Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Food: my love/hate relationship with a life essential

I am going crazy and needed somewhere to vent... here I go!

Since the first days after sweet Orion was born 17 months ago, I have battled with food.

I should preface, I have always struggled with food in some ways. My rear has a close relationship with the sugar habit I have had since childhood. But the current fight is of a different kind.

This battle come in the form of food sensitivities and allergy type reactions to food and beverages. Both Orion and I have adjusted our intake of food to what feels like for me a substantial level. When the little dude was born I started having horrible headaches and backaches, which were not being relieved by Chiropractic care, Advil, heat, ice, nada. I figured out that I should try to eliminate gluten and sugar from my diet, which I did and I got instant relief from the headaches etc. At the same time, Orion's eczema and ALL over body rashes started within weeks of birth, as pictured below. He itched so bad it BROKE my heart!
Here begins the start of food elimination diets to heal my poor baby. Nothing has been the same since. I cut out all trigger foods from my diet (since we nursed for his first 9 months), that included tomatoes, white potatoes, eggplant, peppers, cow's milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish, and nuts. AND we cut out shellfish, red meat.. and so much more I can't even remember. We also changed ALL soaps, shampoos, deoderant, etc in the house over and over.
I lost A LOT of weight, partially because all I ate was chicken, rice and veggies, it seemed. Orion's rashes diminished and were just little patches on his face for the most part.

Once he self weaned at 9 months onto formula his face cleared up. There must have been something I didn't eliminate that was still bothering him.

He was late to start solid foods, because I had developed a true fear of feeding my baby. Once he started eating real food... the diaper rashes started. This poor kid has had a diaper rash for at least half of his life. And not just red.. sometimes bleeding and comes about instantaneously. I sometimes get nauseous and tear up when I change him because I can't stop the pain. Its agonizing. And no they aren't yeast infections either.. we've tried everything. His cloth diapers became a nightmare because no matter how they were washed they reeked when he even peed.

So where does this all leave us now? Mortified to eat. I am in a state of terror when I feed him a new food. Yesterday, Russell was eating strawberries on his granola and we gave Orion 1/2 of one in tiny pieces. He loved it. Then he begged for more... "taw-bay-we" over and over. Tears literally shot from his eyes onto his highchair tray. It was truly the saddest thing I have ever seen. My heart broke in a million pieces, so I gave him a bit more. I haven't seen any major reaction, so we are giving him more today. We do this for every new food. This child has yet to experience the world of delicious foods... ice cream, pineapple, oranges, berries, mango, the list goes ON and ON. I can't explain the amount of sadness I have in not being able to feed my child whatever he desires to try. And he wants to try EVERYTHING!

For a girl who LOVES food, this is torture. It also leads me to feel tremendous guilt whenever we leave the safety of the house. I can't just take him out to eat, there isn't anything I can just grab while I am "out", or that he can share at a playdate with his friends. If I run errands close to lunchtime and they get hungry, I have to rush home.

If he eats a new food and breaks out in a rash, I feel guilty. If he is still starving because he's eaten all the turkey I have cooked, and I don't have any other food to give him.. I feel awful. I am not kidding you I had a semi-panic attack a week ago when I realized we were out of gluten free waffles for breakfast. There is really nothing else he eats in the am. I hate myself for not understanding his triggers, somehow it feels like my fault. I am his mother, I should be keeping him healthy and happy. (I do understand that this isn't my fault.. but I grew him in my body and birthed him gently into this world.. so I feel a sense of responsibility to him)

We have taken him to many pediatricians AND a great Naturopath, but none have truly been "it". Nobody has been able to tell me anything but "he'll grow out of it", or "his blood allergy test says he's only allergic to eggs and oats, so you should be able to feed him everything else". Phooey on you people, thanks for the no help. I would prefer someone actually says... "I have NO idea, here is a list of other kinds of specialists that might help", but so far.. nobody has given me names. So I am on a search for a pediatric gastroenterologist. I think its his gut, and his inability to digest food properly.

As for me, once I started to use hormones at 8 months post, my body went haywire. I didn't notice how awful I felt until January or so. Once I stopped with the hormones I felt less crazy and somewhat healthier, but there is STILL something going on. I have all sorts of weird symptoms, that I won't discuss online, that are beginning to worry me. I guess I need to find some specialists for myself as well. All of these elimination diets are MAKING ME CRAZY! I just can't take it any more, Sometimes I dream about eating a "fully leaded" pizza... with a flour crust and covered with tomato sauce and cheese, and all the things I haven't been eating. I ache to go to the Alamo Drafthouse and order a pizza and a beer, maybe even a pitcher. ;) Alas, that is not going to happen until I can figure out what is going on.

ahh. I feel better just being able to write all of this out. This has been the hardest thing I have ever dealt with for such a sustained period of time. Big deep breath. It will all be ok, for both of us. He is a happy little fireball and I a happy mom, all that is truly important is well.

pic by


Melissa said...

You are a glorious woman and mother. I cannot tell you how sorry I am that this is such a struggle and that it is so hard to find answers. Hang in there mama. I'm here if you need me.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry sweet mama, I know it's not much comfort, but we're in the same boat over here. Z still gets facial eczema and diarrhea. Egyptian Magic works for his bum at this point... My years of elimination diet have taken their toll, and I now have a problem of overeating and indulging in unhealthy foods that cause heartburn, joint pain, tiredness, etc. (she says as she sits here burping stomach acid from tomatoes)... The most popular question - "will he grow out of this?"... there's no answer. This is a new generation of food allergies... I have one friend who cured her son by giving him fermented foods/juice with every meal (probiotics in a non-allergy form using fermented veggies - carrots/ginger, sauerkraut, etc.). Hang in there, don't feel guilty. We live in a fallen world. Love you lots! We always have plenty of rice foods here if you run out on the run!!!

anja said...

Man, that is really really hard...for you as a mother and as a human being, living with fear of food and deprivation. Not knowing what to do about it is the hardest..have you ever been to a homeopath? I have no experience with food allergies, but I sympathize a lot..hang in there, answers will come...

Katherine said...

Ugh, that's frustrating. We did an elimination diet with James when he was 18 months - no dairy, soy, wheat, corn, citrus, bananas for 6 weeks while we figured out what was giving him ear infections. I can't imagine doing it any longer, or doing it for myself either! Hang in there, you'll find the answer! Would it be corny to say follow your gut instinct?