Live Free or Feel Like Crap

'allergies?' photo (c) 2009, miheco - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ Almost 3 years ago *shudder* Fish started to complain that she wasn’t feeling well when she ate. She felt nauseous and was having some difficulty swallowing. At first it seemed this only happened when we were eating something she didn’t want to eat. She’s always been a selective *ahem* eater, but this was pushing it. She was also beginning to have trouble with dairy. Lactose intolerance runs in my husband’s family, so this issue wasn’t a total shock.

We started buying Lactaid, but after six months she was still complaining, even if there was no dairy in the meal, so it was off to the doctor. The first idea was acid reflux, after 3 months on otc medications, there was no improvement. Time to up the stakes and make a trip to a pediatric gastroenterologist. You have to be a special person to talk about poop with kids and actually get more than giggles. Dr. Anthony Repucci is that person. Let’s face it burps, poop and tummy troubles are the stuff that giggle fits are made of. Dr. Repucci owns his profession. He’s great with the kids and reassuring and explanatory with parents. If we had to go down this road, I’m really glad we got to go with him.

After more than a year of office visits, medications and testing, including an endoscopy, a swallow study and an MRI, we still didn’t have a distinct cause for the problem and she was still in pain. The next step was an off label use for a long term medication.

'Gluten Free tag at New World' photo (c) 2007, Aidan - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ I’m not against medications, but I felt we hadn’t exhausted all of our investigative options. It seemed like Dr. Repucci had exhausted all of his diagnostic tools, but I felt there was still more learning to be done.

After talking to a family member who was diagnosed with food sensitivities, I decided it was time to explore that. We had nothing to loose. If we struck out on this path, the medications would still be waiting for us. I didn’t want Fish to suffer, but I really wanted to find a cause rather than just Band-Aid. Enter, Dr. Kristen O’Dell, a naturopath and physicians assistant. After an office visit and a food sensitivities panel and we had a theory. Fish showed level three sensitivities to eggs, dairy and gluten. *Facepalm*. Eggs? EGGS? Seriously EGGS?

Somewhere in the midst of this diagnostic process, the Lactaid had stopped working. As a result, she’d basically already removed dairy from her diet. Next up was removing eggs. Not a huge deal until she discovered all of the cookies and cakes she likes to make have eggs in them. Grumble, grumble grumble … until, a week passes and she’s starting to feel a little better and then another week passes and things are still improving. Hmmm, might be something to this.

Fish made the decision to drop gluten just for two weeks. I’ll be honest, I really wanted to solve the whole problem, but I was hoping it wasn’t gluten. Of course, I should be counting my blessings it wasn’t corn, but still. One week without gluten and she’s feeling better. Two weeks without gluten and bingo! We have a winner.

In the two years that we’d been exploring these issues, Mim had expanded his palette and I’d finally gotten to the point where most nights I was making one meal for everyone. *fist pump* The thought of going back to 2 different meals just made me want to cry. That’s the selfish side. The upside is that she IS, finally feeling better.

I ache for her because although food allergies are more common (a topic for ANOTHER blog post). It’s still a tough row to hoe. Until you live it, you don’t understand the complexities and the fear that accompanies food sensitivities. We’re fortunate her reactions are not anaphylactic, but no one wants to see their kid in pain.

After about three weeks, we had an incident that confirmed we were on the right path. I pack dinner when we ski, but the “treat” is an order of french fries. On this night, about an hour after eating, Fish came to me and said “I don’t feel good, I feel nauseous like I used to.” Oh crap. I knew what I prepared was allergen free so that left the french fries as the only variable. It turns out, the snack bar at the ski resort also cooks chicken nuggets and onion rings in the same grease as the french fries. Welcome to the world of cross contamination. So much to learn, but we are SUPER fortunate to have a ton of support. We’re getting better at this every day.

Dr. O’Dell feels there is a chance she’ll out grow at least some of these issues, but there is also a chance she won’t. The plan for now it is to keep her eating “clean” as much as possible. She’s done an amazing job adjusting. There are times when the limits are frustrating, and she has “cheated”, but her body reminds her why cheating is not the best idea. According to others who have followed this path, it gets easier the longer the toxic-to-you foods are out of your system.

Despite the challenges, I’m glad to finally have a diagnosis.

Do you have food sensitivities? How do you deal with them?

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2 thoughts on “Live Free or Feel Like Crap

  1. I found this post encouraging. I have food sensitivities, as does my 11 year old. It is so much harder for them to connect the dots between foods they love and not feeling well.

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    1. She just celebrated 1 year of eating clean and is relatively comfortable with it. It’s still not easy, but she’s accepted it. I’m actually about to get tested myself. Good luck! P.S. We found an amazing cookbook called Babycakes Does the Classics. Everything she’s made has been yummy!

      Like

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