Son’s health scare makes mom passionate about healthy food

Enza Ward sits sipping an almond milk cappuccino in a busy coffee shop in Northwest Calgary. She cozies up by the fireplace and reflects upon her journey to today. She is a mother, a wife and now a busy holistic nutritionist at the Holistic Institute of Health and Fertility, in Calgary.

Eight years ago Ward and her husband David had their world turned upside-down when their two-year-old son Brandon started crying after a routine nap.

“I thought maybe he had a bad dream or something. He just started doubling over in pain, he was holding his stomach…then he started throwing up. We just thought it was some kind of flu bug,” she says.

They took Brandon to the Children’s Hospital, “I just thought they were going to let him out, but they didn’t,” Ward says. “One doctor would come in, then another doctor would come in, I’m like can you please just let me go home. They wouldn’t and they wouldn’t tell me anything.”edited IMG_0129Brandon Ward in the hospital with acute pancreatitis, he has overcome the illness with the help of a new diet. Photo courtesy of Enza Ward

The Wards were at the hospital for 15 hours before they knew anything. Her son was going into septic shock, which is and infection that causes life threatening low blood pressure and while all this was going on Ward was nine months pregnant at the time.

“They said, ‘we just need to open him up and see what is going on,'” she recalls.

Brandon had his appendix removed and doctors found an excess amount of fluid in his stomach. He had acute recurrent pancreatitis. The doctors started treating him as a patient with pancreatitis and he was connected to multiple feeding and nutrient tubes. He was in the hospital three more times that year.

“They thought when they sent him home that it was this one time thing, I remember them telling us that,” Ward says.

The Wards were allowed to bring their son home, and three days later Enza went into labour. A week after that, Brandon was re-admitted into the hospital because his lipase levels were, “through the roof.” Lipase is an enzyme found in the pancreas that helps with the break down of fat.
Enza and her husband had the doctors do every test so that they could try to figure out what was wrong. Nothing came up.

“It felt really surreal. It felt like a really bad nightmare, like how could this be happening?” she says. “The not knowing why was the hardest.”

Theresa Schemenauer, a family friend, says she remembers visiting Brandon in the hospital and seeing him hooked up to tubes.

“I’ll never forget seeing that pretty, young mother, about nine months pregnant and David, there, who never left his (Brandon’s) side, sleeping in the hospital room in a chair, a frightening and exhausting ordeal for them,” she says.

The search for answers

edited WardBrandon Ward sits at a piano, a happy little boy, despite health challenges that he has battled. Photo courtesy of Enza Ward

Since doctors couldn’t figure out what caused Brandon’s pancreatitis the Ward’s took matters into their own hands. Not finding any answers from conventional medicine, Enza Ward looked through the yellow pages in search of a naturopath that could possibly help her son.

“I needed to know more and I needed to look outside the box.”

She says because he was vomiting a lot and because it was pancreatitis, an organ which helps break down fats, this made her think it might be food related. She decided to look at a nutritionist.

They found Dr. Anton Kodet, an integrative medical care doctor in Calgary who takes on cases that haven’t been solved by conventional medicine.

“I remember thinking this is not casual, he’s serious. He said to me on the phone, ‘this is going to be hard,'” Ward says.

In following Dr. Kodet’s instructions by eating certain foods and using a combination of hypoallergenic, rotational, diversified, elimination and blood type diets Brandon hasn’t had any more bouts of pancreatitis.

According to Dr. Kodet, some irritating foods are: cheese, corn, eggs, garlic, gluten, lactose, milk, mushrooms, peanut butter, salt, soy, sugar and wheat.

Ward still sticks close to the diet and is very careful about what she eats as well as what she feeds her family. The whole family did the diets together. She sticks close to a fresh-food organic diet with little preservatives.

“After about a year he started to build up his immunity and started to thrive more over time. It was a slow progression,” she says.

Now the Wards rotate the different types of foods so Brandon isn’t always having one type of food but Ward says they don’t restrict much anymore but are still following a whole food organic diet. Ward still limits wheat and dairy in their household because wheat is hard to digest and too much of it isn’t good Ward says, and Brandon has casein sensitivities and casein is a protein in milk. She says it’s just a mother’s instinct to restrict these foods.

Dr. Kodet combines conventional medicine with natural therapies and treatment methods and he says he lets the patients decide what they feel comfortable with.

“(In Brandon’s case) my goal was to reduce the levels of inflammation and irritation, I was reducing the levels of inflammation by reducing the irritation,” he says. “The digestive system is irritated by cold, hard foods…mainly cooling and dampening foods.”

He says this is recognized not in conventional medicine, but in oriental andAyurvedic medicine where they follow what happens to the food throughout the digestive system.edited ward2Enza Ward with her husband Dave Ward, and their two children Alyssa and Brandon. Photo courtesy of Enza Ward

“I used conventional diagnosis as well as the general naturopathic diagnosis so I wasn’t bound and limited by a diagnosis per se. I was also looking at conditions which could be developed in the future, or conditions which had been pre-existing but didn’t manifest in the test-table by conventional methods.”

He says children have a tremendous capacity to improve but they have to be given the right conditions to improve.

“Patients who follow my directions under normal circumstances dramatically improve the conventional prognosis,” he says. “It is laborious, but the Wards have done it.”

Passion raising awareness

Ward, a former computer programmer turned stay-at-home mom saw the benefits of the holistic approach for her son Brandon and was inspired. She became passionate about food and what goes into our bodies.

In 2011, she decided to enroll in the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition(CSNN) and is now a registered holistic nutritionist (RHN). She started working at The Holistic Institute of Health and Fertility in October creating four-week programs to help people understand food.

“I wanted to know more, I wanted to meet other like minded people,” she says. “I was so interested in talking about this and it’s comforting to be in an environment where other people get it.”

Family friend Theresa Schemenauer thinks Ward will make a great holistic nutritionist, “I know that Enza (Ward) always walks the talk. I’m sure she’ll do very well because her sincerity will shine through and her clients will see that.”

Ward has put together a four-week program to teach people about her experiences and the basics of nutrition. She takes information about food that might be hard to understand, concepts such as super foods and probiotics.

“We absolutely are what we eat, and food does make a difference,” she says.

Ward wants to break down food for people and give them information to think about.

“Awareness has been a huge part of my journey and I want to raise other peoples awareness so they can deal with the emotional aspect (to food) a little bit better,” she says. “I’m just passionate about what I do.”

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