The Search For a Cure series is one in which I chronicle the decision we have made to pursue treatment in effort to resolve my son’s food allergies, asthma, and environmental allergies. This post will make more sense if you start in the beginning: The Fall I Gave Up on Food Allergies.
Since my last post, Meeting Bono, our dive into treatment has been all at once remarkable and unremarkable. It’s been an intense commitment and yet one that we have slid into with a certain amount of ease.
Our first appointment with Dr. Li was in June 2015; in mid-July Zachary began his protocol, which includes oral pills, herbal baths, and skin creams. We have slowly increased and tweaked his daily doses over the course of the last eight months.
Dr. Li’s first goal was to reduce his internal inflammation, the markers of which she would track via blood work – these were completely out of range in his baseline blood test, which is often the case in those with allergies and asthma, she explained. She wanted to reduce that inflammation partially in order to begin to control his asthma without daily corticosteroids.
I was all for reducing the daily corticosteroids until just a couple of months into treatment when Dr. Li was ready to have us talk to our allergist about starting to taper the meds. Already? Suddenly I had cold feet. Even though we had sought her out in part to reduce a lifetime reliance on these medications, his daily controller had done such wonders for his asthma, that I felt a dread deep inside to even consider making the change. I dug my heels in pretty hard until our allergist agreed that Zachary’s most recent lung function test and his steady peak flows merited reducing his daily meds.
We’ve carefully tapered him from his daily controller and continue to watch his peak flows closely. And even though I was reluctant to wean him from the corticosteroid, his lungs have proven to handle it well enough to continue his regular activities (like karate, climbing, running, camping, or swimming) with no issues. Aside from one nasty respiratory infection this winter that required nebulizer treatments, we have seen no cause for concern with his asthma. I think this is possibly the most visible response we can see to the treatment this early in the process – which to me feels like this is huge progress!
In February, we ordered his six-month blood work – she monitors blood work every six months to ensure that the body is responding well and safely to the herbs – and waited for the results with realistic expectations that this was too early in the treatment to see much improvement. With that mindset, I was beside myself to see two key markers – his total IgE and his eosinophils – had dropped by 25% and 15% respectively. As much as I had read about Dr. Li’s research and treatment, it still felt overwhelming to know that the treatment is actually working on my son.
Our next phone consult with Dr. Li held optimistic overtones along with the admonition that we are still at the beginning of a long journey, but it was just the motivation we needed to keep us on the right track.
Something is clearly working in Zachary’s body. His asthma is controlled with half of his normal controller dose and he remains in great physical health with no visible side effects of the protocol.
In another four months we will do a full panel of blood work, which will include food IgE measurements as well. We’ll have an updated spirometry (lung function) test, and we’ll have our annual in-person appointments with both our allergist and Dr. Li. I feel that the next set of tests will be more telling for multiple reasons. In the meantime, though, we take the positive results and we let it inspire us to do our due diligence for the next few months.