Most of the time I read to escape. Not long ago I bought a bottle of sublingual B-Complex vitamins. There was no mention of gluten or wheat on the ingredient list, I've used the Source Naturals brand before and I was actually very excited to see the B-Complex vitamins because research I had done said that this was pretty much the best thing out there in terms of rapid delivery. I actually bought the bottle before checking the list of ingredients which is something I should not have done. I went back into the store to ask if it was gluten free, the owner didn't know, the bottle didn't say but I've used that brand before and I made the mistake of thinking the vitamin companies care more about my health than their profits.
By the time I got home I knew there was gluten in the complex. I was furious with myself, the government and Source Naturals. An online source said the orange flavor has gluten however the peppermint flavor was gluten free. Additionally buying online saved me about twenty dollars so my attitude changed. I started thinking, I'm better off than I was before. Before I was paying more, now I can pay less and still get the same quality vitamins. The day my new peppermint B-Complex vitamins arrived I took the girls grocery shopping. We had a good time, the girls wanted a chuck roast and I was able to get a free bag of onions, potatoes and organic baby carrots as part of the promotion encouraging roast sales.
I came home, started making supper and I was really proud of myself for taking the girls shopping and leaving the store without any junk food whatsoever. I've been really pleased with how their attitudes about the gluten and dairy free lifestyles have improved. They still complain however now they are much more open to new foods and I can see their general health slowly taking small steps in a better direction. That night I had an allergic reaction to something and I couldn't figure out what it was. I laid in bed wondering if I should use my Epi-Pen. Allergic reactions can go from 'Under my chin itches' to 'I can't breathe' quickly and you don't know how long you might have before one phase turns into another.
I decided against the Epi-Pen and went to take a bath. I hate being dependent on medication however allergic reactions are one instance where I will use drugs for my well being. A funny thing happened as I waited for the dye-free Benadryl to start working. I didn't notice this until later but the abdominal pain that almost always bothers me was gone. Lying on my bed I was limp and pain free in a way I haven't been for a long time. I took the next day to catch up on some sleep. I was worried about the upcoming trip to California and what I should pack and what I was going to eat when I was out there. A friend of mine who was going to come with me had backed out of the trip which was upsetting. I kept telling myself I would be okay secretly wondering if I would be.
Sometimes things work out in ways I don't expect them to. The day I didn't have an after school snack for the girls my youngest daughter's teacher gave each of the girls their own loaves of gluten free banana bread. My oldest loved it and I was so grateful to this woman who has helped me in ways that may not seem like a big deal to others but are huge to me. I met up with a friend of mine at the store where I had purchased my original bottle of orange flavored B vitamins. She told me that she didn't think I should go to California. I knew she was right but I wanted to go and I was lying to her and myself about the kind of shape I was in which I'm sure she saw through.
The next night I was having some trouble breathing so I took another Benadryl. That night was awful in ways I will not go into here. The next day I slept until it was time to pick the girls up from school. At that point I knew, California was a dream that did not belong to me. I found a rash on my oldest daugther's chest so I called the nurse practitioner to see if it warranted a trip in for further examination. Since it didn't seem to be bothering my daughter or spreading the nurse practitioner said I could keep an eye on it. In the back of my mind I was thinking, why me, why can't I go on a trip that is going to help me get a job? It's all paid for and I have a friend I can see out there. It wasn't fair and I railed against not being able to go like a sulky child.
The day before I was supposed to fly out I was dizzy and my head hurt. Somewhere in my brain it registered that I hadn't eaten anything or drunk much. I was so thirsty I drank what seemed like a lot of water but when I got back from picking up the girls I knew I was dehydrated. This happens to me somewhat regularly since I have trouble with fluid loss so you think I would recognize it but the more dehydrated you are the less aware you are. So I mixed up some oral rehydration solution and started drinking that. What happened next was surreal. I have been sick for days at a time before, either this was a new level or I had forgotten what serious illness that lasts for days was like.
Saturday I could not drop the girls off for soccer. I could not meet my mother, I could walk and talk and that was about it. I could not keep up with the rehydration solution, I was freezing cold beneath my layers. I fell asleep on top of my heating pad and woke up after a dream that I can't remember but involved being trapped in a burning building. People kept telling me I needed to eat but I couldn't force myself to take a bite of anything. My friend from the company who had bought me a ticket to California called, he was very nice and they told me not to worry about the money which was nice but useless advice. I left my room only to use the bathroom and to get more to drink. My mom took the girls and my brother came over to help with trimming the trees. A couple people called but I wasn't up to much more than a few minutes of semi-coherent conversation.
Eventually I started feeling not horrible. I took a bath and threw my disgusting bedding downstairs. The weather was damp but warm so I opened the windows. I put some dishes away and I had to take more naps but at least I was up and walking around again. Surprisingly I didn't lose any weight however I suspect that is because I kept up on the rehydration solution. While I was sick I found a Facebook post that led me to a YouTube video. A gilr with cystic fibrosis was sharing her thoughts on disease management. Watching her video was humbling. This girl has had multiple operations and was in a coma for two weeks. She has to have oxygen at all times and her attitude is amazing.
The past weekend taught me a couple things: when you're really sick things that you normally think are important aren't, food is not as important as water and I am fortunate to have a good source, your attitude is a critical part of disease management. When I take Benadryl my abdominal pain and some other back/neck/joint pain recedes as well. The bad news there means that I must be constantly ingesting something I am allergic to or can't tolerate. At this point I have been through the elimination diet, I no longer eat anything on the big eight list and I don't want to spend the money however if it means identifying my safe foods then I feel that this is something I have to do.
While I was online searching for new recipes I stumbled on some great books and recipes. What I love about the internet is the endless sources of information. What I dislike is you don't know what information is accurate and even if what you read is factually correct there is no guarantee that anything will work for you and your particular situation. Certain things may be good ideas however they may be very bad for you so you have to know what you're doing which is difficult as the human body is a complex organism. The last book I read stated that you must eliminate irritating foods, add anything missing and try to incorporate a larger variety of foods that your body can benefit from.
What I have appreciated most about my children going gluten free is the new relationship I have with my oldest daughter. Now for no reason she comes up to hug me. She's calmer, quieter and almost all of her grades have improved since the mid-term grades came out. She's much less angry than she used to be and her appearance is neater. In the past she used to scratch and pick at herself, she still worries the edges of her skin but it's not as bad as it was before. The other day I shrunk my favorite black and gray striped sweater. When I asked my daughter if she wanted it she said yes and she's worn it a couple times since I gave it to her.
My youngest does not like trying new foods. She likes sugar, living in her comfort zone and I don't like fighting with her about food but I am her parent and can insist that she at least try things. Last night I made broccoli soup and my youngest ate three helpings. I wouldn't let either of the girls have anything after supper, they both complained that they were hungry however this morning they both ate all of their breakfast instead of complaining about what I served or not eating anything at all. My Chinese tradition doesn't cover snacks but I'm going back to something my pediatrician said; even a small snack can be enough to cheat a little tummy out of a good dinner.
By only allowing good food into my house my children are forced to make healthier decisions and just like me and my siblings were able to find sugar and junk food sources when we were kids my children have found creative ways to get their sugar fixes. My youngest likes to spread jam on rice cakes, my oldest puts brown sugar on or in whatever she can, I can't police my children all the time and I try not to make them feel deprived but I'll be damned if I'm going to let what passes for food into my house anymore. The other day I watched a video about a woman with an extreme lifestyle but it made sense to me. Grow your own food and you know what's in it and where it came from.
I have all these ideas and it seems like I don't get anywhere with any of them. The other day I was talking to my friend who helped me when she said that we were making a positive impact on what our children were eating however it takes time to restore health and remove junk. I found out something about my friend that really upset me. She doesn't often share things and what she said was so matter of fact at first what she shared didn't register as awful. There's a lot of crap and a lot of things I can't change. I gave my friend a hug, told her I would lend her money if I had it to spare and I left feeling better about myself and wishing there was more I could do for her. Sometimes, perspective is gained from a single sentence that strenghtens a friendship. I'm just sorry things are the way they are for people I care about.