Saturday, May 23, 2009

update on allergies and other stuff

It's been a nice weekend so far. What a relief to have a a few days off from baseball, swim lessons, etc. We spent the entire day together as a family. Yard work, slip-n-slide, some quiet time, and a surprise party for our neighbor, made for an all around good day.

We passed on the cake at the birthday party. It had a beautiful golf course on it with red frosting piped around all the edges. I could see how the bits of red had streaked down through the cake when it rubbed off the knife. Simply scooping the frosting off would not have prevented 3 days of melt downs, so we came home and had some cake that I had at home. I've learned from too many mistakes in the past where minimal amounts of dye lasted on and on and on.

As for the allergy issue, I'll give a brief summary since I had a few questions about it. My son has always had problems with milk. We switched him to soy at age 2. He tested negative for allergies at that point. What we didn't realize is that the chronic ear infections and corresponding long term antibiotics left damage in his intestines in the form of a chronic yeast infection. We speculate this is why he is so much more sensitive to various foods than my other two children.

About a year ago I started searching for information online to figure out what was going on. The regular pediatrician sent us for another food allergy blood test in which everything came back negative. But he still had chronic rashes, bowel problems, memory problems, etc. Pediatrician suggested an elimination diet and referral to allergist. Allergists I contacted only did the same test as the one already done, or prick him a zillion times.

I decided to try an elimination diet and looked for more naturally focused MD to oversee his care. Last summer we took him off wheat, milk and soy waiting a week or two in between each food that we eliminated. I had seen a lot about "leaky gut" and intestinal permeability. Ithought that might be my son's problem. He was much better going into fall, but still reactive to some things, and getting milder rashes. We gradually stopped being vigilant about soy, but kept him off milk and wheat. We tried going back on wheat over Halloween and Christmas. Both times his academic work suffered, behavior got worse, rashes and bowel problems returned. What we missed was that the crackers, bread, and sweets that had wheat all had soy ingredients too.

I finally found a more homeopathic doctor who works with Great Plains Laboratory on biomedical testing. We did the full deal: stool, urine, hair sample, blood work, and organic acid tests as well as an Igg food allergy panel which tests for about 90 foods rather than a dozen on the standard Ige panel. We now have a more complete picture of what foods he can't have (milk, soy, watermelon). We are also treating him for yeast infection in the intestines which means no sugar or sugar-like products for a long time (months to years). Lots of basic foods are completely off the menu (ketchup, prepared spaghetti sauce, etc.) because of sugar.

Cooking without sugar, milk, wheat and soy has been rough, but we've mostly adjusted. I can use Xylitol and Stevia as sweeteners. I make tomato sauces from scratch. I also make my own popsicles and other treats. I use a lot of rice based products. I found one cookie sweetened with fruit juice at the health food store. We're starting some new supplements next week, so we'll see how it goes. We may be able to try adding wheat back in as some point. It is exhausting and stressful at times (as if avoiding just the food dyes isn't hard enough by itself!) but we are hoping to someday see the light in a healthier child.

Whenever I start to get bummed out about all the food hassles, I remind myself that I almost lost my son 2 years ago to a near drowning, and that the good fortune of still having him here to hug every day is worth any amount of food headaches that pop up. I guess it's all about gratitude. Focusing on what I do have is a whole lot better than thinking about what we can't eat.

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