Category Archives: Digestive Woes

Not in order of importance

  • Wish I lived in Minneapolis!  Well, not really, but if I did, I would DEFINITELY be going to this:  A Procraftinator’s Delight, hosted by one of my favorite bloggers.
  • When I was in the process of choosing which college to attend, I automatically disqualified any whose promotional literature had misspellings, glaring grammatical errors, sloppy art layout, etc.  With that in mind, one might be leery of a website called The Best Colleges when it publishes articles rife with the same.  Still.  This article, The World’s 15 Most Extraordinary Homeschoolers, is well worth a read.  Tim Tebow?  Who DOESN’T know he was homeschooled?  The Jonas Brothers?  Knew that, too.  But Condoleezza Rice?  Francis Collins (the evangelical Christian and renowned scientist, appointed by Obama, no less, to be director of the NIH)?  The list is inspiring and profoundly interesting.
  • The lift pin assembly

    Weird things make me feel old.  Yesterday, it was the fact that my pressure cooker apparently needs some parts replaced, the gasket and lift pin assembly.  Why does this make me feel ancient?  Because these parts are made of rubber, which becomes brittle (and ineffective) with AGE.  ~sigh~  Finding out that these parts would cost me $21 plus shipping made me a wee bit upset.  Doing some searching to find out that

    • a) a replacement pressure cooker would run me upwards of $50, and
    • b) doing some price comparisons online would save me $10 or so (from here) made me feel slightly better about my purchase.  I still feel old, though.
  • I am THRILLED to report that Fiala is doing much better. The infection on her face is gone, though it’s having a hard time clearing up, as she keeps scratching the still-healing spots.  The bed situation that I wrote about a week ago or so finally came to pass;  I set up both girls in their new beds yesterday — Audrey in her new-to-us twin bed, and Fiala in the toddler bed that used to be Audrey’s.  Fiala fell out of bed once last night, in spite of a guard rail, and she did not nap well — well, didn’t nap at ALL — in her new bed yesterday, but that was really due to the visit of our beloved nephew Nick and his darling girlfriend PLUS it being a new bed PLUS us working on potty-training PLUS her having diarrhea every 10-15 minutes because of horrid Augmentin due to her ear infection.  I don’t think I wrote about that.  Her eardrum burst on Friday.  Apparently, the bacteria which caused it were not covered by the antibiotics that she’d already been on for more than two weeks.  In spite of the fact that the Solaray BabyLife probiotics that we have for her contain rice maltodextrin, and she’s previously demonstrated that rice is an allergy problem for her wee body, I had decided that an eczema outbreak from the maltodextrin was the lesser of two evils, even though her skin is finally starting to clear up from the six weeks?  two months? of outbreak that she’s suffered through.  ANYWAY.  I was remarking to a friend that the “good news” from her having diarrhea is that it seemed to be giving her a greater awareness of her… elimination process, of which she was blissfully unaware, which made potty-training heretofore impossible.  We’re not all the way there yet with toilet adeptness, but we’re getting there.  I have hope.
  • Having local gluten-free friends ROCKS.  These may seem minor to most of you, but I am so thankful for:
    • a neighbor, whom I “met” through the Phoenix Celiac Yahoo group (and subsequently discovered we live a couple of streets away from each other), dropped off a darling little box of goodies:  three truffles, some oat-almond candy crunch, a mini pumpkin pie, and a mini cheesecake.  Usually, treats received from loving friends and well-meaning neighbors receive wistful glances from me, as I give them to my two gluten-eating children, Ethan and Grant.  I can’t recall ever having something dropped off to our home where I could eat every single thing.  I meant to only sample the goodies, but, I confess, I schnarfed down ALL of them.
    • Last night, at the grocery store, I called my friend Kim.  We live across town from each other, but she feels closer.  😀  Even though she was sick, the poor raspy-voiced thing, we chatted about teff and millet, and grinding our own grain, and what grain works well in which application, etc.  She looked up some stuff online for me, as I shopped.  I had a goofy grin the whole time, because it is SO NICE to be able to just pick up the phone and talk with someone about things that are akin to a foreign language to most people…
  • I am thankful for:  At least $300 in new or nearly-new jeans, given to me by my sweet friend, Brenda, who had been given them by her sister.  Her sister had recently lost a lot of weight, and now, two pairs of Lucky jeans, a pair of Guess jeans, and five or six other pair, are now nestled happily in my drawer.  🙂  I’m set.  That’s a good thing for me, because I wear jeans virtually every day of my life.  I have to lose more weight for some of them to fit better, but that’s a good thing, right?  Motivation.
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Fiala/Titanic – Oh God Oh God Oh God!

Sunday, my pastor, Dennis Bourns, had a sermon that wasn’t.  He said that he meant to speak on thankfulness, but instead relayed a number of stories from a recent ministry trip to Northern Ireland.  I’m glad he did.  The theme running through the stories was about depending on God.  He called it something like steering clear of the iceberg, where you can see that your Titanic is definitely heading for disaster, and all you can do is pray, “Oh God oh God oh God!”  Then, He responds, and alerts you, or opens your eyes, to a way out, one that you would not have previously considered.

I needed to hear that.  It seems I can see my ship on the path to destruction, and too many times, I just brace for impact, instead of asking Him to divert the ship, or come up with some sort of Plan B.

Afterward, Dennis asked each of us to participate in a time of corporate prayer, each praying individually for that “iceberg” in our lives.  I prayed for my 11 year old son Grant, who, I’m afraid, is bent on destroying himself and taking down as many people as possible with him.  That’s a “gift” of motherhood, by the way:  Extrapolation — perceiving events the events of today, and envisioning a possible/likely future if things proceed down the current path.  That can be both a blessing and a curse.

I asked my hubby what his was, and he said, “Fiala.”  I do understand that.  A day or two previous, he called her situation “distressing.”  It is.  She’s in the middle of the worst outbreak she’s had in a year.  Head to toe with eczema — BAD every-square-inch-of-her-body-covered, sandpapery, intensely itchy eczema — and on top of that, it got infected (impetigo), so now she’s on antibiotics (Septra).  In addition, she’s broken out with a different kind of rash…  I think it might be related to the impetigo, but I’m not sure.  It looks different than her “standard” eczema, larger, redder papules.  She is absolutely miserable, and it’s heartbreaking.  Right now, we’re totally praying, “Oh God oh God oh God,” because we simply don’t know how to proceed.

For now, in addition to

  • Septra
  • Various topical remedies (including olive oil, Vaseline, and bacitracin — when she can handle it, because when her skin is really raw, it stings too badly)
  • Hydroxazine for itching (which seems to work, but also makes her giddy/hyper)
  • Bleach baths 2-4x/week (the doctor we saw at the urgent care center said to do it every day for the next week or two, but that’s too irritating to her skin),

we’re taking her diet down to “bare bones” as my hubby calls it — the foods that we know are the least likely to cause a skin reaction.  That means lamb, garbanzo beans/flour, oats, blueberries, all the veggies of the brassica family, olive oil, cinnamon, and stevia.  That’s it.  On one hand, that sounds like a lot of food — and it is definitely enough food on which to survive.  But, on the other hand, it is a very simple diet for a sweet little two year old girl who loves to eat, and she spends a lot of her day asking for food (food other than what she can have) and feeling left out, often crying over missed food.  Obviously, the things that are hardest for her to understand are foods that we’ve previously OK’ed, but are now taboo, particularly maple syrup, honey, and a wee bit of sugar (like in her all-blueberry organic jam).  It’s hard to say no.  I caved and gave her cranberries on Sunday, and she paid a dear price for it on Monday.  I had been thinking that her previous bad reaction to cranberries was tied to the corn syrup in Craisins.  So, I got a variety from Trader Joe’s that is sweetened with real sugar.  She was SO VERY MISERABLE on Monday (yesterday)… that did it.  I have buckled down on her bare bones diet, with no risks allowed.  Already today, she’s doing better than yesterday, although only nominally so.

I’m thinking a trip to the pediatric g.i. doc is in our future.  My hubby hasn’t been much in favor of that, since, in the last year, I’ve done a good job of managing her care, and Doctor Mama doesn’t cost a $50 specialist co-pay.  But, I’d been considering it anyway, as Fi doesn’t appear to be making any improvements, digestive- and skin-wise, and I’m feeling rather lost without some doctoral care.  And, these last two weeks (when her skin has gotten awfully terrible again) has rather spurred me on to re-prioritize finding a doctor for her.  I mean, I haven’t made a appointment or anything yet.  But, I’m thinking that we’ll need to take that step.

Fi-Fie-Fo-Fum Update

  • First of all, I am so very incredibly thankful for my friend Elizabeth (don’t know if she wants to be named here… she’s a family practice doctor who lives in Alaska).  She has totally taken up Fiala’s cause, and with her medical guidance and spiritual insight, we are making fabulous headway.  I would be so lost without her.  I keep thinking, “Why couldn’t another doctor, one of the many we’ve seen in this last year, have had the wisdom and care that Elizabeth has had?”  I don’t know the answer to that, but I am absolutely thankful to both her and the Father for sending her my way.
  • Fiala’s skin is 95% better.  I’m not sure if it’s the 2½ weeks of antibiotics (2½ weeks to go, still!  She’s now on Septra, which has worked MUCH better than Keflex) that has cleared up the staph, which has healed her skin… or, if it’s the Protopic + triamcinolone + Vaseline regimen.  Today was also the last day of a 5-day prednisone prescription (a.k.a. “evil juice” — it’s AWFUL).  Lots o’ meds.  However, I am so, so, so, so happy that she is not an oozy, itchy, scabby, miserable baby any longer.  I look forward to her being off of medication, though, and boosting her immune system via nutrition and supplements, and seeing if she can “hold” the healing while off meds.  Yes, I was hoping to treat everything homeopathically, naturally, but that hasn’t been possible.  Hopefully, she will have “just” five weeks of hitting the meds hard and then we can get her off of them.
  • Before Septra - Taken 01/14/10

  • After Septra - Taken today, 01/27/10 (With big brother Grant)

  • Fiala is officially weaned, at 15 months.  That’s both happy and sad.  I Freecycled the Boppy pillow, because she kept bringing it to me, asking with sweet hopefulness, “Nuh-nuh??”  And now, she just sadly shakes her head, “Nuh-nuh gah-gah.”  Nuh-nuh all gone.  😦  So, now, I’m not on the Total Elimination Diet, but I’m not going hog-wild.  I told myself I was going to get a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Karamel Sutra to celebrate when I was able to eat real food, but I haven’t done that yet.  We actually ate out at a restaurant on Sunday, which then gave me an afternoon-long, food-related stomach ache, the first stomach ache I’d had in four months… (other than when we, apparently, got some bad black beans a few weeks ago)  So, I’m still going pretty slow.
  • Fiala is still on a restricted diet, but we are expanding it with some success.  She currently can eat lamb, turkey, buckwheat (though she’s sick of it), almost all beans, quinoa, gluten-free oats, every vege in the mustard family (broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens), every vege in the beet family (beets, red chard, spinach), blueberries (cranberries, too, but I super-limit those because we haven’t found any dried that have no sugar, and the fresh ones are way too tart!).  She also has had good success lately with organic apples, and I’ve been able to give her a little bit of honey.  Her favorite things are blueberries and raw broccoli core.  I also have her on a vitamin that she loves:  Children’s Chewables from Michael’s Naturopathic Programs.  It’s the only gluten-free, sugar-free, at-least-partly-whole food vitamin AND mineral.  And, it’s not crazy-expensive, bless God.  Looking at the list above, I guess that still doesn’t seem like a whole lot… but it’s SO BROAD compared to a month or six weeks ago.
  • In the last couple of weeks, she has had BAD reactions to prunes — I should have figured that out before I even tried them;  she had a bad reaction to almonds in the past, and they’re related.  She actually got hives in her diaper area everywhere the prune-poop touched. Even where a bit of prune skin had blown out the side, where it was touching her skin was a correspondingly-shaped welt.  So, everything in the plum family is out (peaches, apricots, plums, almonds).   And, she had a bad reaction to banana (gassy, fussy, red, itchy skin, and caustic poop).  STILL.  At this point, her diet is expanding more rapidly than it’s contracting, if that makes sense.  I am very encouraged.
  • SHE’S SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT.  Not every single night, but close to it.  Last night, she slept from 7:15 p.m. – 5:00 a.m., and the previous night was similar.  Most nights, she’s been sleeping at least one good 6-8 hour jag.  There have been a number of nights where she has a very hard time going back to sleep, and I’ve been up for 1½ – 2 hours with a fussy, crying, sad baby.  But, it’s definitely been two-steps-forward, one-step-back progress.  We moved her crib into the girls’ room (and moved Audrey, temporarily, into our room), and that — along with just saying no to nursing at night — has spurred the success, along with her general healing, which has taken away her itchy, restless misery.
  • When we’re off of Septra, we will address strengthening her immune system, via nutrition and supplements.  I’m having chicken-and-egg thoughts:  Was her immune system weak from the beginning, which led her to be so badly infected with staph?  Or is her immune system exhausted from fighting staph for what appears to be her WHOLE LIFE?  I’m holding out hope that it’s the second, and once the staph is gone, she will recover to great health.
  • Overall, though there are many readers on here who are homeopathic/naturopathic-minded like myself, I hope you will rejoice with me at the wonderful leaps and bounds we’ve gained in Sweet Fi’s health.

Is this it??? (SSSS)

I have a friend named Elizabeth… She and I were fairly good friends, then the two of us got married at roughly the same time, then she moved to Alaska.  Both our marriages and the move slowed down the friendship quite a bit.  But, I’m happy when I see her, which is about once a year, when she visits family in town and visits our church, too, where she used to attend.  (She also married a cousin of my pastor.)

Facebook has increased our contact of late, which has been nice.  In fact, when Elizabeth and I were talking after church, her daughter appeared to be listening intently to our conversation, then she burst out, “Are you Karen?”  I admitted to that fact, and Elizabeth explained, “She recognizes you from Facebook.”  🙂

Elizabeth is a doctor.  She used to be Ethan’s pediatrician when he was a baby, and I — for selfish reasons — mourned her move, because not only is she a fabulous, brilliant doctor, but I could always trust her to tell me the TRUTH, and to give me a perspective that is Godly-wisdom-based, not just medically-based.  (For instance, she was the first doctor to tell me straight out that the pill is an abortifacient, which most all doctors will pussyfoot around or flat-out deny.)

Yesterday, after church, she came up to me, telling me that she had had a vision of me during worship.  She almost didn’t tell me, and, oh!  I’m so glad she did!  She saw me with a hobo’s bag full of tin cups that I kept messing with, and God was standing off to the side with a gold, jewel-encrusted goblet, that was full of healing.  The idea was that God had the goblet for me, and I kept messing with the tin cups.

In other words, I keep TINKERING with things, when He has HEALING.

I totally took that, on behalf of Fiala.

What made that especially significant is that yesterday was the day that some specific ministry prayer was to be done over Fiala!  Such timing.  We did get some prayer, though the team (for one reason or another) was only half its originally-intended size, and it was hard to pray because Fiala was VERY fussy and just wanted to go run.

Elizabeth only got a brief look at Fi, and now she and her family are off to California for a couple of days, but she also saw my pastor’s family for quite a while yesterday, and she told my pastor’s wife that she is quite certain that Fiala has Staph Scalded Skin Syndrome.

I started to Google it, but stopped, because the fear started to creep back in when I read that, often, in babies less than a year, SSSS is fatal.  Fiala is now 14 months, but this is the same thing — if it is it — that she’s been struggling with, in one form or another, since she was two months old.

Although this little girl, in England, who was diagnosed with SSSS, has patches that appear IDENTICAL to Fiala’s:

Again, this is NOT Fiala, but her patches look identical. Currently, her skin is even worse than the above baby's!

I still have lots of questions for Elizabeth-the-doctor, for some of the things that Fi has doesn’t quite fit the symptoms of SSSS, from what I can tell.  (Especially that patches from SSSS are supposed to heal in 5-7 days, and Fiala has had some of the same patches for literally months on end.)

Still, when I was praying this morning, I felt very confident that I am to trust Elizabeth, and that God gave her that vision of me, in order to increase my confidence in both her ability to hear from God, and in her medical advice, because right now, my trust-level in doctors is pretty low.

I’m not going to hunt her down in California to talk about it, but she did suggest (through our pastor’s wife) that I

  • stop breastfeeding and start her on goat milk (she suggested a 2-week trial, in which I also pump, to keep my supply up, and store the milk) — this is because it’s likely that I am the continuing source of staph bacteria
  • give her warm baths to which 2 cups of white vinegar have been added, as Staph (and other bacteria) can’t live in an acidic environment

I have done the second, but not the first yet.  Before I stop breastfeeding, I want to talk directly with Elizabeth about that.

She is also convinced that while Fiala may indeed have some underlying food allergy issues, it is extremely unlikely that she is allergic to EVERYTHING, which is where she’s currently at — reacting to EVERYTHING.  Elizabeth believes that staph in her body (maybe bacterial enterocolitis?) is interfering with the digestion process, and it’s the staph that is causing most of her symptoms.  Interestingly, people with bacterial enterocolitis can develop carbohydrate intolerances, and it’s to various carbohydrates that Fiala has always reacted most violently, which is why her (no-longer) allergist thought she may have some sort of sugar intolerance.

Elizabeth also said that while antibiotics might be needed, there are other things we can do to eliminate the staph and treat the symptoms.  It’s the “other things” that I’m really interested in right now… It’s hard to wait until we can talk!!

Part of me doesn’t want to get my hopes up, but the other part — especially due to the circumstances — is quick to think, “This is itThis is the answer to our prayers!  This is what Fiala’s been struggling with, her whole sweet little life!!!”

Food, poop, and doctors

  • Made an appointment for Fiala at the gastroenterologist’s.  ~sigh~  The doctor couldn’t see her until November 20, but I’m so OK with that, because I don’t feel like rushing into a whole ‘nother round of conventional medical care.  Still, I felt like I should make the appointment.  We have plenty of time to cancel, if we decide that’s what we need to do.
  • Fiala *might* be OK with blueberries.  I gave her five on Saturday, 10 on Sunday, 10 yesterday, and 10 today.  The amazing thing is that, up until now, ANYTHING with ANY kind of sugar would immediately give her diarrhea.  She has NOT had diarrhea from the blueberries, though.  Praise God!!
  • The bummer about not having diarrhea, though, is that now Fiala seems to be constipated!  That’s a first.  The poor dear.  I think she might have even developed a little hemorrhoid.  Seriously.  I did a little Google search to see if that’s even possible, and it seems like it is.  I had to stop searching, though, because searching for any info centering around that 1/3 of the body produces a whole bunch of unseemly websites that were NOT helpful.  Ugh.
  • Fiala’s skin isn’t great right now.  I don’t know if it’s from the blueberries, or some other cause.  But, she has a patch on her chin again, and her legs are broken out again.  😦  I hope it’s not from the blueberries, because eating just a few a day has been utterly dreamy.  It has made me think of that Little House on the Prairie book (don’t remember which one) where the girls get a WHOLE ORANGE for Christmas.  That’s such a different attitude from today’s supermarket-laden shipping-around-the-world norm.  I can almost feel what Laura and her sisters felt, relishing my small allotment of blueberries, and having them taste so wonderfully, as they are my first fruit in more than a month.
  • I tried giving her green beans today, but she didn’t like them.  At all.  After cautiously trying them, she mushed them up on her high chair and looked pitifully at me, then she started throwing them to the dog, who, surprisingly, ate them.

In praise of ceci beans (and other food trials)

Garbanzo beans, ceci beans, gram, chickpeas, they’re all the same thing.

For the record, we say “garbanzo beans” around here, but “ceci” is such fun to say:   CHEH-chee.   :mrgreen:

This past week, in hopes of expanding our “safe” foods list, I did a food trial of garbanzo beans (in the form of flour — gram flour) on Fiala.  She passed with flying colors — she loved it, her poop was 100% healthy, and it didn’t cause any further skin conditions.

Also of importance is that I LOVE IT.  I cannot tell you how absolutely refreshingly brilliant it felt to be eating something that I love.

I’m starting to feel like it was really the provision of God that I discovered farinata right before we started the total elimination diet, nearly four weeks ago.  That simple recipe combines garbanzo flour, salt, pepper, rosemary, and olive oil and a Really Hot Oven into one of the most unique, flavorful, addictive flatbreads I have ever tried.  If it hadn’t been for our few days gorging on farinata, I would likely not have used it as one of Fiala’s earliest food trials.  I’m not brave enough (or rash enough, or whatever) to try olive oil, pepper, and rosemary yet, but even a very simple flatbread made from a fairly thin batter of water, garbanzo flour,  and salt, cooked on a cast iron griddle oiled with rendered lamb fat, tasted so fabulous — just shy of the dreamy perfection of actual farinata — that within two days, I used up my entire large bag of garbanzo flour.

For those of you dairy-free and missing it, stuff made from garbanzo flour TASTES LIKE CHEESE.  No lie.  Even my cheese-obsessed 12yo son agrees.  Mmmmmm….  I have read that one can even make a tofu-like substance out of garbanzo flour;  I may try that.

The extra-good news is that garbanzo flour doesn’t give Fiala gas like pintos do.  Fiala tolerates pintos well, and likes them, but I’ve discovered that if I feed them to her at bedtime, she is uncomfortably gassy, and wakes extra-often.  😦  She’s already waking twice a night, so I really am not looking for reasons for her to wake more often.

In slightly related news, I picked up the Body Ecology Diet book from the library yesterday.  In flipping through it, I feel that I could fairly easily incorporate its ideas/ingredients into a consistent diet for Fiala and me.  I’ve only just started actually reading the book, so I cannot say for certain, yet.  Regarding the library:  As a resident of the city of Peoria, I feel like a traitor, because we were WOWED by the brand-new Agave Branch of the Phoenix Library — free for all residents of Maricopa County (unlike the fabulous Glendale Library, on whose membership we spent $40/year for years).  Peoria opened a nice new library recently, and we’ve been going there.  But, we figured out that the Agave Branch is actually closer to our house… and now that we’ve been there, we will likely never go back to the Peoria library, because the new Will Bruder-designed Agave is FABULOUS — funky, arty, well-laid-out, lots of space to sit, a fabulous under-five play/read area, and about QUADRUPLE the books of the brand-new Peoria branch.  Free, closer, better facilities… we’re hooked.

In directly-related food news, I have decided that blueberries will be our next food trial, followed by green beans.  I’m looking for foods that are low in sugar (even natural sugars), low-allergenic, and that would be easy for Fiala to eat, and hopefully tasty to her.

Also, desperate for a crunchy snack for myself, I tried eating sunflower seeds — that was a no-go.  However, the seeds I have were cooked with soybean oil, so maybe that’s the problem.  I don’t know.  They didn’t seem to affect Fiala’s digestion, but her skin broke out again.  Then, when her skin was looking better, I tried raw almonds.  Nope — skin again.  On both, I tried a very small portion for 2-3 nights in a row, and when there was no apparent effect, I had a larger portion the following day…  But, her skin just couldn’t hack it, and now I’m feeling awful, because the skin on her face and behind her legs, which had previously healed to near-perfection, is red and scaly and itchy again.  😦  Oh, well.  We’re learning, though.  I read on another blog that one can take cooked (I’m assuming boiled) garbanzos, and sprinkle them with salt (and/or other seasonings, but we’d have to stick with salt for now), and bake them, and they turn into a fantastic crunchy snack.  I will definitely try that.

So.  I feel like this past week has been more GOOD news than BAD news with Fiala’s skin and digestion and general health.  Bless God.

Progress!

Warning (again): This post likely has too much information about poop.  Unless you’re a mother who has dealt with poop issues, you’ll probably want to skip it.  (It’s about healthy poop, but still…)

  • On Sunday, I introduced pinto beans, “refried” style, but only from homemade soaked, simmered, salted, and mashed pintos — no fat of any sort, and no seasoning other than salt.  Honestly, I’m not surprised that she tolerated them VERY well, because prior to the total elimination diet, beans were the only thing that I was confident that she was digesting well.
  • Her skin continues to improve (from our setbacks last week), and her post-pinto-poop was formed and healthy.  I’m THRILLED.
  • I decided that xylitol was contributing to Fiala’s skin problems last week, so discontinued it on … Saturday, I think it was.  So, though I’m not a huge fan of the taste/effectiveness of stevia, that’s what’s sweetening my morning (black) coffee and Fiala’s buckwheat.
  • I also decided to do a mini rotation diet, doing pintos one day, and buckwheat the next.  Sunday was both, yesterday buckwheat, today pintos, etc.  Also included in the mix is lamb, of course.
  • Lamb:  I’m still not a huge fan, but I’m learning about it — learning where to find it, how to cook it, which cuts work best for us, etc.  Leg of lamb roasts are working really well, because I can just make one, and that lasts 2-3 days, depending on the size and if I share it with family members other than Fiala.  Leg of lamb roasts are more expensive than other cuts, usually around $5/lb, but have only one bone going through the center, and not a lot of fat or gristle — essentially, more MEAT to the pound.  My fave, though, is ground lamb!  Whodathunk??  Since I didn’t see it the last trip to the grocery store, I asked my local butcher (the butcher at the Bashas’ on 99th Ave & Beardsley, if anyone local is wondering), and he said that he typically only makes ground lamb when the shoulder chops are on sale.  I guess ground lamb is made from shoulder chops.  Anyways, it’s easy to cook ground lamb patties on my cast iron griddle, and seems the most satisfying, for unknown reasons.  Plus, Fiala can it it very easily.
  • I keep a large saucepan of all the bones I’ve used, and simmer it for 2-3 hours at least once a day.  I also add the broth from the lamb leg roasts to it.  I then use the simmered+roasted broth for “soup” made from plain buckwheat, salt, and the broth.  It is remarkably satisfying.  Also, I can tell that there is quite a bit of nutrition coming out of those bones, because it congeals when refrigerated.  Plus, I need the calcium.  I feel very healthy, eating my lamb bone broth.  😀
  • Even though it’s only been two days since our last food introduction, I cracked open a jar of homemade sauerkraut this morning.  Golly, it’s salty.  We’re not doing dairy of any kind, so all it is is finely shredded cabbage (I used red and regular), mashed firmly down, then 1 cup of water with 2 Tablespoons sea salt mixed in, poured over the top.  That sits on the countertop at room temp for four days.  I couldn’t tell from the outside if it had really fermented or not, but I opened it over the sink, and it fizzed up and out.  I guess that’s a good sign.  Fermented foods are supposed to be good for one’s digestion, plus, I’m just desperate for some sort of veggie.  I ate some before breakfast, and before lunch, too.  I let Fiala try it at lunch, but not that surprisingly, she didn’t care for it.  🙂  Wesley, my 8yo, LOVES it.  Everyone else tried it just for fun, but Wes is the only one who really likes it.
  • Speaking of salt, I don’t know why, but I am CRAVING it.  Maybe it’s because it’s my only seasoning, but everything I eat has to be salted VERY well.  I’m not worried, really, about my overall salt intake, since my blood pressure is very low (too low) to begin with.  Still, it seems a bit odd.  But, the good news is that ‘kraut fits right in!!
  • I have lost a lot of weight.  At the beginning of June, I purposed to exercise more, perhaps losing weight.  Well, over the summer, I didn’t exercise much, but I did stop eating late-night snacks, and through that, lost 10 lbs over three months.  In the last five weeks or so, I’ve lost an additional 10 lbs.  It’s the buckwheat-and-lamb diet!!  Try it!!  🙄  I’m now at about 139.5 lbs, which is the first time in THIRTEEN YEARS that I’ve been under 140 lbs.  I was 134 lbs when I got married fifteen years ago, 138 lbs when I got pregnant with Ethan two years later, and after I had Ethan, I never sunk below 145 lbs.  I’m… umm… a much saggier 140 lbs than I was, lo those many years ago.  Five kids’ll do that to you.  😀  But, still, I’d rather be 140 than 160.
  • So, to recap, here are the foods Fiala can now eat:  lamb, buckwheat, pinto beans, salt, cinnamon, stevia.  I am eating the same things, and in addition, I am drinking black coffee, and eating sauerkraut.  I’ve also had a can of Diet Rite (sweetened with Splenda) every couple of days, and that seems to have had no ill effect on Fiala.  Same with a cuppa black (decaf) tea once every 2-3 nights or so.  I also caved last night… but tried to cave as healthily, safely, and sugar-free as possible, so I had a handful of raw almonds.  They tasted wonderful.  So far, they don’t seem to be having any ill effects on Fiala, but I won’t do that again any time soon, if for no other reason than that they might muddy the results of any other food introductions.
  • On a spiritual note, I am spending more time reading the Word.  Ideally, I LOVE LOVE LOVE to read Scripture by myself in the morning.  But, “by myself in the morning” hasn’t been happening all that frequently, so I have, only since last Friday, been reading when the kids are in quiet time, even if Fiala is not down for a nap.  It doesn’t help me get any more DONE around the home;  I’m still feeling overwhelmed with things undone, but God’s word does give me peace in my heart, which I dearly need, in addition to just being better-acquainted with His character, His promises, and His voice as my Shepherd.  My husband and I are also working to stay soft towards each other, and stay open in our communication.  Tough times and tired mommy does not a chipper wife make.  So… I’m working on both filling my heart with the Bible, and working on getting to bed earlier, to take care of both my spirit and my body a little better, which makes me all-around a little more even-keeled.
  • I have also found a few resources to help me on this TED journey, but that will need to be in a separate post.

The way on, sort of.

I had a big long post about how cruddy today has been, but I decided to abandon it.  Part of the reasoning behind that was that it gave too much detail to a fight my hubby and I had this morning… we’ve both apologized, and have committed to not playing into the enemy’s destructive plans for our relationship, but instead for each of us to take some steps to rectify our portion of the problem.

The “big” news, I guess, is that Fiala’s allergist finally called.  We talked for about 20 minutes.  The short version is that he feels like he’s reached the end of the road of his expertise for helping Fiala.  He suggested a few things for the way on, all “and/or”, if that makes sense:

  1. See a pediatric dermatologist
  2. See a pediatric gastroenterolgist
  3. Put Fiala on elemental formula
  4. Stay the course

I’m tending to #4 for certain, and #2 possibly.  We’ve definitely had some setbacks with Fiala’s skin in the last week, but overall, I think she’s MUCH healthier on the total elimination diet — no gastro problems at all — well, one in nearly three weeks, and that pretty much counts as “none.”  Still, given the pattern of her poor responses to my incidental food ingestion (IOW, the few bad choices I’ve made whilst hoping that it wouldn’t be a problem for Fi) show us that she likely has some sort of sugar malabsorption problem, which is definitely in the g.i. doc’s realm.

However, I’m still undecided.  Part of that is the time involved, and the dumb $50 co-pay we have to fork over for every visit.  And, part of that is the question — will it do any good?  The same is true for every treatment we’re considering…  Will the time and money put into it produce worthwhile results?  We don’t know.

Still praying for wisdom.

Proverbs 2:6-7  “For the Lord gives wisdom;  from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.  He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;  He is a shield to those who walk in integrity.”

Total elimination diet… day 17… Fiala’s progress (a.k.a. The Evil Birthday Cake)

So.  We were supposed to add a new food on Monday.  I did, sort of.  However, the whole thing has been thrown off track because I ate FOUR BITES of my son’s birthday cake on Saturday.  While it was gluten-free and dairy-free, it did have rice flour and a couple other things that Fiala is not supposed to consume.  Ah, for the “simple” days of GFCF living!!

The cake.  It called to me.  It said, “You made me… everyone says I’m tasty!  C’mon!  Have a bite.  One bite.”  I succumbed to the talking cake.  It was going to be one bite.  That turned into two.  Then three, then four.  But, I thought, “Four bites can’t hurt.  I hope.”  Well, it did.  The next day, Sunday, she was very itchy, and by Monday, she was broken out in a head-to-toe rash again.

However, I did go ahead and introduce yams on Monday;  I had nearly 2 yams, and Fiala ate about 1/4 of one.  Her rash was worse on Tuesday, but I don’t know if that was still fallout from the birthday cake, or if her skin was reacting poorly to yam, as well.  Her poop was healthy, which is a REALLY good sign.  But, since her skin looks so poorly again, I decided to stop the yam.  So, after Monday’s foray into the exciting world of food items not-buckwheat-and-lamb, we’re back into Plainville.

It’s very hard to eat so plainly.  I find myself trying to find safe ways to add some color to my diet.  Like right now, I’m drinking Crystal Geyser Very Berry flavor sparkling mineral water.  No sweeteners, only natural flavors in carbonated water.  But, the thoughts nearly consume my mind, “I don’t know about berries.  What if she can’t have berries?  Is there enough natural flavor in it to cause a reaction???”  And, frankly, I don’t know the answer to those questions.

Also, last night, I got some xylitol to use as a sweetener in my morning buckwheat and in Fiala’s all-the-time buckwheat, as she simply WON’T eat it plain.  I have tried a day or two of giving her just lamb, which she eats with gusto, but since she doesn’t have enough carbs in her system, I AM the carbs, and she goes back to waking up every 3 hours ’round the clock to nurse, as if she were a couple of months old.  Sorry, but I can’t hack that.  I need some sleep, and as it is, she still wakes 2x/night, at least.  So, that makes sweetening her buckwheat seem like a good option.  I’m trying to find something that doesn’t have any “real” sugar of any kind, one that isn’t artificial, one that doesn’t have additives that are on her no-no list, etc.  Right now, that’s xylitol.  (The stevia packs I have have rice maltodextrin, and she’s allergic to rice.)

I still don’t know if Fiala can handle sugars or not;  I’m just trying to be as safe and as simple as possible.  But, almost every day, I’m faced with something unavoidable — or nearly unavoidable — that causes me to question if what I’m consuming is hurting her.

BUT AT THE SAME TIME, she seems to be much healthier than she perhaps ever has been, is gaining weight again, and other than the skin-setback, her skin looks fabulous with very little medication.  So… I guess I’m on the right path.  It still seems, though, that I’m mostly stumbling around in the dark.

I find myself wondering what the next step should be, especially as the doctor has not returned my call, when he TOLD me to call him on Monday, which I did leaving a message (with a person), but I haven’t heard back from him.

Part of me wants to do further testing, like ALCAT or something like that, but could we afford it?  I don’t know.  Likely not.  Would it reveal something that the total elimination diet would not?  I don’t know.  It would likely reveal the same or very similar information, but in a faster way.  Anyways, it looks like if you’re under 3, they have to do a smaller testing series (only 50 foods), and from the list, it doesn’t look like we’d gain that much new information;  she’s already avoiding a great many of those foods and/or been tested for them already.

The short version is that I still don’t know what it is we need to find out, so it’s impossible to know the path to get that information.  Give me wisdom, Lord.

I did find a totally dairy-free probiotic at the store last night.  I opened the capsule and tried mixing it with a bit of water, so as to administer it to Fiala in a dosing syringe.  It didn’t mix well, but I figure half the capsule is better than none.

I’m still highly considering the Body Ecology Diet, but because I’m ssslllloooowwwww, I haven’t actually DONE anything about that, other than to check a local store for the book (it wasn’t there).  Wait.  Scratch that.  I just placed the book on hold through the Phoenix Public Library system.  They have five copies, all in use;  I’m 2nd on the hold list.

By the way, not that I’m really “in” on the world of architecture any more (I was a student, long ago…), but when I passed by the nearest/newest library branch, I thought, “That had to be designed by Will Bruder.”  It was.  I thought the same thing with the Henkel/US Headquarters.  Maybe it’s not that I’m all that architecturally observant;  maybe it’s that Bruder’s work is particularly iconic.  ANYways.

Food.

The good news is that I almost like lamb now.  Almost.  And, Karin, I found some New Zealand lamb!  Ate it for lunch today!  I’m still not the connoisseur, so I couldn’t really tell if it was better than the other lamb I’ve had.

~sigh~

This was going to be a short diet update, and some notes about homeschooling successes and not-successes so far this year, plus some notes about me still being sick, and giving my illness to my husband and daughter and visiting father.  Ugh.  But, that’ll have to wait.

Progress and plans (and a recipe)… and… a FAD DIET????

NOTE:  This post probably has TMI on poop for most of you, so consider yourself forewarned.

Recently, I read about how Amazon ships stuff with extra, box-in-box packaging.  I thought, “That’s never happened to me!”  Well, guess what?  I ordered a 12 pack of 1 lb packages of Eden Organics…  BUCKWHEAT (of course), and sure enough, on the Eden box is a sticker marked “Ready to Ship.  Fulfilled by Amazon.com”.  And that box, along with some puffy air-bag packing material, sat inside of a much larger Amazon box.  That’s just stupid, IMO.

Anyways.  Buckwheat.  Yes, we’re still at it.  And, Fiala seems to be doing much better since we took sugar out of everything, which was on Saturday (more on that, below).  It’s amazing how much difference a few days make.  I did cave slightly, as I’m now putting stevia extract in her buckwheat.  When it was totally plain, she would simply spit it out.  I’m a tad concerned, because the stevia is in a packet (from Trader Joe’s), and it’s mixed with rice maltodextrin.  Maltodextrin is a sugar, and she’s allergic to rice.  However, it appears that her actually EATING is preferable to the minuscule amount of rice maltodextrin she’s getting  (1 – 1.5g per day).  I put cinnamon in her buckwheat, too.  So, technically, she’s getting four ingredients… well, five:  buckwheat, lamb, cinnamon, stevia, rice maltodextrin.  And salt, but that doesn’t really count.

I almost always eat my buckwheat plain and salted, or I boil up a broth with all my old marrow-filled lamb bones, and make a “soup” out of salted broth and buckwheat.  I still think it’s good, but I look with longing at other recipes… like the one that came on the packages of Eden Organics Buckwheat:

Buckwheat Tabouli

2 cups cooked buckwheat, cooled and fluffed
1 cucumber, chopped
2 small tomatoes, chopped
2/3 cup green onions, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
2 cups fresh parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp sea salt

Combine all ingredients.  Chill at least one hour.  Serve on romaine leaves.

That sounds fabulous.  Gluten-free and dairy-free, too!  I’m making it, when I can.  🙂

Fiala had a total diarrhea blowout on Saturday morning.  But, I, ummm… had a lemon-berry slush from Sonic on Friday, so it’s my own fault.  Still, that had Martin and I wondering on Saturday morning if it was a) the CORN in the corn syrup, with which the drink is surely sweetened, b) the SUGAR in the corn syrup, c) less possibly, the red dye with which the strawberries are surely colored.  We think it might be the sugar.  Which, I hope not.  Sugar malabsorption issues are difficult to navigate, very complex, and… well, just hard.  To be safe, I stopped putting brown sugar in her buckwheat, which I had been doing.

Just in case, though, I’ve already sent out e-mails to both the local celiac group and the local food allergy group that I’m a part of, asking for tips on a pediatric g.i. doc who is in FAVOR of breastfeeding, because I just don’t want to fight that fight.  I’ve gotten seven responses, four along the lines of, “Formula isn’t that bad,” one saying, “Good luck!  I will ask some of my midwife friends,” and two saying, “Here’s my ped g.i.  S/He supported me fully in my wish to breastfeed at least a year, through all my baby’s allergies.”  So, I have two good names to go on.

I’m sick, by the way, but recovering.  I’m so much better than yesterday.  It’s “just” a cold, but the kind that knocks you out — headache, muscle ache, congestion, sore throat…  Yuck.  I woke up yesterday and had NO energy.  None.  I was having a hard time sitting up, even.  That could be because I went to bed early the night before and did not eat dinner.  I was so sick and so exhausted that I nursed Fiala, ATE A BANANA as there was no buckwheat made and I knew I needed SOMETHING, gave the kids a few instructions, and went back to bed.  That was at about 7:00 a.m.  Ethan brought Fiala in for a nap at 9:00, and we both continued to sleep until 10:00.  When we emerged, I felt still sick, but with some energy.  Everyone was still in their jammies, and no one had done any school work, but THEIR CHORES WERE DONE, and Ethan even went one step further and put away the clean dishes from the dishwasher.  Give that child a medal.

So, the banana.  Fiala was very gassy the rest of the day — well from early afternoon until about 9:30 at night — the kind where she would alternate curling up in a ball to stretching herself out, crying in pain, and doing things like waking early from naptime because of gassiness.  It didn’t, however, give her diarrhea.  Her poop still seems healthy.

And, she tested negative to banana, both prick and patch.  Hm.  I, however, had observed similar symptoms in her when she ate bananas, so negative or positive, no bananas for Miss Fi, who is 11 months old today, by the way.  And, no bananas for me.

That banana tasted SO GOOD, though.  Mmmmm….. 😀

I noticed yesterday that Fiala’s hands looked very well.  Her main places of eczema are her face and behind her knees.  However, she also has eczema on her whole legs and her fingers, too.  I’m sure the finger issue is exacerbated by the fact that she puts them in her mouth all the time.  However, I never medicate her fingers;  I just don’t want any medicine going into her mouth.  So, to me, the fact that her hands are healing means MORE to me than that her face or behind her knees (behind one knee, at least — the other is still quite problematic) are healing, because in the other areas, I’ve been using medication.  Know what I mean?  So, that is very encouraging.

I recently had an e-mail exchange with a reader who was trying to offer me some tips for the diet of both Fiala and myself…  I must say, with all the e-mail I get….  well, I kind of hold them at arm’s length at first.  Some people have written with malice, some with judgment, some with genuine kind helpfulness, and it takes me a bit to sort out the motives of the sender.  Sorry, those who have written.  It just does.  Still, this reader sent me a link to a website of a special diet, and at first, I was thinking, “OK, is this the lady who WROTE the book, and is she trying to get some free promotion??  This website is full of ‘Buy my book for only $24.95!!  Buy our very expensive supplements!!!'”  And, that just rubs me the wrong way.

Also, one of the things the diet espouses is fermented vegetables.  Now, I’m not saying that fermenting things is bad, but some of the claims made by the pro-fermenting gang are just outrageous, and downright false.  Add to that, I had just read this really interesting article that, while it is talking about regular, wheat/gluten bread, specifically addressed the exact same problems I had had with the pro-fermenters.  And, now, I’m reading a website, the link forwarded by a stranger of unknown motives, that says, “Ferment your veggies!”  Ugh.

But… I read a little deeper.  And… it sounds like it may really work for our family.  You can BET that I’m not buying a $45-for-10 oz-nutritional-mix.  Nor am I buying a 2.2 lb package of their special sugar substitute for $40.  No way.  NO WAY.  NO blippety blippin’ way.  I’m probably not even going to buy the book;  I found it at my library (though they’re all checked out and I need to put a copy on hold).  And, I’m not likely to do any colonics, as suggested (ew 😮 ).  But, the diet centers around:

  • four gluten free grains (buckwheat, quinoa, millet, and amaranth — all of which are already in my pantry!)
  • lots of veggies including some that are fermented/cultured
  • “lean meats” — not sure which ones;  I’ll have to get the book
  • not very much fruit, and VERY little sugar
  • particular, healthy fats, like flax seed oil and coconut oil
  • it’s low-dairy
  • AND, it’s does not suggest that you replace “lost” sugars with artificial sweeteners, like aspartame or even Splenda, like South Beach does, which always bothered me.  (It does support naturally derived sweeteners, like stevia.)

Other than the fruit thing and sugar thing, um, we’re already doing most of that.

The idea is to eat things that are easy to digest, and that restore intestinal flora, which will lead to, among other things, a stronger immune system.  Although I don’t think Fiala, I, or anyone in my family (except maybe my husband) has candida overgrowth, I was already on the lookout for something I could provide my family with, that could boost our immune systems overall.  We just get sick too often.  Even if it’s “only” 2-3x/year, multiply that by seven, and there’s an awful lot of sickness circulating around here.

The book/diet is also big on specific food combinations.  I’d have to learn about that, as that would be entirely new to me.

It’s funny, because a couple of months ago, it may have seemed too extreme of a change, but compared to where I’m at now, the Body Ecology diet seems like FREEDOM.

So, obviously, I’m not on it yet.  But, I do plan to get the book, and I think it would be pretty easy to start incorporating the veggies and other things specific to the diet as the things that I slowly add into the diet of Fiala and me.

NO PRESSURE, but if I supply them with three e-mail addresses of people who are potentially interested, I can get a free cookbook.  Again, no pressure.  But, if you’d be willing to help me get a free cookbook, e-mail me.  And, if I get an excess of e-mail addresses (as I only need three), with permission of their owners, I will pass them on to the next person on the list, so you can get a cookbook, too.  (The website says that they will send you an e-mail asking you to opt in to receive e-mails from them;  it does not automatically add you to their list.)

And, MANY THANKS to reader cottagesweet, whose motives appear pure and kind, and now I feel sorry for doubting you.  I look forward to success with the Body Ecology diet, and if that’s the case, even MORE thanks will be due to you.  😀

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