Hi! We’re The Family That Heals Together. Mom (Jaclyn) and Dad (David) are parents to four fun boys! We are committed to living a natural life, free of chemicals and frankenfoods, for the betterment of our health and our bodies. We love Jesus and have experienced extraordinary healing both spiritually and physically, and love sharing about the improvements we’ve made and how. You’ve heard that the family that prays together, stays together, and you can bet that applies, but we are also working together to heal our bodies. Together we have battled digestive and thyroid disorders, symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue, food allergies and intolerances, and behavioral problems reflecting autism spectrum disorders. We’ve been at this for a while (about 5 years!) and have learned a few things along the way. We’re glad you’re here and hope you’ll find what you’re looking for!
Why Are We Healing Together?
To really start at the beginning of our story, we have to go back to my teenage years, when the joint pain and fatigue started. At 15 years old, there would be days I would beg my mom to let me stay home and sleep. I was too tired for school. My knees began to hurt and I eventually quit the thing I was best at: running track. As I got older, I began partying and even put myself on birth control, doing a world of damage to my already fragile body. Foods that I loved, like ice cream, made me instantly sick, but I didn’t even make the connection or care and ate whatever I wanted. Depression and panic attacks set in and I was on a constant emotional roller coaster. In college, I would be diagnosed with hyperthyroidism.
Shortly after this diagnosis, I became pregnant with our first child. I worked as a hairstylist (hello chemicals!) and ate quick, convenient foods on my limited breaks. Candy, chips and fast food were my staples, my only saving grace a distaste for soda. I suffered kidney stones and preeclampsia, delivering a healthy baby boy via induction one week early. Breastfeeding got off to a rough start, but, thankfully, I was committed to it and we made it work.
A short while after Camden was born, the sleep deprivation began to set in and I was desperate for rest. I was encouraged to try some rice cereal at bedtime to fill him up and help him sleep better. It didn’t work, but it did cause damage to his gut. He developed red, rashy patches on his face, arms and legs. He also began to exhibit symptoms of sensory sensitivities, showing an aversion to touching things like grass. By the time he was a year old, hyperactivity had emerged and he was one rambunctious toddler. By this time, I had become pregnant with our second son.
Again, I had a healthy son and chose to breastfeed, but Maddox had jaundice for weeks following his birth and was an incredibly fussy baby. We gave him formula off and on, fearing he might not be getting enough from my breast milk, but I now know this likely only exacerbated his symptoms, which included stomach upset, constipation (his pediatrician told us it was perfectly normal for babies to go eight days without pooping!) and reflux. Maddox’s first year was a nightmare. I was a sleep-deprived mother to two under two and had a toddler who was mean and abusive to his baby brother, refused to nap, and interacted poorly with his peers, making it impossible for me to create friendships for support.
When Maddox was almost a year old, I began working out, which led to calorie counting, and, eventually, paying more attention to what I ate. Around this time, our pediatrician referred us to a family therapist, who told us Camden had the most severe ADHD she’d seen in a three-year-old and that we needed to take him to a psychologist to start medication. Because I had begun trying to live a healthier lifestyle (I was teaching yoga, as well as eating better), I decided to try and heal Camden naturally. I began making all of our cleaning supplies and we started using natural and homemade body care items. As soon as we kicked Tide and Johnson & Johnson to the curb, Camden’s chronic eczema cleared right up. I also had the wool removed from my eyes about vaccinations and we stopped those too.
Camden’s behavior slightly improved as organic, packaged foods gave way to homemade and homemade allowed for less sugar and refined grains. But during my third pregnancy, Camden’s behavior took a turn for the worst, as he began to have fits of rage, anger and defiance, as well as tics. Although we had a lovely, perfect homebirth with Everett and were eating better than ever before, I struggled with feeling worse than ever following his birth, suffering from frequent vertigo and becoming stressed and angry amidst the chaos. I knew this was not God’s plan for families. This was not abundant life; this was merely surviving.
I began to suspect gluten could be a problem, but the idea of going grain-free was so foreign. After all, I was making homemade, soaked tortillas and bread from sprouted, dehydrated, freshly-ground, locally-grown wheat berries. I was doing it right! Right? We decided to go 30 days without any refined sugars. Once we saw how easy that was, we decided to take the leap and try a grain-free diet for a month. The results were staggering.
In just a few days, the bloating I had had following every meal for as long as I could remember disappeared. My horrible fatigue was eased and my migraines became less frequent. I even lost five pounds. Maddox’s minor digestive issues were relieved and baby Everett’s reflux vanished. David even lost weight and felt better. And Camden’s behavior slowly began to improve! Eventually, we underwent a poorly planned and executed GAPS intro diet, where we saw even bigger changes in Camden’s hyperactivity, anger and aggression. But as soon as we transitioned off the diet, his behavior tanked and we’ve never tried again because it was so hard and miserable the first time (we plan to try again soon!).
Camden was exhibiting symptoms of full-fledged Oppositional Defiant Disorder, among other things. I still found myself unable to foster friendships because of his aggression towards other children. And now I was pregnant for the fourth time. Life was again chaotic and I was again exhausted, despite being ecstatic to welcome another child. Everett, who was now two, struggled to potty train and acted out by making lots (and LOTS) of messes and the older boys got into mischief together every chance they got. Camden’s decision-making was clearly impeded by diminished brain function, although he was incredibly smart and advanced in other areas.
We struggled to homeschool and train up our four boys amidst the chaos and felt like we had run out of ideas, options and resolve. My health took a turn for the worst and I was feeling as bad as I had when I was eating grains. It was time to suck it up and pay for a visit with a holistic practitioner. We chose a PA a few hours away who had helped a friend recover her son from symptoms of autism. The long and expensive initial visit entailed a thorough discussion of both mine and Camden’s health histories. We went home with orders for blood, urine and stool tests, and then waited an agonizing two months before returning for our results.
After again making the 3 ½ hour drive, we found out we had strep bacteria overgrown in our guts, and it had colonized in my whole body. All of the good bacteria from the high-quality probiotics and fermented foods we’d been taking and eating hadn’t even colonized because the strep was so strong. I was sent home with a one month prescription for antibiotics, as well as an anti-fungal, and a list of supplements for us both to take.
I improved quickly on antibiotics, but once I came off of them, I began to experience fatigue again and I had a few migraines over the next couple of months. Because improvement on antibiotics is indicative of Lyme disease and co-infections, I will be testing for Lyme disease. Camden’s healing has been an exercise in patience and discernment. He is slowly and steadily improving, but the continuity is not dependable. We might go a whole month with no symptoms of ODD, ADHD or tics, only to have them come back full force for reasons unknown. In these times, we focus on the healing we can see, of which there is plenty.
We are now on the GAPS introduction diet and are seeing huge gains and improvements all around. We will continue to use biomedical support and dietary interventions complimentary, because they really do work hand in hand. I think because we had such bad bacterial overgrowth, getting a hand on it first with some biomedical interventions set us up for a smoother and more successful time with the GAPS diet. I can’t wait to report back when we are done with it!
In summary, the symptoms we have healed completely include hyperthyroidism, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, frequent migraines, digestive disorders, eczema, and I’m sure other, less obvious issues. We have made huge headway and are still working to heal symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, tics, Tourette’s, PANDAS, Asperger’s (note: I’m not saying my son has any of these disorders, but that he has symptoms from each of them), as well as food allergies and sensitivities, mold allergies, and occasional migraines and digestive problems.
We aren’t where we want to be, but thank God we aren’t where we were!