When My Journey Began...
My son was born in April of 2004. I was a new mother at the age of 16. I had always known about holistic health and complimentary alternative medicine but I never imagined that I would be an adult and following it and seeking out a formal education in this industry. My son was born healthy at 7lb 14oz and measuring 21", he was tall! My plan to breastfeed did not go smoothly at all and I struggled very much with sore and cracked nipples which were extremely painful. So to keep my son nourished I had to turn to formula. We went through several different brands and types of infant formula before finding the one that worked well for him and he didn't spit up everytime he fed.
Around the time he was six months old, we noticed he had some spots on his body. They did not blister or scale and I didn't think much of it at the time. Eventually, after his spots multiplied, we brought him to his pediatrician to make sure he was alright. They couldn't find anything wrong with him and just prescribed an anti-itch cream to use topically if the spots started to bother him. As a new mother, especially a young teen mother, I listened to the doctor and did what he said. In my gut I still felt like something was off. If he didn't have chickenpox, and he didn't have measles, it wasn't hives, it was not an allergic reaction, and they were definitely not freckles, then what on earth was it?
Fast forward about a year and you would've found me crying my eyes out when my son went to sleep. During his nap times I was researching and calling dermatologists around the world. I even called a retired pediatric dermatologist in Europe who had written an article on a condition that seemed similar to my son's. But unfortunately, he could not help me. I literally spent many weeks going through the Yellow Pages and just cold calling any and all dermatologists. Eventually, I called a dermatologist that was local here in Houston. The nurse answered the phone and I explained what was going on with my son and how he had these spots all over his body but his doctor could not figure out what it was. She put me on hold for a few minutes and then the dermatologist picked up on the line. The nurse had told him what I had told her and he was intrigued. He felt he knew what was going on and asked if I could come in immediately. So that's what I did. I packed up my son in the car and drove to his office which was literally 10 minutes away. We signed in and was immediately brought to an examination room. The doctor came in after a few minutes and introduced himself and thanked me for coming in so quickly. He was not a pediatric dermatologist, but had made an exception due to the circumstances. He took one look at my son and said, "You're son has what is called urticaria pigmentosa mastocytosis."
Of course, my head is spinning at this strange long string of words and not knowing what that is. He explained to me that my son has too many mast cells in his body and they are showing as a pigmentation in his skin as spots. Mastocytosis can be triggered by a very large variety of factors including temperatures, foods, fabrics, medicines, chemicals, and even emotions. He wanted us to get the best opinions from the best in the field so we could have a formal diagnosis for him, so he invited us to the Grand Rounds Pediatric Dermatology Convention where dermatologists from all over fly in to Houston, Texas and get to meet many patients with rare and un-diagnosed diseases and illnesses.
So when the time came, we got up at the crack of dawn and went. We were put in an examination room and my son got to sit on the table while dozens of dermatologists came through with their notebooks and cameras and photographed him, poked his skin, asked us questions, and took many notes. When this conference was over, we received confirmation from the dermatologists that saw him that it was indeed urticaria pigmentosa mastocytosis. I was relieved to finally have a diagnosis and know what was going on with my son.
Unfortunately, at the time, this was a disease that was incredibly rare and there are few doctors who are versed in handling it. We took the diagnosis back to his pediatrician and were told what to look out for and to keep EPI pens on hand and Benadryl products. Over the years, we learned what his triggers were and did the best that we could to manage them and treat them. We found out that heat, emotions, sweat, fabrics, and almost every medication possible was a trigger for him.
And this is where my journey began.
I had to find ways to help ease his symptoms so he could lead a normal (or as normal as we could make it) childhood. So I began to research home remedies and alternative medicines for the typical childhood illnesses like coughs, runny noses, allergies, upset stomach, etc. It became our life. My son is now 13 years old and for the most part leads a normal childhood. We do home-school due to this but he doesn't mind it much. He regularly goes bike riding and rock climbing with his dad and step-mom on the weekends, he hangs out outside with his friends, he does the typical things that 13 year olds do. LOL. Last year in August of 2016, I had several friends tell me that I should go to college for holistic health. I had never really thought of it before on a serious level. I more like day-dreamed of it if that makes sense. But, I decided to take the jump and I applied at the American College of Healthcare Sciences. After multiple interviews and writing an essay, I got the e-mail that I was accepted. I didn't even think I would get in, but I did. I was so excited and nervous! I had also applied for their scholarship and was one of the recipients. I was so thrilled! I was finally going to be able to formally study and be trained in the holistic health field and learn more ways that I could help my son and help teach him how to help himself when he is older.
Fast forward to current day, I have now completed my second semester with ACHS. Last Fall 2016 I made the Dean's List and I am waiting on the e-mail to find out if I made the Dean's List for Spring 2017. I am enjoying every bit of my studies and putting in as much time and effort that I possibly can. My kids enjoy me telling them about all the things that I have learned thus far and they are learning the things that help them to feel better. I am so grateful that I am able to ease the struggles that my son and my family go through with the help of holistic health and complimentary alternative medicine. I have a very long journey ahead of me as I am pursuing my goal to become a Naturopathic Doctor (N.D.). My long-term dream is to open up a clinic offering holistic services to people with no health insurance and who are low-income. I will continue to build Sacred Perennial during my journey and sharing the great information I have learned from ACHS.
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