I promise to get back to topics other than food and blood tests and diarrhea and such, but indulge me as I write one more post.
Yesterday I wrote about how we discovered that Elle had Celiac Disease. But that's only half of the story. I wanted to share how things have been altered since we have made the necessary life changes in keeping her tummy and body safe and well fed.
I am not what any one would call an "observant mom". It takes me a long time to SEE things in my children and for my brain to make the connections. They say that hindsight is 20/20. It's odd how many things have come into focus since we received Elle's diagnosis of CD and made the move to a gluten free diet.
She did have other red flags that I couldn't exactly identify then, but know now that they were screaming at me that something was wrong with my daughter.
At first I figured it was just a toddler thing; little kids like to put things in their mouth. Then I figured she inherited Mommy's love of rocks; I still have my rock collection from when I was a kid. Then I began to worry. In addition to the choking hazard, it just seemed strange. Especially when I would watch her pick up a rock, lick it, dip it in the dirt, and then lick the dirt off the rock. Repeatedly. Strange. I would also catch her trying to lick metal and cement. Really strange.
I mentioned her idiosyncrasies to our pediatrician who tested for an iron deficiency. The tests came back normal. Both the doctor and I figured Elle just had an affinity for rocks. So I embraced her love of rocks, put her down in the will for my rock collection, and put together a rock themed 3rd birthday party.
Since Elle has begun a gluten free diet, I have not seen her eating rocks or licking anything other than the occasional popsicle or sucker. Her little body was trying to tell her and me something and we just weren't picking up on the clues. Now her body is able to absorb the nutrients it needs and it doesn't "ask" her to go eat rocks or dirt anymore. So now what am I supposed to do with this bucket of rocks?
There were other clues. Her hair was stringy and would fall out in bunches every time I brushed her hair. I was almost afraid to brush her hair because I didn't want her to be bald. Her nails grew oddly and very slowly.
Since going gluten free, her hair and nails are much improved.
The biggest symptom that Elle had of Celiac Disease was the "brain fog". My little third-time-is-the-charm baby was the quietest out of all of my children. She hardly ever cried from Day One. She was so sweet and passive and easily satisfied that she became the little wheel that got lost in the crowd where there were much louder and squeakier wheels hogging all the oil.
As the months went by, people began to comment about how quiet she was. We just figured she was the "shy one" in our little herd. Maybe she just couldn't get a word in edgewise with her two older, chattier siblings. But with time, her vocabulary and behavior were not improving. She had a hard time computing that there were rules to be followed. Time outs were useless. Spanking was even more futile. I was so frustrated with this little silent child of mine.
Oh, how I wish I had realized what kind of an intimate connection there is between food and brain and body, especially for children.
Even after we received the CD diagnosis I didn't realize that her behavior and lack of verbal development were being impacted by her intolerance to wheat. It wasn't until family and friends started commenting how much Elle was suddenly talking that I clued in. But indeed, shortly after we started the gluten free diet, her vocabulary EXPLODED. It could be coincidental, but I'm inclined to believe that she had been freed from a wheat induced, brain fog prison. Her body and brain were now receiving the nutrition they needed to function and process the world around her.
My husband, bless his heart, is not quite the believer I am. He is suspicious of doctors and feels they like to make up illnesses and problems just to keep the money rolling in. Me? I'm a collapsed-on-the-floor, crying-the-ugly-cry, praising-Jesus believer.
Discovering that Elle has CD may have been one of the more devastating events in our life, but on the other hand it has been one of the more liberating events too. I now understand why my child was doing and not doing certain things. I have the tools to help her on her path of development, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I can be a better mom for my daughter.
I'm grateful that she was diagnosed at so young an age. She is very open to dietary changes and new foods right now. She (hopefully) won't remember how amazing a big fat cookie or homemade cinnamon roll tastes when made with "regular" flour. By the time she is dating and going out with friends, it won't be a big deal that she has to be vigilant about what she orders from a menu or eats at a party. Hopefully she won't feel too different about having CD. She'll be able to live an active life free of stomach aches, intestinal issues, infertility, osteoporosis, cancer, diabetes, or many of the other complications that can come with undiagnosed and untreated CD.
To make a very long story, very short: We are HAPPY to be GLUTEN FREE!