As a precursor, I must prepare you. I am not a writer. I have never claimed to be one, so I ask for your grace and mercy as you read this jumbled mess of memories, theories and histories.
Robert Fulton Graham was named after my father. Actually, he was named after my great grandfather, Robert "Fulton" Jenkins, Sr. In 2012, Fulton was born by cesarean section. He was almost 10 lbs. at birth and since he was born, he has been a huge eater, unlike his older brother. During his first couple of months, Fulton was on rounds of antibiotics for ear infections possibly due to fluid in his ears that our doctors at the time said "should eventually go away". I was breast feeding and many of my natural/hippy friends told me to stop consuming gluten and diary, and that would help Fulton. I wasn't giving up my bread and cheese, and so, I continued eating my standard diet and giving him antibiotics. In fact, for several days I gave him higher doses than normal by accident because I read the dropper incorrectly. One of the joys of motherhood that we moms wish we could erase.
He was such a happy and social baby that is, when he wasn't screaming, throwing up, and when he was actually sleeping. His pediatrician had him on Prilosec to help with reflux, and by the time he started eating solid foods, he was seemingly better, sleeping at night and so on. However, the fluid in his ears was not going away. His pediatrician opted for tubes to be put in his ears.
After the surgery, we noticed a changed in his personality. He wasn't social anymore. He also cried at the drop of a hat, as if he was a tired toddler all day. Then, we started noticing scary things. Fulton had been walking since 9 months old and was potty-trained by a year old, but, at 14 months he started to intermittently collapse when he walked. Thankfully, he was a very verbal toddler. Fulton started complaining of pains in his ankles, and a week later there were pains in his legs and knees. The pain started to climb after that.
Within a month, his jaws were hurting and Fulton complained of pains in his eyes. He would rub his eye and scream, "My eyes, my eyes. They hurt." Again, he was very vocal and clear, and we were ever so thankful for that. Soon, the pain reached his head, where he had terrible headaches. At this point, he began having diarrhea and/or constipation and having bouts with what seemed to be a reoccurring stomach virus. It fluctuated, and we were finding blood in his stool, ulcers in his mouth, red burning rashes and pimples on his skin, Fulton was losing weight quickly, and his belly was so distended his 'innie' belly button became an 'outie'. My husband and I were scared, and Fulton was constantly in pain.
His pediatrician at the time diagnosed Fulton with Infantile Arthritis and put him on pain medication, more Prilosec, and Miralax to help with constipation while also sending us to the local Pediatric Gastroenterologist. At this time, we found out Fulton also had a peanut allergy. At the appointment, Fulton's x-rays let us know he was very constipated. So, the doctor gave us more Prilosec and Miralax. It killed me to watch him struggle in the bathroom. He pushed and cried. It was horrible. I couldn't take it. I did the mom thing...I Googled his symptoms.
I went on rabbit trail after rabbit trail, with one symptom leading to one thing which led to another. I am a Christian woman, and I knew God was leading me to an answer. The ulcers in his mouth led me to a Vitamin B-12 and Vitamin D deficiency. But, what causes that? I would dig more. Then, I learned that deficiencies are from malabsorption of nutrients, which I found most of these children also have peanut allergies. I dug further and asked why or how Fulton would not be absorbing nutrients. As I researched, I learned more about damaged digestive systems especially by cesarean sections and the lack of proper microbiomes, antibiotics killing good bacteria, and how anesthesia can also aid in the digestive system's degradation. I read the story of Kendall Conrad and her story from Kendall's cookbook, Eat Well Feel Well. I cried. This is Fulton. Then, I found Danielle Walker's Against All Grain which led me to Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall. I had found my people!!!
The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). I read the book. I was overwhelmed. I cannot do this. Every other toddler is eating Cheerios. What is he going to eat at church? What is he going to snack on if he cannot have mommy convenience foods? You wouldn't think so, but it took me a good week or so to decide to go cold turkey and jump on the bandwagon. The last straw was when I was on the phone with my aunt. I was complaining about the amount of work it would be. Her advice, "What do you have to lose?" And so, with the amazing support of my husband, we started this seemingly terrifying task of making everything from scratch while reading every label including seasonings.
Our next Gastroenterologist appointment was in three days. Should we start the diet now or wait? We went ahead and quit all grains for Fulton and followed Elaine's recommendations from her book. After the first 24 hrs. we saw a huge difference, by the third day, Fulton was almost symptom free. When we met with the doctor, Fulton's x-rays showed he was still constipated. I told the doctor about the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and how over the last 48-72 hours Fulton was pooping better each time he went. He wasn't crying in the bathroom, he wasn't hanging on me all day crying. In fact, he hadn't complained about body pains within the last 24 hours. It was a miracle! The doctor actually laughed, and proceeded to say Fulton was not getting better because of the diet. Though, he could not tell me why Fulton was feeling better. He said if we really wanted to know what was wrong with Fulton, we could do a full scope on him, but we would have to make him sick again by feeding him the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) He then prescribed more Prilosec and Miralax. As we left the office that day, I scheduled Fulton's next visit, and I couldn't help but notice the lollipops being passed out by the nurses and receptionists. Funny, I would have never noticed the irony before.
As time passed, Fulton healed. By his third appointment, the purpose of our next Gastro visit was to ask why the diet is working? What is it fixing? The doctor no longer wanted to see us. His nurse placated me, and giggled. In the middle of the appointment, I told her I was done. They could no longer help me, and we left. During this time we ended up changing pediatricians as well. We joined Dr. Ramon Ramos and his wonderful team, where we agreed that Fulton may have been suffering from Crohns. We also decided, that making him sick again so he could be tested, was not a necessary choice we had to make. He supported and encouraged everything we did. In fact, Dr. Ramos already recommended this way of eating for his patients. We will miss Dr. Ramos. He passed away from symptoms related to Covid (Feb. 2021). My sister-in-law travels from St. Louis to bring her children to see Ramos. He is that well respected. We love him dearly and will always be grateful to him.
As of last December 2020, Fulton measured in the 98 percentile for height and weight. He is healthy and thriving. While many his age with the same condition are either in the hospital, on many medications and/or in a wheel chair, Fulton has thrived. Since 2013, we have been able to add several foods back into his diet. Since the beginning of this adventure, Fulton's eating has changed our lives for the better. I have lost over 100 lbs. and have slowly been reversing issues with my thyroid, anxiety, brain fog, energy levels and vitiligo. It also led us to eating more local meat and vegetables, and to build Good Graham where I have been a personal cook for many families. We are here today because I listened to my mommy intuition. I had never heard of almond flour or making bread from cashews, let alone make my own yogurt. But, I am here now wanting to share what we have learned and share the foods that have healed our family. We are here to help and guide you as your new hippy friend. Please let us be of service to you.
With much love,