The Hydrick Family
Hi—we’re the Hydricks, and we are so thankful you stopped by our website. We are passionate about sharing our story, which is a story of healing—we’re just still waiting on the healing. You read it right—our kids are still sick and life is almost unbearable every day. I don’t even have a “but” to that sentence. Life is HARD. What I can tell you, though, is how we’ve made it through each day—how we’ve faced the mountain over and over and over again without giving in to the journey. Our family has made a pact that we will not survive life—we will THRIVE. Getting to that place is hard—I mean the lots of tears and lots of pain and lots of struggle kind of hard. We’ve come to realize that this stupid disease (as I call it!) will be in our lives whether we love our life or hate our life. So—we’ve learned to love it, embrace it, lean into it, and ultimately, each other.
So here it is—a simplified version of our story (for time’s sake!)
I’m biased. Of course I’m biased. I’m a mother. But I will tell you, there is something different about Kayden McCall Hydrick, our 6 year old, brown eyed, blonde cuteness of a kid. People describe him as an “old soul,” something you can’t quite put your finger on, but know is there. He has an acute awareness of other people’s feelings and whereabouts. If he’s met you, you can believe he’s asked about you or prayed for you. If your granddad died last year, he’s still talking about it when we pass your house, and he can’t wait to go to heaven to meet him (though his mama has something to say about that!). From an extremely young age, he has had an odd sense of maturity—understanding, questioning, and articulating concepts and words that seem beyond his years. McCall will have you laughing, crying, and wondering, all within a conversation. Andrew and I have always known he was designed to do great things, but we were not prepared for HOW God was planning to use this sweet soul.
Medically speaking, McCall had an interesting first four years. He threw up for his first twelve months of life (to the day!), he has always been small, he had several life threatening anaphylactic shocks (one of which we weren’t sure he would pull out of), had an extremely emotional food impaction episode that left him squirming to stay alive, and had several severe asthma attacks, one of which put him in the hospital for several days. At meal times, he itched and sneezed and itched some more. His eczema was so severe that the cracks of his elbows bled and scarred. None of his symptoms, except his anaphylactic shocks, concerned us very much—because I too have eczema, am small, have asthma, and threw up as a baby– but when we made our first trip to the allergist and discovered he was allergic to life—and I mean literally, we knew—just knew—something wasn’t adding up here. Every single grass, tree, bug, food, ingredient—EVERYTHING came back rated “HIGH” or above, with many at the anaphylactic/deadly level. Kids shouldn’t scratch their heads through dinner. Kids shouldn’t cough all night long. Kids shouldn’t throw up every day. Kids shouldn’t be allergic to seventy-five foods.
Many things led us to see the Pediatric Gastroenterologist in early 2012, but the main reason was God giving us a tenacious determination to find out what was wrong with our child. Doctors told me to give him time, to get swallowing therapy, blah blah. I was going to scream until someone looked at me like a person who was worth listening to—I knew my baby. I knew he wasn’t right. Bottom line.
Eventually, the tenacity paid off. In April 2012, four weeks before the birth of our third son, McCall was diagnosed with Eosinophilic Esophagitis, or EoE, a rare, inflammatory disease of the esophagus. His esophagus was so infected that it had lines and little dots from top to bottom. Immediately, our hearts were broken—all of his symptoms shouted at us, and we couldn’t get anyone to listen for almost five years. How much pain had he gone through? How much damage had been done?
We really believed getting the diagnosis would bring some sort of closure and help us move on to what “normal” would be like for our family. In fact, this disease brought the opposite—the more we learned about it, the more frustrated we got; the more we eliminated foods, the sicker he got; the harder we tried, the worse everything became. We just didn’t understand this disease, and it took us a long time to figure out how to live managing the ebbs and flows of EoE.
But the story doesn’t end here. In fact, this was just the beginning.
Saw-man, as he is known, is the kid you can “put in your pocket” and carry around with you. He is tiny, and he is fierce. This happy terror keeps everyone belly laughing with his determination, head-strong personality, humor, and “digga digga” language. He will terrorize your home, pull everything out of every drawer, physically destroy and even inflict pain–and then flash a seven tooth smile complete with two deep dimples that makes you forget every moment leading up to that. I’ve never known real laughter until April 19th, 2011 when this child entered this world. He is crazy, and he brings us joy.
Sawyer has had a much different journey than McCall. He didn’t throw up regularly, had no anaphylactic shocks, and no visible food allergies except cow’s milk—but yet, something was seriously wrong. By the time he was 17 months, he was diagnosed with failure to thrive. He weighed less at 17 months than he did at 10 months, was napping about 3 times a day, had whole foods in his stool, had between 8-10 diarrhea diapers a day, had black circles under his eyes, had a distended abdomen, had very little hair or teeth, and just looked sick.
Because his symptoms were so different than McCall’s, we really didn’t believe he had the same disease. But because of the GI issues and family history, we went down a similar road—only to find out that he did have Eosinophilic Esophagitis, and it was causing each one of these problems. Really? The same disease but no similar symptoms? A child with 75 food allergies and a child with 3? It just didn’t make sense to us.
And yet, the journey continues…..
Beckham, or better known as Baby, is a big, bow-legged bulldozer. He tramples anything in his path and is stubborn just like his mama. His heart is as big as he is—he’s lovable, he’s snuggly, and he’s our joy. He’s the perfect addition to our family and makes us feel complete—plus it’s about time I had a baby that looks like me!!
From birth, Beckham has screamed. And I don’t mean the typical newborn scream. I mean a decibel level no human ears have ever heard. We knew early on that he was in pain—he couldn’t tolerate breast milk, and he couldn’t tolerate any formula. By the time he was 5 months old, he was drinking the medical formula McCall and Sawyer were drinking, and we were so fearful of what that meant for him. He drank the formula exclusively until about ten months old when we decided to start him on solid food. We have been confused by his journey as well—at times, he seemed to be the sickest of our children, yet he was not diagnosed with EoE. He never had problems gaining weight, yet he wasn’t eating food. Nothing pacified him, and we were clueless on how to help him. Since we introduced solid foods, he has maintained a strict diet free of the top 8 allergens (gluten, soy, egg, dairy, nuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish), which is a typical diet of an EoE kid.
Let me set the scene. Three children ages five and under. Two in diapers. Five meal plans. A home business. A husband on swing shift work. A new and frustrating disease. Multiple doctor visits each week. Hospitalizations every six to eight weeks for Sawyer and McCall. Emergency ER situations. Overflowing medical bills. Sleepless nights. Twelve to fourteen diarrhea diapers a day. Anaphylactic shocks. An exhausted mommy. A tired couple. Scared parents.
The year that followed (Mid 2012-2013) will forever be labeled as the “one we never thought we’d make it through.” There is no way that words can communicate the hell we endured over the next year. I’m just going to have to ask you to trust me—that it was bad. Like—really bad. But guess what? I’m here writing our story. We didn’t give up. God didn’t give up. The “stupid disease” is relentless, but our God is even more relentless. Our lives are a testimony that God has a purpose, that God goes before, that He never leaves—that every promise He makes in Scripture is true.
So many things about our lives changed. Food, hearts, desires, realities, friendships. But God never changed. He never let us fall too deeply in despair that we couldn’t find our way out. And yet, He still called us to shine His light, regardless of our situation.
So here we are…..in the middle of the struggle, writing to you in your struggle. Thank you for following our journey!
Read about our philosophy on food here.
Read more about Eosinophilic Esophagitis here.
Thank you to our friend and fellow blogger, Marissa Dodgen, for the continual pictures of our family!