Beginning the Gut Healing Journey – Part 1

Gutheal1

My six year old son is sick again, vomiting from an unknown cause.  The last few days he has been saying his stomach hurts, complained of nausea and did not want to eat.  (Even though we forced him, poor child.)  Unfortunately this is not uncommon for my son; ever since he was born he has been prone to throwing up as well as colds with a cough.  I have attributed this to a weak immune system as a result of all the antibiotics and prescription drugs he was given from birth until he was two years old.

My son was born two weeks late via C-Section.  At my 20 week ultrasound, I was told he was 99% sure to be a girl.  As my mother and I waited in the operating room for the baby to be “delivered”, the doctor exclaimed, “Congratulations on your baby boy!”  This was the first in a series of shocking events which would last more than thirty days.  My son’s first cries were distressed and the doctor immediately had the nurses take him away in an incubator before I could even see him up close.  All I remember is seeing his black little eyes from 15 feet away as they rolled him out in a plastic topped metal crib.  Unbeknownst to me, his lungs had torn with his first breath.  The amniotic fluid in the womb was so low that he could not breathe the fluid in to expand his lungs as his body grew.  The lungs were too small for his body and tore upon first breath.

At first the doctors could not determine what was wrong with my little baby.  They knew his kidneys were damaged and thought he had kidney disease which would require dialysis and possibly a transplant.  THANK GOD that was not the case.  Within a few days and what felt like one hundred tests, they found he had Posterior Urethral Valves, which is tissue flaps in the urethra facing the wrong way.  This prevents urine from leaving the body normally.  If he had a complete blockage, he would have died, however his blockage was only partial.  The urine was unable to leave the body enough, and so it backed up into his bladder and kidneys, causing damage and swelling.  His bladder was also over reactive because he had been pushing so hard to eliminate the little urine he could.  Babies actually breathe in the fluid which they urinate; this is part of the amniotic fluid which helps their lungs expand as their bodies grow.  Hence the torn lungs.

I am obviously beyond thankful to the doctors who relentlessly worked on my son to diagnose him, operate on him and save his life.  I am thankful they found ways to help him recover, even if it meant the first six months of his life were on antibiotics, and the first two years of his life were daily doses of multiple prescription drugs for kidney and bladder regulation.  I just wish they knew ways to do this that had no side effects.

My son never slept more than three hours at a time and frequently cried.  He would cry all night long.  I breastfed for 8 months and then switched to formula, and still no improvement.  As he got older, he was frequently sick with ear infections and his pediatrician would prescribe him antibiotics at the first sign of fever.  I would give him Tylenol and the antibiotics and not think twice.

Around his second birthday, my son had finished a round of antibiotics for a sinus infection.  He was complaining of a stomach ache for several hours after eating.  He eventually thew up food which was still whole in his stomach even though he should have digested it hours before.  I gave him probiotics for the first time and his digestion improved a bit.  There was another time when an allergy doctor prescribed him a new antibiotic which was “really strong” for a sinus infection.  My insurance did not cover the cost because there was no generic version AND my son only got sicker!  A few days later we were in pediatricians office for another round of antibiotics.  This made me angry!  What were these medicines doing to his digestive and  immune functions?!  Further, what if it’s impacting other areas if his body, like his brain?

I started looking up the side effects of all the medicines he was on.  At two years old, his kidney specialist finally cleared him to discontinue the kidney medication due to improvement of his Hydronephrosis, thankfully.  I did not even give his bladder specialist time to take him off the medicine.  Visits to his office included a painful and invasive test known as Urodynamics, where they would catheterize my son and fill his bladder up with fluid and measure the amount of fluid and how hard he would push to urinate.  I disliked this procedure, to say the least.  My son was also part of a medical study, and therefore I felt the doctor would be inclined to keep him involved in this testing even if it wasn’t totally necessary.  I looked up the side effects of Oxybutynin, his bladder drug:

  • Constipation
  • Chest Tightness, difficulty breathing
  • Hallucinations, agitation, nightmares – This drug crosses the blood-brain barrier (which is argued to not even be developed in infants) and it is entirely possible that it can cause brain damage.

Many safety studies conclude that Oxybutynin should be used under caution on young children.  Is this why my son cried all the time and never slept?  Was he hallucinating?  Was he constantly confused and feeling ill?

I had had it!  This marked the beginning of my holistic crusade.  I immediately took my son off the Oxybutynin and discontinued seeing any medical doctor.  I took my son to natural health physicians for his annual check ups and began using homeopathy at home when he became sick.  The only medical doctor I would take him to was the allergist for testing, which has happened only twice.  He did not receive any vaccinations between two and five years old.  He took no antibiotics and received no prescription drugs.  I have given him probiotics, vitamins, and numerous supplements to try to help his immune system, but nothing has really helped.

sick

My son’s gut is damaged.  According to many experts, approximately 70% of a person’s immune system is found in the gut.  This is because when we eat and drink, we are ingesting microorganisms and toxins along with our food.  Our gut is our first line of defense.  A healthy gastrointestinal (GI) tract is able to filter out pathogens by secreting IgA antibodies and white blood cells from its lining.  With a condition called Leaky Gut, the mucosal layer of the gut is damaged, leaving holes in the lining through which pathogens and undigested proteins can pass into the bloodstream.  This in turn causes an autoimmune response and can also cause cognitive and behavioral problems due to the toxins settling in the brain.  Not to mention when you don’t feel good, how well can you function!?

It is thought that fetuses have no intestinal flora, and the first exposure is in the birth canal via vaginal delivery.  Babies born via C-Section, as my son was, miss this important exposure.  Their guts are left unprotected to anything it comes in contact with.  On top of that, prescription drugs and antibiotics are known to damage the gut lining and destroy beneficial bacteria, allowing the opportunistic flora to proliferate.   I can no longer ignore the damage which has been done to my son’s gut.  This could be the reason for all of his health and behavioral issues!  There is only one way for me to find out.  I need to get help putting him on a specific gut healing protocol, and I need to stick to it.

While our insurance will probably not cover a physician who can guide us on this journey, I will be searching for one in our area anyway.  In the meantime, I am working on researching and putting together a protocol of diet adjustments and supplements that I feel comfortable using without the guidance of a doctor.  I will provide and update on this in the near future.

Do you have experience with a gut healing protocol?  If so, please share!

 

Sources:
Pessin, Donna.  “Healing the Gut in Autism.”  Age of Autism. 11 June 2011  28 May 2014.  http://www.ageofautism.com/2011/06/donna-pessin-healing-the-gut-in-autism.html

Friedman MD, Bat-Chen, Friedman MD, Boris, and Goldman MD FRCPC, Ran D.  “Oxybutnin for treatment of nocturnal enuresis in children.”  Canadian Family Physician.  May 2011.  28 May 2014.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3093588/

Albo MD, Michael and Richter Ph.D MD, Holly E.  “Urodynamic Testing.”  National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse.  5 Feb 2014.  28 May 2014.  http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/urodynamic/

Werner, Consuelo.  “Your Child’s Health Starts in the Gut.”  Robb Wolf Online.  10 June 2011.  28 May 2014.  http://robbwolf.com/2011/06/10/your-childs-health-starts-in-the-gut/

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5 thoughts on “Beginning the Gut Healing Journey – Part 1

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