Monday, June 29, 2009

The train-wreck amino acid results... and on I've mentioned on this blog that we were preparing to test Jennica's amino acid levels, with a promise that I would explain more later. But later has never arrived. Until now. Just before we left on vacation, we received amino acid test results. To sum it all up, pretty much a train-wreck. Oh goody. But at the same time, it gives us some hope that if we can correct some of these imbalances, perhaps some other things will also fall into line for Jennica. Like the ability to handle sensory overwhelming situations in a more logical manner, and the ability to correctly read body signs of hunger/thirst/cold/etc. before they cause out of control behaviors. So......this all could be a good thing. But its going to mean tackling another set of dietary interventions and supplements and......ugh........which is why we waited until AFTER vacation to fully address it. But here goes on what we know at this point:

In a perfect world, your body is properly nourished from the foods you eat. You consume the food, and your digestive system extracts the nutrients to be utilized as fuel for virtually all types of bodily functions. In a way over-simplified format, the term used to describe when a digestive system does not have the ability to extract the nutrients from food/vitamin intake is called "malabsorption." Malabsorption can be caused by a huge variety of things, but hypothetically-speaking, a person with a severe case could literally starve to death, while eating a very healthy and balanced diet. Does that happen? Probably not. But milder cases are very common. And an amino acids test can be used to help diagnose this condition.

Let me stop here for just a minute and state that Jennica has been proven with blood tests to have IgG food allergies to gluten, casein, peanuts, and eggs, right? Allergies are a type of auto-immune disorder, so the years that she consumed those foods prior to our knowledge of her allergies likely were damaging her digestive tract. The possible damages? Malabsorption! Do you see where I'm headed?

So........Jennica's amino acids test came back with a few areas of significant concern. The nutrients that control physical body functions (growth, muscle strength, heart health, eye health....all that stuff) are all good. But the nutrients that affect neuro-function are deficient! And the nutrients that the body uses to remove toxins from the body are deficient! Holy cow!!! There is a THEME here! This is a child with Sensory Processing Disorder (a NEURO condition) with high levels of specific toxins in her body! The dots are beginning to connect!

There are two specific nutrient deficiencies that came up throughout all areas of this testing: Magnesium and Vitamin B6. Why? We don't know........yet. There are other areas of deficiencies that will also require correction, but those two were consistent through all areas. what do we do about it? We're not sure yet. Our naturopath will be involved in that decision. If her body doesn't absorb magnesium from food sources, will it absorb it in pill form? Or is it going to have to be given in shot form? (Like my own B12 shots.....which I'm still doing, by the way.) And what about that B6, which tastes brutally nasty in pill form. We've already been down that road with her and had to remove the B6 from her menagerie of supplements, as we found out that she could smell it a mile away. (Anyone remember the post about a year ago about a nasty little yellow pill that she REFUSED to take? That was B6!!! I took it and about vomited myself!)

But anyway, all this is really fascinating to me. As much as part of me wants to pull the covers over my head at the thought of attacking a whole new supplement routine, I have to admit that these results show some real consistencies with other results from completely separate tests ran several months ago. For example, her metals tests last winter came back showing high levels of toxins, and now her amino acids tests show that she's lacking the nutrients in her body that perform toxin removal. A coincidence? I think not! So.....I have some hope. We have roughly two months to "fiddle" with her supplements before school starts, so now is a great time to experiment. I'll keep you all posted!

A vacation to remember.....

Wow! Our vacation at Lake Chelan was exactly what we needed.........uneventful, restful, with no schedules to follow. The house we rented (sight unseen) turned out to be a great choice for us. Newer, roomy with lots of windows with great lake views, and 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. With Jennica's diet, the reality of motel life would be simply impossible, so this was a great option. We lounged some hours on the deck, and enjoyed the hot tub immensely. This was WAY better than a motel, and we will definitely go this route again. And access to the private pools and lakefront parks of this community were another definite plus. We didn't have to fight ANY crowds. Wahoo!

Activities were varied, but all relaxing. Swimming, hot tubbing, swimming some more, golf, a move in town for the boys, putt-putt golf for the girls, reading, lazing, and one long afternoon at the water park. Mike even insisted that I go get a massage one day, which I enjoyed to the utmost.

I'm posting photos of the kids. It was back to life as usual today, but its good to feel rested after our whirlwind school year. What a great way to start the summer!

Monday, June 15, 2009

The marathon is over...

After the past 10 days............all I can say is "Whew!" Two graduations, a third graduation (preschool) that was cancelled due to a swine flu threat, a solid week of ballet with 85 little girls followed by the ballet recital (three shows in 24 hours), Jennica's normal OT and speech, field trips, last day of school, spring football started..............Whew! of today, life is much quieter. Of course, life with us is always at a dull roar, but the crazy-ness of early June is behind us. We have crossed the finish line!

This Friday, we leave on vacation to an undisclosed, secret location. Our plans while we're there? To do as little as possible. Sleep. Eat. Play. We have no intention of returning from our vacation more tired than we left. We have nowhere to be at any scheduled time, and we're simply going to enjoy 7 days of leisure.

I will post photos soon of the ballet recital, but today is "recovery" day, so I'm not spending much time in front of the computer. :)

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Updates from the Land of Chaos

Every single darn year, the final few weeks of school are chaotic. I always forget the level of craziness......until it is upon us. But there is excitement in the air! School is almost out! Wahoo! I think I'd be MORE excited if I was looking forward to months of nothing-ness like that kids are........but oh well! I, too, was once a child awaiting 11 weeks of vacation. ( I wish I had appreciated it more!)

In any case, things here are going well. Its been wild with band concerts, Dane's final sports banquet of the year, Tiersten gearing up for the ballet recital on the 12th & 13th, and getting the horse added to our routine. (Loving that last part, by the way. I had almost forgotten how good horse sweat and manure smells.)

And this week, Jennica had a visual evaluation update, and her issues are improving with her at-home therapy on the computer. Yippee! Her tracking is better and........the boys love this part......her developmental vision doctor has PRESCRIBED a Wii for her. :) So.....we'll be adding "Wii therapy" to her routine in the next few weeks. Of course, as Mike was quick to point out, wouldn't the Wii therapy be even better on a 60-inch plasma screen? Perhaps another prescription is due? Yeah.........we didn't think so either.

Jennica also will be doing speech therapy over the summer in addition to her occupational therapy. This one baffles most people that know Jen, as she communicates extremely well, is considered "on target" for all speech and language issues, and has no enunciation difficulties. So......speech therapy? But while it is a subtle issue, her sensory processing makes it difficult at times for her to express herself in ways that will allow her to communicate at a higher level. When life is good.......she does great. When she gets stressed or over-stimulated, she has a hard time expressing exactly WHAT is stressing her, and asking in an acceptable manner for what could help her. Those are the times when she still turns into a raging beast, or a whiny cling-on. She also struggles a bit with some subtle social language skills, so it will be good to get some help with that. We're merging now into some of the more advanced manifestations of SPD, but these are the skills that need to be built in order for her to be successful. Keeping the eye on the goal. Function......function.......function......Also exciting for us is that her EXCELLENT preschool teacher has been hired next year to teach Kindergarten. This particular teacher just attended the two-day seminar with us on SPD, and has spent a year with Jen already. She understands the disorder, knows Jennica well enough to recognize what issues are "kid issues" and what issues are "SPD issues", and communicates well with us about our goals and objectives. Wahoo! This is a great thing for Jen!!

And yesterday, I spent the day in Seattle with Grant at the maxillofacial surgeon. Grant WILL have surgery.......100% for sure. However, the surgeon is recommending that we hold off for 12-18 months for 2 major reasons: 1) Grant needs to have his wisdom teeth out, and removing the wisdom teeth is going to leave a "hole" in the bone right where they need to cut. They need that bone to be as strong as possible to hold the new pins, so we will be removing wisdom teeth surgically this summer, which will give plenty of time for that bone to heal before the jaw surgery. And 2) His jaw is currently asymmetrical in growth. That's pretty normal for an almost 14-year-old, as bones don't always grow at the same rate on both sides. But if the bone is going to stay assymetrical, they will correct it during the surgery. If the bone is going to even out in the next 12-18 months, they don't want to correct it now during surgery, only to have it continue to grow (and end up crooked) after the surgery. All this makes perfect sense to me, and I like the doctor's willingness to time things properly so this is a one-time deal.

The surgery, when the time is right, will take place at Swedish Hospital in Seattle, and will involve an overnight stay. They no longer wire the jaw shut for this surgery, as was done in the past (much to Grant's relief), but he will have to eat fairly soft foods for about 6 weeks and will not be able to play any contact sports for a minimum of 10 weeks after surgery. Another reason to time things right, as he's going to throw one heckuva temper tantrum if anyone suggests missing out on a season of football. :)

And, of course, being me, the great-asker-of-questions, I asked what would happen if Grant didn't have this surgery? On a short and long-term basis, is it a huge deal if Grant's lower jaw is smaller than his upper jaw and he lives with an overbite? (I'm not trying to be a neglectful parent, but I wanted to know!) The surgeon told us that his measurement for correction, if the surgery were done today, is 9 millimeters, which is pretty significant. Most likely, as life progressed, Grant's lower front teeth would begin to destroy the soft tissue and bone behind the upper front teeth. His jaw joint would suffer from extreme stress, and he could expect to suffer from severe headaches and other jaw disabilities. Potential for future surgery in adulthood would be very high, with a more complex surgery involved to correct the bone issue he has, as well as any damage that had resulted from the bone issue. Okay.........I'm good with that answer. I'm convinced that this a necessary surgery.

So Grant has the summer "free" from jaw surgery after all. Except for the wisdom tooth removal. Too bad I can't suck them out of his head with a shop vac. :)