I hope you all had a really excellent Christmas!
It’s almost the end of 2015, and I figured it would be good to do a little “year end recap” and update.
For starters, I’ve been rather quiet on the blog front lately, but that’s actually because I’ve been writing furiously elsewhere. Finally, after ruminating on the idea for a long, long time, I’ve sat down to write a book.
Well, to be honest, Thanksgiving and Christmas were sort of impediments to blogging, too, but I truly have been devoting as much free time as I can muster towards the book.
I’m very excited about it, but I don’t want to say too much too soon; with my crazy schedule, I have no idea when it will be finished. Stay tuned, though!
Darrel and I did the math a while back and realized that we spend $75 a month on our public water, and at least $60 a month on the safe bottled water for Zac. That’s $135 per month in water! $1,620 per year! That’s insane!
In the world of food issues, some things just get mentioned often enough that you know about them – even if you don’t really know about them. One of those things is the Big Berkey water filter system.
I decided to look it up.
Big Berkey’s are pretty cool, when you get right down to it. They come in different sizes and use anywhere from 2 to 8 filters, and you can choose from the original black filter or a ceramic filter. They even have filters for fluoride and metals!
There’s only one problem: corn allergic people report that some of them have reactions to the plain black filters on the Berkey’s. Most say the ceramic filters are okay for them.
Either way, this was going to have to be a trial for Zac.
When we bought our Berkey, the black filters were about $100 for a pair, and the ceramic ones were almost as much for a single one, so we decided that, in order to try to save money, we would trial Zac on the black filters first. If he reacted, we’d move on to the more expensive ceramic filters.
The punchline? When I was looking up the filter prices to make sure I gave the correct information for this post, I noticed that they have changed their ceramic filters and they are now $25 for a single one, making them half the price of the black filters.
Yuk, yuk, yuk.
Yet another slap in the face of my best laid plans for the year. Oh, well.
So the Berkey black filter trial has been underway since mid-November, and honestly? It’s confusing.
Zac has had no obvious reactions symptoms, but his poop is all over the map. Sometimes even within the same day he’ll have a perfect poop followed by a mushy, light colored, or even diarrhea poop.
We didn’t know whether that was just part of winter kicking our tushies or a sign of a reaction, but we’re plowing through. Now that we’ve bought the actual Berkey, our water costs will be almost halved if we can keep using it.
We’re also experiencing a bit of “food trial burnout”, I think. Or maybe it’s “I’m just worn out by all the extreme measures FPIES forces us to take”. I don’t know. But we’re almost desperate for as much normality as will ever be possible in our family. Let’s face it, our ‘most normal’ will still be so far outside of most peoples ‘normal’ it isn’t even funny. Darrel even commented that he wished we could be like “normal health food nuts” instead of the way we are, that’s how ‘not normal’ we are.
I think we’re kind of pushing through on the water just because of that.
It would be really nice if the whole family used the same water all the time, so we weren’t having to keep track of whose water is whose, and have two jugs of water in the fridge that must be labeled constantly.
That kind of vigilance…it gets exhausting, you know? And after 3.5 years of it, well, we’re exhausted.
Sad, but true.
Since the water trial seemed to go well enough (the random weird poop notwithstanding), we moved on to a pea trial for Zac.
Peas. Sweet peas. Of all the veggies out there, that’s one of the ones that almost ALL kids like. Even at my pickiest as a child, I loved peas.
Zac refuses to eat them.
The first night we did peas, I actually made a split pea soup. He was chowing down, exclaiming “This is good, Mommy! I like it!” between huge bites…until Jed decided to be a picky 5 year old and proclaim (without even taking a bite of it, might I add) “I hate this. I don’t want it!”, whereupon Mr. Zac put down his spoon and refused to eat another bite.
Our rule is that you only get dessert if you eat your dinner, and while Jed eventually relented and ate a decent serving of his soup (while announcing between bites that “This really isn’t my favorite, Mommy”) in order to get his ice cream, Zac never relented. He didn’t eat his soup, and he didn’t get his ice cream, and he went to bed hungry.
And mad. Don’t forget mad. (He certainly didn’t let us forget it!)
The next day Darrel and I discussed it, and we decided that with FPIES, we can’t afford to continue to let Zac’s pickiness dictate food trials. Whether he likes the food or not is, at this point, immaterial. We need to get more foods in his diet, and we can’t afford to completely discount a food simply because he isn’t a fan of it.
Especially since sometimes his displeasure with the food is revealed BEFORE he even tries it!
So we’ve been sneaking peas into his food for the last 5 days. That’s not as easy as it sounds, but we’re managing. My next step is to puree it in a food processor and add it to foods that way.
He may not want to eat peas, but I will by God find out if his body can handle peas!
Then, I can put them on his plate openly, and if he eats them, great, if he doesn’t eat them, fine. At least I have something else I can put on his plate, and eventually, after seeing them often enough, he will start eating them, I’m sure.
Really, y’all. FPIES is just exhausting.
On the food trial front, I’ve been plowing through food trials for myself, too. I’ve added red bell pepper, carrots, bacon (!) and cocoa to my diet in just the last few weeks. Fortunately, I haven’t had any more horrible reactions, and also fortunately, I found my bottle of compounded dipenhydramine just in case I do.
The bacon is a source of extreme pleasure in my household. Ever since Jed had the Meanies from bacon earlier this year, we haven’t had any bacon for Jed. A few weeks ago I, once again, read every label on every package of bacon at the health food co-op (as I do every month or so, in desperation), and to my amazement found one that ADDS NO SUGAR!
The bacon is uncured, no nitrates or nitrites; simply pork, water, salt, vinegar, and celery powder.
And it tastes heavenly!
I made it for Jed and he loved it. The next time I was ready to trial a food, I ate a few pieces, too.
Oh. My. God. How have I lived without bacon for three years??
Having bacon back in our diets is a source of giggles every morning for me. Yes, I happy dance at the breakfast table, why do you ask?
Other than the bacon, Jed hasn’t been having new food trials, but he has been going through some “fine tuning” of his diet. Over Christmas, I made him some homemade marshmallows made of dextrose instead of sugar, and some seriously adulterated Fantasy Fudge. I also bought him some candy canes that have no artificial coloring or nasty ingredients in them.
We’ve learned that Jed, being mostly sugar free his whole life, just really can’t handle sugar.
He doesn’t get the Meanies, but he does get…stubborn. Borderline obstinate. Sullen. Almost angry.
And hyper. Did I mention hyper?
Yeah. The smallest amount of safe sugar for Jed and he gets a Sugar Rush From Hell.
We are now limiting him to 3 marshmallows a day. We tried to let him have one piece of the fudge in a day to see if he could handle it, but his attitude got so bad within an hour that we threw the rest of the fudge away. Too bad. It was a decent recipe. (I’ll try to share it with you, anyway, just in case your kids aren’t so sugar sensitive!)
The good news is that we now know it isn’t the cocoa. He’s had cups of hot cocoa made with just cocoa, stevia, water, and a little goat milk, and been perfectly fine! It’s only when we add dextrose or maple syrup to the cocoa that he goes wonky.
Darrel has been frustrated, telling me that I have to stop making Jed treats. It’s just so hard! I’d like my kids to have SOME kind of candy/treats for special occasions! And I’ve worked very hard to make safe treats for Jed over the years. Not being able to handle ANY sugar is just…frustrating.
On the plus side, not all treats are no-go items. Just the ones that are mostly sugar. (Of course, when I say “sugar”, I mean dextrose, maple syrup, honey, any form of sweetener except stevia.)
In the end, 2015 has been another fairly rough year for us. Financial issues really raised their head this year, but we’re coping. Zac gained 7.5 or 8 new safe foods (depends on if you count the Berkey water as a full pass or not yet). We started trying to get out of our comfort zone. We’ve learned more about Jed’s diet. We’ve discovered I have major food intolerances as well. We’ve weaned. We’ve taken a cool trip. We started homeschooling. We’ve been sick a lot. We’ve faced down copperheads. We’ve reluctantly accepted that Zac hasn’t outgrown FPIES at 3 years old (thank you, Oats!). We were robbed.
Somehow, though, we’re still putting one foot in front of the other, loving each other, and pushing our way through to the other side. And when I’m laying down at night with a cute little boy tucked on both sides of me, reading bedtime stories, I’m reminded that…all in all?
Life is pretty good.
I hope it is for you, too.
Here’s praying and hoping we ALL have an amazing 2016!
Thanks for reading our story this year. I have some great recipes to share, so go ahead and subscribe now so you don’t miss anything! (Especially The Book! Well, when it gets finished! <wink>)