When Kids Complain of Symptoms, Listen

When I was a kid, and indeed throughout the first half of my twenties, I complained to my mom almost constantly of symptom after symptom. She took me to the doctor for some but usually shrugged off most of them, counting them as a normal part of this imperfect life. She still contends, even after witnessing such a dramatic transformation in my health, that symptoms are nothing to concern yourself with, that bodies are not perfect and we shouldn’t expect them to be.

I beg to differ mom. In a big way. You just can’t tell me, still, that all the symptoms I had weren’t a result of impending disease. Merriam Webster Unabridged seems to agree with me.

“symptom: subjective evidence of disease or physical disturbance observed by the patient”

I am reading a book right now called The Jungles of Randomness by Ivars Perterson. In chapter 4 he talks about networked oscillators in nature – the flash of fireflies, the walking gait of animals. On page 78 he said something which reminded me of my life with so many symptoms and how they are a defect in the normal functioning of a body. He was talking about how the brain is not actually responsible for the impulses involved in walking and running. That’s the job of the spinal cord oddly enough. The brain’s job is to keep movements turned off until they are needed. In his own words:

“the brain’s main role in controlling movement is to inhibit the signals automatically generated in the spinal cord – until the movements are required for some purpose. If disease or injury affects that part of the brain, the victim often displays a variety of uncontrollable, involuntary twitches or spasms.”

I used to twitch. My mom said it was normal but I had a feeling it wasn’t. Now I know that the twitching, and all of my other symptoms weren’t normal. I know it because I don’t have them anymore. Let me show you what I mean.

Symptoms which plagued me most of my life

Once I finally untethered myself from my mom’s insistence that I was ok, I decided to hit the library and Internet for answers. In 2004 I made this list of symptoms and searched one by one for a root cause. I dealt with most of these most of my life. Of course I could disguise them, as most people do, making me appear a normal girl. I wasn’t normal, though, underneath the facade. Now every last one of these is a thing of the past. Now I am really normal.

The symptoms I recovered from
Swollen knuckles
Red flushed fingers
Bags under my eyes
Itchy feeling in my colon
Severe pain by my liver
Gas and bloating
Mucus in my stool
Slight hair loss
A little non-feminine hair growth on feet, toes, nipples, face, knuckles, belly, inner thighs, chest
Obsessive behavior – pulling out hairs and picking at skin on fingers and lips
Short term memory problems
Long term memory problems
Inarticulate, difficulty verbalizing thoughts quickly
Severe fatigue
Pain in my tissues (not exactly my muscles) of my legs
Arthritic pain in my hands and knees
Sore shoulder muscles
Constant neck pain
Heart palpitations
Yeast infections
White coated tongue
Tatar on my teeth
Very fast weight gain around my middle
Cellulite on my thighs
Numbing (sometimes severe) in my limbs
Occasional near fainting
Joint pain
Joints coming out of socket
Worn cartilage in my knees
Twitching before bed
Spinning sensation when I close my eyes
Disturbing pictures of big looking clutter when I close my eyes – very disturbing
Dry, stinging, bloodshot eyes
Sensitivity to light
Stuffed up nose
Frequent sinus infections
Frequent colds and flus
Frequent bronchitis
Stomach aches
Bad breath
Splitting, thin fingernails
Dry skin
Heavy periods
Irregular periods
Incapacitating cramps
Tooth decay, most of my teeth have fillings
Terrible leg cramps which wake me up

Why my mom couldn’t help me

My mom was a nurse. I believed she knew everything about health and so I had always gone to her for help and reassurance. But what I didn’t know was that her method was not to discover the root of the problem but to cover up the symptoms with meds or natural remedies. This was her training.

She cared and she tried in her own way. She took me to dermatologists for the acne, she got me a physical therapist for my knee, she took me to the ER for my displaced joints, we had tests done for ulcers. But none of this ever got me anywhere. If we covered up one symptom for a while, another would soon appear.

In addition to thinking that symptoms were just a normal part of life that doctors could take care of, there were a couple other reasons for her unwillingness to see that her daughter was falling apart. First, she was falling apart too. If it was normal for her, it was normal for me.

Second, I was her baby. She couldn’t face that there was something wrong – that her baby was unhealthy.

If her baby was unhealthy at the core and not just bruised and bumped on the outside, then she must have failed in her duty to her child.

At least, this is what a mother might think.

It is our job to take care of our children and ensure that they are healthy and thriving. When it doesn’t work out this way, we can run the gamut of emotions or find ourselves in denial. I think we are all vulnerable to making this mistake.

Like my mom who was a nurse and had a particularly strong sense of pride in her healing abilities, we who have gone down the road of natural health do to. We are equally, if not more, prone to ignoring symptoms in our children because we think we’ve been doing everything right. But things can come up regardless of how hard we try to make them perfect.

So I urge you, if you are a parent, to listen to your children when they complain, to watch them for abnormalities, and to not take it personally.

We need to take a step back from our emotions and our pride and remember that it is our responsibility not only to raise strong, healthy children but to solve their problems as they arise.

Have you known someone who struggled with so many symptoms. Was it your kids? Did you help them through it or are you trying to now?

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