When seven year old Grace had debilitating, migrating pain, and started to lose her eyesight and her hearing, her parents took her to the children’s hospital. For eight long months, they worked with various specialists and pediatricians to find the root cause of Grace’s ailments, subjecting the girl to bone marrow tests, MRIs, and CT scans, anything possible to find a cause to treat for her symptoms.
Finally they brought in a psychologist. After answering the extensive questions she asked about their family, relationships, and Grace’s home life, Jackie, her mother, was appalled by her diagnosis. The psychologist stumbled through her words, before it became obvious to Jackie that the psychologist was grasping at straws—seeking connections between Grace’s physical condition and her home life.
The family stopped treatment with the psychologist, but the worst was yet to come. While reviewing Grace’s medical file after a visit to the emergency room, she saw the doctor’s scribbled note.
Grace is just a little girl who is acting out because you’re watching too many football games.
“The medical world rarely trusts parents. I have seen that all the way along and I have lost faith.” Jackie knew that something was amiss, and it wasn’t anything in Grace’s mind. On advice from a co-worker, Jackie made an appointment with Dr. Tom Sult. She was skeptical of the potential results from someone who practiced functional medicine, but the helplessness of vacant stares, shoulder shrugs, and recommendations that Grace’s problems stemmed from something that she and her family wasn’t doing right, she decided they had nothing to lose.
Immediately upon entering Dr. Sult’s practice, Jackie knew something was different. She’d had all of Grace’s medical records sent over, but when Dr. Sult entered the office with the stack of paperwork tagged to indicate that he’d carefully read them, Jackie was relieved that someone was finally going to listen to all of Grace’s symptoms and help find a root cause.
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Although Grace had been tested for Lyme Disease, only one of the many tests came back with a possibility of yes, and the girl was treated with only three weeks of antibiotics before disregarding the diagnosis. Lyme Disease can sometimes provide a “blind spot” in immune tests, so Dr. Sult started there, and found enough evidence to indicate the young girl was affected.
In the first eighteen months of her treatment with Dr. Sult, Grace took four different antibiotics, as well as an array of supplements to restore good bacteria. Additionally, the family sought psychological treatment for Grace, and were relieved when they found that this new doctor didn’t hold the same prejudice of the other. The journey back to health would be long, with the most telling marker of her recovery the sports that she’d always loved. Jackie remarked, “She played basketball the year before, but she could hardly ever make any of the practices because of her pain, but then the next year we saw her run up and down the court three or four times. She couldn’t do that six months ago.”
Grace’s recovery wasn’t only an exercise in her own healing, but in the education and enlightenment of her community. Jackie ran a support group in her town, because, although the symptoms of Lyme disease are vast and varied, most patients diagnosed have often been through the ringer with traditional medicine. Jackie performed outreach, even creating presentations spreading awareness about Lyme performed by her local fire department. Even more important to Jackie than providing information about Lyme disease is empowering people to listen to their gut, and seek out doctors who will take each symptom into consideration, finding a treatment for the root of their ailments, and not just reducing the symptoms that indicate something else is wrong. “(People) can get better, but they need to be with the right doctors. There are so many people I have talked to that are still going to their medical doctors and they get a little bit of antibiotics, and then they go to a health food store and start taking all the stuff that they find listed on the internet. They need to be with a live, literate doctor to get better.”
By treating Grace as a whole person, and not just a little girl with myriad, seemingly unconnected symptoms, Dr. Sult pulled the focus from her brain to her blood, and was able to treat the root cause of her ailments.