What made you seek out Integrative Care? This questions is a little tricky for me to answer. I don’t necessarily feel like we sought out Integrative Care, rather the opportunity to work with Dagmara and Zuza’s Way sort of fell into our laps at a time that we were desperately searching for help and hope for our middle son, Isaac. Isaac is currently 9 years old. But his story begins closer to when he was 18 months. At that age, he was beginning to explore new foods, tastes and textures. But unlike his older brother, he did not like ANYTHING. He basically refused to eat most everything put in front of him and peanut butter was the most nutritious “food group” we could get him to even try. After a label of “failure to thrive” was placed on him by our conventional pediatrician, we ended up at Children’s Hospital for help. There was no diagnostic evaluation for why he may not be eating and I naïvely trusted the providers when they told us it was a parenting issue (ie: the way we talk to him when he eats, how we play with him, etc). After months of appointments at the Feeding and Nutrition Center to work on our interactions with Isaac, he was deemed to have progressed to a point of discharge. I remember leaving and feeling like there was nothing that was going to change Isaac’s “pickiness” and we were going to just have to be creative with how we approach meal times with him.
Fast forward to 2017 and Isaac is in 2nd grade at a Montessori school. Montessori classrooms are multi-age and typically students keep the same teacher for 3 years. He was beginning to struggle quite a bit with the demands of the classroom, and we began working with his teacher on how to help him best. He was quickly “diagnosed” with ADHD based on a 50 question survey filled out by myself, my husband and his teacher. Our pediatrician recommended multiple options of medication as our best solution. My husband and I were not comfortable with the process or the recommendations. We very quickly learned there was little to no guidance for us when we asked “what else can we do before medication?” Literally THAT DAY, I was online looking for help and saw an advertisement for a discussion about alternative help for kids with ADHD hosted by Dagmara at Outpost. I called Zuza’s Way to learn more about her approach and to my surprise, Dagmara herself called me back. We chatted on the phone for over an hour. We talked about her philosophy, her background and her approach to helping Isaac. I basically told her Isaac’s life story and she welcomed us and his unique history, with open arms. I felt like I was being listened to for the first time in his short little life. I wasn’t being dismissed as an over-worried mother. Isaac’s entire history was considered in Dagmara’s diagnostic approach. It was a very comforting and inexplicable feeling of safety having Dagmara on Isaac’s team.
How has Zuza’s Way helped you with your healing journey? Dagmara immediately dove into helping answer the why for Isaac that was missed when he was 18 months old. Through multiple types of testing, blood work, urine sampling and diet changes, we learned Isaac has a severe intolerance to gluten as well as the gene that predisposes him to developing Celiac’s disease. It all clicked for us. Of course he didn’t want to eat when he was little, everything probably made him feel terrible but he couldn’t tell us back then. Our family approached the diagnostic portion for Isaac as a team. We completed the Whole30 together and learned things about ourselves along the way. My oldest son is severely intolerant to dairy products, my husband’s constant reflux resolved, I gained energy I hadn’t felt in years. I also learned Isaac inherited the Celiac gene from me. I no longer eat gluten for my own health as well. Our nutrition journey did not stop there and we are still learning and growing in our knowledge. I recently met with Maria Viall, the nutritionist who Dagmara recommended. She listened to my current goals for my family and gave me many new tools to help support our ongoing healing journey.
What therapies at Zuza’s Way have been most beneficial? We began Isaac’s treatment with supplements to help heal his gut. Multiple rounds of antibiotics for chronic ear infections when he was little along with his poor diet, had left him with many gut issues and malabsorption issues. His constant stomach pain are finally resolving, but he continues to have absorption issues. He recently began the pediatric Meyer’s cocktail infusions as well as a focused approach to specific nutrient deficiencies. I can’t say what has helped most, I just truly appreciate the fluidity of Dagmara’s approach. What we needed to do 2 years ago is not the same as today. But the overall result, is a happier healthier Isaac who eats better, sleeps better and plays harder than ever before. His health fuels the happiness of our whole family, a bonus therapy Zuza’s Way has given us
What has been the hardest part of your journey? Isaac’s health has been a 9 year process. I have to remember that there was 7 years of damage going on inside him before we got on the right track. His healing has not been a simple here-is-a-pill-to-solve-all-your-problems. We are lucky to have a strong support system of friend’s a family who trust our process. But it has not always been easy explaining our choices to others and feeling the judgement. Staying the course and seeing the positive results have been the right fuel for us. But the gradual improvement of Isaac’s health is not always easy to stay patient with.
What do you want with to share with others on a similar journey? If there is anything I’ve learned in this process, it’s that there’s no one solution to ANY health condition. People around you may not understand the treatment plan you are opting for. On the other hand, people may want to know exactly what you’re doing and try to mimic it. Finding a provider, like Dagmara and a team of caring partners, like the staff at Zuza’s Way, is crucial to balance all the opinions of everyone around you. My husband and I have had to really find the strength to support Isaac at school when we were being told (in not so many words), that we are making the wrong choice of him not being on medication. His test scores have not only improved since starting his healing journey, but have exceeded every goal placed on him. I’ve spoken with Dagmara after many teacher conferences for reassurance of our choices, haha! Whatever path you or a loved one may be on, trust in your instincts on what feels like the right approach for you. We have learned so many things about Isaac’s health, his resilience and his internal strength that we may have never known without this journey. It may not always be easy, but I am grateful for Isaac’s path and am so much less fearful for his ability to thrive in the future.