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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Wild Blue Yonder

Hello and Happy New Year! We have been to the mountains visiting my sister and now we are off to Ireland for a family wedding and England for more therapy at Advance for Ellie.

I am hoping to catch up with myself there and share some of the more interesting observations and pics from Christmas and our travels. Dave and I decided to take a huge step towards greater intimacy by sharing one lap top for the entire trip. I know, I know, it's batshit insane and could result in divorce or the death of one of us or somebody losing an eye. But it has to be done. Minimizing the amount of crap we have to schlep across the Atlantic is definitely a higher priority than marital bliss. Giving us the benefit of the doubt for being rational adults who will be able to share said lap top, I should be posting again soon. If I don't post soon, you know that my man has won the lap top armwrestle and I am tied to a chair so he can surf cyberspace in peace. Ahhhh togetherness, there's nothing better.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Nutrition and the Brain Damaged Child Part II:

Responses to the excellent comments, Ellie’s diet, Food Combining and More.

First of all, when I read Emma’s, Jacqui’s and Dani’s comments I just thought to myself, This is what I LOVE about blogging. The discussion can be informed and enriched by various points of view. Instead of answering all individually I thought I would put it in this post. (Emma, I will get back to you on the primrose question. I do take it as a supplement and it's great. But I know someone who knows a lot more about that and am trying to get her to chime in.)

If you are just coming into this discussion on nutrition you can read my first post on it
here and see some of Jacqui’s comments at her site here.

Body Weight and CP
On the topic of the right weight for children and people with CP, Emma makes an excellent point. There is a balance. I wrote that children with CP are better off on the lighter side. Which I believe is correct. Emma in her comment illustrates this with her experience being on the heavier side. However, she also makes a great point that when she was too thin she was getting skin breakdown on her “bony parts”. This same thing happened to Ellie when I first took her off all the sugar and bad oils. She lost some weight. To give you an idea of this, when she was 18 months old and on the hideous j-tube and on the medical diet as described in my first nutritional post, she weighed 19 pounds and she was about 24 inches long. She got a bad stomach virus around this same time and was hospitalized for 8 days and lost one pound of weight. Then I took her off the bad diet and she lost another pound. At 17 pounds she was Ellie no butt as one of our friends liked to joke. And her tail bone paid for this. We had to watch it really closely and add extra padding to her seats. Luckily we weren’t doing a lot of sitting because she was on her tummy. It was hard to see her gain weight but over the course of the year she improved dramatically. Her reflux decreased and constant vomiting and gassiness, she moved more and started rolling. She was in general happier because she wasn’t feeling so awful all the time. She also started sleeping better only waking up 2-3 times per night versus 7-10. Believe me this makes a difference. We were then pretty quickly able to switch her back to a g-tube, which only goes into the stomach. The j-tube reached right into the intestines and was painful for Ellie all the time. Emma’s point is well taken that there needs to be a balance. This discussion needs to be outside the realm of any Vogue-esque like weight ideal. That is not what it’s about. Ellie now at 24 pounds has a bum and it is a good thing on all counts. It’s great to see her muscles developing and some fat on her thighs and full cheeks.

It took her a long time to gain back the weight and it seemed like between the new diet, the new therapy we were doing with Linda Scotson and the very gradual reduction of reflux and more sleep because of these things that she has been ramping up on all measures of health ever since. At her four-year appointment she had gained 7 pounds in one year and now she is 36 inches long and weighs 24+pounds. She also gained 3 inches in height and 2 centimeters in head circumference this year as well as many, many developmental gains. Last May she started to have seizures too but Linda gave has a theory on that about it being a response to the increased blood flow to the brain blowing toxic waste left over from the trauma and the bleed she had out of the small blood vessels there. That is another whole discussion.

Any way, no one could believe that Ellie would do so well on this diet including Dave. The diet Linda suggested and I put Ellie on is totally counterintuitive to traditional thinking. But as I mentioned in the other post it makes total sense when you compare an injured, weakened child to an invalid versus a star athlete. As I mentioned last time these high fat high sugar diets are what you would want to give someone who is highly physically active; their metabolism at high speed and excellent motility. NOT someone with the opposite conditions.

Ellie’s diet from the time she was about 2.5 to 4 years of age: Note that all ingredients are organic. Between ages 18 months and 2.5 we put her on a whole foods diet that was really rich in fat and high calorie and she did really poorly on that. Finally we came to the diet I am describing below after much back and forth between Dave and I and several discussions with Linda. This diet is counter intuitive if you have come out of the NICU experience or dealt with traditional nutritionists.

Morning Meal: Flaked Millet with Rice Milk and then we would add 2.5 gradually working up to 5cc (1 tsp.) Flax Oil and her vitamin. We also added the supplement Ambrotose that was recommended by Linda. It is supposed to help children assimilate the natural proteins in all foods. (If we could have used soymilk we would have because it has more protein, but Ellie is allergic to it. Rice milk is not optimal because Rice is acidic. But we needed the calories and she seemed to do ok on it. I am hoping to get her off it altogether. I have been experimenting with aduki bean milk. You can make milks from grains and nuts with a soy milk maker. In truth I have not spent enough time on getting her on a better “milk”. I could even combine rice and aduki beans to make a complete protein. And this is a nutritional project still to be completed.

Lunch (2-3 hours later when the cereal has been digested): Nanny Goat Formula. We started off using the goat milk formula versus plain goat’s milk because it has a balance amount of nutrients and vitamins. Ellie has done really well on this. If your child cannot tolerate soy, goat milk has a lot of protein and the molecules are smaller and more easily digested than cow’s milk. We give her actual goat’s milk from time to time and she even more easily digests that. Our GI doctor has told us that this is popular in Mexic but that the children end up with a vitamin C deficiency if they are only given goat’s milk.

Snack Meal #3 (2 hours later): A non starchy all vegetable meal with vitamin, Ambrotose and Flax oil added. This is food combining – you don’t want to ever mix animal protein with starch. This is not Atkinesque. For this meal I make her non-starchy vegetable and legume purees consisting of cooked red lentils (easier on the system than green) and carrots, celery, leeks, garlic. Or zuccini pureed. Green pea soup as well with carrots and celery. I also make her a mixed veg with kale, summer squash, spinach, carrots, leeks, and cabbage. This tastes great and I always ask myself why I don’t make it for Dave and I. Ellie has the best diet in the house. All of these things are very plain with no salt or spices and all very good for her. Starchy sweet vegetables, being non optimally combined with proteins and sweet make her reflux more. These include: sweet potatoes, butternut squash, potatoes, parsnips. We have tried all and all don’t do very well by her.

Now that she is so much bigger I have added in turkey soup for this meal. I take turkey thighs over chicken because they have more amino acids. I cook them slowly with a small amount of water, a couple of carrots, one clove of garlic and celery. Celery is great for digestion and adds a subtly salty flavor to the food. Puree this all up. Ellie doesn’t really like it so we bolus her. She loves purreed carrots and zuccini and will eat that up – it’s like candy to her I am sure. I am not sure the turkey thighs are the best thing at this point because Ellie is not sleeping great and seems more acidic. This will sound weird but I can actually smell the acid on her breath when it gets bad. She also seems gasier so I have stopped the turkey this week. I did add in avacodo with the veg puree – about a third of one and she seems to be tolerating that. Avoacodos are great, I give them to her raw so she gets some live enzyme and they are jam packed with omega threes and other vitamins. Linda I think would have her on no meat at all. But Ellie is type O blood and Type O’s need their meat. For more information on blood type and diet
here is an excellent book.

Tea/Dinner Meal #4: The last meal of the day one hour before bed we give her grain again and the rice milk. On this diet we don’t feed her at night. Recently in the last 6 months Ellie has been waking up in the night hungry. So we will feed her then and I increase her portion sizes. She has been growing quickly and her body wants food so we give it to her. I have been working hard on finding ways for her to tell me she is hungry and in fact give her that as a choice through out the day and if she picks it offer her food.

A note on portions and meals: For someone who has week digestion it is easier to eat 4-5 smaller meals than 3 big ones. The conundrum is that eating more meals speeds up the metablism and makes it more difficult to gain weight. But if you have a kid who can only handle small portion sizes, then you have to give them more meals. Or (sarcastic humor alert) just go the medical route and have their esophoguses’ stapled shut…

I had a hard time with portion sizes. I don’t have other kids and did not know what Ellie could eat. She went through a period 10 months ago now when she was eating a ton of food by mouth. I remember people saying to us, wow your kid ate all that, mine won’t. Ellie at this point could down one and a half cups of food in about 15 minutes by mouth. It was a great time to be alive. Sadly we are back to have her refuse to eat and be really distracted. There are a number of reasons for this but are off topic and will appear in another post I am writing about sensory integration. Anyway, it was then I realized what a good portion was. It was then we stopped calling it feeding time and calling it mealtime. It’s amazing when she does a normal thing how you see how far away from typical you can get. It’s like paradigm surfing.

A note on Rice: It is better for children or anyone with a compromised system to eat white rice versus brown because the husks of brown rice have mold in them, which introduces another toxin into the system that they have to deal with.

A note on Grains: I am a big, BIG fan of Millet. It’s one of the easiest grains to digest. Whole civilizations have existed on Millet as their staple food. It has a ton of great nutrients in it and won’t clog the intestines like rice can. If we can’t get purely flaked millet we get a multigrain-flaked grain cereal (with NO wheat) and use that. Mixing grains, other than wheat, is also very good because you triangulate all the good vitamins and minerals between the different grains. But if you child is having a hard time with digestion in general – start slow, start with millet.

A note on organics: We are big believers in organics. Literally everything we feed Ellie is organic. We eat only organic meat and dairy. Dave and I are not as religious about it as some people I know meaning that we will eat out at non-organic restaurants etc. But at home, especially with dairy and meat we eat organic. As a woman this is especially important and I tell all my friends if there is one thing they switch to organic on it should be dairy and meat because all the antibiotics, hormones and chemicals they put into the cows and pigs and chickens reeks havoc with the female reproductive system. There has been 100 percent increase in Lupus over the past few decades. I believe it’s from all the crap they put in food. In the patriarchal system many things that could affect women for the negative are overlooked and under valued. There are also limited studies on women. One way women can start to get some control back is to NOT purchase products that are especially harmful to them and ask their grocer for better products like organic meat and dairy and even feminine products without bleach. This should be a whole other post. It just galls me sometimes the crap manufactures put in products. Sometimes I think they do that because the big multinationals are trading and selling their waste products and need some where to put them so they put them into women’s jewelry and tampons etc.

A note on protein and when to eat it. This one is directed at you Jacqui in response to your thoughts on why Moo is not sleeping well. When I first read that on your site I wondered if he was getting a protein meal late in the day. Ellie has really slow motility. I wondered and surmised that Marshall’s motility might not be optimal either. That’s a function of weak sphincters I mentioned in my first post (something Jacqui is well aware of I am sure). This point about protein ties into the principle about sleep and eating. Protein takes the longest amount of time for the body to digest (oil slows motility down too). This is why we don’t give Ellie any protein after 3pm. (Now we just started giving her the turkey thigh soup at around 4-5pm and she isn’t sleeping as well and I am wondering if that is why – but this is new and there are other factors to consider like we are coming down on her seizure meds.). But if Marshall is getting a lot of animal protein (milk) right before bed his body will spend most of the night digesting it. This will interrupt his sleep and weaken him in general as his body organs won’t get to do all the renewals stuff they need to at night. Just a stab at trying to help here Jacqui. I myself don’t like to eat protein after 5pm because I wake up feeling bad and don’t sleep as well. If you have to eat late at night eat a piece of fruit which will digest the quickest. We can’t give Ellie fruit at night because it is too sugary and makes her very acidic. See how tough this is!

A note on palate: When you eat a lot of rich foods your palate gets very high tuned so that you continue to crave foods that “taste” good. To a highly tuned palate rich foods are more taste-full. Transitioning to a lower more naturally tuned palate can be rough at first because the less rich food may be tasteless to you until your palate adjusts. And palates do adjust. Try cutting out sugar for one week and rich fatty foods. Start eating more raw foods and simple grains by the end of that time they will taste a lot better and if you go ahead and eat cookie after that it will burn the back of your throat with it’s sweetness. Dave, god bless is adventuresome carnivorous Irish heart, did a fast with me one year ago. We were feeling really depleted by everything and worried about our health so we did the master cleanser for 7 days (DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME OR WITH YOUR CHILD!). To break this fast we had steamed vegetables (bok choy, cabbage, carrot, butter nut squash with no salt or anything). It was the nectar of the gods. Dave ate it and said, “What did you put on this, it’s amazing!” This was the first time I think he ever had his palate tuned so low and he was right, it was an amazing meal. I made that meal for us again a couple of weeks later when we were back to our usual eating habits and we both noted how it did not taste nearly as good.

On-going journey
When we go to Advance in January Linda is going to show us a new protein source. We are at the point where we do have to change Ellie’s diet again because she is so much bigger. We will stick to the principles I am outlining but make some additions now that she is healthier. It’s important to note that she made all these gains on the very simple diet of grains, goat milk formula, non-starchy vegetables and water. Even Ellie’s GI doctor, when Ellie started to thrive on this literally said to me, “You proved me wrong.” He’s a great doctor from Mexico and was open to me trying this new diet because in Mexico there is no Neocate and Polycose. He admitted that when there he encourages the mothers to give their kids sugar. Sugar and fat, as we have proven are not the best way to get these kids to gain weight. When Ellie was on all of that she gained weight but she did NOT gain inches in height and her development slowed because she couldn’t sleep, and was sick all the time. On this simple diet she has been thriving and steadily going up hill on all fronts.

I want to make it clear that I am NOT a nutritionist. My only background in nutrition is a life long interest, lots of books (a Good Will Hunting approach), and being fortunate to have some close friends who are either herbalists, aroma therapists and some who have followed alternative diets their whole life and saved themselves from cancer and many ills.

Last Disclaimer
If your child is thriving on some of the foods I said were bad, don’t mess with it. Ellie had a massive injury at birth and was very, very bad off after that for a long, long time. We had to figure out a lot of things I hope most people never do. I am only recounting what helped her in hopes of helping other parents.

That said, I truly believe and practice these principles with Ellie and she is better for it. We have her blood nutrient levels checked each quarter because she is on a reflux med that is highly watched – cisipride and all her vitamin levels are coming out consistently well. There’s lots of proof that she is doing great. But still we are not allowed to stay complacent. As she grows her body’s dietary needs change and we have to figure out what to do all over again which is the point we are at now. It’s a good problem to have.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Observations of the Blogosphere: Errant Muses and Stalker Fans

Sometimes being a blogger is so annoying. For example, this post came to me in the middle of the flossing portion of my nightly routine. I’m almost done with keeping up with my dental hygiene and in comes my Muse. He’s all awake and ready to go. I need to have a little talk with him because he’s a little too fond of the bubbly. He sleeps all day and then wants to party all night, every night. He demands my attention when I am ready for sleep. I have tried to schedule appointments with him during Ellie’s nap time but he is way too hung over at that point and no amount of coffee or coxing can get him up to work. Sigh.

Anyway, here are the realizations I had delivered direct from the muse in the middle of a good flossing:

Observation #1.
I have to admit I didn’t quite get this next fact right away. Sometimes I can be a little slow or over confident – depends how you look at it. I realize now that being a professional blogger is harder than it looks. Not that I am a professional blogger. But I have been reading some of the big blogs and didn’t really appreciate how hard that is to pull off. Reading a professional blogger’s blog is a bit like watching
Nadia Comaneci get a perfect 10 in gymnastics. Now, many of you may be too young to remember her but she was perfection in motion. She made it look like doing back springs and handstands on a 4-inch beam of wood was easy. As a young gymnast watching her way back when I was inspired. Good bloggers, professional or not, are like that. They post each week and make it look effortless. But, it’s not.

I really admire,
her and her and him and him, and I am not saying this in a kiss ass way which will tie into my next point. I watched Heather talking about “Getting Naked on the Internet” here. She discusses how she made the decision to be as transparent as she can about her life. She’s pretty damn transparent. She is also pretty consistently funny, profound and sweet 4 times per week. I noticed that she has a pattern to her posting and definitely a routine in terms of posting links, photos, and posts. She’s got it down.

Transparency. I am still struggling with this. Not that I think Heather is 100% transparent or even 80% but she is well beyond 50% transparent about her life and that’s quite a lot if you think about it. Would you be willing to reveal the inner workings of your mind and the day-to-day details of your life regularly for years and years? How much would you dare to share? How much do you care if you scare the crap out of your friends and family by letting them know the weirdest bits of your inner workings that all get glossed over in normal day to day interaction? So hats off to all my favorite bloggers for sharing parts of themselves that sometime give words to things the rest of us might be feeling but have never dared to bring to full consciousness. It’s hard work.

Observation #2
In this
post I mentioned how there were cliques in the Blogosphere. Recently I have also noted that there are also groupies and stalker fans. And they can be pretty annoying. Of course I don’t have any, thank god. These wannabe professional bloggers kiss ass in the comments of major blogs. It’s such a transparent way to try to drive traffic to your site. There are even some who admit this. I don’t mind that as much, other than it being useless, off topic and will ensure I never go to their site. For examples of this take a look at any photo Dooce has ever posted. Do you hear the big smacking sound of ass kissing? Not that she isn’t a talented photographer, she is. But I swear she could put up a picture her own turds and people would be saying things like, “Oh, that is so cutting edge.” And, “Wow, even your shit is gorgeous? Can we see Jon’s too?”

Seriously, there is an organizational dynamic phenomenon that is at play here. It’s about authorizing a member of the group to be loved and to set the standard. It’s all anxiety driven but that’s too long of a topic to get into here. The beloved can do no wrong. As in Dooce’s case there is a royalty like thing going on. Of course she has pissed off the whole right wing side of the Internet. Which is also part of being authorized to the point of celebrity. It’s the dark side of a shiny, shiny coin. Very interesting to watch if you are an organizational psychologist geek like me. Ara, please chime in if you are reading this as you are an even bigger geek about these things than me. And that is a compliment to be sure.

In the spirit of trying out some new level of transparency, I admit I have wanted to be linked to a more popular blog to the point of kissing the blogger’s ass. But that’s over now as I realized they were just schmoozing me right back, fair play to them. In truth it’s not worth the humiliation of having to express wonder over someone else’s shit.

Here are some of the characteristics I have noticed about blogs that have become so viable the blogger can support themselves and their kin if they so choose:

1. The blogger’s predicament in life that they are blogging about is something a great many people relate too in a variety of ways. It could make them laugh, cry, gasp. There is definitely a shock / humor factor that comes into play here. Dooce excels at this.

2. You have enough writing talent to keep people consistently entertained.
The thing you are blogging about is topical/specific and becomes a resource for others. An Example of this is
Ask Moxie and some of the other Parenting Blogs. But it could be any blog dedicated to one topic that a lot of people are interested in like Fusion View. If you are lucky you find your community and the viral marketing nature of the Internet happens and your blog is vaulted into the main stream as seems to have happened to Clare’s blog. She touched a nerve and a need in others to look at the good things at a time when there is a lot of chaos and war.

3.You are a savvy enough blogger to participate in blogging forums, conventions, and hosting ads. This is the whole business end of the blogging machine and there are a lot of behind the scenes entrepreneurs out there working the Blogosphere market.

Ok – that is all my muse could give me as he had a hot date at some exclusive muse club. I am sure he will be around to pester me later this evening.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Did I mention she has the Pox?

Ellie has Chicken Pox, again. She was immunized 2 years ago by accident – sort of. Those were the days when we were up 7 times per night and walking around like zombies. Dave took her in for a doctor’s visit and they surprised him with the immunization. We had not discussed it and he did not realize it was a live one. 24 hours later Ellie landed in the hospital with a fever and severe vomiting and exactly two little pox on her skin for EIGHT days. After that I thought we were done, DONE with the pox.

But nooohhohooo. Apparently the Chicken pox immunization works only so, so. In our case it worked not at all as Ellie got the pox from it. So get this insanity, Ellie was scheduled next week to have her booster shot for Chicken Pox. If you step back and look at it, as I am right now in writing this post – it makes no sense.

Anyway, now that she is having what they are calling a “break through” case of the pox they assure me that she really, REALLY will be immune to Chicken Pox forever, oh except she has a 20% chance of getting Shingles later in life like all who have had the pox.

Don’t ya love it?

The good news is that it’s a really mild case. She does have several mini chicken pox on her back, legs, and arms but she has not been itching them. She has a small fever yesterday of 99.8 axillary and is keeping her fluids and foods down though she is refusing to eat (this is when having a g-tube keeps you out of the hospital – small consolation). In general, though a little tired, she is in great form.

My memories of the pox are old and very different. My two sisters and I had them when we were between the ages of 2 and 5 all at the same time. We were covered with them and they were so itchy it was insane. I remember us jumping up and down on my grandmother’s bed, laughing hysterically and itching all over and scratching! Ellie seems far more dignified about the whole thing.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Nutrition and the Brain Damaged Child: Part I

This one is for Jacqui and Moo.

Sometimes I think that there is so much to say about this I get overwhelmed. But at other times I know too it comes understanding and practicing a few important principles. I will share those first. I have a long background in studying nutrition because it has fascinated me from an early age. However, most of these principles and especially as applied to Ellie I learned from Linda Scotson at Advance. I will tell you the principles and then describe our journey and what has worked for us. Disclaimer: This is a cautionary tale. Though I believe in the basic principles wholeheartedly because they have worked for us and because they are logical, every child is different. A person’s blood type definitely comes into play in terms of what they should eat as well.

This post pertains to post NICU experiences. Ellie survived her 133 days in the NICU first on Total Perenteral Nutrition (TPN) through a PICC Line and then on breast milk. When Ellie got home we had her on breast milk for as long as we could. I pumped for Ellie for 19 months and my dear friend Kate donated her extra milk for over one year. After that we tried the nutritionist/doctor recommended diet, which was a disaster. Then we found Linda Scotson and went to England to go to Advance which is when we started changing Ellie’s diet and her health has been improving dramatically ever since.

Basic Principles Necessary for Understanding Nutrition and the Brain Damaged Child:

1. The Circulatory and Respiratory System and sphincters are weaker in a child with brain damage. When the brain is injured in any way the body sends most of its nutrients and oxygen to it first. The body instinctively protects its brain. When this happens to someone in infancy or in premature infancy like Ellie, other significant parts of the body become much weaker, the diaphragm and all the sphincters especially. This is important to understand as it dictates how well the child will breath, saturate their blood with oxygen, digest food, and heal.

2. Brain damaged babies and children have very few reserves. Reserve means a person’s ability to fight disease and infection. If you have a lot of reserves you get over colds quickly without too much taxation on your body. Elderly people often have low reserves and that is why they are fed broths and things easy to digest when they are sick. This same logic is not applied to babies and children.

3. The Twinkie Rule: Eat/ingest food that gives maximum nutritional benefit to the body while using the least of the body’s nutrients and energy to digest and metabolize the food. It is especially important for people with low reserves to eat things that give them the maximum amount of nutrition that takes their body the least amount of nutrients to digest. This is what I call the Twinkie Rule. When you eat a Twinkie you get nothing from it nutritionally but you use up nutrients and body fluids to process / digest that Twinkie. So your body is actually depleted / has less nutrients in it after eating a Twinkie than before. If you have a lot of reserves like most healthy people, you will be fine having the odd Twinkie here and there. But have you ever noticed how if you are run down and you have sugar you will get a cold or virus?

When I feed Ellie I want her body to get the maximum nutrients with the least expenditure of her energy to do so. The medical paradigm nutritionists had Ellie on a high fat and high sugar formula, basically a Twinkie diet with a horrible synthetic multivitamin thrown in to *beef her up. They did beef her up to some degree but to do this we had to get Ellie a J-tube, which fed the food directly into her intestines so she could not vomit it up. The rich diet made her sick as a dog every single day for one year. She had horrible gas from this and we were venting her 30-50 times per day – i.e. meaning opening up her gastrostomy tube and letting the gas escape her stomach. The j-tube was also really painful for Ellie and she woke up 7 times per night in agony that nothing would fix. We spent many whole nights rocking her, putting her on her stomach to relieve the pain, venting her, trying to calm and sing to her. She felt awful and we were exhausted. No one was sleeping.

It is important to note that during this time Ellie did gain weight as you can see by her arms in this picture. However, she did not gain inches in height or head circumference and had a definite lack of developmental progress in general. Why? Because she was sick, tired, gray of pallor, exhausted, gassy, all the time on this diet. We truly gave the nutritionist/doctor/big huge multinational companies pushing synthetic, surprisingly profitable baby food down our throats our best shot. All along the doctors were pushing us to get a
Nissen Fundoplication, which would make her permanently unable to burp or vomit as subject her to another surgery. It would also have made it very difficult for her to ever eat by mouth. Something the doctors had decided for us that she would never do. And they were completely wrong on that one. This is what galls me about the medical paradigm. It says if something is not getting better to manage with medication or “nutrition” the next step is surgery. The food makes the child sick so make it so the child can’t vomit it up. This is the medical paradigm for you. Is this totally BATSHIT INSANE, or is it just me?

Instead of saying, gee maybe the food we are feeding her is not working and we shouldn’t we change that, they say, let’s surgically close off her stomach and force the food into her. Why listen to what her body is telling us? We are nutritionist and doctors we know better what to do than the body does. The nutritionist would come to our home and ask why we were not getting enough volume into her. She would eye us suspiciously like we were purposefully starving our child. I thought she was going to call child services on us eventhough Ellie’s weight for her size was ok. But when her weight was compared to uninjured non premature birth babies it wasn't even close to the curve.

I understand the doctors and nutritionists have true concern for kids with such injuries and want to ensure they are getting the best nutrition. All you hear in the NICU is how your kid gaining weight and getting bigger will take care of all things. And in part, it's true the bigger they get the healthier they get. What I am saying is that sometimes practitioners of the medical paradigm can't see the woods through the trees. They get a little dogmatic about it versus looking at the child. Look at the baby was the first rule we learned in the NICU from dear Dynio.

But I digress. This nutritionist wanted us to feed her 900 cc’s of this mix of Neocate and Ploycose and MCT Oil per day. We tried but between the vomiting and pain and venting we were unable to get the volume in. At this time Ellie was on a 23 hour per day continuous drip feeds. Let me tell you that carrying around a Kangaroo pump whenever you need to move your baby is tough as well as the stares. Being fed all the time also does not allow the body to rest and do the maintenance it needs to when it is not digesting at night.

4. Sleep is critical for healing the brain and body. Sleep is so important to protect in anyone but especially a person healing from brain damage. In sleep the body works to heal itself, replenish it’s supplies of bile and other important fluids. REM sleep is the time when memories from the day are permanently incorporated into the neuro net and become things learned and in babies and children developmental milestones. Rich, sugary foods can interrupt sleep because the body is too acidic and reflux occurs. Blood sugar levels rise and crash and are harder to regulate when the body has ingested sugar which can also interrupt sleep.

5. All cells in the body build up acid. Uninjured typical bodied people get rid of this acid by moving around. In someone who does not move much the acid builds up in their cells and they become very acidic. Pair this with the weak sphincter muscles and slow motility and you have a recipe for severe reflux or GERD and eventually esophageal cancer and a very hard situation for the person. A low acid, high alkaline diet is really important to counteract all of this. The medial paradigm diet is high acid with its sugars and way too rich with its fats. I will go into the different food groups to cover acid and alkaline foods.

6. *Brain damaged children with CP are better off being on the thin side. Any extra weight is very hard on a body with an underdeveloped circulatory system and muscle weakness due to neurological issues. All children with brain damage especially those whose brain was damaged by an anoxic event – meaning a lack of oxygen have a weakened circulatory system. The therapy we are doing with Ellie each day works on strengthening her circulatory system as I have described in other posts. But there was this need on the medical nutritionists’ part to put some meat on Ellie’s bones at all costs. Ellie was skin and bones for a time after I took her off the medical diet. But now as you can see she is much healthier. Extra weight on a person with neurological problems just taxes the already low energy reserves of the person even more. There is a fine line between being at the right weight and over or under weight. When you feed a child in this predicament whole and simple foods and they are get enough sleep the body will find it’s ideal weight for the state it is in at the moment. We saw this with Ellie along with greater growth and developmental milestones, less illness, way, WAY less vomiting and rosy cheeks.

7. Proper food combining is essential. A friend of mine always used to say, “You are only as old as your enzymes.” This is in fact, a good point. Each type of whole food you eat takes a different enzyme to digest. Fruit takes one kind of enzyme to digest it and vegetables take another. Even within the fruit food group, melons for example put an extra load on the body to digest so they should not be combined with anything. Meats take different enzymes than carbohydrates. Eating the two together is particularly hard on the digestion. A great book that goes in depth about this is Healing with Whole Foods: Oriental Traditions and Modern Nutrition by Paul Pitchford. We have seen a huge decrease in Ellie’s vomiting and reflux due to combining the right foods. Of course this ties into the Twinkie Rule.

My Reference Books:
Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A. Balch, cnc and James F. Balch, MD
Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford
The Body’s Many Cries for Water by Fereydoon Batamanghelidj, M.D.
The Rainbow Diet by Gabriel Cousens, MD
Herbs and Magic Healers by Paul Twitchell.

If you are new to learning about nutrition reading the first chapters of Nutrition Healing will run you through many of the basic concepts. Healing with Whole Foods discusses lifestyle choices that affect the way your body assimilates food as well as information on food combining and recipes.

Part II will include details of the diet that has helped Ellie thrive, food combining and more.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

3BT's - Tell Me Yours

Hi Everyone. We have been in a really busy cycle again. (Like we ever left the first one...). Anywhoo, am trying to keep up with my new discipline and quest to be the MOTSP. Here are my three in Haiku format and they may be a bit cryptic, but they are my 3BT's. Each line is one of the beautiful things:

Sweetest smile I know
Ellie turning the handle
Good friends drinking tea

I would love to hear your three beautiful things in the comments of this post, Haiku format optional.

Monday, December 04, 2006


I, and about 30,000 others, emailed Clare this story. Being an organizational psychologist, all matters of the human psyche are interesting. Of course this story made me think of the movement Clare has started and all that positive thinking. Focusing on the good and the beauty instead of all the great, great many things that are really f$%&#$ up. I am sure that all of this is counteracting the entire murderous goings on across the globe.

For myself, I decided to practice it for three reasons: 1. While I don’t think of myself as a major whiner and I do try to always look for the good in my life, I have not done it in such a disciplined way. And right now, things are a bit on the overwhelming side so it’s a good time to start. 2. It’s a great way to be Master of the Short Post as Ara has been kind to notice. 3. It can’t hurt. ;-)

Today’s 4BT:

1. Ellie really can read. I'm always trying to make sure she knows what I think she knows and since she can’t speak this is difficult. I have been telling people she can read about 30-50 words. And I think this is true. But being 4 or 3.9 months if you do corrected…she is not always consistent. As a reality check to make sure every now and then that I am not just some deluded windbag I test her. Today she let me test her 5 times. I used her magnadoodle and wrote the letters of a word all mixed up at the bottom of it. For BATH I put down A B H T. Then I said to her, “Ellie, how do you spell BATH? Which letter comes first?” Sure enough, she put her thumb, which is her way of pointing, on the B. Then I wrote B at the top of the board. Then I said, “What comes second?” But she was way, WAY ahead of me. She quickly put her thumb on the A then the T then the H, which I had to quickly, write at the top. Of course there was lots of fan fare at this event. I rearranged the letters and she picked them out four more times with the words Cat, Dog, Mama, and Dada. She was lightening fast with all of them. So it’s a splinter skill according to school officials. But, damn if she can’t read!

2. Dave, a.k.a. really great hubby guy, taking over with Ellie when he got home and making me go to bed because I was feeling really sick.

3. Our Christmas tree, which makes me smile every time I see it and makes the house smell of pine. (pics to follow)

4. Linda Scotson and her tireless, 27-year quest to find healing solutions for brain damaged children. I spoke with her today and discussed Ellie’s diet and she has had yet another breakthrough on the nutrition front. I will go into this more when I write my post on nutrition and diet for kids with CP.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


1. Ellie being able to tell me where the pain is.
Last night Ellie was up at 3AM and would not settle. I got her attention between whinges and said, “Ellie. Do you have an aowie?” Ellie looked at me and looked at her legs. I said, “Show Mama where your aowie is.” Ellie took my hand and put in on one leg then the other. I have been trying to teach her to tell me where the pain is for 2 years now – so this is a major breakthrough. We took off her bivalves and I gave her some Motrin and she went back to sleep.

2. Ellie waking up at 8:10AM (versus 5AM as usual) after a difficult night. This could also be called; not having to get up after only three hours of sleep when it’s still dark and the world is asleep around you.

3. Dave’s floor feathering repairs. Lovely! He is healing our ramshackle house and fixing up the mess the airvent guys left. The energy in our home feels so much the better.

*3 Beautiful, Wonderful, Awesome, Amazing, Lovely Things

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Husband Training 101

Me, “How do you like my hair this way?”

Dave, “It’s alright.”

Me, “It’s alright but you like it better another way?”

Dave, “No. I like it curly. It’s cute that way.”

Me, “Yeah. Only an idiot would not like it this way.”

Dave, “I’m glad I said the right thing. I wouldn’t want to be branded for saying the wrong thing.”

Friday, December 01, 2006

Casting for hope: Parts 3 & 4

Part 3: BiValves and Ankle Foot Orthodic (AFO) Molds

On November 20th we got Ellie’s 3rd set of casts taken off. This set kept her feet just a few degrees shy of neutral for one week and were her most comfortable set. These were removed with the dreaded saw and made into Bivalves. Bivalves are casts that have been made into a brace that can be taken on and off. About half of the padding/gauze that existed in the cast is taken out and replaced with a cotton lining and straps on the outside to hold them on. They were wildly uncomfortable for Ellie and we had to give her feet a break the second night because her poor feet were swollen and bruised. The next morning it was like she had new feet they were so improved. After those first couple of bad nights she settled into these with a little added padding we added. They are a stop gap measure and because there is some play in them we were not able to practice standing.

After they decasted her, Tom, the expert orthodics guy, created molds of her feet and legs our of plaster paris. Ellie sailed through this and was easily distracted by reading her books. Dr. Webster was his ever attentative self and was very pleased with the progress made with Ellie’s feet. And I have to agree – it’s amazing the difference. She went from having severely clubbed feet to being able to get them into a neutral position in under two months time.

She also has picked up the new skill along the way of being able to turn the handle of her “Raggedy Ann” jack in the box. This indicates a neurological leap, believe it or not. The ability to turn a handle round and round takes a new level of neurological complexity. Yay for all milestones! I am not sure if being upright, even if infrequently, had anything to do with it. But I can’t help think that having a new perspective will help her development.

Casting Part 4: AFOs

Today we went back to the Floating hospital to pick up Ellie’s AFOs. Her feet are still much improved after having worn the bivalves for the better part of 23 hours per day for one week. We were there for four hours because they had to tweak them when Ellie’s feet would show signs of pressure. They also tweaked her bivalves to make them more comfortable for her.

The Plan

1. Break them in slowly. The plastic of the AFO’s is way less forgiving than the casts or bivalves. Because they can be taken off they are intended to be more corrective. The casting was serial because you can’t take them off so they can’t stretch the child’s foot too much because of the pain. But AFO’s are intended to put Ellie’s feet in neutral so that she can stand in them. By standing on them the hope is that they will correct even further. You can see by this picture when she was a couple of months old corrected age, -1 month actual age, that her feet were perfect when she was born but have been pulled out of place by her spasticity as I explained here.

To break these in slowly we will start her on 30 minutes on and then take them off and make sure there is no redness. We will do this twice the first day and then 4 times the next. After that we will see how she does after one hour then the next day after two hours and so on. In between she will wear the bivalves.

The goal is to have her in her AFOs all day and let her sleep in the bivalves because they are made of cotton and can breath.

2. Gait Training. We will be getting Ellie a gait trainer which is a metal frame with straps that will hold her upright and bear her weight but allow her to get from place to place by using her legs and feet.

3. Dr. Webster was very clear that Ellie needed a power wheelchair. This is exciting news in that we were not sure she could operate one. He thin sliced that she could and felt that being able to explore her world of her own volition would create better feedback loops and help her brian develop.

4. Getting her a soft spinal orthosis to help support her spine is also being considered when we get to the point when she is standing.

5. Knee immobilizers. You can see them here – they are the gray things with the black strips. We need to put those on her when she sleeps to protect her knees. Her knees and the alignment of her legs have been a huge concern for me in this whole process. I have not been successful in teaching Ellie the idea of pain – so she can’t tell me when she is in pain other than to cry and be out of sorts. But she can’t tell me where the pain is – which is very troublesome since we have entered into the business of tweaking her body.

The Conundrum: A Paradigm Clash

The logic that is worrying me is the paradigm I subscribe too that says that Ellie’s body and the shape of her feet are in balance with where her body is. If we put her in positions her body is not ready for it could be injured permanently leading to more medical interventions. I have seen this born out with getting the g-tube and the huge increase in reflux that caused. It is true that if you sit someone in a sitting position who is not strong enough to hold themselves up their spine will curve. This started to happen to Ellie but then I made sure that everyone put her on her tummy as much as possible and guess what, her spine straighten out. I have heard horror stories and seen a couple of kids with CP who have had metal rods put up their spines for this very reason. These rods subject them to a lifetime of pain and a shorter life as well. But they are sure easier to manage for the caregiver.

The Other Paradigm: Management Paradigm

The management of these kids for the caregiver is the impetus behind many medical interventions we found. It is not about healing them – it’s about making them easier to deal with for their caregivers. This horrified me when I first realized it. I am all about Ellie healing. That is why I do the nutritional, Oxygen and Neuro-respiratory Therapies. It’s why I assume she knows more than less. I want to create an atmosphere, physical, emotional, and spiritual environment in our lives in which she can live up to her highest potential.

I started this whole botox casting journey because I felt that if I let the spasticity pull her once perfectly straight feet into permanent deformity that would close the door forever on her walking. Ellie wearing braces will allow me to put her in a gait trainer and a stander. But if she is in them too much her feet will get weaker. Wearing the casts have already weakened her feet – though strengthen her thigh muscles. This weakening of the muscles due to leg and feet braces or AFOs was confirmed for me by a mother whose child with CP is a lot older than Ellie and can speak. She told her mother that her feet are weaker if she always wears the braces all the time. Thank God today I saw Dr. Webster put Ellie on her own feet, sans braces, to see how she would do.

The Go-Forward Challenge
Balancing between the two paradigms so that Ellie bearing weight can help correct her feet even more without curving her spine or distorting the straightness of her leg and wrecking her knees. A balance will have to be found between the “skeletal” like support AFOs will give her with the weakening of her muscles.

How will we do this? I am not totally sure but right now I know that I need to keep doing a lot of tummy time with her. I will have to see how much time she can spend with her feet free. I am not sure. I do know that Ellie is still going to be spending most of her time on the floor, rolling, side lying and on her tummy. That is her gym and the key to her getting stronger. I am not going to have her strapped into metal equipment all day. I just want to give her feet time while waiting for her healing circulatory system and brain to catch up. If you have any suggestions, please share them here. I am all ears.