Thursday, July 19, 2012

Rays of Hope

Where we last left off, Joshua was doing well.  Shortly after my last post, though, he started to self-restrict to fruits again, on top of us seeing the return of his chronic diarrhea, and we went about the process of figuring out what went wrong.  We were completely shocked and more than frustrated to learn that Xanthan Gum, a thickening agent used in many children's medicines (as well as in pretty much all gluten free products) is corn-derived.  We had no idea, because since corn is not one of the main allergies (the "Top 8"), it is not necessarily required to be labeled.  Joshua is very allergic to corn, and at that point in time had been teething pretty hardcore, so he was getting one dose of ibuprophen daily at bedtime for about a week, so that he could sleep without being disrupted by his aching mouth.

As if that was not enough, I had a major "Should have known better" moment about reading ingredients.  ALWAYS read ingredients, even in products you would not think an issue.  We had some of our herbal tea that we make for the farmers market left over.  Non-caffeinated and only sweetened with a bit of honey, we thought it would make a nice treat for Joshua.  He drank a little every day for several days straight (during the time in which he was taking the ibuprophen).  Well when looking at the box a few days into this, I was horrified to see that there was SOY in my herbal tea.  They added soy lecithin as "raspberry flavor,"  (just so you know, folks, this was Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger).  Joshua is very allergic to soy.

Well any time that Joshua has a substantial allergy trigger, he craves sweet foods, so now we knew what was going on.  We omitted the offenders and started trying to get him back on his regimen.  This meant no fruit, no seeds, just meat and seedless (or de-seeded) veggies that have been thoroughly cooked.  We of course started with his puree that he had been eating, and he flat out refused to eat anything for about a day and a half. Then he started with some cooked butternut squash and broccoli, finally, and started eating meat again.  He still (a month and a half later) will not eat anything pureed, so now broth is completely missing from his diet.  I had a gut feeling that it was key in reversing the chronic diarrhea, so I started getting creative.  I added plain gelatin and made broth jello.  He liked it for about half a day, then would not touch it.  I tried a puree with just the winter squash, still a no-go.

Finally, we decided that, if we were doing everything we knew to do and the diarrhea was still persisting, we should get some help.  We found the only certified GAPS-practitioner in the state of GA, and we also found an ND (Doctor of Natural Medicine) who specializes in pediatric gastroenterology.  She is basically a leading expert on Celiac Disease and its companion, Leaky Gut Syndrome.  From the GP we received a new probiotic to try with Joshua.  This one is entirely soil-based organisms, and is supposed to be really helpful with Leaky Gut.  The ND pointed me to a few of her blog posts, from which I found out that the amino acid Glutamine could be really helpful, as well as trying maybe a "Tummy Tea," of some demulcent herbs that are specifically geared toward intestinal health.  So we have a plan.  And we're hopeful about what lies ahead.

It is, however, proving quite true that it is always darkest just before the dawn.  Today we gave Joshua his "beginner's" dose of the probiotic we received from the GP.  Though he is still off of fruit, we gave it to him mixed in a little applesauce (it tastes like dirt, basically, and we wanted him to actually take it).

Much to our surprise and dismay, his die-off reaction (the avoidance of which is the whole reason for a beginner's dose) was immediate and extreme.  He finished his applesauce, started to munch on some (uncured) bacon, then started to whine a little.  Suddenly, he just started screaming.  He wanted up on Daddy's lap, he wanted down, he wanted up, he wanted down, he wanted Mommy, he wanted Mommy far away.  He wanted the pacifier, he threw the pacifier.  Wanted, threw, wanted, threw, wanted, threw.  He actually went as far as getting off of Daddy's lap, picking up the pacifier, and throwing it.  He basically chased that thing around the living room, screaming the whole time.  Daddy suggested shoes and socks so he could go outside, which made him smile, but he was still screaming.  They are outside now and I think he has calmed down quite a bit, but we know that we can expect the die-off to last a few days, getting a little bit better each day.  Any prayers during this time are MUCH appreciated.  We know we will need all the grace afforded to us to handle this, but we also know that die-off - just like any other condition - is subject to the blood of Jesus and prayers for peace in little Joshua will not go unheard.

There has been a positive thing or two about the past month and a half, though.  We found a multi-vitamin that Joshua can take.  It is real-food based, free of ALL of his allergens, and pretty affordable.  We particularly were concerned about the minerals, since he had stopped taking broth in any form (and it is his primary source of bioavailable minerals).  Also, the fact that he had stopped getting much taller was a slight concern to his pediatrician back in May, which had me thinking maybe he could use more calcium.  Well it worked.  He had only been on the multi a few weeks before we started to see him sprout up again.  He has not been gaining much, but with the return of the digestive distress I am honestly just happy to see him maintaining.  His grain-induced eczema has remained at bay, his sweet little face is still free of that unsightly rash.  And for the most part, he's a pretty happy camper.  He does have a minor meltdown if he so much as sees a banana (a symptom pretty common to a lot of GAPS patients), but maybe his daily applesauce w/probiotic will keep that at bay.  When he finished the applesauce and moved on to his bacon, we witnessed something we have NEVER seen when he is so fruit-frenzied.

Jeff and I are still holding our own on the full GAPS diet, and maintaining our weight loss.  Jeff went through a stage, recently after his weight loss leveled off, of just feeling sluggish and tired again.  Since most of the toxins in our body are stored in our fat cells, when he started feeling better after a few weeks we decided he must have been detoxing all over again, from stuff that got dumped back into his system as he burned toxin-bearing fats.  Now we're both feeling pretty awesome most of the time!


So we're on his fifth dose of probiotic since we started, and the die-off IS, in fact, getting less severe with each day.  On top of that, his digestion does seem to be improving.  So we are pretty excited about this development.  The next step is to start him back on breast milk (see upcoming posts on relactation), which I had NO IDEA I could do and I am pretty excited about.  Then as the budget allows we will be adding a glutamine supplement to his diet, to see if that will complete the picture. 

Also, Joshua started drinking broth today (Monday, July 23).  He did not drink a whole lot, but it was the first time he has voluntarily taken broth since being off his puree!

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