did you know soy is in everything?

So are oats and eggs and yeast.

I haven’t been talking about Parker’s allergies much lately b/c I’ve been swimming in a sea of total confusion for weeks but finally feel like I’ve gotten to the surface and am making progress on finding the shore.

That’s not a great metaphor. Whatever.

Her allergies and health in general has had me so fucking confused and frustrated and sad and overwhelmed I can barely breathe when i start thinking about it. And I’ve been crying a lot. Out of desperation mainly.

Like yesterday when she threw up multiple times while coughing simply because she had so much congestion that couldn’t clear her tight airways that i swear the only thing her body could do to get her breathing again was to puke up the snot-blockage. Seeing your kid struggle so desperately to get ONE SINGLE breath of air is the most frightening thing in the entire world. Seeing them struggle ALL DAY LONG for DAYS and WEEKS on end is a nightmare.

We’ve seen our pediatrician, an allergist, a pulmonologist and a homeopathic doctor (also an MD in case you’re wondering) trying to figure out answers as to why her asthma is so chronic and why she’s sick all the time.

We did basic allergy skin tests, blood work and finally an IgG test that tests for sensitivities along with full blown food allergies. We started testing in August and finally have an action plan.

The skin and blood tests our pediatrician and allergist ran (at my request) showed that she has a ton of environmental allergies. Dogs are by far her highest, dust a close second. Then every single tree/grass/mold/etc came back positive. Her whole back was one red hot zone during the skin test. When i asked about food allergies the allergist said if she was allergic to a food we’d know it b/c she’s have hives or worse (think anaphylactic shock!). So I pushed aside the nagging feelings that maybe something she eats is keeping her sick all the time.

Until Lyndsay. And Adriane.

Both of their kids had the IgG and IgE tests run by a Homeopath. After months of following Lyndsay’s story (I say that like I read her blog, which I do, but we’ve also had many many long discussions about how we think her lessons could and SHOULD be applied to Parker) and seeing the benefits and then hearing Adriane’s story about the same Homeopath I made an appointment with… well, it sealed the deal. I scheduled the meeting with the doc and we got the test done. We went to Christian Wessling of Webster Family Practice in case you’re wondering and love them there.

In case you have never heard of the IgG test here is (verbatim) what it is from the literature they gave me:

The Food Antibody Assessment provides information on two types of allergic/immune responses to specific foods by measuring concentrations of IgG or IgE antibodies in your blood. A positive antibody result indicates the presence of allergic response (IgE) or food hypersensitivities (IgG) as opposed to food intolerance’s (like when you die from eating a peanut).

While the report focuses on antibody formation, other factors will also have an impact on symptom development, including:

- An individual’s “total load” of metabolic and inflammatory stressors on the immune system

- The ability of the immune system to prevent symptoms

- The ability of the intestinal wall to act as an effect barrier to food antigens

Does any of that make sense?

Basically, your body can be sensitive to a certain food and although you may not die from it, it can effect your overall health. I know, for me personally, I get awful stomach cramps and diarrhea from Chinese food so I’ve always assumed I have a sensitivity to MSG or something. It’s a pretty immediate response which means IF I do have a sensitivity (I’ve never been tested) it’s an IgE response. My friend Adriane’s son started having migraines around 18 months and after lots of testing it turns out he has an IgG response (which means it’s delayed and very hard to figure out without the test) to beans, so by eliminating beans from his diet they’ve kept migraines at bay!

BUT. While your body may be sensitive to a certain food, the other things happening in your body play a huge role as well. Like, how healthy your immune system is in general.

So what does this all means for Parker?

She had a ton of food on her IgG test come back positive. Luckily she had no super strong reactions, all of hers were in the low and very low categories, which is a huge blessing. But for her, it’s more about those bullet points up there. Normally she probably wouldn’t react to the VL (very low) or 1+ (low) reactions at all but because her immune system is so compromised she catches every single germ she comes into contact with.

I hope this is all making sense because it’s confusing to me and I think I have a handle on it! I’m probably doing a craptastic job of explaining all of this and the only reason I want to is to 1. track her progress here when I can so that hopefully, like Lyndsay, I can one day look back and see how far we’ve come and 2. if this helps ANYONE with a sick kid it’s worth all the typing!

SO.

Here is the list of 1+ foods she has to stay COMPLETELY away from for 8 weeks.. beef, lamb, chicken, cheddar cheese, oysters, turkey and cottage cheese. The lamb, oysters and cottage cheese should be easy. The others, harder because we normally eat a meat at almost every single meal.

And here is the list of VL foods we’re allowed to only give her once a week, but she can only have one VL food each day so tracking these will be harder. Which is why I’m basically going to try to avoid them completely if possible, just to leave it as easy (HA!) as possible… buckwheat, egg white, grapefruit, peanuts, string beans, cabbage, egg yolk, green pepper, pork, yeast, carrots, goat’s milk, oats, rice, corn, soy, peas and grapes.

This is the list that makes me want to scream FUCK at the top of my lungs.

But here’s the deal.

Although these foods aren’t necessarily making her sick, the constant stream of them, along with her CONSTANT exposure to dogs (which she tests at the highest 3+ level) has squashed her immune system SO much she can’t fight off infection at all. Which is why she’s sick ALL THE TIME. It’s why she has asthma and eczema and a chronic cough. It’s why she has dark circles under her eyes and why she doesn’t sleep well.

Like it says up there, her “total load” of stressors on her immune system are huge (diet and dogs). AND her immune system can’t prevent the symptoms (asthma/cough/eczema). AND her intestinal wall isn’t a good barrier.

SO she’s sick. A lot.

What are we doing to fix all of this?

Changing her diet. Immediately and completely. We moved. At least for the time being, to my parent’s house who have one small non-shedding dog as opposed to two huge Golden Retrievers (this is worth a whole other blog post but yes, we have relocated and it was a HARD decision but one FOUR doctors told us we had to do if we wanted her to ever get well). She’s on an asthma remedy, supplements and we’re using essential oils (more on this in a later post as well). And slowly but surely I’m getting the chemicals out of the house, making her bedroom a safe sleeping environment and implementing a lot of other changes to help us all be healthier.

Does this seem extreme? Maybe. I know Chris thinks so at times and we’ve had our fair share of arguments. But here’s the thing. In the grand scheme these are all small changes (some BIG ones¬† like the diet and moving homes). And each one helps a little. And if all I have to do is a few small things each day to make my little girl healthy? I’m doing it.

It’s not about a full life change like Lynds tells me all the time. It’s about all the small changes. It’s about talking to doctors and friends. it’s about online research and learning. It’s about having support (our parents and friends have been crazy supportive which is a huge blessing).

Here’s what it boils down to.

She’s my daughter. My baby girl. And if ANYTHING I can personally do makes her feel better I’m going to do it. If I have any kind of power to help her heal, I’m all over it. Because I’m her mom. Her protector.

I love this quote Lyndsay just sent to me tonight… “There is no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a good one.” – Jill Churchill

I am NOT putting all this out there because I think I know it all. Trust me. I am just at the start of learning all of this. It’s more because I want to keep track of it all and ultimately keep our families updated.

And truly, at the end of the day, I just want to go to bed knowing I tried my hardest to be a good mom.

an incredible reminder.

Just read THIS and had to come on here for the millionth time tonight to share it with you all.

It is exactly why we’re working so hard right now to save and buy a home. I WILL NOT keep up the pace of my life forever. Being this busy is hard. I already cherish the time I do get with the kids or when we’re able to be together as a family. And for 2011 I’ve simplified other areas of my life to leave more room for the kids because like she said, they won’t be little forever. They won’t WANT to be with me forever. Right now I’m their favorite friend and I know just how special and fleeting that is.

And this quote+image (created by Tara) is the best reminder for the focus of our life right now!

a really huge frozen lake.

Playing in the snow on a really huge frozen lake… the absolute best part of the WI trip in my opinion!

Bailey and Paw Paw dancing/ice skating.

It’s hard to see but Sam is holding a huge piece of ice and sucking on it! HA!
My mom and the girls found this big piece of ice that had tipped over and we got the kids to start using it for a slide, but to get up there was a slippery feat! I love that Uncle Chris caught me shoving Ab’s tush up the ice and if you look closely you’ll see my mom’s hand on my snow suit covered tush as well! Funniest photo of the trip!

The kids all got one last slide and then paw paw came down!

I have like 20 photos from this ice slide and they are all hysterical! Best time ever, seriously!

the simple things are sometimes the best.

I hate cooking. That’s not true. It’s just that by the time it’s time for dinner I’m exhausted and want something fast+easy. My dream is to one day have a kitchen I LOVE so that I want to be in there more!

Anyway, even though I am not a huge fan of cooking I am starting to love dinner time. Hearing the kids chat about their day, all of us together (when C’s home), healthy food on their plates, the good smells and warm room… it’s just so simple and sometimes so perfect.

In Wisconsin it was great to get to have that time with everyone. Good food. Simple times. Perfect.

These are just snap shots but I love them!

wanna bowl? I Waun-a-bowl!

We are HOME after an 11 hour drive that should take 6 due to a blizzard, sleet and rain across three states. Driving 35mph on a highway with three kids in the car is defeating at best. About 30 minutes into the trip our wipers were frozen and we had to stop so we found a Walmart and spent way too much money on toys+movies to keep the kids extra happy knowing we had a very long day ahead of us! Of course I regret spending the money but I might be more of a mess if the kids hadn’t have been so occupied and happy the entire time!

Anyway, we’re home (still staying at my parents tonight so not quite home) and safe. And before I answer a mountain of email or just call it quits and head to bed, I have to share some pics from our bowling extravaganza yesterday at Waun-a-bowl in Waunakee, WI where my sister lives!

The essence of “embrace the grain” and I love it! We Waun-a-bowl again! It was Bailey’s favorite part of the trip she told us all day! And randomly I didn’t even get any shots of her bowling!

I still have so many shots to share from the trip! But first, tomorrow we are dealing with our CAR issues. Because you know what? We Waun-a-car too! :) Or we really just want our car back but it doesn’t look like that’s happening.

raw.

I’m feeling raw. Exposed. Naked. You name it, if it’s an uncomfortable feeling, I’m feeling it.

I’m a creature of comforts. I like my fountain soda in a styrafoam cup with a skinny straw and I know the exact gas stations where I can get exactly what I want. I like pretzels super salty and have found one certain kind that is only sold in the snack size so when I find them I buy them all. When I’m sad I love a bowl of pasta or rice-a-roni with a veggie and chicken strips mixed in, it’s my ultimate comfort food. I like my evenings to be mine. By 6pm I’m tired of talking to people and tired of being a mom and I want to sit in front of my favorite shows and work in peace and quiet. I usually get this luxury by 8pm. I like my favorite shows and feel a little lost when they are all re-runs. I like having a schedule for the kids. I like knowing what time they’re eating, at school and sleeping but in-between I actually love being spontaneous and doing crazy fun things with them. I wear the same outfits constantly. Mostly because I’ve gained weight plus have no money for clothes so I’m fairly limited but also because I like keeping things simple in the morning. I also wear comfy clothes too often and they are always totally black, going back again to the easiness of it all. Plus the comfort.

I guess you could call me high maintenance. Although I would never admit that.

And when one of my comforts is taken away I start to feel like I’m loosing control. Something as simple as while we’ve been up here in WI my soda routine has been thrown off and it makes me crazy. But it’s hard to admit to because people think I’m insane for caring so much about soda. If I ever sat down with a therapist I’m sure it would come back to wanting to control as much as I can at all times or something. Because I do know it’s not about the soda.

So moving out of “our” house and into my in-laws has been hard. I feel out of control a lot because it’s not my space. And although they’ve been more than welcoming, it’s tough. It’s not our house so I always feel strange buying and putting away groceries, especially when I know it’s something no one but us will eat. It’s strange to clean because I don’t want to do something wrong. I take most of our laundry to my mom’s during the week because I don’t want to be in the way of their laundry schedule. I’ve just lost control over our living space and it’s taking its toll I think.

Then this weekend Chris’s car was stolen. MY car actually. That I bought before we were engaged and paid off myself. Garret was its name. So now we’re down to one car and trying to make the decision on what to do about potentially buying a new car. Do we trade my crap-Pacifica that we hate in and do we get two “new to us” cars? Do we buy a new van or a used one? How high do we allow our payments to go? These are all decisions I wasn’t expecting to make while we’re saving for a freaking house. But someone, who I PRAY needed our car more, decided to steal from us and I’m left feeling out of control again. Raw.

And then today the simplest of things happened that sent me over the edge. The straw that broke the camels back.¬† A cup of juice spilled into my bag at some point and when I discovered it everything was ruined. My binder that holds ALL things Fresh Art was full of juice. Sticky to the point I tossed it rather than try to clean out every little crevice. My journals to the kids I had custom made for each of them that were way too expensive but I knew they were forever gifts were wet and dripping. The books where I’ve been writing notes and letters and fun memories down for them to read one day. Books I carry with me all the time. Trash. My new calendar that I saw the other day on the 50% off shelf and died over. Each day it asks you to list something and I thought it was such a neat way to document a year I bought it. Wet. Sticky. Trash. A picture Bailey drew for me, all my favorite pens, my notebook where I record all of our bills… you get the idea. Most ended up in the trash and some things, like the bill notebook, I had to save regardless of how gross it was simply because we need it.

I cried.

Because you see, I live out of that bag. It travels with me everywhere. Each morning I pack it up and every night I unpack it. Because most of the things in there are private and I don’t have a private space anymore. My bill binder would normally live in my kitchen, but I don’t have a kitchen. My Fresh Art binder would live in my home office, but my daily office is now in my parents house and I work each night for Fresh Art from the couch at my in-laws. So I have a bag. Where I kept everything I need to get through each day. Each thing in there is a little piece of my world.

And looking at all the wet, soggy, ruined paper made me feel like my world was crashing down. First our car and then my bag all in two days. And I called Chris from the bathroom at my sister’s house bawling about pieces of paper that meant so much to me. After a long talk and lots of calming+timely words from my husband I calmed down. And I went downstairs and got the kids dressed to go play outside in the snow. And we went out. And as I was running through the snow with the kids I had a thought.

Maybe God wants me raw right now. Maybe he wants me to REALLY get that these are all just things. A house. A car. A bag. A book. Things. Maybe he wants me uncomfortable for a while so that I realize what really matters.

Obviously I don’t know God’s plan for our life. And there are many days lately when I’ve cried in a bathroom because I feel so hopeless, wishing desperately I knew His plan. But at the end of the day, I have all that I need. I have the most amazing family (and extended family) any single person could ask for. And if moving out of our house, getting a car stolen and loosing all my favorite things from my bag today had to happen for me to learn this than I know it’s all worth it.

And I can buy new books (and re-write my letters to the kids that I did rip out of the books before tossing them!) and we will figure out a new car and we will one day own a home. We’ll be ok. I’ll be ok. And tonight I’m going to kiss the kids one extra time before going to bed and thank God for reminding me what’s most important.

Oh, and just to really emphasize the raw feeling, tonight I posted a photo of myself looking totally awesome HERE! :)

Snow fun in WI.

Me and the kids traveled with my parents up to WI this weekend to visit my sister and her family. Five kids five and under? Chaos. In the absolute best sense of the word.

In an effort to get this trip photographed, edited and blogged I took these at 3pm and am posting them at 10pm. That’s like rock star blogging in my book!

This is just behind my sister’s house! How cool is that? We took the big girls out hiking after naps and had a blast. Tomorrow we’re going out on a big frozen lake where people ice fish! And hopefully I’ll get them blogged right away too!