Looking back, my son's tic symptoms started long before he had a tic. When I look back from the second he was born. I can begin to put it all together and see why we ended up where we did. The day he was born, he had low blood sugar, and the very first thing that the nurses did was give him sugar water instead of bringing him to me for breastmilk. The best way to prevent low blood sugar in babies is to provide them with breast milk. He was born C-section, which means he missed all of the essential microorganisms in the birth canal, but the very first thing he was exposed to was sugar. Sugar is inflammatory, it has no nutritional value, and it causes inflammation. Breast Milk is full of antibodies and high levels of secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA) to protect your baby's gut, plus it helps to kill off viruses and bacteria. We off to a great start!
He was jaundiced from birth, and we had to have bilirubin lights brought into our home so that he could lay under the lights every day. That lasted for almost two weeks. That constant exposure to artificial lights cannot possibly be suitable for a baby's circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm helps to regulate sleep, and this child did not sleep.
I also noticed that he had very runny stools, and his stools were streaked with blood. When we inquired at the pediatrician, she responded that he was allergic to my breastmilk and needed to be on formula. That started my first research investigation and what I found was that it wasn't necessarily my breastmilk, but the dairy proteins that I was consuming were affecting him. I had to stop eating dairy the entire time I breastfed him.
Around two months of age, he began getting frequent ear infections, and I'm talking ear infections where fluid would be seeping out of his ear. By the time he was seven months old, we had probably done eight rounds of antibiotics. He had to have ear tubes put in at seven months of age. However, they did not seem to stop the ear infections, and we continued to use antibiotics throughout the first year of his life. We now know how damaging antibiotic use is to our guts and our microbiome. Babies are born with very permeable intestines, and all of that excessive antibiotic use continues to damage his gut.
When he was an infant, he also experienced massive reflux, so back to the pediatrician, we went where we were prescribed Prilosec. I was giving a child only months old at least per two prescription medications most of the time that he was an infant. Studies show that acid blockers are only meant to be taken for a short period and that they damage our ability to digest our food and absorb nutrients. I was giving him acid blockers a dropper or two daily.
Here we were with a brand-new baby on antibiotics acid blockers and had already had a surgery to prevent more ear infections. All of the signs were there that something was wrong, but nobody could point them out to me, and I didn't know any better.
When he was nine months old, I got pregnant with my second child, and my milk dried up. The pediatrician recommended that we use soy formula because we knew he had issues with dairy. However, he just kept vomiting the soy formula, and we just kept being told to give him more Prilosec that it was just reflux.
Even after he was a year old and started eating more solid food, he still never slept. He didn't nap, and he didn't sleep. I was one exhausted mama. My husband worked the night shift and slept during the day, so I spent a lot of time with two babies who already had chronic health issues.
He spoke well, and he spoke early, so he seemed to be on a fantastic developmental path. He was also very active and was climbing stairs before he could even walk. When you took him to the pediatrician, he was perfect height and weight, and we felt that there wasn't anything to worry about.
I will honestly tell you that by the time he was one, he could easily order chicken McNuggets at the drive-through of McDonald's. If you are reading this, don't be horrified, we didn't know any better. My husband and I were both healthy and fit from athletic backgrounds, and our children were healthy on paper. Our playdates revolved around trips to Burger King and McDonald's, where we would have lunch, and the kids would play in the playground. With a husband working crazy shifts, we ate a lot of fast food and processed easy to prepare food. I was an expert at slinging chicken nuggets into the microwave and whipping up some kraft macaroni and cheese.
He turned two around the time he started having significant meltdowns, uncontrollable fits, moodiness, and nothing would soothe him. We chalked it up to the terrible twos and then the terrible threes. He also became violent, especially towards my other son, and it really worried his grandmother, but we just kept being told it was his age, and it was normal. Hitting, kicking, and biting, we were told it was all his age. I didn't think much of his fits of rage because I had never been a mother before, but my second son did not experience the same mood swings and violence.
When he was four, he was doing a lot of eye blinking, which I know now was his very first tic. When he started the constant eye blinking, we took him to the doctor, and we were told it was just allergies. Low and behold, they prescribed Claritin and Zyrtec to help with his dry eyes and allergies. Here we were with yet another prescription to put a Band-Aid on whatever was going on deeper inside his body.
Just more band-aids and bullshit!
At one point, I noticed that he had bumps all over the front of his chest, and when we addressed it with the pediatrician, we were told it was just keratosis, and there was nothing you can do about it ignore it. This is the first time we were told to ignore it.
He chronically complained of tummy aches, headaches, and I don't feel right. Doctors told us that this was normal because children's nerves start to reach full growth potential around age 3 or 4, and they all start to complain about how they feel.
I had joined a mother's group in the new city we moved to, and some of the other mothers disliked me because they felt that my child did not behave. They saw his meltdown mode and refused to let him play with their kids. It was heartbreaking because, at this point, I was already starting to feel like there was nobody who understood, and there was no support. I could not take my kids to target without him having a complete meltdown where I would have to abandon the cart in the aisle and leave. I was that mom who was yelling at her kids through clenched teeth because I was exhausted, and I didn't know how to get my child to behave.
Somewhere between the age of four and six, he started sniffing and mildly clearing his throat. We didn't think much of it. We chalked it up to allergies.
When he was six, this was when we experienced our very first tic. We had gone on a trip to Disneyland and overindulged in all the amazingness from donuts to chocolate milk. The day after we returned, he woke up with a blinking and neck jerking. We were terrified we had no clue what was going on. By the end of the day, his neck and head hurt, and he could not control the movement. My husband videotaped it. We immediately got an appointment with the pediatrician; when we arrived at the pediatrician, he looked at him and said I think it's an ear infection and prescribed some antibiotics and sent us on our way. Ten days later, when the antibiotics had not done anything for his tic symptoms, we were back at the pediatrician's office. This time the pediatrician said I think he has a transient neurological tick, and I will send you to the neurologist.
What the hell was a transient neurological tic? So, my husband and I started doing a lot of research while waiting for our neurologist appointment. A transient tic is a tic that lasts for a short period and can include vocal and motor tics. When we had our first appointment with the neurologist, all he did was observe him tell us that an MRI was not necessary. He insisted that our son just needed a good spanking. He also told us to ignore it. He was six years old and could not control his bodily movements. Why on earth was I going to spank him? This, by far, was the worst medical advice we had ever received.
Over time his tic symptoms only worsened and included the motor tics of the jerking and the blinking but started to have more intense vocal tics like chronic throat clearing. We couldn't go to a movie or out in public without people staring because this little boy could not control his movements or his noises. It was breaking my heart, and there were no answers anywhere.
By this point, I had started to do a lot of my research to figure out what was going on. My husband read a ton of papers, research, and studies on tics and Tourette's, and we were definitely on different sides of the spectrum on it. We spent hours with Dr. Google searching: natural treatments for tics, natural remedies for tics, how to stop tics naturally, will tics go away, magnesium for tics, B6 for tics, you name it we searched it!
My husband felt like there were no answers to tics & Tourette's and that it was something that my son was going to live with for the rest of his life, and maybe eventually, he would grow out of it. Everything out there says ignore it.
We spent thousands of dollars on tests, doctor visits, medicines, and supplements. We visited doctor after doctor who told us to ignore "it" he would grow out of it. He was put on tons of prescription after prescription, and nothing worked. We were offered more medications with scary side effects when the first prescriptions didn't work.!
The situation at school was so bad that I pulled my kids out to homeschool them. We spent six years visiting doctors and specialists, and nothing ever changed. It was VERY frustrating and scary that we could not find answers anywhere!
I have broken down in rooms full of other mothers begging for their prayers because I did not know what else to do. I have spent many nights crying into my pillow and screaming at GOD to give us some answers. I was beginning to feel like maybe this was just his lot in life and would struggle with it forever.
As a mom, I spent hours, months, and years of research to try and figure out where we were headed. I had officially become a mega researcher, and I started to educate myself on everything from diet to genetics.
We saw eight different doctors and tried ten other prescriptions. At one point, we saw an allergist who refused to test my son for food allergies but found it entirely appropriate to prescribe six medications at once. He had the nerve to tell me that he would not worry about giving them this many medications if it were his child. After that, I had to seek another opinion of an ear, nose, and throat doctor who told me that I should immediately take my son off of the six prescriptions that the allergist had prescribed.
During this time, he also struggled with vomiting. I just thought he was my vomiter… he would throw up regularly. He would eat and throw up! School called me irritated and frustrated periodically because he would eat the school lunch, drink soymilk, and then throw up everywhere.
I began to seek out alternative methods that might help my son. I started reading everything I could get my hands on. One day my best friend called me up and said she had read an article in the newspaper about a little girl in town who had had similar symptoms and that there was an alternative allergist who had helped her. I immediately picked up the phone and scheduled an appointment. This doctor was excellent and was one of the major players in helping us get on the right path. At the first appointment, she took one look at him and said he's allergic to dairy. And gluten; plus, he has a Candida overgrowth. She said I could tell just by looking at him but let's run some tests. She tested my son for food allergies and food sensitivities, and low and behold; he was allergic to dairy, wheat, gluten, peanuts, eggs, and soy. These also happen to be the top five inflammatory foods. Once again, we have prescribed another medication; she did prescribe nystatin short term to help with candida overgrowth.
At this point, we began to see some improvement in the text and not completely go away, but when we cut out things like peanuts, he immediately stopped clearing his throat. We did continue to struggle with some of the tics and several of the behavioral symptoms. At one point, she diagnosed him with sensory processing disorder and sent us for occupational therapy. He also struggled with low concentration and dysgraphia.
Although we continued to struggle, what we were doing with the alternative allergist was just not enough. She suggested that maybe he have MTHFR and ran a test for that. He did have a homozygous mutation, and she felt that he needed some glutathione, a right multivitamin, and a digestive enzyme. As I started to research genetics, she told me that I had gone above and beyond her scope of practice, and she encouraged me to find someone else who specialized in the areas that I was researching.
One day, my sister called me and said that she had been in a Facebook group where a girl talked about a doctor she had seen in Austin, Texas, and the doctor had changed their son's life. At that point, we felt like we had tried everything and didn't have answers, so we were going to give it a whirl. I called and made an appointment, but there was no room for six months.
At our first appointment, it was suggested that we run a complete nutrigenomic panel on my son. Nutrigenomics is the science of genetics and nutrition. After our meeting, my husband felt like maybe the doctor was a snake oil salesman, and he didn't have a lot of confidence in the things that were being recommended. However, I was hopeful! Once we got his results back, we could have a follow up to come up with a personalized plan for him. Based on his genetics, we knew he was predisposed to chronic aggressive inflammation. He was not a good methylator, he was sensitive to glutamates, and he needed additional glutathione and vitamin D. He also had some nutritional deficiencies that needed to be addressed.
We were blown away in the first 30 days as the changes that happened in our son. His chick symptoms started to subside, and his behavior and sleep improved immensely. We were shocked that this was working for him!
During this time, I had started to go back to school and relearn everything I know about health and wellness. I became a certified functional diagnostic nutrition practitioner®. Because nutrigenomics has been so successful for us, I asked them to train me and their protocol to share it with others.
This journey has forever changed the course of our lives, and although the struggle was intense, we have seen the light at the end of the tunnel. I fully believe that individual health and wellness are the future, and the future is now. I have gone on to get my Doctorate in Holistic Nutrition and become a Board-Certified Doctor of Natural Medicine (Alternative practitioner, I am not a physician). I use step-by-step a, whole-body approach when working with my clients to help reduce inflammation, spectrum disorders, ADD/ADHD, Tics/Tourette's, Auto-Immune, gastrointestinal problems, methylation deficiency, and genetic SNP's (single nucleotide polymorphisms: AKA broken genes). My focus is on real food nutrition, functional lab testing, and genetics so that you can fuel your brain, body, and being.
Had I known then what I know now, I would have done things so much differently. Somehow the journey we have been on was meant for us. It was a guide to show us a different way of life. We needed to look deeper; we needed to look under the hood and outside the box. We were disconnected from our bodies, and following the reductionist theory of health didn't help. This kept us or anyone else from connecting the dots for a very long time. A diagnosis did not give us answers, it only gave us a label, and we could choose to live with that label or overcome it. There is hope in the journey, and there are answers out there if you decide to step out of the box and find them.