thought? 
  11. Be green - I hate littering and do make an effort to recycle and not waste but I still have a lot of room for improvement in this category. Maybe this is the next topic I need to start reading up on.
Based on this, what conclusions can we derive? While I'm well on my way to being a hippie, I still have a ways to go. Thus the name:

Journey of an Accidental Hippie