strategies

Taking time off work…

I’m finding it challenging to put all of the pieces together for this blog, so that it makes sense or so that there is some sense of events leading to other events.  But as everyone has experienced, life happens so quickly and there are so many events occurring on a daily basis that lead to other events and impact the roads we travel.  If it seems like we have jumped from one decision or path to another quickly and without much thought, it is not the case.  I would need a 750 page book to even begin to scratch the surface, and like my good friend Jan says no book that long is worth reading.

In the world of talking about learning disabilities and ADHD, a common language includes the world neurotypical.  I like this word because it gives me something closer to the reality to use when comparing Berrik to other kids without using the word ‘normal’ which would imply that Berrik is somehow abnormal.  For example – Berrik has average cognitive abilities according to assessments (which then add the caveat that the assessments may be an under representation of his overall intelligence due to inattention and speech delay – as an aside, I wonder how useful these assessments actually are), however he learns in a significantly different way than neurotypical kids.  To me, neurotypical means only that you ‘fit the mold’ of the school system and our educational culture.  You can sit in a desk and learn in a mainly auditory fashion.  Both our girls ‘fit the mold’ and therefore find school relatively easy.  Berrik is wired differently.  He has just as much capacity to learn, but the learning has to happen in a significantly different way.  He has had the benefit of great teachers and one less great teacher, but regardless of the skill of the teacher, he is one kid in a large class, and not the only kid who is ‘wired differently.’  The beauty (and frustration) of being wired differently, is that (just like neurotypical kids) each kid is so very different, and has completely unique strengths and weaknesses.  I cannot imagine how daunting this is for teachers with 27 kids staring up at them each day.  I knew that for Berrik, the only way his learning needs could be met is if I took some time off work to focus on learning how he learns and supporting him to reach his potential.  Lucky for me, my boss is the kind of person who understands how important this is for us, and was instantly and completely supportive.

I came across  TiLT Parenting in my constant and never ending research, and subscribed to the incredibly informative podcasts.  Last night I received an email from the creator of TiLT, with a link to the TiLT manifesto.  It describes my thought processes so well that I read it feeling like she was inside my head.   She talks about letting go and stopping trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.  This is exactly what I made the intentional decision to do very recently (more about that in a future blog).  Have a read if you would like to understand what has been going on in my head (don’t worry, it’s G rated…it won’t give you access to my entire thoughts! ;-)).  Her story is different than mine, but the feelings are so shockingly similar.

TiLT Manifesto

 

Test results

Leading up to the urine test, Berrik’s attention and mood seemed to have taken a downturn.  It made for a long few weeks as we awaited the test and the results.  I was exhausted with the pace of life – I was competing in dance that month, and McKenna’s dance competition season was amping up with dress rehearsals and extra practices.  Berrik had been tiring of some of the recipes I was using, so I was attempting to find and/or create new ones.  Add all this to a full time job and a kid who is now emotional and unfocused again, and I was feeling very overwhelmed.  Thank goodness for Avi’s patience with Berrik…she has always been very nurturing with him and because of their strong relationship, she is really great at keeping him busy and happy when the rest of us are running around like chickens with heads cut off – and for anyone who has ever seen chickens butchered, you can really understand how our family was functioning at this time!

So, the results come in and they are really odd.  Many of the results that were issues in the first test had been resolved.  All markers for yeast except one were within normal levels – however the one that was not had increased significantly.  Another marker called oxylates was through the roof, and there were a couple other really strange results.  The naturopath wasn’t sure what was going on and planned to call the doc at the lab to see if she had any thoughts.  It appeared to be very random and nonsensical, particularly when compared to the first urine test.

Never satisfied with not knowing, I took to reviewing the literature about oxylates and yeast markers.  After a few hours of reading, I found out that almonds are a food with one of the highest levels of oxylates, and overeating almonds can cause oxylate levels to rise significantly.  High oxylates can result in one specific yeast marker to rise as well.  And the other odd results were also related.  While I was glad to find the reason for the strange test results, I felt a little sick.  I was essentially poisoning my kid with almonds….  Almond flour is the easiest non-grain flour to work with – so my poor kid was eating almonds concentrated in his morning toast and his daily muffin at school, not to mention eating nuts as an afterschool snack and other more occasional almond flour goodies.  Sigh.

Back to the drawing board.  I slowly weaned Berrik off the almond flour and started looking for ways to bake without it.  I also decided that sticking to more whole foods and using muffins and other baked goods less frequently would be better for him anyways.  I told the naturopath what I had discovered and when she spoke with the lab doc, she agreed with me.  After a few weeks Berrik was feeling better (and so was I….overwhelming mommy guilt on that one!  Good grief. <insert eye roll here>)

At this point we decided to do a stool test to determine with accuracy if there was any yeast left in Berrik’s tummy, and if so, what type so we could treat it more aggressively if necessary. Also wanted to see whether there was good bacteria growing in there, as that will be the key to sustained health for my boy.  It was a three sample test – I’m sure you can imagine – poo in tray, little stick to put sample in little plastic jar – x 3.  Conveniently I was at a dance competition with McKenna when this started <snicker>, so nurse Kevin was on the hook for the poo.  After 2 samples had been collected, Mac and I arrived home from dance and I had one day at home before having to head to Vancouver for work.  Within an hour of arriving home I hear Berrik yell from the washroom, “Dad, I’m going poo in the tray…. want a sample?!”  I offered to collect this final sample, but superdad and uber nurse Kevin declined and marched off to collect.  For any of you wondering how I survive this crazy life – it’s because of Kevin.  He truly picks up all the slack in every area, regardless of what needs to be done.  I often marvel at my good luck, considering we met in a nightclub after a few beverages – I credit my excellent taste and sparkling wit – and perhaps his beer goggles that evening.  <shrug>

Stool test results came back – NO YEAST!!!.  Very exciting results as yeast can be difficult to clear.  We were so very strict with the regimen for almost 5 months and Berrik was SO good with avoiding grains and sugar.  Even at birthday parties he was voluntarily decline the cake and happily eat the ‘cookies’ or other treat I sent with him.  There was no bad bacteria showing up either, but the good bacteria was low, so still more work to be done.

At this point we reintroduced grains, but still kept sugar and yeast off the menu.  Again a downturn in attention and mood.  But we had a celiac test to complete so we stayed with the wheat for about 4 weeks.  As soon as the test was complete, I took Berrik back off wheat (but left the other grains).  Within a week or two, he improved again.  Celiac test was negative, but because wheat seems to cause issues for him, we decided to just keep him off of it for now.  Luckily with all the other grains and no more fruit limitations, Berrik has many more food options and was quickly gaining back the weight he had lost on the stricter anti-candida diet.

In my next post I’ll talk about my decision to take some time off work….

 

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