A few weeks ago, I returned from my son’s annual in-office visit with Dr. Arthur Krigsman. It was quite an adventure traveling hundreds, even thousands, of miles for this appointment. I’ve always said, though, that I love my son far too much to give him any less. We came out of this appointment with a glowing report. My son is really starting to grow and put on healthy weight (almost 13 pounds in the last year). And his overall health is now almost that of any other child his age. But the whole journey through gastrointestinal care had to start somewhere. . .
From what I had read, many children with autism had multiple gastrointestinal issues, and Harrison was no different. It seemed as though we couldn’t get through a meal without him leaning over the side of a chair or on the floor, curled into a fetal position. Shortly after doing this, he would be in the bathroom, having another episode of diarrhea. The diarrhea and pain didn’t just happen at meals either; it was all the time, so I sought out a local pediatric gastroenterologist. After sending him Harrison’s file (which he called “extensive”) and the initial appointment, the doctor concluded Harrison was constipated and had constipation-related diarrhea. He prescribed a long-term regimen of Miralax (up to 2 years as he said).
At the six-month follow-up appointment, I suggested looking into the potential of scoping procedures because Harrison’s level of pain hadn’t subsided, and he still had chronic diarrhea. But it seemed as though once I brought the “A”-word (autism) into the conversation, he immediately became “stand-offish”. He said there were no specific gastrointestinal conditions attributed to autism and if a child didn’t go at least a week without a BM or presented with bloody stools, he didn’t see any need for a scoping procedure. He also added (after reviewing Harrison’s file again) that he didn’t see the logic of using Nystatin for intestinal yeast, and said “I’m not even so sure about that leaky gut thing either”. My wife and I weren’t even out of the parking lot when I told her that we were never bringing Harrison to this doctor again.
That was the year I went to the AutismOne conference with the main objective of seeking out Dr. Arthur Krigsman to try to get Harrison under his care. I had read so many wonderful things about his work with autistic children that I was determined. I was successful, and a few months later, I found myself down in Austin, Texas, having necessary scoping procedures (endoscopy, colonoscopy, wireless pillcam) done on my son. I remember sitting in the waiting room of the surgery center when Dr. Krigsman came walking out. He sat down beside me and said, “Well, Harrison definitely has issues, but the good news is I think I can treat it.”
Those few words instilled a sense of hope in me that I rarely felt. I mean, if the condition ended with “itis” or “opathy” and it dealt with anything from the stomach all the way down to the bowel, Harrison pretty much had it. But here was a doctor who, aside from his own findings, actually listened to me and my wife and believed what we said. He also believed he could treat my son, and he was right.
Within 6-8 months of being under Dr. Krigsman’s care, Harrison’s bowel movements became solid, and he took a sudden interest in potty training, which happened a few months later! Before treating Harrison’s gastrointestinal symptoms, he was always getting sick (strep at least 5 or 6 times a year). Now, I can’t even remember the last time he got it. The most memorable moment in his journey through gastrointestinal care thus far came one night at the dinner table. About halfway through our meal, Harrison suddenly sat up with a confused look on his face. I asked him, “Harrison, are you okay?” He looked back at me and replied, “Daddy, my tummy doesn’t hurt when I eat anymore!” Hearing him say that brought tears to my eyes, but they were tears of joy. Knowing my son was no longer in pain brought an incredible sense of happiness and relief.
All the appointments, procedures, and lab tests (pretty much from every bodily fluid you can get from a child) have come at great time and expense. Seeing Harrison’s health improve to the point where he’s virtually pain-free is very much worth it all. In fact, I’d have happily given more. There is no price to put on my children’s health. I’ve also seen a dramatic rise in his cognitive development, and he has actually started seeking out friends. I really think the health and pain issues were a roadblock to this, and I could never stress enough about the importance of gastrointestinal care. With the pain gone, I’m now starting to see more and more of that sparkle in his eyes and smile on his face that makes me realize that my dreams are once again coming true.