When we started this new chapter in M’s life 10 weeks ago, we approached it with the attitude of “hope for the best, but prepare for the worst”. We hoped that the move to an elemental diet, consisting of 1500mls of E028 each day, would bring some much-needed relief to his bowel and body and that, from that recuperation would come a way forward that would improve M’s quality of life. And whilst we were well prepared that there was a chance it might not work; that it might not bring the recovery M desperately needed and that we might have to look to even more extreme measures to reach our end goal of improved health; that wasn’t a prospect we were prepared to spend too much time on, yet. It was far more important to be positive about the route we had chosen, which wasn’t an easy choice to make and had its challenges from the start: be they passing the NG-tube at GOSH or figuring out our new routine at home.
Despite the roadblocks thrown in our path, we’ve kept plodding on, negotiating our way skilfully around the inevitable melt-downs, tantrums and even those tempers that lead to a tube being pulled out accidentally. We’ve all learned valuable lessons – don’t storm off in a temper following a sibling argument leaving your pump behind being a key one for M – and we’ve survived as a family and, dare I say it, grown stronger as one too. We have laughed, cried and got angry together. We’ve used that laughter to overcome the depths of despair and we’ve focussed on the important things in life. Mike and I have long been a team, since the disastrous surgery on my left eye for diabetic retinopathy 17 years ago just weeks after Mike had moved to the UK and before we were even married. We may not always see eye to eye, but we have grown together and take turns in being the strong one when the other is feeling weighed down by the world. Now we have 2 children who are learning those same lessons and this experience has shown me just how amazingly strong our children are. They’ve coped with all that life has thrown at them and whilst they may have been knocked down occasionally, they’ve learned to pick themselves up, to brush themselves off and to keep going along their paths. The last 10 weeks have seen them grow in their empathy for others and they too have taken turns in being the strong one when faced with adversity.
The best news of all is that we now know that every exhausted step has been worth it and I’m thrilled to be able to share that, for M, the E028 has been his success story. Within days of the switch to a food-free diet, the near constant diarrhoea that has been the bane of the last 9 years of our lives stopped. Just like that. No magic potions, no magic wands, no tricks and, so far, no looking back. M has become the fun-loving, caring, well-behaved little boy we all knew was hiding somewhere within himself. His joie de vivre has returned and his humorous outlook on life is much more evident. As each day passes, we are slowly and surely making more and more progress and his confidence has grown as evidenced by his abandonment of his daytime reliance on pull-ups for the first time in a year. It’s not been a perfect cure by any stretch of the imagination and his weight is once again giving us, and the medics, cause for concern, but it’s a massive step, a giant leap in the right direction. We are lucky that this proved to be the way forward for M and we are truly grateful for that as we know so many other families who have not found it to be the answer to their health problems and are still battling on.
Meanwhile, the next step is the big one for us: food reintroduction. We need to work on getting food back into M’s diet without upsetting this balance that he has found right now. There’s a “sort-of” plan from the dietitians about how we go about trialling each food with M, but for the most part it’s going to be driven by us. Having finally got my lad to the point where “I feel better Mummy, my tummy’s less grumbly and I just feel…well…feel so much better in myself“, I refuse to be hurried and I’m going to protect this new sense of well-being with all my strength and determination.