Our Year-Long Battle with My Son's Respiratory Health
In 2017, we relocated to southwest Florida from Jacksonville with our then, 2 year old son, Julian. About six months later, we started noticing that it seemed like we couldn't take a trip to the grocery store without him catching some kind of severe respiratory infection. At first I shrugged it off and thought, "Maybe I'm just not washing his hands enough? Did I wipe down the shopping cart? Did I spray his hands when we got back into the car?". I was going crazy trying to understand where he was picking up these illnesses. He wasn't in day care and we were new to the area so it wasn't like we had oodles of play dates to attend.
We took countless trips doctors and specialists, concerned that 16 weeks of consecutive colds had to mean something was seriously wrong with our son. We spent a small fortune on home inspections; professional mold inspectors, AC vent cleaning for dust/allergens, air purifiers...and still no relief for our son. We even considered purchasing a hospital-grade filtration system for the house, convinced that Julian was just allergic to Fort Myers... We started allergy testing and the only answer we were given was that he was allergic to our Goldendoodle, Sadie.
That's it? I mean, I was happy that he wasn't allergic to several things but at the same time, disappointed that I still had no answers for the sudden drop in immunity.
I found out I was pregnant with our son, Jesse, in October of 2017 (as we were boarding up the house for hurricane Irma)...and spent the entire pregnancy catching EVERY virus from Julian. Round, and round, we went and I felt trapped on a never ending wheel of saline spray, snotty tissues, and some seriously isolating months. No one talks about how lonely it can be to always have a sick child...you don't want to infect others so you stay home, or you try and go out but no one wants to be around a runny nose and cough. Exhausted and afraid of the next virus, we started avoiding large groups, play dates and eventually, the few friends I had met, grew tired of inviting us because the answer was always, "sorry, we can't...Jules is sick."
...and so my obsession with natural immunity began.
Holistic Medicine & the Quest for Natural Healing
I. was. over. it. I knew there had to be something I could do to reduce the amount of viruses Julian was fighting so I started asking my friends with school-age children, for immunity-boosting tips. One popular answer? Elderberry syrup.
I started Julian on a daily regimen of "spiked" smoothies. I blended frozen pineapple, frozen mango, kale, bananas, ground flax seed, spirulina and a splash of OJ. I can pretty much hide anything in that sucker. I added Elderberry syrup, Sovereign Silver, pure ascorbic acid (Vitamin C powder), Juice Plus capsules and a chewable allergy-support supplement that I absolutely LOVE called D-hist jr. D-hist jr is an incredible supplement for children who suffer from seasonal asthma and allergies and the reviews for it are amazing. We started giving these smoothies to him every morning and about two months later, we started to see a major difference. The illnesses slowly stopped. We didn't change much in our daily routine but we we stayed consistent with the supplements and little by little, could see a difference.
Elderberry Syrup From "Lemons"
In October 2018, we made history. Julian had managed to stay virus-free , for two whole months!!! I started feeling like I had finally found an effective routine! And let me tell you, there's nothing that motivates a mama more than seeing her child happy and healthy. I was happily paying the $32/5 ounce bottle of organic Elderberry at my local health food store but that quickly added up for a family of four. After hearing that it was possible to make this syrup at home, I bought my first bag of organic, wild-grown elderberries and gave it a whirl.
A few days after seeing Santa (this last Christmas) both the boys fell ill with a cold and cough that I am now calling the "Christmas Plague" because I think we gave it EVERYONE that came to our house for the holidays. By Christmas Day, the whole house was sick and in bed. I gave Julian a teaspoon every two hours for two days and his cough had completely stopped. I took it every two hours as well and since I'm nursing Jesse, he was getting it too. By day three, the boys were totally fine and I hadn't caught the cold from them- despite the constant coughing and sneezing in my face -_-. Fast-forward to day thirteen and my husband was still sick with the same cough and congestion. He's now a believer too ;)
I was AMAZED.
I look at 2018 with a different perspective now and can't help but be thankful for the challenges and trials that seemed to never end. I spent months feeling isolated, lonely, and frustrated with my son's health condition and all of this while caring for my newborn son. Looking back, those difficult moments were "lemons" being handed to us...lemons that patiently waited to be turned into something sweeter.
...or should I say, Elderberry Syrup?