How a Mother's Intuition Cured Her Son’s Eczema and Irritable Bowel Syndrome
A story of love and perseverance
by Sreeja V., Dec 19 2019
Listen to the Stories
Just a Tummy Ache?
Tummy aches and childhood go hand in hand. Any mom will tell you so. At times, the tummy ache becomes a pretext for moms to dissuade children from overindulgence and for kids to avoid a much dreaded Monday morning or skip eating greens at lunch.
So when a mother of an eight-year-old, in San Francisco, heard that her son was suffering from a tummy ache, she didn’t think much of it. She told him it must be a stomach bug.
A Worrying Pattern
But his insides kept gnawing after every meal. Two weeks later, they met with his pediatrician. After a few tests, the doctor concluded there was nothing wrong. But on a summer vacation trip to India, her son was in pain several times every week, so upon returning she decided to also consult a GI Specialist. Multitudes of tests later, the doctor couldn't find anything medically wrong.
Soon he developed a skin outbreak, causing the skin on his hands to dry up and look like tree bark. Then came the call from school, informing her that her son was taking too many bathroom breaks. This was unlike him. He was a serious student, not one inclined to take frequent breaks from class.
Once again, the only recourse seemed to involve consulting a host of specialists across domains. From urologists, gastroenterologists, pediatricians to dermatologists, they went to each hoping for an answer to what could be wrong. The dermatologist diagnosed eczema or atopic dermatitis and provided medications for that. The urologist diagnosed Irritable Bowel Syndrome and prescribed medications for that. For Mom, multiple diagnoses became exasperating as no one was tying it all together as a single problem with different symptoms. The dots remained disconnected. She was sure it was all intertwined as the symptoms emerged around the same time. She lamented over how specialization often leads doctors to look at issues through a siloed approach, leaving the larger picture unseen. She could see the unspeakable pain in her son’s eyes, and she was frustrated.
Ultimately, she took it upon herself to connect the dots. She wondered if it could be an allergic reaction that was possibly causing an effect on so many different organs. She consulted an allergist, who did tests that ruled out the standard allergies. But Mom persisted and was advised that if she still suspected an allergy, then she should eliminate the allergens from his diet and monitor results over several weeks. She began removing the usual suspects—lactose, for a couple of months each and observe. When it didn’t work, she would add it back to the diet and remove the next allergen, gluten, and observe for two months.
Finally, she decided to eliminate chicken from his diet, and to her delight, the episodes disappeared. Her boy no longer complained of tummy aches. Grabbing this sliver of hope, she put him on a vegetarian diet for six months. The results were miraculous—no pain, the eczema vanished, and the frequent bathroom breaks stopped. Even as the rest of the family continued to eat chicken, her son abstained. Months later, once he was all well, he decided to have some chicken at dinner. Three days later, he was doubled over in pain. The allergy was evident.
She went back to the allergist who told her that a chicken allergy is not unheard of, but it is rare. There’s only one way to find out if one is allergic—through a process of elimination.
Care to Share
She shares her experience of identifying her son’s allergy in the hope that others facing similar trials across the world might be spared the trauma. She hopes Swell helps others discover solutions, which sometimes lie hidden in a labyrinth of complicated symptoms and diagnoses. Even if her story only helps one other person in the world, she believes that’s good karma.