I’ve been looking forward to sharing this post with you for some time, even before Nichole wrote it. Meeting Nichole last November 2011 at the Wise Traditions conference was a highlight — probably of my life. It is weird to say that, but that’s how I feel about it. Nichole is really special and open. Just read her Ellie Belly blog and you’ll fall in love with her writing and her family, and you won’t want to miss a day of daughter Ellie’s updates, progress and setbacks, or Nichole’s humorous and faith-full accounts of life’s ups and downs. And now, here is Nichole to share Ellie’s story (complete story here), which brought me to tears when I first heard it and today gives me HOPE. –Wardee
I was on a desperate mission to help my chronically ill toddler when I was thrust into the world of real food. Early in 2011 I started her on GAPS, and frantically searched the internet looking for help with ferments, broth, and cleaning out my pantry. GNOWFGLINS was my first major real food discovery (tried the not-so-tough-jerky — still one of our favorites).
Later that year I discovered that Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride would be in Dallas doing an all day GAPS training for the Weston A. Price Foundation annual conference. Being a veteran teacher I am a little nerdy about conferences, and even though I had no idea who Weston A. Price was, I was not about to leave a single rock unturned when it came to healing my daughter.
I planned a last minute adventure to Dallas to learn from Dr. Natasha and her colleagues in person. I was giddy with the idea of meeting these real food rock stars, and was not disappointed. When I bumped into Wardee in line for food, I was thrilled! Another rock star for my list! I was blessed when she shared some of her real food journey with me, and humbled when she asked what brought me to the conference. This is what I told her:
Dr. Natasha saved my daughter’s life. I know it sounds entirely dramatic, but it is also the absolute truth. Ellie was filling her diapers with blood by 10 weeks old. It was extremely scary. She went through months of blood work, tests, scopes and biopsies. By 10 months old she received the diagnosis of Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome, or F.P.I.E.S., which I was told meant “allergic to all food”.
What I knew to be true was that when she ate any food the result was a reaction that could include projectile vomiting, profuse acidic diarrhea, dehydration, or blood pressure changes resulting in shock-like symptoms.
As she got older, she got worse, and her predicted outcome got worse. She was prescribed a highly processed, medical grade, canned formula that she was expected to live on — perhaps into her school age years. The morning of her first birthday she was gifted her first colonoscopy. And with each day she got worse. She began regressing developmentally. EGID, disaccharide deficiency, colitis, unexplainable respiratory symptoms, and petit mal seizures were all added to her chart.
At 18 months old, an allergy test revealed that she had a severe allergy to corn, and once again doctors were stumped. There was no formula in existence that did not have one of her top allergens as an ingredient. We were sent home with instructions on what we could try to feed her. And that was the push I needed to make the leap. I started her on GAPS and the rest is history.
We weaned her off of the formula and onto broth. Within 24 hours of the last formula bottle she said 6 new words! And within 3 months, she had caught up on all major milestones. It was not easy, but it was incredibly worth it. She has been growing, healing, and thriving ever since.
A lot has happened since that trip to Dallas. Ellie spent 16 months on a restricted stage 1 of just broth, meat, and zucchini. After 22 months she is now on stage 3, and we celebrate her progress every day. Each healing journey is individual, and I know that hers is going to take time.
But now I know that she will grow up to be just fine.
I have known fear. I have been told there is no answer. I have held my 18 month old toddler and feared that she wouldn’t make it until morning, when her only source for nutrients was making her sicker. I have spent countless hours researching, reading medical studies, and trudging from appointment to appointment, just to hang on to hope.
There is hope. There can be healing. Ellie is my homegrown proof.
And now I am absolutely passionate to reach as many mamas as I can with that hope. The result of that has been the development of GAPS Kids, a support community. We started as just a handful of mamas, and now have a community of entire families working to encourage each other on the path of healing and hope. It’s a safe place to find resources, ask questions, see success stories, and know that you are not alone.
Each GAPS journey is different, because God has made us all completely individual. But the need for hope and community is always the same. Have hope!
If you’re in need of hope and help, please visit Nichole’s online support community: GAPSandKids.com. And in the comments below, please share: how is God giving you hope?