Anitas Novel

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We started our family in 2006.  Terry, my husband, took on the role of the stay-at-home parent and I went back to work as I had a flexible timetable due to working for myself.  On September 18th 2006, our son Shamus was born by emergency Caesarean Section.  I had an abruption and Shamus hadn’t grown for a month so I lost fetal movement.  He was growing weaker by the day . So Shamus arrived a month early.  I can remember the moment I saw him.  I was on the operating table and I said to Terry “I want another baby.”  The bond was immediate.
 
He suffered badly from what we realize now were gut issues, constipation, and vomiting.  He was an extremely bad sleeper and a generally very unsettled baby. He was hard to get to sleep.  Life wasn’t easy with Shamus.   He didn’t like loud noises and any voices he perceived as different.
 
As Shamus got closer to his second birthday, and we were expecting our second child, he rapidly went downhill:  no babbling, no eye contact, screaming at certain noises, and vomiting every day several times a day.  He would literally scream from 1am to 5am every single night.  He inflicted harm upon himself, lined up his toys, hated any change to routine, and had loads of meltdowns every day that could last for what seemed forever.  When he was not in meltdown mode, he would sit and stare out to space, apparently happily zoned out.  In my heart of hearts I knew something was wrong.  We went to our GP insisting on being sent to a specialist.  But even though Shamus showed signs of autism in front of them, they told us nothing was wrong.
 
We came home that afternoon from the G.P.’s office and as I took Shamus from the truck into my arms he had a seizure. I knew this was not right, so I rang the doctor’s surgery and begged them to let me bring him back. I was told I couldn’t possibly know what a seizure was, and no, I could not bring him back. I can remember screaming down the phone in desperation and I was told to go to Starship Hospital with him. Here I was 7 months pregnant and they want me to go to Starship with a child who didn’t like different environments, and with a doctor strike on, and sit and wait there. That was not an option I could accept.
 
One afternoon in desperation, I went to a homeopathic practitioner and she knew straight away as soon as Shamus walked into to the room, what was happening.  We spent an hour and a half with her and for most of that time, Shamus was screaming and trying to get out of her office. She did not tell me Shamus had autism that day but she started us on a path of becoming dairy and gluten free with homeopathic remedies (supplements).
 
I am extreme in everything I do, so the pantry was cleaned out that night and Shamus had a separate food cupboard with no dairy and gluten free foods . Within three days his temper trantums went from 20 a day to 3 a day.  The vomitting was also slowing down.
 
I knew we were on to something.
 

After the arrival of our second child, our Homeopath, who had been working with Shamus for about six weeks, sent us to Dr Leila Masson.  We were still suffering from a  bad night’s sleep and I can remember telling the homeopath, Marie Cameron, “this child is going to kill me.”  Little did I know these words would come back to haunt me later.
 
Dr. Masson diagnosed Shamus straight away; it was obvious that we had a child with moderate autism.
 
I cried for three days solid and couldn’t even say the word autism.  The grief was so huge it nearly broke my heart .  We started biomedical treatment with Dr. Masson and she in turn sent us to Gina Wilson, a naturopath.  Gina worked on diet with us so dairy/ gluten free was out the window and now we were into GAPS, a much stricter diet. Young Green Coconut Kefir was introduced alongside vegetable juicing and making organic beef stock as the childrens’ milk replacement.
 
Dr Leila Masson and Gina Wilson have supported us all the way.  I am sure I drove them mad in the beginning with hundreds of e-mails asking questions to make sure we were doing everything correctly. These two people have been wonderful.  Nothing has been too much trouble for them.  Every e-mail was answered and there were phone calls of support especially in the early days when I was extremely tired with no sleep, and I felt I was starting to go a bit crazy with a new born up at night and Shamus.
 
Terry did most of the getting up and then at the time we had a wonderful nanny who would come in and take over from Terry so he could go back to bed.  It was a three person shift to look after Shamus. I do wonder how we survived two and half years of little sleep, which can be a killer in any family.
 
We also were doing R.D.I at Rainbow house with Kate D’Anvers; chiropractic treatment with Dr Fazrad Nikanjam at the Greenlane Chiropractic clinic.  We have also done Bowen treatment with Marie Cameron. We also have done Homeopathic treatment with Sally Birk Davies and speech therapy with Colette Maier
 
I brought every book I could to read about recovery and biomedical diets etc. Google became my new best friend and what a steep learning curve it was! But everything that Dr. Masson and Gina were telling us to do made sense.
 
It was bootcamp and lots of hard work. Terry and I spilt the jobs up and we both worked 24/7 to make it all happen.
 
After six weeks of massive die off, we had our beautiful boy starting to make progress in the right direction and we were seeing changes.  Slowly over the next six months he started to sleep throughout the night. He was calmer and more accepting of change and a much happier child, with no vomiting, no self-harming and no lining up toys.
 
Under GAPS, I was very busy doing dietary work and Terry was making the Kefir.  We had a few failed attempts at making it at first and it took us about 18 months to fine tune the process so that we could consistently produce high quality Kefir.  By now we were six months down the track and our little boy was really improving.  It was slow going but we were making progress, like a snowball rolling down a hill, gaining more and more momentum as it moves on.
 
Then in April 2009 I had the shock of my life; I was diagnosed with breast cancer and within 10 days of having a mammogram, I had lost my right breast and six weeks later started chemo.  I believe my body just broke down, we been through such a stressful time, we really had to knock on a lot of doors to find help with Shamus, and the stress had been ongoing with little breaks to recharge ourselves.
 
I did find having breast cancer a lot easier than dealing with autism.  There was so much help and treatment I could do.  I felt very sad at the time because maybe if we had been listened to we wouldn’t have been in this position. But there was no time to dwell on negative things; we had a child who needed to recover from autism and we were determined that it was going to happen.
 
I am fully recovered from breast cancer today.  It was a very tough time in my life and because my energy levels were low and the work load from the children was still a lot more than just having normal children. I worked right through.  I was self-employed and the only incomer earner, so it wasn’t possible to have time off. One thing I have learned along the way when things have got me down is that there is always someone worse off than yourself.
 
So after I finished Chemo, Donna Gates came to new Zealand.  I attended her afternoon talk about Body Ecology and learnt a lot more about Kefir.  I gave it to my children but realized I should be taking it as well.  So from that day on, I went gluten free and drank Kefir.  I found the longer I was on Kefir the more improvements I could see and feel.  I have been taking Kefir for over a year now and my health has never been better.  I have always suffered gut issues.
 
After several dropped hints from Gina, we started making Kefir for other families with ASD in their lives and from that, the idea of The Kefir Company was born. Word of mouth continues to increase business.  We have met a lot of families on this journey and I find it very rewarding to be able to help people and their children.  We wanted to make Kefir as a way of helping other families and I met a lot of mums and I find only another mother that has been through coping with a child with autism can understand how hard it is. I hope I have been able to help other mothers on the way as I am so grateful for the help we received. We know the desparation only too well of coping with the stress and pressures of diagnosis, and then, getting your head around treatment. If we could help other families from having to reinvent the wheel so to speak, we were more than happy. Just a friendly voice on the end of the phone, an encouraging word and some reinforcement for other parents.
 
I am sure we would not be together as a family if we hadn’t had the help we had.
 
We also have a lot of people who buy Kefir who just have gut issues and nothing to do with autism and it is always pleasing to see customers return and say how much better they feel.
 
We are now three years down the track with our beautiful son and we are well into recovery with so many people now saying they don’t even realize Shamus has autism.  Shamus still has speech delay, but we are doing speech therapy to help with this as well.  Our beautiful daughter was diagnosed six months ago as being on the very mild end of the spectrum.  But because we already did all the same work we had done with Shamus  with Kaitlynn, it is likely that we prevented a lot of problems for her .
 
Kaitlynn is improving all the time as well.  Yes it been a long journey but I never regret a moment of it, because we have our children back and they have a bright future ahead.
 
Kaitlynn is doing extremely well and is under the care of Dr Leila Masson and Gina Wilson.
 
We are still doing all the work.  Never a day goes by where we let up on the routine.  It is important that we keep this up to keep getting the closer to a full recovery. Eventually we will go back to a gluten dairy free diet from GAPS.
 
I also grow all the veggies for our family as I want the children to have spray free food and we eat organic meat all the time. We also sauna the children every second night, and this has made huge improvements. This has not been an easy path financially or emotionally. It has been damn hard work all the way. There has been many times when I felt almost like giving up for the workload is so huge and then the children do something that demonstrates progress and that makes me keep going.
 
We also met some wonderful people on our journey who have worked with our children in all the treatments they have had and they have been such a great support and so kind to my children and supported us in the journey.  We also had family support which is important as well.
 
I have been very lucky in that Terry my husband has worked so hard with the children as well.   It definitely takes two  parents and every minute of the day to achieve recovery.  It is important  for a parent to have breaks and we have a family friend who will mind the children so we get that break on a regular basis .  I am extremely fortunate in having such a great husband and the children too are so lucky to have a great dad.