Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Down Day

5 years ago, I thought that going gluten free and corn free and having that "Celiac Diagnosis" (even if it was by duck theory) would be the end of stomach issues, and dropped balls, and letting the kids down. 
I thought it would fix everything.  I had names, labels...even when I hit a plateau I knew it was so much better than it had been and hoped that eventually, I'd find the slope and get climbing upwards again. 

I'm starting to think I was wrong.  These really are just pieces in the puzzle of my life.  They help, but they don't cure.  There's something, some vital piece still missing. 
Last week I was quickly diagnosed with H Pylori, which might help to explain the slow backslide of the past year.  The treatment is almost as bad as the disease, but I'm hoping after the ten days of antibiotics are over I'll maybe finally snap back to radiant health.  Or, maybe just feel like spending an entire afternoon at the zoo. 
The worst part isn't the nausea, or the cramping and fatigue that's just enough to keep me near bed.  It's my daughter asking if I'm sick, and wanting to stay home "to take care of you!"  It's dropping her off at girl scouts, and apologizing because I really can't stay (Er, but I'm going to run in and use the restroom real quick...)  It's my oldest asking if I'm going to die.  (NO!  It's not the least bit serious, it just makes me need to rest.  It just upsets my tummy.  You can help by getting along with your sister.)  It's trying to face dinnertime with a smile, because they need real food and they need to feel good about real food.  And it's laying in bed, thinking about the dishes I don't feel up to scrubbing, the floor I want to vacuum, the counters that need to be washed down. 
Sometimes I just want to be unreasonable, and throw a fit...insist that they find what's "wrong" and "fix" it.  I've come close to screaming in frustration.  I know, I need to be patient and let each step bring me closer to healing.  But I'm not sure rationalizing it makes the process any easier. 

Monday, November 08, 2010

The trouble with being a full time homemaking mom is that there's plenty of leeway for adapting my activity to suit my physical needs.  And so, as nausea and cramping and general fatigue increase, I instinctively adapt.  But there's very little gauge, from my end of things. 

It's been years since I spent my days going from an internal soliloquy about getting back to a heating crawling back into bed for a brief reprieve.  It's been years since a little old lady cornered me outside a public restroom for going out and about and exposing the rest of the world in "my condition".  It's been years since I shot up 3 waist band sizes in an afternoon.  Or vomited blood. Or even curled up on the bathroom floor and wished I could just fall asleep and not hurt anymore. 
Put in perspective, I'm doing great. 
I get frustrated sometimes...but I don't wonder how I'm going to find the strength to walk from the car to the school and back. 
So it caught me by surprise to have my husband tell me he was worried.  I've been slacking off, I know...but I've been feeling 'bleh'. 
At least since September.  And we had a rough summer.  And I've been hormonal. 
Gently he pointed out that according to my faithful little planner that I record in but ignore, I've been 'hormonal' since May.  And nauseous.  And that my diet is dwindling again.  (variety wise, not calorie wise!)  In his eyes, I'm slowly fading away and it's scaring him. 
Of course, I had no response for that.  Other than to splutter that of course I had been eating a lot of settles well, and there were things I didn't want to miss.  I haven't lost that much weight, I think.  (He didn't actually have to say "You're missing them anyway")  I paused.  I harumphed.  I called.  I made the appointment. 
I wish I could say it went well. 
The first time the dr asked if I was taking any medication for my Celiac Disease, it didn't seem unusual.  But the 3rd time, I got an uncomfortable feeling that I'd just wasted a copay. 
I explained to her about corn, and at least that's in my record now.  They took enough blood to put my entire arm to sleep, and I'm enormously relieved to find that the phlebotomist was understanding about my freaky rolling veins and patiently used a child sized needle.  (It takes twice as long, but is less likely to lead to a lost or collapsed vein.) 
But I pretty much left with the diagnosis of..."You're skinny.  You need to gain some weight." 
Which seemed obvious.
The GI will call if they need to see me.  Maybe the blood tests will be enlightening.  But I have a sinking suspicion that I'm stuck with "skinny". 
At least it's a new diagnosis.  Usually they just say "Huh, that's weird.  Maybe it's just stress."  

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

A Haunting Good Time, part 2

The rest of the weekend wasn't quite so spectacular.  Saturday I awoke with Bumblebee's fever and was happy to usher the kids off to Grandma's house for a day of play.
They came home with a huge pumpkin, and a handful of safe candy each.  I went back to bed.

Sunday dawned bright and early...with bouncy kids...and a feverish Mommy.  Eventually it was time to leave for trick or treating at the zoo.  The kids asked me to stay home.  They knew Daddy was up for anything.  They didn't want to miss any fun.  I reluctantly agreed to stay in bed.  :-(
But I hear that the local zoo put on a hauntingly good time yet again!  They really outdid themselves, Lara Bar, Cascadian Farms, and Martinelli's Apple juice were just a few of the healthy food sponsors handing out chemical free treats.  There were also seeds, and paperwork, and stickers.
And merry go round rides, and animals to visit, and then just enough time to rest before they went to "just a few" houses for their evening fun.

They were a little nervous.  As Penguin put it, "Mom, it's a little rude to just ring someone's bell and ask them for candy!"
But they only got one sour puss who said he'd give them some candy, but seriously...they needed to hurry home and watch the World Series.  It was getting good.
The game must have kept a lot of dads glued to the TV, because there were handfuls of candy dumped into the bags.  The girls were excited, because the end of trick or treating is the beginning of the real fun...

Trade ins!!!
Remarkably, there was quite a bit of the haul that one kid or the other could eat.  There were Trader Joe's Semi Dark chocolate bars that read free of gluten and dairy (and dye), Necco wafers from a knowledgeable friend (free of the top 8 and dye, but comprising mostly of corn), Yummy Earth Lollipops, treat size Annie's Bunny crackers (safe for Bumblebee), a few chocolate bars safe for only bumblebee (including a full sized 3 Musketeers...which she called "super gigantic") some pixie stick like candy that was actually uncolored, and some yellow starbursts that I'm not overly happy about Penguin eating, but they are blue dye free and we know it's blue that's bad for her.  All in all a good haul even before I pulled out the good stuff to trade the dangerous in Enjoy Life Boom Choco Boom bar and Florida's Natural fruit snacks.  (Plus our own treat bucket goodies)

If you're wondering what the trick or treaters who came to our house were treated to; we filled our goodie basket with pencils, notebooks, glow in the dark bats, silly bandz, stickers, and Florida's Naturals (Yes, there's corn in those.  But they're inexpensive, appealing and the kids can eat them.  Anyone with a corn allergy can have one of the party favors).  Basically, cheap, easy, and most of the leftovers will last until next year.  Oh...we gave out little rubber duckies, too, dressed in Halloween garb.  The little ones who actually pay any attention to what's going on love those.  :-)  (And my kids are claiming those leftovers)

And now we have enough candy to last us through Thanksgiving feasts, Holiday parties and both Christmas and New Years activities.  Oddly, this is Wednesday.  And although I've told them several times that they could have a treat after school, they keep going straight to the cupboard for fruit leather, or homemade muffins, or asking me to make porridge.  Which is fine...and probably healthier than those fun size candy bars...but there are bags of candy on the table, kids...Get to it before your dad does!!!  

A Haunting Good Time

Halloween weekend was full of fun festivities for our family. 
We held our breath throughout the week when Bumblebee developed a fever and took to bed for a few days, not out of undue concern for her health (we were certain she'd recover fairly quickly, especially if she'd consent to taking just a little dye free motrin to bring it down) but because it was so close to Halloween.  What if she missed all the fun?  :P 
Thankfully, Friday morning she bounced (well, rolled and stumbled, really) out of bed and double checked her costume one last time before leaving for school.  She had settled on a Graduation Girl in honor of Junie B Jones, but couldn't quite bear to spill grape juice "splotchies" or "Polka dottie" all over the beautiful white graduation gown I found stuffed unceremoniously in the back of the closet.  I made a new mortar board for her, tacked on a tassle, and we quickly rolled up a diploma for her to proudly carry around the schoolyard for the parade. 
Penguin, the mature middle schooler, was allowed to wear her costume to school and glowed with the reviews.  Thankfully, I had no last minute baking to do since middle school skips the official class parties and what not.  There was a cookie in her lunch.  She had a perfect costume (Minnie Mouse, with a skirt long enough to remove the black leggings if the California weather got too hot)  She was happy. 

The elementary school hosted a parade where Bumblebee proudly marched around the blacktop with her class.  Nothing special.  But it's fun for the kids, and I went to support her and snap pictures. 
Afterwards was the class party.  I must say it was surreal to not have to provide anythign or fuss over my kid.  I opted to stay for awhile when I overheard the teacher warning the other moms to cook the separate pancake mix first so it didn't get cross contaminated with any wheat at all. 
Oh.  Celiac?  Curiosity and this weird innate sense of protection for unknown children got the better of me.   
They did a wonderful job at ensuring that one child in the classroom stayed safe (there was another food allergy child as well, but his mom was there so I removed him from my warning radar) and were extremely discreet about the allergies.  The children know about the child who has life threatening nut allergies because there is an epi pen in the classroom and because they aren't supposed to bring peanut products during rainy day lunch, as we learned before.  They didn't know about the child with Celiac, they didn't need to.  They still have no idea.  I wouldn't know if I hadn't picked up on the food policing and offered to help. 
I turned down the request for help flipping pancakes.  Not that I didn't want to help, but I was concerned about the safety of spraying Pam.  I know it's an issue for other uncornies, and coupled with the proximity of the whipped cream can (and the way the flecks of whipped cream kept hitting one mom in the face) I felt it was a little safer to stand elsewhere.  
I was then asked to go around with the milk. 
Blank stare. 
I'm afraid I had to ask them to repeat themselves several times before it occurred to me that "Oh, right!  Some people drink milk!" 
I felt like an idiot.  But, I learned that another family doesn't keep milk or milk products in their home.  They don't like to be different or make a scene, so they let the kids have milk products when out and's a "happy compromise" and they don't seem to react too much.  I really wanted to say something more about our we thought Penguin was fine and dandy with a little milk baked into goodies, a bit of cheese or yoghurt with dinner, an occasional serving of real ice cream.  That she didn't know that the nausea and abdominal pain she felt were abnormal.  She never thought to complain, only occasionally comment.  But this really didn't seem like the place or the time to get into those details, so I simply said something about how we used to think the same thing, but my oldest can't tolerate any at all now and asked the first table if anyone wanted milk. 
I felt like a bit of a hypocrite pouring this white poison into their little glasses...thinking of what it would do to my poor daughter.  But then the other half of my brain snapped in and said "You idiot, as long as they aren't allergic to it, it's better than soda!"  And I kept pouring with a smile. 
One girl asked "Is this real milk or fake milk?" And I snatched the cup out of her hand almost before she'd finished speaking. 
"This is cow's milk, what do you usually drink at home?"  I asked suspiciously. 
"Whole milk with vitamin D," she proudly stated and I handed the cup back to her. 
When we ran out I looked at the next jug thoughtfully, and asked myself if you shake cow's milk.  Tried to discreetly hold it up to the light, but it didn't look separated so I decided to stick with a gentle swish just to make myself feel better before I opened it. After all, Rice Dream needs a good shake, but that gallon jug was awfully heavy and awkward. 
Bumblebee was ecstatic.  The main highlight of the party were favor sized card games which the children were given time to play, and little plastic "knock the ball into the cup" type games.  The food was relatively healthy, and colored like real, normal food.  She drank water instead of milk, although I'm not sure she's ever tasted cow's milk.  They had lots of fruit ("Yum!") and pumpkin pancakes. She says her teacher makes "good choices"; which is a wonderful way to wrap up Red Ribbon Week, too. 

After school was the elementary school carnival.  We played games to our hearts content, and won plenty more than candy.  In fact, there was only one piece of candy that was brought home total.  I told them to throw it in the trick or treat bowl and we'd pretend the rest had been taken already.  :P 

All in all...a great start to the weekend.