You have no idea how much food matters in a child’s life, until you have a child who can’t eat anything.
For those of you who know me personally or have visited this site in the past, you likely know that my older son lives with multiple food allergies and a food allergy related disease called Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EE). And if you did not know, there you have it. It is hard to escape, following me into what feels like every single conversation I have had in the past ten years.
When he was first diagnosed as a baby we started on a whole new way of living. The story would take forever to tell. He had very few foods that he could eat safely. He has had countless doctor appointments and tests, including 33 endoscopies in eight years. We brought our own food and emergency supplies everywhere, every single time we left the house. All teachers and caregivers knew what to do in the case of an emergency. My son had never eaten at a restaurant beyond one amazing trip to Disney and recently a not-so-great restaurant near our home that could accommodate our specialized order.
Most families have a favorite restaurant, can hit a drive-thru, get a treat at the bakery, enjoy an ice cream cone together, or order in a pizza on a busy day. Not our family. With so many allergies, there was just too much risk.
That is, until yesterday.
About two years ago I learned that Ming Tsai, award winning chef and host of Simply Ming, said his son was cured of multiple food allergies by a woman in Lexington, Massachusetts. He called her an energy healer. After a bit of digging I found her, curious about her approach and whether her ability to cure kids of food allergies could really be possible. Part of me was skeptical, thinking that she must be a quack, while the other part was desperately holding out hope. After 33 endoscopies and too many years of playing a frustrating game of one-step-forward, two-steps-back, it was at the very least worth the inquiry.
We got on her waiting list for summer. Afraid to be excited for fear of disappointment, instead we spent the spring nervous and anxious about what we would find when we got to her office. We figured out where to stay and the best routes to take for the 5-6 hour drive each way, which we would be taking once every week. In the interim we discovered that a friend-of-a-friend from Colorado had been there too, and her son had been cured of multiple anaphylactic food allergies. When we spoke with her she said that like us, she would not have believed it possible either had she not seen it with her own two eyes.
Could this really happen for us? It seemed so unlikely, but we were about to find out.
It was difficult at the beginning for all of us to let go and trust the process. We have, after all, lived our lives on high alert for almost a decade. Yet there we were, trying to put our trust into this new individual in a small office in a small town, instead of a renowned children’s hospital with researchers and clinicians and doctors galore. Then again, we were at a point where we just had to try something different instead of continuing to spin our wheels. Trusting the process became all we had left, and in many ways that made it even more frightening.
We have been seeing Amy Thieringer now since June, and have driven back-and-forth from Philadelphia to Boston about 20 times to date. In this little office in the beautiful town of Lexington, Massachusetts, sits a woman who is curing children of food allergies. And now I know too that it really is possible, because I also have seen it with my own two eyes.
I won’t even try to explain how she does it, except to say that it is non-invasive and homeopathic. (Another reason why we felt it was worth a try.) She utilizes a kinesiology and an energy balancing technique known as NAET, adding more components to ensure its success. Her goal is to strengthen the immune system, re-script the way the body reacts to the foods, and very slowly reintroduce them. Two of the first major allergic foods we chose to work on are egg and beef. After several months of working together, my severely food allergic child can now eat them both without fear of a reaction. This opens a whole new world of food choices for him, the boy who typically eats a plain turkey sandwich on gluten-free bread every single day. A few weeks ago, on his tenth birthday, he ate his first ever “real” cake. Just before his first bite, through a puddle of nervous, ugly-cry tears, he called it “the best day of my life”. Little did he know that it was the best day of mine, too.
For the first time ever, my son felt close to normal.
Yesterday, my son and I had just gotten to Lexington and stopped at a local restaurant we had been to several times to grab a bite to eat. Though I had his dinner with me if needed, we spoke to the server about potential cross-contaminants and then we both ordered dinner off the menu. WE BOTH ORDERED DINNER OFF THE MENU. He got a plain burger with a side of fries on a gluten-free bun. Though it may not sound all that exciting to you, to us at that moment it was everything. In ten years, that was the first time he was ever able to order something from a menu.
For the first time ever, my son felt completely normal.
We have a long way to go in this journey, probably another two years or so. Though every dollar spent, every minute driven, every time we have to try to explain it to someone new is worth the look on my son’s face after he ordered that dinner for the very first time and ate it with a joy like I have never seen before.
It was the best gift I could ever have imagined receiving in my lifetime.