Monday, June 12, 2017

My Genetic Testing Update

We’ve been on a journey in our family to get to the root of some of the issues we’ve been having. The first issue we started addressing was Henry’s struggle with self-regulation. It’s something we heard from teachers for multiple years before we finally took action. When he was five years-old, we started him in a play-based therapy. When his issues didn’t resolve themselves, we had him get tested by a neuro-behavioralist (recommended by the therapist). Those results came back pretty inconclusive. He said Henry might have ADHD in a few years but for now it just looks like anxiety.

He didn’t have any solid answers about why a five year-old would have anxiety, but he mentioned genetic testing and food sensitivity testing. Both of those tests (both administered by different people at different places) revealed issues that are linked to anxiety: a gluten-sensitivity which means his gut is malfunctioning and he’s not producing dopamine and serotonin well and issues with his MTHFR gene (which means he doesn’t process folic acid well, which means he doesn’t produce dopamine and serotonin well). Overall, the assessment was that he only had control of 70% of his behavior.

The psychiatrist who did the genetic testing prescribed a mega-dose of folic acid, and we have seen huge changes in his behavior because of it. We also took him off gluten.

Meanwhile, Matt and I used 23andme to get our genetics tested. I shared my report with a functional medicine doctor in my town, and it was a fascinating experience. It was similar to having tarot cards read! She would ask things like, “It looks like you might be particularly sensitive to strong smells. Is that true?” Check. “It looks like you might have had some trouble with pregnancy. Like a miscarriage. Is that true?” Check.

Basically, she shared the following things:
  • My body doesn't methylate well. The link explains what that means better than I can! My body's ability to methylate is compromised by about 40% (Henry's is about 30%). 
  • I am compound heterozygous with MTHFR and have both the A problem and the C problem. 
  • Out of the 26 genes related to methylation that my doctor looked at, I have issues with 11 or 12 of them. 
  • My body has a hard time absorbing B-12.
  • I have a strong need for cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. 
  • I have a double mutation in DAO so I should avoid high histamine foods. 
  • I have a double mutation in HLADQA2, which apparently means I should not eat gluten. 

Which led her to the following recommendations:
  • I should stop eating gluten.
  • I need a diet with more vegetables and fewer grains.
  • I need to take Vitamin D with K2.
  • I need to be on close to 1,000mg of B12, if not higher. I need it to be methylated and it should be in the form of a lozenge or cream. 
  • I should go on a mitochondrial support like PQQ.
  • I should drink green tea and matcha.
  • I should start taking a fish oil pill.  

Before I take any of the supplements, however, I’m going to go to my general physician and request a bunch of lab work. This is what she recommended:
  • Homocysteine levels
  • Vitamin D levels
  • Check HSCRP
  • Hemoglobin HGA1C
  • Full thyroid panel: TSH, Free T3, Free T4, TPO, TG Antibodies, Reverse T3
  • Celiac panel (because I have a propensity for celiac disease)
  • Lipids
  • Iron: CBC, Ferritin, Iron study

Then I’m going to e-mail it to the functional medicine doctor and do a phone consult with her to see if my baseline results cause her to recommend anything different.

I’m also going to do a stool test and a urinary analysis through her.

Then after we have all the baseline data, I’m going to start the supplements and make the dietary changes. Then we will do the lab work again and see if there’s been any change!

She recommended that I take Henry to a pediatric functional medicine physician to switch him off his prescription folic acid because it’s full of artificial coloring and other fillers.

All of this is so out of my comfort zone and so new to me! I’ve never know much about functional medicine. Here’s the definition:

Functional medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease, using a systems-oriented approach and engaging both patient and practioner in a therapeutic partnership…It addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms…Functional medicine practitioners spend time with their patients, listening to their histories and looking at the interactions among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can influence long-term health and complex, chronic disease.

As I write all this, I'm metacognitive about how obsessive I sound in this quest to optimize our bodies and our lives. Maybe my "striving" is related to my MTHFR issues? Honestly, I'm perfectly content with the path we are on because I believe that our modern day food production system is pretty terrible and we aren't getting the nutrients we need. I believe our bodies are a system that need proper nutrients to function well. 

I look forward to getting my lab results back, taking some supplements, and making our diet as healthy as possible. 

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

How to Raise Children Who Aren’t Entitled

Or at least: “Things we are trying in order to not raise entitled children.”

My children are doing a lot of things lately that I don’t like. They sigh if I ask them to do something (or try to flat out refuse).

Meanwhile, I’m reading Little House on the Prairie and marveling at how much work the children do to contribute to the home.

First I got the idea to create a more specific chore chart so that it was very clear to Henry and Tate what their responsibilities were and how they would grow over time (since part of the problem was that Henry was frequently complaining that Tate didn’t have to do things that he did).

But once we had that idea, it started morphing into something else. We started operating with this mindset instead: When Matt and I are doing work to support our family, our children should be, too. When that work is done, we can all relax and enjoy our leisure time. Just like Little House on the Prairie!

We are only a week into it, but so far it feels so good! When it’s time to clean up after dinner, for example, Matt asks for a “kitchen helper” and I ask for a “house helper.” The kitchen helper helps wash dishes and load the dishwasher. The house helper helps me restore the house, wipe down the dining table, get the bath ready, etc.

The morning routine is the same with Matt. While he’s getting breakfasts ready, the boys are working, too. They are feeding Hoss, helping with breakfast, etc.

There’s still a little bit of whining, but more than that our boys are starting to show a change in their attitudes. They actually volunteer to help even more, and they say sweet things like, “I’ll help you do that, Tate.”

It’s a mindset shift for us to think that our children should be helping instead of playing. We definitely value free play and want our children to have time to decompress, but I think it gives them a warped view of the world if they are doing that while we are working to support the house. We are all a family, and we should work together to contribute to the functioning of that family. The specific things that people do vary depending on a person’s age and abilities, but the amount of time is the same. And in the same way that self-directed free play is good for development, so is doing chores (or “family contributions,” as we call them). They are learning to follow multi-step directions, building fine- and gross-motor skills, strengthening executive function, learning that they are important to the overall functioning of the home, and realizing that they do not exist to be served by others.

It’s definitely more difficult to require them to work alongside us, but I think the benefits will be worth it in the long run! 

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Using Bamboo for Privacy

There's a new house going up next door (let me know if you want to be neighbors!), which means we now have second-story windows, a garage, and a front door staring straight into our shower and our master bedroom. 

I googled some information about bamboo and came across a place on my side of town (East Austin) called Bamboo Your Privacy. They only sell clumping bamboo, which is non-invasive. 

The boys and I booked an appointment and visited their land to decide what we wanted. The taller and more established bamboo is, the more expensive it is. We decided on "medium" bamboo that will grow 20-30' for the side that has the new house and "small" bamboo for the other side of our yard that will grow to 10-15'. 

Matt and I are doing terrible at saving money this year. We keep investing in making our house feel more and more like a sanctuary (we really are homebodies on a day-to-day basis), and then we also keep investing in vacations. Vacations feel like an awesome way to take advantage of the limited time we have with our children while they are young. We booked a trip to Australia! 

I'm okay with our decisions for now, but I do feel like we need to sit down soon to figure out how we are going to save for the boys' colleges (we don't want to saddle them with debt as they start out their lives) and then be prepared for retirement. 

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Monday, June 5, 2017

Planning a Creek Clean-Up

One of the things we decided to do during our summer vacation was plan a creek clean-up. We live on a creek, so the idea is that people will meet at our house (with water bottles, water shoes, sunscreen, bug spray, etc.), and we'll provide trash bags. After we pick up trash for an hour or two, we will cool off in the pool! And then eat some pizza. 

I'm looking forward to it! 

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