A lot has happened this month on the allergy front! We finally decided to take our six year old for the blood work his allergy doctor ordered a few months ago. I was holding off because I was afraid. There was a time in the past where a tech could not find his vein and was jabbing a needle inside his arm trying to catch one… I guess they call this fishing. Anyone who’s job it is to poke a needle into a vein should at least be good enough to actually find the vein. It’s their job, after all.
So anyway, the day before the 4th of July we went for the blood draw. It actually went really well and he barely cried, RELIEF! We were still following the elimination diet, removing the top allergenic foods such as egg whites, gluten, soy, dairy and nuts. The doctor called about a week later letting me know that in addition to testing allergic to dogs, cashews and mold, he is also allergic to gluten and soy. We should make sure to always have an EpiPen on hand.
Do you know what happens when you send an EpiPen to Day Camp with your son who thinks he knows better than you when you say not to play with it?
The answer is he stabs himself in the hand with it. Thank god he wasn’t applying much pressure when the needle popped out. He was barely poked, but definitely scared. One day, I tell myself… One day he will listen to me when I talk.
Sometimes I think my sarcasm is the only thing that keeps me sane.
How the elimination diet is going…
We were doing pretty good at avoiding the allergenic foods and cooking at home. I noticed that eating out in restaurants would impact him negatively – his immediate symptoms are grogginess, inability to listen and communicate, tired and glassy eyes, throat swelling and asthma. The more we eat out, the more I see these symptoms.
To any person who cooks at home every day, I salute you. We do not have a dishwasher and cooking and cleaning up three meals a day (sometimes six meals because everyone eats something different) is so time consuming and exhausting. If I wasn’t a stay-at-home mom I would have to hire a chef or a maid. Or Mary Poppins.
For lunches, I have been sending him the same foods I discussed here. We are sticking to gluten free treats, which cost an arm and a leg but are worth it when my son is bright eyed and communicating throughout the day. He attends summer camp through the City Park District, which offers a “healthy” lunch three times a week. Here is what this lunch consists of: GMO white bread sandwiches with non-organic lunch meat and cheese, a piece of non-organic fruit which few of the kids actually eat and sometimes a salad. (Because kids eat salad.) My son eats the lunch I pack before lunchtime and then eats the GMO white bread sandwich, throwing away the free fruit and salad. Elimination diet fail. The good part, however, is that even though there are some slip-ups, we are seeing improvements in behavior and overall appearance which suggest his body is doing better than he was before. In pictures from the recent past, his eyes were droopy, dull and sunken in, but now they are clearer and he looks happy and healthy. Again, RELIEF.
It is my plan to go strict elimination diet in August when I have full control over his diet. The important thing in healing the gut is to completely avoid foods which irritate the body, otherwise healing will not take place. Every time my son eats something he is not supposed to, we are back at square one. While I am seeing minor improvements which I am super thankful for, true healing of his gut will not take place unless we can completely stick to his diet.
Why am I so terrible at sticking to an elimination diet?
That is the question I keep asking myself. I talk about what we need to do, I write about what we need to do. I even start to do what we need to do. Then the resistance starts. My son complains. He won’t feed himself. I have to hand feed two kids while cooking and cleaning up and doing dishes non-stop. My son wants a treat. We are out of gluten free snacks. There is pizza day at camp. Wait, it’s ice cream AND pizza day. I just cooked lunch and cleaned everything up, now its already time to start dinner!? What the heck an I going to make tonight?!? AHHH. Ok, so I think its pretty obvious why sometimes I just say whatever, just this time we will steer off the path. The problem is those times add up!
On Saturday it was my son’s trophy picnic for completing the t-ball season. On the way there, my husband needed to stop for a coffee. (The fireman schedule is not conducive to early mornings.) Of course, son wants a doughnut, so Dad gives him a little doughnut hole; like the little part stamped out from the center of the big doughnut. No big deal, I guess. Then we get to the park. He gets a free lunch of a crappy hot dog on a crappy bun with some chips. I’m not liking this, but how can I rip the hot dog out of his hand without being evil? I ripped off most of the bread but he still got a big dose of preservatives, gluten and who-knows-what else.
Later, we stop by family to hang out for a little. He eats fancy crackers that look like they are whole grain and I hoped not too bad (from an allergy perspective). On the way home he starts coughing and trying to clear his throat, so I know his throat is swelling and he is having a reaction. I felt so guilty for not protecting him because I was too tired to fight him, and now he was suffering and it really was my fault.
I am so terrible at sticking to his diet because I get weak. I get tired from all the battle and I just give in. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how tired I am. My son’s health and well being is my responsibility, whether he likes it or not!
Thankfully I put my own whining behind me and decided to work out a solution. If I can be prepared at all times, then my son will still feel included and I won’t have to be the “bad guy.” We ordered some coconut flour to make some treats at home, and I found some “healthy” (only meaning not full of corn syrup) fruit snacks at Target, check them out here. We are still buying these gluten free cookies made by Annie’s which my kids love. I am going to use his old kindergarten lunch box as a carrying case and take it with us when we go to visit friends or out to events. The preparation will take a lot of time and most likely border exhausting, but nothing is more exhausting than the whining and fighting if I don’t prepare.
The bottom line is that we are taking on this battle to improve my son’s quality of life. He has been sick pretty much his whole life and I want to give him a chance at feeling better, while I still have a little control over what he is eating. With preparation, I can avoid a lot of the resistance and keep us all on track. A happy healthy boy is my reward and that is the best gift any mother could hope for!
Is your child on an elimination diet? Please share your tips or tricks in the comments below. I need them! 😉