They say you are what you eat, but no one warns you that eating only crappy food could cost you one of your five precious senses.
The teen – who, sadly, was living with parents and not on the street – had subsisted on fries, Pringles, white bread, and the occasional slice of processed ham for years. Not surprisingly, he started experiencing medical issues at the age of 14.
His parents brought him to the doctor, who found that his hearing problems were due to poor vitamin intake.
“His diet was essentially a portion of chips from the local fish and chip shop every day. He also used to snack on crisps – Pringles – and sometimes slices of white bread and occasional slices of ham, and not really any fruit and vegetables.”
He was diagnosed with a vitamin B12 deficiency. B12 is found in fish, meat, dairy, and eggs, and it is essential for proper brain function, forming red blood cells and new DNA, proteins, hormones, and fat. Doctors provided him with supplements, but recommended a diet change.
Eventually, they conceded that he was more than just a “fussy eater” and diagnosed an eating disorder called Arfid – avoidant restrictive food intake disorder. The disorder causes people to limit their food based on appearance, texture, presentation, taste, or past negative experience. People who suffer from Arfid often also have anxiety and will limit their food to the point that it affects their health, without intervention.
At 17, he returned to the doctor complaining of vision loss, and admitted he had quit taking his supplements. His original doctor said, “He had blind spots right in the middle of his vision. That means he can’t drive and would find it really difficult to read, watch TV, or discern faces.”
His eyesight had deteriorated quickly and was past the point of recovering through treatment. According to his mother, he showed no other obvious signs of poor health along the way. “He has always been skinny so we had no weight concerns. You hear about junk food and obesity all the time – but he was as thin as a rake.”
The boy was severely malnourished, suffering a catastrophic loss of minerals from his bones and has been referred to mental health services to treat his eating disorder.
For her part, his mother blames the doctors.
“They said it was all in his head. By the time they realised what was wrong it was too late to save his sight. The whole ordeal has been very traumatic. I want to scream about what we have gone through.”
I mean, now I want to scream about parents who don’t realize that diet could cause problems for a child in their care, so I guess we’re all traumatized here.
I guess I can still see, at least.