If you think that what you feed yourself, or especially what you feed your kids doesn't really matter, you need to read Sam's story. Even if you believe that there is a profound and undeniable link between health and food as I do, read it anyway just for the inspiration and motivation it brings.
We met Sam when he was about three and a half years old--a little younger than my girls at the time--an adorable little blond-haired, blue-eyed typical boy. I remember one day calling his mom, my friend Rochelle, to ask her a question. She seemed distracted and then told me that Sam had had a massive seizure the night before and that they had been in the hospital all night. She was stressed and worried, but said that the doctors has said it was a one-time, fluke sort of a thing and that they didn't need to worry about it. The doctors were, unfortunately, very wrong.
|Sam with a black eye on Easter from having a drop seizure and banging his head on the toilet while trying to go to the bathroom--3 weeks after seizures began--March 2008|
Sam had a grand mal seizure every six days for the next three weeks. With his fourth grand mal seizure came other types of smaller seizures (myoclonic and myoclonic-astatic if you want to get technical). Every visit to the ER was met with doctors telling them it would never happen again. He was started on some medication which turned what had been a sweet, charming little boy into a monster. He became emotionally and physically violent to everyone around him. Not only that, it caused him to hallucinate, which was terrifying. (Can you even imagine having to comfort your 3 1/2 year old who believes he is actually seeing monsters? I really cannot imagine how heartbreaking and difficult that was for my friends.) It was hard on the whole family, but they held out hope because the seizures seemed to have stopped.
They had 16 seizure free days and then they came back with a vengeance. It got to the point where he was seizing every hour, then pretty much constantly, awake and asleep. He had to wear a helmet at all times because you never knew when he was going to just fall to the ground, and what he was going to hit on the way down. They tried different medications, but none were able to stop the seizures--he seized every single day and had horrible side effects from the meds.
|Sam playing in the backyard--always with a helmet on to protect his head because the seizures were so violent and unpredictable--May 2008|
Finally after 8 months of living through this nightmare, they decided to try curing Sam's disorder (finally diagnosed as Doose's Syndrome) through a strict diet, called the Ketogenic Diet. It was extremely exact and technical. He actually had to be hospitalized when they started it so that he and they could be trained on how to do it perfectly under the watchful care of the doctors. His food had to be weighed and measured. His calories were limited, as were his food options and even the times of day he could eat. There was an exact fat to carb to protein ratio. It was so important that he be exact in this that Rochelle would have to use a rubber spatula to scrape all of his meal off of his plate to make sure he got the right amount allotted by the specific ratio they were on.
|Sam with his last birthday cake before he started the diet.--August 2008|
|Sam in the hospital during keto initiation--November 2008|
|Sam with his first birthday cake--a keto cheesecake. Not only was this his birthday 'cake', it was his ENTIRE meal.--August 2009|
Sam, little hero that he is, stuck with his "magic diet" as he called it for three and a half years. Three and a half years!!! But you know what? It worked. It worked!! Where modern medicine had failed him, his diet didn't. He had his last seizure on October 9, 2009. He stayed on the diet a full two and a half years after that. His last ketogenic day was just a few days ago, April 19, 2012. He is seizure free!
|Sam having his final EEG before going off the ketogenic diet.--February 2012|
He is seizure free.
The food he ate (and didn't eat) for three and a half years literally saved his life! How can you ever think that what you are eating doesn't have an effect on your health?! So, think what you want of me. No, I don't like to give my kids chicken nuggets or fast food or cheese that squirts out of a bottle or store-bought white bread. Yes, I feel passionately about eating healthy foods. Because I feel passionately about my own children. And also, perhaps, because I know a little boy named Sam.
|Sam's last ketogenic meal, eaten at Children's Hospital while waiting to hear the news that he could be finished with keto.--April 2012|