By Rob Gray
It was many years ago, but I can vividly remember when my younger son was going to have ear-tube replacement surgery for the second time. Would he be OK? Would his hearing be impacted? Would there be any ill effects from the anesthesia? And, why did this keep happening anyway?
Well, even though I was not a doctor — call me the NONDOC — I think I knew the answer to that. The ear-tube is a little tiny plastic or Teflon tube that the surgeon inserts through a small hole he makes in the eardrum. Its purpose is to ventilate the middle ear and prevent the accumulation of fluids behind the eardrum that can cause its bursting and hearing loss in the ear. Unfortunately, my son would get sick with these nasty upper respiratory infections that would clog up the ear-tube, causing pressure to build up inside the ear, finally dislodging the ear-tube itself. So, as it happened yet again, he needed surgery to put in another ear-tube.
What bothered me most about this whole thing (beyond my son’s risk of losing his hearing) was the fact that we were not addressing the cause of the problem. As a NONDOC I have always tried to address and remove the cause of a problem rather than simply treating the symptom(s). But when I asked the MD (actually several MDs) why my son got these terrible infections, I pretty much got the same response from all of them, “Some kids just get these things more than others. Most usually outgrow it when they get older.” Makes sense to me, right? Wrong!
My son was young and each surgery came with the risk of his losing or partially losing his hearing in the affected ear. Something needed to be done, now!
Back in the 1990’s, there wasn’t as much information on the Internet as there is now, but I had been up reading every night trying to learn as much as I could about these nasty infections. Where were they coming from? The most obvious answer was some kind of viral infection (a cold or flu), but when observing my son, I saw no other symptoms that would indicate he was sick. Mostly it was just this green stuff running out of his nose. (Hopefully, you’re not reading this over breakfast.) The only other possibility mentioned was that of some kind of allergy, either environmental or from food. One possible culprit caught my attention: Milk.
Feeling a bit smarter after all of my reading, though still a NONDOC, I decided to discuss this with the MD specialist. I told him that there had to be some reason that these infections kept happening. He quickly cut me off and said something to the effect that some children’s sinuses mature later than others, but don’t worry, these infections mostly go away by their teen years. I thought, “Their teen years, that might be a decade away. My kid’s eardrums are going to look like pin cushions!” So, I mentioned as a NONDOC the possibility of removing milk from my son’s diet, to which the MD specialist smiled at me and said “Mr. Gray, this is not a food issue.” (This would not be the last time I would hear these words.)
So, I’m sure you’ve already guessed, as a NONDOC, I decided to remove the milk from my son’s diet. I started doing a test, going one week at a time, and looking for any results one way or the other. After the second week, I felt like I had noticed something (or rather the lack of something). My son often had a bit of a runny nose even when he wasn’t sick. We were always wiping his nose. But sometime during that second week it seemed to have dried up. So, I gave it another week. (Can you imagine constantly looking for your child to have a runny nose?) Nope, nothing. So ended the experiment. No milk became a permanent dietary change, and the result: no more runny noses and my son never needed another ear-tube replacement. (To be clear, this is not a blanket indictment of milk, only that it was a problem for my son in spite of what the MDs said.)
This NONDOC journey with my son continued as we did other food elimination tests with varying degrees of results. My son clearly had additional issues, including with most grains and soy which we also eliminated. I say we, because any change to my son’s diet, was made to my own diet as well. This child came to teach me “what foods you choose to eat matter” and for that I am eternally grateful. I wanted my son to be the most effective person he could be and changing his diet was critical to that end. And, as it turned out, it helped me be more effective too.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the story.
Rob Gray grows organic fruits and vegetables on his Gran Roca Farm in the Yunguilla Valley, south of Cuenca.