What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest posts is by Elizabeth.
I want you to know that I have an amazing 4-year old son. He is healthy, active, smart, compassionate, and has an great sense of humor. When he was 3, he began to develop tics. Rubbing his nose. Tapping one toe with the other. Flexing his hands and fingers, then repeatedly forming them into fists. Making squeaking noises with his mouth.
We tried not to worry. We didn't call attention to it. Our family has our own fair share of quirks and we figured that he was no exception. But it started getting worse. We spoke to his pediatrician who advised us to "watch him"--not to worry unless it began to interfere with his everyday life. Which sounded good to us, until it got worse, a lot worse.
He was making squeaking sounds with his mouth--a lot. One night out of the blue, he prayed for God to take away his squeaks and toe taps. Then one Sunday as we were leaving church, he couldn't even make it to the car because he literally could not stop tapping his toes.
That was the day I went from being mildly concerned to being literally sick with fear.
I began to research tics and Tourette's in children and decided to take my son to see an environmental allergist. On our first visit with the doctor, he tested my son for traditional allergies as well as chemical sensitivities (both of which he was experiencing). He wanted to test for food allergies, but I was adamant that foods were not a problem.
Shortly before our second visit with the allergist, my son experienced an increase in his tics and broke out in hives. The doctor insisted we test for foods and I was completely shocked at the results.
My son, who for 4 years, had eaten a normal diet tested allergic to: eggs, peanuts, rice, onions, beef, chicken, shrimp, cottonseed, oranges, and chocolate. Wow.
We removed all offending foods from his diet, which was no small feat. And within days, his tics decreased DRAMATICALLY. Anytime we make a little mistake with his diet, it is evident because his tics come back.
Planning meals for him feels like a full-time job sometimes, but it is worth it to see him in control of his own body again.
What I want you to know is that if we hadn't pursued the kind of help we did, I believe my son would have entered kindergarten with a diagnosis of Tourette's.
I want you to know that we will not be able to go out to eat, go to family holiday functions, or birthday parties without a lot of advance planning, but we will still do all of those things.
I want you to know that food allergies come in all shapes and sizes. While we are so very thankful that our son's food allergies are not life-threatening, they are very real nonetheless.