goodbye cheetos

Cheetos and graham crackers were two of Calvin's favorite foods when he was littler. He didn't learn to chew well until he was almost two years old. These snacks were recommended to us by his occupational therapist because they were easy to hold and dissolved in his mouth, and therefore he wasn't likely to choke on them. And boy did he love them! Little did we know that was all going to change.

Early on, my research into epilepsy and its treatments had lead me to the Ketogenic diet. Purportedly the diet could in some cases cure epilepsy, though the medical establishment has been slow on the uptake. This high-fat, low-carb dietary treatment, best used by children, was developed in the 1920's to mimic fasting - a measure used since Hippocrates and biblical times known to stop "fits". With the advent of the first anti-epileptic drug, however, the diet fell into relative obscurity in favor of a quick fix - a pill. Staples of the diet include butter, mayonnaise, oils and heavy cream. Protein and carbohydrates are severely limited and patients must be monitored by a physician and specially trained registered dietician.

The diet's use is on the rise and is starting to be recommended after the second failed anti-convulsant drug. Some statistics show a third of children enjoying a 50% reduction in seizures and another third getting a greater than 90% improvement while a percentage of these kids can become seizure free even within days of starting the treatment. The final third who try it either cannot tolerate the diet or do not experience any benefit. Unfortunately, Calvin was in this category.

Most kids who benefit stay on the diet for an average of two years. After being seizure free on the diet for one year the weaning begins. Some kids remain seizure free for the rest of their lives and some must go back on the diet because of a return in their seizures and the process starts over.

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