Stories of Hope: Autism, Downs, and More!
Angie is thrilled to share her incredible story of how Sagebrush Wellness helped to change her family's life. The family of 7 had a list of diagnoses, including autism, Downs Syndrome, asthma, learning disabilities, Hirschsprung’s Disease and epilepsy. Here is their incredible journey, especially how her her little 7 year old with Down Syndrome is now able to have bowel movements on his own and no longer has to be fed entirely from a bottle (which doctors told her would most likely never happen). The doctors tried to take away her hope. She didn't let that happen. . .
My name is Angie, I’m 40 years old. I’m married to a man named Jake and we have 5 kids, ages, 18, 16, 14, 10, and 7. When I was 19, I was diagnosed with epilepsy, after having 2 grand mal seizures. My epilepsy is not severe and is very easily controlled by a small dose of medicine. If I stayed off the medicine for 6 months, I usually had another seizure. If I took my medicine sporadically, I’d have auras.
When my 18-year-old son was 3, he was diagnosed with asthma, and was given a rescue inhaler at age 5 and put on Advair at age 10. My 16-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son, both were diagnosed with a minor form of asthma. Also, my 16-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a learning disability when she was 13. My 10-year-old was diagnosed with autism and a learning disability in math at age 8. My 7-year-old was born with Down Syndrome and was diagnosed with Hirschsprung’s Disease at age 3.
Hirschsprung’s Disease is where the nerves in the colon don’t work, so my son, Seeley has a hard time having a bowel movement. He had surgery in 2015 to take out bad nerves in his colon, but his sphincter muscle still doesn’t work great. I was told that Hirschsprung’s disease can affect the development of the child, so Seeley is very developmentally delayed. He doesn’t talk and started walking at age 6. He is not potty-trained. Before the surgery, we had to irrigate him 2-3 times a day, using homemade saline. After his surgery, he had BM’s easier, but every 6 months, he’d have to get a Botox shot in his sphincter muscle. We still needed to irrigate every day. In 2019, the doctor that did his surgery, left the practice and I was not impressed with his replacement. His tummy was getting so big because he was bloated and couldn’t pass the gas. The doctor put him on Senna, but that was not working, so he was just miserable. He also was not good at sleeping and his bedtime averaged between midnight- 1 am every night, and he woke up at 7:30. If he went to bed, earlier than that, he woke up even earlier.
Scheyer, my 10-year-old, started speech therapy when he was 3 and occupational therapy when he was 4 or 5 and that was only because Seeley started going. We didn’t think anything of it that he couldn’t talk very well and thought it was cute, that he pronounced Mario and Luigi as “Bo” and “G” and a sandwich was a “Ga-day”. I didn’t start him in kindergarten until he was 6 (he’s an April birthday) and he had an aide with him in K-2. When he was in 1st grade, I wanted him to start getting OT services through the school, so they had the school psychologist observe him. She diagnosed him with autism, and I was shocked. He was officially diagnosed by a neuropsychologist during 2nd grade. For some reason, the school he attended, didn’t think he needed an aide for 3rd grade.
Scheyer’s 3rd grade year was 2019-2020. 3rd grade is when the work gets a little harder and he was getting frustrated. That frustration usually turned into meltdowns at school, which usually meant that he ended up in the principal’s office.
I found Melissa through Facebook and messaged her, initially to ask if she knew of any essential oils that could help a child with autism. Through messaging back and forth, I found out that my teen-age sons had just played a basketball game against her teen-age sons a couple of weeks earlier. So, this started the daily communication with Melissa. That is when she told me about functional medicine and how it could help Scheyer. At the time, I didn’t have the funds to see her as a client, but she still gave me advice (I even sat by her, at her sons’ basketball games, and probably bombarded her with questions the whole time, in between cheering, of course). In these conversations we had, she told also told me about how her son used to have bad asthma but has controlled it with diet.
Meanwhile, Scheyer’s meltdown’s in school were getting worse and he was in the principal’s office every day, for hours at a time, just crying. (my husband works at the school and was a witness to it). Frankly, having the school switch to remote learning was a blessing for Scheyer in that aspect. However, Scheyer did not like remote learning and it was hassle to get him to do anything. I asked Melissa to switch kids several times during the 9-week period. Luckily, his teacher didn’t send home anything new, it was all review, but he did end up failing math that quarter. He refused to read the book that was sent home because it was about a cat, and he hated cats…that argument resulted in him kicking me. He was starting to get violent when he hadn’t been like that before. At one point, he was on top of me and I had to have my oldest son come and pull him off.
I ended up having the funds to go to Melissa as a client in March, but because of Covid-19, we didn’t go until June. Scheyer, Seeley and I are the clients, but she gives me advice on my whole family. She told us to go off sugar, gluten and dairy and has us take different supplements. Dairy was the easiest for Scheyer and I because I didn’t use it that much and Scheyer had switched to almond milk in January. Dairy was hard for Seeley because he drank lots of milk. We tried coconut milk because it has more fat in it, but he would only drink that for about a month, and then refused it. He will now drink almond milk.
Scheyer, on the other hand, had a harder time with going off gluten. Before the diet, Scheyer lived off peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We had a hart time finding out what he would eat. He’ll eat an occasional sandwich and has started eating homemade lunch Ables at school. He loves crackers, so we just had to stop buying them, so there was no temptation. I do a lot of baking now and have made all our cakes and cookies gluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar free. I’ve also made homemade gluten free chicken nuggets and mini corndogs. We buy a lot of gluten-free chips as the “snacks” in our house.
Going off sugar was easy because Scheyer would only eat it, if it was a candy bar and Seeley hardly eats it at all. So, I just quit buying candy. I admit, I still have the chocolate cravings, so I always have a stash of sugar-free candy that is sweetened with Stevia. I quit buying sugar cereal, so the only thing we eat are Cheerios, except my husband will buy a different kind, that only he likes. My favorite candy bar is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, so to replace that, I started making homemade peanut butter cups, where you use coconut oil, peanut butter and powdered monk fruit (and some other ingredients). This is also called Keto Peanut Butter Fat Bombs; I just make them in my mini muffin pan. I was worried about birthdays and Halloween, but we made the gluten-free, sugar-free and dairy free cakes for the birthdays and for Halloween we tried a barter system, where Scheyer went trick or treating and came home and traded the candy for some toys that I had purchased earlier. Seeley didn’t go trick or treating, so we didn’t have to worry about that. Scheyer did eat some of the candy but traded most of it.
I noticed changes in the kids pretty much right at the beginning of the program. During the summer, Scheyer still had some meltdown’s but not as many and they didn’t last as long. The biggest thing that happened, during the summer was that Scheyer learned to swim. Before the program, Scheyer wouldn’t put his face in the water and insisted on wearing a life jacket. He started out that way in July, but soon got the courage up to take off the life jacket and put on the goggles and swim. I was amazed at how well he was doing, and I fully expect him to be able to swim the length of the pool next summer. Another thing that happened in the summer was that he fired a gun, without noise canceling headphones. Loud noises always bothered him before, but he managed to fire a gun and stand there, while others were firing the guns. Going back to school was going to be the big test, but it is like night and day from last year. We have a new principal and a new special education teacher, so that helps, but he has not had very many meltdowns at all. The few that he has had, he has gotten out of them quickly. We are currently in remote learning, for a week, and he is doing much better. Although I hope remote learning doesn’t last past this week.
The changes in Seeley were different. Melissa put him on an enzyme and magnesium and that has helped him to have BM on his own, it was slow at first, and we still had to irrigate him. We did several rounds of a bacteria detox to get rid of the bad bacteria and he has some interesting diaper changes after that. We also sent a stool sample to a lab, to see what was up with him and had some bloodwork done. We are now at the point, where we don’t have to irrigate him very often and he’s going on his own. We are going to start him on a probiotic soon, to build up his good bacteria, and have backed off the magnesium (he’s on some other supplements too). His appetite is huge now and he loves almond milk yogurt (plain) and gluten -free chicken nuggets. Those are consistent in is diet, while other things he’s touch and go, like applesauce and frittatas. He also like GF waffles and mashed potatoes. Melissa told me at the beginning that the body finds a way to make things work and I understand now what she meant. Seeley is probably going to be in the program for a while, but its worth it.
I don’t have a severe case of epilepsy, but I am able to control it better with the diet that Melissa has me on. I was never great about taking my medicine and I would have auras all the time. Now, when I don’t take my medicine, I don’t have any auras. I also have more energy than I did before, and I’ve lost about 25 pounds. I used to get a lot of headaches and I relied on Diet Pepsi a couple of times a week. I rarely get headaches anymore and I haven’t had a Diet Pepsi since the beginning of June. I also was on prescription medicine for heartburn, but since I’ve started with the program, I don’t take that anymore and my heartburn is at a minimum.
This started out as a diet for just the 3 of us, but since August, I’ve had my 16-year-old daughter and 18-year-old son go from gluten and dairy. My daughter has lost 20 pounds, has an easier time with her asthma and has more clarity in school. My oldest son has been able to control his asthma better and hasn’t had his Advair for 2 weeks, while participating in basketball scrimmages. I’m so glad that I found Melissa on Facebook and was able to do this program. It has helped us tremendously. My whole family is eating healthier now, but we are missing things like ice cream and nachos.