|Honey Roo Boo|
Let's begin from, well, the beginning. When I was nursing Ruby, it didn't take long for us to figure out that she was sensitive to dairy. Like crazy sensitive. So I cut out all dairy from my diet, and guess what? She was just as sensitive to soy. You know what soy is in? Everything. That's what. So I followed a dairy-free/soy-free diet from the time Woobs was about 2 weeks old until she was almost a year old. It was really healthy and kept me away from all processed foods. I got really skinny and missed cheeseburgers. Meh. It didn't kill me.
When Ruby started solids it became apparent that she actually was sensitive to much more than dairy and soy. Most foods resulted in episodes of screaming and projectile vomiting all night long. She was diagnosed with FPIES - which basically means she had a problem with the protein in a lot of different foods, like dairy, soy, chicken, beef, legumes, rice, sweet potatoes, gluten, etc. The list went on and on. We were told there were some foods that were more common FPIES triggers than others, but that every kid is different and it was basically a trial-and-error process to figure out what she could and couldn't handle, and that she would eventually grow out of it. You know what I really loved? Giving my baby a new food and then counting the minutes until exactly 3.5 hours later, when the barf & scream hours might or might not start.
When she was about a year old, she got much better. She passed food trials with flying colours. She started eating anything and everything - by the time I went back to work I was even able to send her to daycare without any special food. It was awesome.
But then my baby stopped getting better. She started getting sicker and crabbier. She had huge dark circles under her eyes and was just never well. She screamed and cried all day and all night. Something wasn't right. The regular medical system had already basically said goodbye and good luck when it came to figuring out what was wrong with Ruby. She was pretty miserable most of the time and we didn't really know why.
Then one day last spring I went to my staff retreat at work and one of the sessions I took was a presentation from a Naturopath. I loved everything she said about the body's ability to heal itself and the crucial role that diet plays. I absolutely believe that today's garbage diets play a huge role in health problems, behaviour problems, etc. And I really liked that I got to experience the ND's presentation with my coworkers - I work in community health and I loved hearing the questions and discussion between my medical coworkers and the ND. I came home and talked to Rainer about it, and we decided to take Ruby to the ND who had presented at my staff retreat.
Ruby was seen at The Nature Doctors last spring and was immediately put on a very restrictive diet: no dairy, soy, gluten, eggs, corn, rice, no fruit (except berries, apples and pears), peanuts, pistachios, or processed sugar. Haha. And I had thought my dairy-free/soy-free diet was restrictive! Rainer thought it was nuts but was okay with us trying it for a while. So we jumped in. I learned a lot about cross-contamination and worshipped at the feet of The Gluten-Free Goddess. We bought unsweetened almond milk by the case and got to be on a first-name basis with the staff at Vita Health. I learned how to make yogurt from coconut milk and spent a lot of time baking. And Ruby? Ruby thrived. She started the restrictive diet and it was like someone had turned a switch. She shot up in inches and pounds, went back to being a great sleeper, and her mood improved drastically. It was incredible. Rainer, who had previously been skeptical, became a believer after the first week when he was playing with Ruby one day and she giggled - and he realized Ruby was over a year old and he'd never heard her laugh before. Who feels like giggling when their belly is always so sore?
We stayed on the restricted diet for a long time. Because Ruby was so young, we couldn't get her tested for food allergies/sensitivities through the ND, so the foods eliminated were an educated guess - a combination of things we knew she'd reacted to in the past and foods that the ND knew were common triggers. Ruby was 1,000,000% better on this diet, but we still had some reactions here and there. We weren't sure if that was from cross-contamination from the rest of us, slip-ups with her diet, or that she was reacting to something else that we hadn't eliminated.
Along with the restricted diet, she was given a couple of undas, which are like prescriptions from an ND. The theory behind this all was that Ruby has a "leaky gut" and by eliminating the trigger foods, and treating it with the unda, her gut would have time to heal itself and the allergies would resolve. The first unda didn't seem to do anything. In fact, around Christmastime things were getting worse. Ruby was still on her diet but was having more and more bad nights. We had one stretch that was every night for over a week! Around this same time, my friend Amanda's family had an amazing experience with a chiropractor in Florida. While I initially thought she was crazy when she brought up the idea (it's okay, she knows I thought she was nutso) it really did make me wake up and realize we should do more for Ruby. I mean, I was working hard to make sure she never felt left out when it came to food. We always had the same supper (although sometimes Ruby had a special version) and I even made Ruby-friendly Christmas baking so she could enjoy some treats like everyone else. But she was still reacting to things from time to time. We were managing but we weren't getting better. And we went out a few times to other places where Ruby got into different things - drank cow's milk from another kid's cup, found a stash of pasta in some kid's chair after supper - it was only the beginning of what was yet to come - trying to keep her away from her triggers when she's in an environment outside our house. So that lit a fire under me.
We talked endlessly about booking it to Florida for our own miracle, but decided to try some more local options first. We looked into acupuncture - a friend of mine was once known for having the second worst allergies in the entire province, and through acupuncture they have all been eliminated except for her nut allergy. We tried another round of the unda and started taking Ruby to our own chiropractor here in Winnipeg. When I started telling him about Ruby, he told me that 90% of the kids he sees are there for allergy elimination. (WHAT THE HELL, DR. GERRY????? Why he doesn't have a flashing neon sign proclaiming this fact, I will never know.) As he talked about what is going on in the body of a child with food sensitivities or allergies, and what it does to them, and the impact it has on their mood and behaviour, I wanted to cry. It was like he'd been peeking in our windows. We started treatments the next day and went from the worst 2 weeks we'd had in a year to only having had 1 bad night since seeing Dr. Gerry. Pretty amazing.
But the most exciting thing in all of this was news from the Naturopath said Ruby was finally old enough for the allergy testing! We were super excited about learning what exactly she needed to avoid, hopeful that we would be able to ease up on the restrictions in her diet. We went in for her blood draw and waited eagerly for the results. Of course, with our luck being what it is, there were a few screw-ups at the lab and we ended up needing to go in and start the process again. We talked every night about which allergy we would most like to see disappear: I finally settled on corn and rice while Rainer's vote varied between dairy and all of them. Ha.
And here's where the big news comes in: we got her results back this week, and they show nothing. Nothing. As in she has no remaining allergies or sensitivities. It's a miracle, right?
I'm not sure.
On the one hand, this is exactly what we've been working toward. The whole idea of the elimination diet and the unda was to heal the leaky gut. The whole point of the chiropractor treatments are to eliminate the allergies. Why did we do these things if we didn't believe this is where we'd end up? And kids grow out of allergies all the time. Who's to say Ruby isn't one of those kids?
Still, it seems too good to be true. Mostly because the test results came with a big disclaimer saying if you've been practicing complete avoidance (which we have been for almost a year) your sensitivity/allergy is unlikely to show up. I'm not going to lie. I was actually livid when I read that, thinking that was a waste of time, money, and most importantly, hope. I immediately called the ND's office and the office manager was totally ready for me with an explanation. (LOL. I'm guessing a) I'm not the first person to freak out after reading the disclaimer and b) the ND's office regularly curses that lab for including that disclaimer on the results.) The ND says it doesn't actually impact the results very often, and we should start re-introducing foods.
I still can't believe it, but am cautiously optimistic. Ruby had half a pita for supper last night and was actually the ONLY one of the kids who slept through the night. So maybe, just maybe, this is for real. Fingers crossed, everyone!