Life StoryAug/Sep 2016 Issue

Allergy Proof Your New Home

A family constructs a clean house & a special diet for their severely sensitive child

Allergy Proof Your New Home

When Laura Waldo’s son Devon was first learning to walk, his toddling was more risky than most. He tripped, stumbled and bumped his head on walls and furniture. His bloated belly and frequent projectile vomiting didn’t help his tenuous balance, and the sores and eczema that covered his body made his mother fear a social services report.

Devon wasn’t an unusually clumsy child; he was having seizures. In fact, he was suffering from undiagnosed gluten ataxia and celiac disease, conditions that led to a heart arrhythmia, adrenal fatigue, a thyroid condition and near kidney failure—all before the age of 5.

His numerous health issues prompted his mother to abandon her engineering career and make his care her full-time job. On the side, she pursued a nutritional therapy degree and began to explore the connections between food and Devon’s symptoms. Given Devon’s severe sensitivities, Laura also became concerned about environmental triggers. Eventually, she and her husband decided the family needed to move.

“We needed a quiet place to protect him and to start over,” she says. “We wanted a clean slate, both nutritionally and environmentally.”

Laura Waldo with her son Devon

Laura Waldo with her son Devon

Assembling a New Life

They contracted to build a house as free from potential allergens as possible, not even allowing the construction workers to eat gluten on the job site. No gluten would ever be present in this house—not in food, shampoo, lotion or anything else over which they had control.

They installed an air filtration system for airborne allergens, filters for the well water, solid wood doors and windows and wood floors throughout—most hewn in the contractor’s own workshop and every one treated with water-based stains. All paints used were low VOC. The few pieces of carpet in the home were chosen because they were not chemically treated. A central vacuum system and French drains rounded out the thoughtful structural choices made for their new home. Reducing potential allergens and irritants—mold, mildew, dust, pollen—was the goal.

The Waldos also tackled Devon’s dietary needs. Through trial and error, they learned he did better when he avoided or limited most grains, nightshades and legumes, including soy.

Seven years later, Devon no longer needs thyroid medication and his heart, liver and kidneys seem to have made a full recovery. He can now be in the presence of gluten without turning beet red and swelling. And he can eat in several dedicated gluten-free restaurants without relapse.

The family attributes Devon’s recovery to their all-in approach to healing his immune system, both with food choices and environmental controls. He is still home schooled but he looks forward to traveling and, one day, moving to Denver, Colorado, his favorite city.

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