Karen Dame Healing Solutions
Karen delicately and graciously shares the journey of her undiagosed hypothyroid son and his lost childhood.
When my son suddenly became ill at the onset of puberty, it never occurred to me that it could be thyroid related. I had symptoms of hypothyroid for over thirty years, yet because my labs were always within range, I was told my thyroid was fine, regardless of the fact that I had symptoms. Sound familiar? I would be willing to bet that many people reading this have had a similar experience. With this in mind, I had no reason to believe that my son’s health crisis could be related to thyroid dysfunction.
Cullen’s health was never a concern until spring of his fifth grade year. He was a healthy little boy with lots of energy and for the most part, always cheerful. My son was what I referred to as a high-energy kid. When he entered the first grade, he demonstrated some minor learning challenges, specifically in the area of focus, concentration, and staying on task. We set up an independent evaluation by a child Psychologist who labeled Cullen, ADD.
In the wake of this diagnosis we were offered a pharmaceutical drug as a solution. I declined that offer as promptly as it was rendered and went home to research ADD. Much of what I learned was that many of these symptoms were related to certain foods that were known to trigger inattention in some individuals. This was an easy thing to remedy by simply identifying and removing the specific foods. Withdrawing foods that created stimulation would quell the brain and calm his body so that he would be able to absorb information and get his work done.
He moved through elementary school as normal as most kids do and at times needed help to stay on task. There were no red flags at any time, nothing that was any cause for concern. He started puberty six months after his 12th birthday. The hormonal changes ushered in by this phase of life brought with them health challenges that surfaced practically overnight. He developed sensitivities to five foods he had always eaten with no difficulty. He felt nauseous after breakfast every morning while on his way to school. Constipation became the norm for him and the ADD symptoms returned. His body temperature ran both warm and cool, he was skinny with an inability to gain weight and he had perpetual brain fog, in addition to occasional mind racing. He fainted one morning while at school and this was the beginning of a very long eight-year health crisis that at times I never thought would end.
Cullen could not return to school. He was much too sick. We withdrew him at the end of fifth grade and he never started middle school with his friends. I took on the responsibility to home school; a task I never imagined would be a part of my job description as a parent.
Throughout this time, my son’s health continued to spiral downward, despite all the doctors, practitioners, tests, procedures, supplements, and diet changes we employed. He was a very sad and lonely young boy. Most home-schooled kids are part of a home-schooling network which provides them with opportunities to socialize with other children and activities to participate in. Cullen was too sick to leave the house outside of doctor’s appointments and testing. He missed his school and his friends, he mourned the life he had been previously fully engaged in and loved. We powered through our home-schooling lessons each day and continued with our many doctor appointments.
As his Mom, it broke my heart to see the suffering he endured both physically and emotionally.
Throughout this journey, I read every book I could find on the subjects of the brain, food sensitivities, GI disorders, ADD, anything I could identify that had a connection to a symptom he displayed. Over eight years we traveled to see doctors and specialists throughout Florida where we lived at the time. We expanded our search for a diagnosis and healing to other states like Colorado and even saw renowned physicians in both Arizona and Massachusetts, all to no avail. Every doctor had a theory and their own bag of tricks in the form of tests, supplements and in some cases pharmaceuticals, yet there was never a diagnosis offered and my Cullen’s emotional and physical health continued to plummet. No doctor was able to assign a name to whatever this was and none of these professionals could fix him. In some cases, the protocols prescribed actually intensified his already debilitating symptoms.
As time passed, his GI symptoms were building as he was weakening. He developed anxiety and insomnia. He was so thin that his physical appearance was that of a skeleton with his ribs protruding from under his skin. He was pale and had dark circles under his eyes and at times his energy was at an all time low, yet other times he had the energy of an Energizer Bunny. The schoolwork he faced each day became increasingly difficult for him. He loved learning, but he also had difficulty absorbing, processing and staying focused.
Cullen was always very artistic and loved the idea of creating video games for a living some day. While the prospect of college seemed dubious due to his health issues, we forged ahead and always encouraged him. As a home-schooled high school junior, we visited three colleges offering a Digital Culture major. He decided that if he could attend college, he wanted that school to be Arizona State University. We packed up our things and moved west. Cullen was still very sick, but he had been through so much and we wanted to support his dream of someday attending ASU to earn a degree and embark on a career in the industry he’d always spoken about.
By this time I had read quite a bit about Chiropractic healing, so I decided this was to be our next step. Never in my wildest dreams could I have thought that this would be the catalyst to Cullen’s healing path. I found a great DC in Scottsdale, Arizona who adjusted Cullen weekly. Dr. Robinson placed him on a supplement he had seen great results with in helping to heal gut health and over the course of three months Cullen’s GI function began to improve to the point where he was able to go back to a traditional brick and mortar school on an abbreviated schedule to finish his senior year of high school. The following May he would walk across that stage to receive his diploma in his cap and gown with all of his new friends. You cannot imagine what that was like for him and for us.
Cullen was better than he had been in years, yet he still had some lingering health issues needing to be resolved. By this time, I earned four Certifications in Health and Nutrition and knew enough about the gut to know it was the root cause of disease and illness. Fixing gut function must be the first step addressed when faced with a health challenge. When the gut is functioning properly, very often health challenges resolve. I put together a Digestive Reset plan that Cullen followed. It was the second phase of healing for him.
I identified an Osteopath who would prescribe Natural Thyroid for me based on my years of hypothyroid symptoms, despite the fact that my lab work always indicated my thyroid function was ‘normal.’ I felt that Cullen had some very similar symptoms and I asked my new DO to evaluate him. To my surprise and the doctor, the text book sized folder containing years of tests that Cullen was put through, indicated no one ever checked his thyroid.
She ran the proper tests and we were astonished to discover he was hypothyroid with very severe iodine deficiency. Years of suffering, thousands of dollars in doctors, procedures, tests, and supplements and no one ever thought to check his thyroid function. I placed him on the Iodine Protocol immediately, adjusting the dose over time and that became phase three of his healing path. After a few months we added in Natural Desiccated Thyroid to aid in his hypothyroid condition. Cullen began to come back to us. His brain fog started to lift, he was gaining weight, his chronic acid reflux cleared as a result of the iodine, which is needed for the production of stomach acid. Cullen had energy and his sleep improved. Many of the GI problems had resolved and above all, he was cheerful again! Cullen’s path to healing allowed him to reclaim his life and embrace it fully once again.
Cullen has successfully completed his freshman year at ASU and has already started his sophomore year. He gets his work done on his own and is an excellent student. My sick little boy is now a healthy young man with a very bright future. When I think about all the suffering and loss of a partial childhood, it makes me very sad.
But, the sun did come out for my Cullen and for that healing, I will always be grateful.
Cullen’s story underscores just how important it really is to be your own health advocate and also, to never stop searching for the right physician who will make a proper diagnosis. If his thyroid function had been checked, all those years ago, and his hypothyroid diagnosis had been detected, I believe he would have been spared the pain, challenges and sadness of the health crisis that was his adolescence.
About the Author
Karen Dame, CHHC, AADP, is a nationally known and respected figure in holistic healing and preventative health care. A Certified Holistic Health Practitioner, Wellness and Nutrition Consultant, Karen is an influential voice leading conversation on personal health through her website Karen Dame Healing Solutions and through the many followers on her Healing Solutions Facebook groups. Karen’s depth of knowledge and ability to cut through the noise and misinformation to reveal the truth of healing make her an especially treasured and valued resource for well-being. Karen can be reached by email firstname.lastname@example.org Be sure to follow her on Twitter and check out her other Facebook Groups. She also offers Flex Time Personal Consultations, click here for more info!