And Onto Something Completely Different...
And this evening I have something completely different to share with you...
It's almost like night and day when compared to the previous 5 posts; almost, not quite literally a new life; but definitely life-changing in almost every way for us.
We are no longer an 'allergy-family'.
I know; it is seriously that life-changing, that it needs to be BIG, BOLD and BEAUTIFUL! As anyone with allergies can understand - to suddenly be 'ok' again, is in every way, a miracle. And this story really is just that - nothing short of a miracle.
It has been six months now, and I haven't shared this on social media at all - mainly because I just don't know how to... I have talked about it in real life, and shared it with people; but haven't written about it yet. There is no explanation, no reason, nothing definitive to explain what has happened - I sometimes wonder if people will think I must have been over-dramatising the allergies initially. But you can't over-dramatise tummy cramps, severe nausea, vomiting and diarrhea; nor can you ignore facial rashes, big bloated tummies, pain excruciating enough to be doubled over, kids screaming that their mouth and tongue feels funny after eating chocolate (and holding their throats - this happened twice). Allergies aren't fun, nor are the side effects...
Now I knew my kids would (most likely) out grow their allergies; and they weren't severe enough, even at their worst, that eating a small amount of dairy would have hurt them, let alone killed them (and yes - there ARE people that are that allergic to dairy, it's scary)... but my daughter, in particular, was severe enough that we avoided it until she was four. Her Specialist said at that point to just try her on small amounts every 6 months until she can handle it - so we did, and she has been fairly good now for 18-24 months, and has only shown a slight rash once in the last 12 months.
It's difficult to really get the scale of the rash in a photo... but she was 4 in all these photos, so this was minimal compared to what it used to be.
Up until she was two she would vomit on even the smallest amount of dairy;
as well as get the rash.
My son, we think, wasn't so much allergic to dairy - it appears he has some kind of dermatitis or eczema, which can be brought on by food, stress, sun and other things. He has been clear of this since January as well; after finally getting a correct diagnosis and antibiotics.
This is how his 'episodes' would start... just a red rash,
in particular - over his face, and we could only assume it was an allergy to something.
But until the latest one in January; it would go down within 24 hours.
However the one above took a week and 4 Doctors visits
- Two to ED
-One to After Hours
- One to a Locum (who eventually diagnosed it correctly).
Below is at his worst in January:
It was horrific...
So that gives you a quick background on the kids; but it was hubby who was my worst...
He'd had tummy trouble since before we got married; and I remember our Doctor in Auckland telling him it was some kind of intolerance - most likely gluten or dairy, but the only way he'd know was to do an elimination diet. We figured quite early on that it was gluten, so he'd come off it for a while, start to feel better and then jump right back on the band wagon again; it used to drive me insane. But when Button was a baby - they both came down with a tummy bug, Luke was SO sick he ended up in hospital via an ambulance ride. He needed the whole week off work, and further testing... this was when we had to get serious, and this was when my interest in cooking began; until then it was a case of 'flying by the seat of my pants', and literally doing the same kind of meals over and over again; yuck!
So coming off gluten for good at that point made a significant difference, but it didn't 'cure' him completely, and he still got sick at times. Then after two or three years he started getting sick more regularly... it took some detective work (& some convincing), but we figured out it was now also dairy, and Hubby was gutted. However, we knew we could handle it because the kids were dairy-free - he just had to change his mindset, and come to the conclusion that dairy wasn't worth vomiting over! Once he put two and two together, he gave it up quite easily compared to the gluten...
But that wasn't the end of it for him - we still had one more massive hurdle to overcome... Six weeks after Button turned 5, I was turning 40 - so we decided to do a big combined party, and I did ALL the catering, it took weeks and the freezer was full:
Everything was gluten free and dairy free - this was so I knew my family could eat everything safely... or so I thought. Almost everything was homemade, except a few traditional party-foods (chips, marshmallows, lollies etc)
Hubby was my taste tester, and as we got closer and closer to the party he got more and more grumpier, his tummy started playing up again, everything was so achy and sore that he could hardly get out of bed on the occasional morning. He kept going, and I had no idea how bad it was except that he was getting grumpier and grumpier. He made a comment that he thought he was also allergic to sugar - but I laughed at him, who was allergic to sugar? I had never heard anything like it...
The morning of the party we had a huge argument, but we managed to get through the party smiling; and then the day after we had a massive argument about the party and all the effort I had gone to, and basically it felt like my birthday had been ruined. But I took the bull by the horns and did some research, and discovered hubby wasn't far off wrong... it was looking more and more like he now also had Fructose Malabsorption to deal with, basically allergic to sugar, including natural sugars in some fruit. We could have both cried - it was all starting to feel to hard, and we made an appointment with the Doctor, followed by a nutritionist.
Unfortunately I missed the Nutritionist appointment because I had started a full-time job by then... so we just muddled along for the next few months, figuring it all out as we went. I got more comfortable and confident with what he could and couldn't eat - becoming obsessed with buying cook books that met our strict standards.
And then Christmas 2016 came... and our life changed once more, but this time for the better. It was a life-changing summer in more ways than one - first Christmas in our new house (our OWN place), Dad's last Christmas with us... and now this.
Sometime over this period - I can't remember exactly when it was (we hosted Christmas, so everything was 'safe' for him), hubby decided he was sick of all the restrictions; so he ate a few things one day that would have normally made him sick. All I remember thinking was 'God, have mercy on his stomach'... and you know what? He did... Hubby literally hasn't reacted to ANYTHING since - he can eat gluten, he can eat dairy, and he can eat sugar; he has only had a crook gut once since then, and it was 'normal' food poisoning, not an allergy reaction.
I think it has taken me longer to accept this change than him - the first three months I was forever asking him 'Are you ok?', 'How is your tummy?', it nearly drove him to despair! It also took me a while to be ok with it all - because we have been known as 'the allergy family' for so long, it had become part of our identity... and all of a sudden we were no longer, and I felt like I had lost part of me. I wasn't sure how I felt about it all, as I have put hours and hours into cooking 'safe' foods, and researching and buying cook books that worked for us; in some ways it was actually really hard for me to accept this change and let it go.
But now - six months down the track, I am stoked. It has literally been life-changing; we can socialise and go out without worrying... just the fact we can go OUT is fantastic, we always used to be the hosts; but now we can go out. And I am not having to watch everything he eats, check ingredients, make sure I take 'safe food' everywhere we go; it is such a massive weight lifted. A game changer for sure...
And there is no explanation - going from head down a bucket every time he ate something 'bad', to being able to eat everything again... there are no words, there is no explanation. It is, quite literally, a miracle. And therein lies my hesitation at sharing our story; people want / need an explanation, some scientific reason for this sudden change. But there is none - it is what it is, and I cannot give any reason other than it is a miracle.
Of course we have eaten far more takeaways and other such crap over the past six months, than what we have ever had before, and we're paying the price for it in the way 'normal' people do! So we have made the decision recently that we have to get back on track, and start going back to better eating - less processed, and more natural... Teach the kids while they are young; and all that sort of stuff!
So come join us on our NEW food journey, as we cut out as much of the processed stuff as we can, and head into more 'clean and natural' foods; we're not going to go crazy, I work full-time and don't have the time to be making our own bread anymore etc. But this summer we're going to have a garden, and hubby is going to make me my first ever herb garden as well! So it's realistic - what we can do in the here and now changes...
However, for those who didn't follow our allergy story - my instagram account: here has a lot of food photos from back in those days... and below I will link back a few other of the posts I have written up on our allergies over the years as well:
I think this will give you a good run down of our experiences now!