One of our admin members, and RISA librarian, Raechel McLucas, shares her reflux journey.
My name is Raechel. I’m now a mum of 3 primary school aged children, work 2 days a week as a research officer at Autism Queensland, and I’ve just started a research Masters course on school refusal in children with autism. I’m also the RISA librarian.
If I rewind 6 1/2 years to when my youngest daughter, Elizabeth, was born, I was not nearly as productive as I am now!! I thought baby number 3 would be a breeze, routines were the answer to all parenting woes and that I knew it all as a mum. Reflux definitely taught me a lot of lessons! I remember a nurse coming in on our third night in the hospital because Lizzie was screaming so loudly while I was changing her. It took a few weeks until I realised something was really wrong.
Lizzie was 2 weeks and 5 days old. It was a Tuesday morning and I took Hamish (my middle child) into a speech therapy appointment. I stood and rocked Lizzie for the entire 30 minutes of the lesson and she didn’t stop screaming the entire time. I packed a bag and the 3 kids and I drove straight to my mum’s house! I remember my Dad walking Lizzie up and down the hall and eventually coming to mum and I and saying ‘there’s definitely something wrong. I can’t get her to calm down.’
So began our journey – we didn’t manage to see a paed and start losec until 12 weeks. The 9 weeks in between were one of the worst parts of our journey. We tried feed thickener, infant Gaviscon, and Zantac as well as all the non-medical interventions we could think of. Holding Lizzie upright for 20 minutes after every feed (as well as breastfeeding, expressing, and topping up with expressed milk plus formula – I was so bloody stubborn I wouldn’t give up any of the steps!), sleeping her on an angle, wrapping her tightly, playing music through every feed.
We saw our general paed until Lizzie was 18 months old. Losec worked well for her, although we found the tablet version better than the suspension. As I learned and read more about reflux, I asked repeatedly about dairy intolerances and was told over and over that she couldn’t be dairy intolerant as she didn’t have noticeable frothy green mucous poos. We followed the doctor’s instructions and took her off losec at 6 months. Amongst our busy life, it took me 6 months to pinpoint why Lizzie’s health, sleep, feeding and development gradually worsened. Finally, at 13, months I sent hubby along to his first ever doctor’s appointment with a list of questions. He had no idea how to push for results and the doctor sent him home with answers scrawled on my question sheet. I called over and over and finally got her back on losec. And he made us take her off again at 18 months.
At this point, I finally bit the bullet and joined RISA. And things began to improve. We saw a gastro paed who did an endoscopy. He then explained that constipation CAN be a sign of food intolerances. He sent us to an amazing dietician who helped us do the full RPAH elimination diet (plus no gluten, dairy, soy). We continued the food intolerance and losec with huge improvements in behaviour, sleep, growth and development (and a few hiccups – she still has such a fiery temper!). By 4.5 years she was off losec and onto a completely normal diet. At 6 years we had to remove dairy again, but other than some night waking she is so well now.
Thank you, Raechel, for sharing your personal story. What amazing achievements your family have to look back on and we wish you every success and happiness for the future.