My ancestors and their “gut feeling”

I hail from a very conservative tribe in Kenya. My dad went on to study in the UK and he provided a very comfortable lifestyle for us but in our daily lives some tribal stuff just stuck out like a sore thumb. What a dichotomy. My parents seldom spoke and did things that seemed queer to me. I remember that every time I spoke of feeling sick, my mom would run to the pantry. She would get herbs and boil them and would only say, “its medicine for the stomach”. I would think and ask myself, “…eemmm what does the gut have to do with it?” Well, after my daughter’s diagnosis I realize it has everything to do with it!

The herbs all looked alike in my eyes…but my parents knew the difference separated them according to their purpose. There was the high blood pressure herbs etc. My parents rarely gave us pharmaceutical drugs. In my culture, every family line must have at least 1 generation of herbalists so that they can be the doctors for the family. My grandfather was never vaccinated and never took Rx drugs and he lived to be over 100 years old…he suffered from no diseases and he died of the proverbial old age. My grandfather would wake up in the morning and walk with us and show us the twig trees behind our home. He would cut a small piece and chew the tip and brush his teeth. We would proceed and do the same. The twig had a minty flavor and we never suffered from cavities until we were much much older. I remember that my dad was later diagnosed with Diabetes due to his lifestyle and they wanted to amputate his leg. He had a nasty wound…I remember my dad asking the doctor to give him some time and he went to our village to get some herbs that treated his leg. He got better and did not get amputated. My dad being the only child was trained extensively by my grandfather. Sadly, he hasn’t passed his knowledge to our generation. The herbalist line has ended. Much of our tribal secrets are slowing eroding due to this.

Another beautiful gut secret is curdled milk called mursik. Since my tribe is a pastoralist community, we were obsessed with milk. The milk is said to be so powerful that it produces world class marathon runners who happen to come from my tribe. I don’t know if the milk is the secret potion but I think it is largely the lifestyle. There are around 4+ bacteria cultures that have been found in mursik. That is music to my ears. I am so glad my parents forced me to drink this, although I wish they would have explained to me why it is good for me.

When a child is born in my tribe and cries a lot, the parents are quick to blame the gut/stomach. They immediately send for the grandmother from the village and they bring herbs to treat the gut. Once the herbs are given, the child is most often back to sleeping well.

Another gut secret is finger millet porridge. Finger millet is very nutritious and every time you are sick and in hospital, everyone will bring you porridge and not flowers! When I gave birth I had 5 jugs of porridge that my family and friends brought to me. My daughter drinks millet porridge every morning. My parents have a farm and grow millet. It is not contaminated with wheat since they have never been wheat farmers. So I guess I can say it safely fits the GFCF criteria. They prepare it on the farm and find a way to ship it to me. Finger millet is said to have relaxation qualities. It relaxes the body naturally and its said to be beneficial in conditions of anxiety, depression and insomnia. Another good quality is that it digests ALKALINE!!!

I could go on and on about my ancestors. I truly thank them for the gut lessons!

GFCF Diet Update

I started my daughter on the Gluten Free Casein Free diet in September. 1 week later my daughter got a mystery fever which she has plenty of times. As a precaution, we took her to the urgent care (it was a Sunday and her PCP was closed) since she has a long history of ear infections. The doctor ruled out an ear infection but wrote a standing prescription for amoxicillin just in case the fever does not go away. After 3 days, the fever was still there but things got worse. My daughter woke up with discharge all over her eyes. We decided that we will fill the prescription but after another 2 days, her already existing diarrhea became worse. How bad was it? She was in the toilet almost every 10 minutes and was complaining of stomach pains. After this, I took her to her PCP and told her what had transpired in the past week. She looked in her ears and sure enough confirmed a nasty double ear infection. She said that amoxicillin should have worked so she switched my daughter to cefdinir (perhaps the bacteria was resistant to amoxicillin?) The fevers went away but the stomach pains and diarrhea went from bad to worse on each passing day.

Alarmed, I went to the doctor’s yet again and told them that I think that she has some kind of GI distress and maybe her flora is messed up. The doctor tested her urine and ruled out any infections. So she recommended florastor, an OTC (Over the counter) probiotic. When she began to take it, she became more hyper and the stomach pains increased. I read online and some mothers on message boards stated that it would get worse before it gets better as the good bacteria overpowers the bad bacteria. I felt like removing her from the GFCF diet because right after we started it, we were having one issue after another and I was unsure if it really was benefiting her. My husband and I pushed on with the diet and probiotic.

3 days after the probiotic use paired with the diet, her stools became firm and normal looking. She was now pooping twice a day. My daughter and I went for her school trip to a local farm. I was nervous because the previous year my husband went and he had mentioned that my daughter would not sit still and had numerous meltdowns.

When we got to the farm, my daughter was very calm, followed orders and was engaged. Her eye contact was somewhat better and I was in shock. I came back home and spoke to my husband about what a peculiar day we had…I mean, she behaved!

Later that night, I expected her to grunt and fuss to let me know she wants me to snuggle with her in bed. However, she came close to me and said, “Come in to bed mommy”. Wait, it wasn’t echolalia but a spontaneous sentence. I almost fell off the floor in disbelief. I thought about that sentence all day….at first trying to talk myself out of believing that we could witness a change this soon. Perhaps I am crazy or reading too much into it? I decided to speak to my husband because he was present at the time my daughter uttered those words. He is very rational. He then confessed that he was thinking and playing that in his head all day as he tried to figure out what just happened. Alas! I was not crazy!

After this “come to Jesus” moment, we haven’t experienced a major breakthrough since then. Perhaps it is because we completed the dosage of florastor? I don’t know. I just believe that maybe at that point the stars aligned and her body was in some good balance biochemically. She behaved like an average 4 year old! My husband was always a naysayer when it came to biomedical treatment but now he is actually spearheading this whole treatment. He is reading and providing lots of suggestions. He said, “Whatever happened that day gives me hope that she will be ok”

So that is where I am at right now. I pray that I see more of this as we continue! We are just in the beginning, we have more to do i.e. visit a D.A.N doctor etc.

Diagnosis Update- Autism

On my last post, I discussed about my daughter’s upcoming Kennedy Krieger appointment. In the same post, I promised to keep you posted. Well, I failed to do that because we got some heartbreaking news regarding the diagnosis.

This past August, we traveled to Baltimore to have my daughter seen. My husband and I knew that she perhaps with be diagnosed with Autism, but at the same time we were hoping to get another diagnosis. I know it sounds weird but part of me was hoping for ADD or ADHD. We met the doctor who within a few minutes was already checking her sheet. My daughter was lining her toys, stimming, using echolalia, had no eye contact etc.

My husband tried hard to engage my daughter so that we can somewhat show the doctor that, “Hey…look she is super intelligent it’s just that she is sometimes in a cocoon” His attempts proved futile as the doctor continued the evaluation. After the almost 2 hour evaluation, she diagnosed her with Autism. In that room, the doctor began her “sentencing” telling us of the very grim prognosis. She proceeded to say and stress that AUTISM HAS NO CURE.

I don’t know what happened at that moment but I just snapped. What is she telling me? To abandon all hope? That is not what the word of God states. I heard a voice that prompted me to come out of the fog and interrupt the doctor as she was speaking to my husband. I told her, “Maam, my daughter will be ok. She is going to get healed” She looked at me with disbelief as I dared question her. Then she said, “Positivity is good. It will help you through what lies ahead.” I then repeated myself, “It is not positivity, its faith. We will be back with good news in the next few months”

During our drive back home, I was in peace. Immense peace. Then later that week I broke down. I probably broke down a few times after that too because I felt alone in this journey. I just had to pick up myself and look for answers. This is when I began researching about biomedical intervention.

I know there are so many skeptics out there who say that it doesn’t work. I however, cannot sit down and watch the world pass my daughter by. I have to try this.

During my countless hours of research I think I have probably got a PHD in Google University. Lol. I had read so many studies, blogs, research papers. I also watched many vlogs, youtube educational videos and webinars etc. I was literally thrust into this world that many mothers are boldly going into. To fight.

I don’t have all the answers….but I know that I have God on my side. As much as it is difficult to share this journey…I promise to do so. I hope to help someone out there…