Expat Life

‘I am not a doctor, I don’t even play one on T.V. (Call me the NONDOC), Part 1

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?

Rob Gray
Rob Gray

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 surgear-tubeery 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!

Jourdan Gray
To tube or not to tube?

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.

 

  • Katheryn

    Through the years I have encountered similar situations regarding medical advice that after my own research and, like you, experimentation, I would politely agree to disagree with a doctor’s opinion. It seems this is even more so today than in the past at least here in the US. The quality of our food and what we eat has a lot to do with our general health.

    • Amen. Thank you for your comment!

  • al berg

    Hi Rob! Found your information quite interesting. Have been going through my own food-related issues. Will be in Cuenca and Santa Isabel next month (May). Would enjoy further discussion and perhaps a visit to your farm, best wishes, Felix

    • Although we are busy here (we have a sustainable commercial permaculture farm), we have visitors to our farm. If you are interested, you can email me at rob@granroca.net.

  • Sam Johnson

    Praise God that your son has a father who went the extra million miles! The Docs don’t know what they are doing because they have only been trained to treat symptoms. They “think” they are helping but they are so clueless.

    Rob here are several good sites you can visit…
    http://www.curezone.org/
    http://www.earthclinic.com/

    You may also want to look into nebulizing as this is one of the best methods for getting delivry into the blood stream without going through the stomach. Another would be the use of DMSO [only pure DMSO.]

    God is sooo Good and your son is fortunate to have a dad like you!

    • Thank you for your information and your blessings. I feel fortunate too.

  • Frank Penny

    Sir, you eliminated ultra pasteurized milk, not raw milk, from his diet. Please make the distinction clearer. Pasteurized milk is processed junk which is cooked up to 232 degrees F in a red-hot plate.
    Good thing you now are in Ecuador, with its fine array of farm-fresh local raw dairy products, as well as many other great natural products. Be thankful for that.

    • You are correct, I was referring to pasteurized milk. Unfortunately, we have experienced the same reactions with raw milk. It depends on the individual. I have traveled quite a bit in Ecuador (though not everywhere) and on my list is to write a column on my experiences with fresh produce.

  • Tamara

    I’m so happy that you found a solution. I was one of those people who poo-poo’d a lot of the food sensitivity stuff. At least until it happened to me.

    Turns out that dairy was behind my life long problems with digestion. Along the way I learned that the 30% of people with lactose intolerance tend to suffer in digestive ways, while the ones with an allergy to the proteins in dairy tend to suffer in respiratory ways.

    Many a childhood case of asthma has been solved by dropping the dairy.

    • Yes, for my son, it seemed quite clear to be an issue with casein. Issues with lactose tend to cause digestive challenges, bloating and gas. I can’t tell you the number of people I have met that discovered that milk was causing them problems. Most thought that their condition was “normal,” until they started experimenting with elimination. Congratulations for solving it for yourself!

  • John W.

    ALL MILK IS NOT THE SAME

    What a very well written article, Rob! We had a problem with our little one when she could no longer be nursed due to a congested milk gland her mom suffered when baby was 2 weeks old. The pediatrician placed her on baby formula immediately. However, with the first suck on the nipple she would scream with stomach pain.
    The pediatrician had us administer a pain med before each bottle (giving an infant such drugs was disturbing to us), and changed formulas repeatedly. I asked him how many commercial formulas there are and he replied “Six.” “Then what do we do?” I asked. He responded, “Start over again with the first.” That was too much for me, so we put baby on supermarket milk which at least did not cause pain; however, as a toddler she suffered repeated ear aches so that her pediatrician wanted to do bilateral myringotomies (the same as Rob’s son was treated.). We knew nothing of food allergies in those days and the medical doctor never mentioned them.
    As a child our daughter did not enjoy milk but we had her drink a glass/day for calcium, the best source we knew of at that time, still not suspecting food allergy. Later we learned to check her temp with suspected foods. We eliminated suspects for two weeks, and had no more problems with food allergy. There are or were good books on both the elimination diet and also about ear infections.
    As an adult our daughter has been able to get raw goat milk (easier to digest) in the US, and raw cow milk in Ec. rather than consume the processed, commercial milk which profits only the merchant. She and her children are doing well on the raw cow milk obtained from a mountain dairy. There are other local sources as well.

    • I completely agree that all milk is not the same and although I’m sure there are some products we did not try, we did look beyond the regular stuff they sell in the stores. We soon concluded that the risk of a problem outweighed the benefits of milk. But that is an individual decision. Calcium is available in a variety of other foods.

      • John W.

        I think the issue with milk allergy may be either the milk sugar (lactose) or lack of lactase, the enzyme necessary to process this, or the milk protein (cassein) may be the problem. Different people react to these differently.
        I should have explained that we eliminated the suspected food for two weeks and if there was cessation or abatement of the symptoms, we eliminated the food entirely.

        • Thank you for your comment. Yes problems with lactose is generally a lack of the lactase enzyme. Your method for elimination is similar to my own. However some foods (like wheat) usually take longer to see results.

  • Karen

    My preemie infant was “failing to thrive” at 3 weeks. I was allergic to milk, so not drinking it. I asked our pediatrician if my diet could be the problem. He said no. I called my chiropractor, who also does nutrition. He had me make 2 changes to my diet-adding goat milk. I had stopped eating goat milk yogurt due to reactions, but I was able to tolerate the milk itself. When I went back to the pediatrician 3 days later, he said he couldn’t believe how much weight my son had put on. MDs are not taught nutrition, so they aren’t the ones to ask.

    • I am always gratified to hear parents who in a time of crisis find ways to help their children. I want to congratulate you as parents are often the unsung heroes.

  • ecbound

    Rob, Do you sell your organic produce or just grow it for your family?

    • Thank you for asking. Currently, we supply our produce to “The Vegetable Bar” restaurant in Cuenca. As we expand our production (which will include fruits and vegetables as well as meat) we will make it available to others.

  • lucila

    i told my brother years ago right b4 they were going to do the same eartube thig to my niece..GET HEROFF MILK! They weredesperate and sdid so, only to have the same results you have had! Thank God, my sis in law also baited these so-called doctors and with the same response! Dejavu all over again! We all have food issues in the USA (If we happen to live there..I dont!) because the stuff they feed people is NOT food! Read the book : Doof of the dogs by Patrick Jordan. Lulu.com …what an eyeopener! If you dont grow it, you have no idea whats in it…same with vaccines etc etc etc…Good work nondoc Dad!

    • Thanks for your comment. Food issues are much more common than people think. And often I find people without food issues think that we are making it up. My best advice, no matter where you live, is to know your farmer(s), (or grow it yourself). I know that this may be a challenge for some, but most cities in the U.S. have Farmers’ Markets where you can meet and talk to the farmers. I wouldn’t know what to say to people who buy processed foods in the supermarket.

  • Tomas Castro

    Most mammals stop giving milk to their progenie rather quickly. Female dogs or cats stop before three months. Humans are the only mammal on Earth that keeps drinking milk until death. The milk industry is very powerful and has convinced us that milk is good for us. It is not. Rob, your son is lucky to have a father with the heart of a researcher but, if his body had not reacted to milk the way it did, he would still be drinking milk and going against nature. Nature did not intend to make humans the only mammal who can drink milk past their infancy and remain healthy. People who are not lucky to have acute reactions to milk, don’t realize it is not making them healthy until much later in life when diseases have developed.

    Some people say that adverse reactions to milk happen only when you do not have this or that enzyme in your digestive system. To these people I would like to say “go to the third sentence in this posting and reflect on its words.”

    Yes, milk is good for us… When we are infants. And I am not sure it is cow milk that we are supposed to drink. Other than pets, what animal is there that drinks milk from other animal species?

    Thank you Rob for an illuminating piece.

    • Thank you Tomas for your comment. In this thread of posts, I am trying to show that we can take responsibility for our personal and family’s health and what goes into our bodies. I have heard many people say, “Well, I’m not a doctor, what do I know?” and go along with whatever the medical system offers. I believe each of us has more knowledge about our personal and family health than we give ourselves credit. My next posting will start to address what kinds of food are good for humans. It too will be a series of posts that I hope will help empower each individual to best determine the foods that work for them. I am quite familiar with the arguments you make about milk. However, I don’t want to be the food police. In my posts, I hope to help people who are looking to improve their health and the health of their family discover for themselves what works and what doesn’t. I hope you will be interested in reading my next post. Thank you again.

  • Diane

    Thank you for such an inspiring article – I had the same issues with one of my sons but did not eliminate milk at that time. Since doing further research, like reading The China Study and others, I agree whole hardly with you. I wish I would have done the research at the time he was young so he could have avoided a substantial hearing loss.

    • Thank you for your kind words. I applaud any parent who is motivated to do their own research to help their child. I was also late to figure it out which resulted in some hearing loss.