a reluctant update

i don't want to blog this update. i've tried every way to avoid it lately. have you ever done that, and then gradually everything in your world points you back to what you're trying to ignore?

instead of blogging about how our food allergy guy is doing lately, i delved into my lactation counseling work, which has come to be about helping nursing dyads also dealing w/ multiple food allergies more and more. i followed up with one mom i'd worked with for almost 9 months and heard that they'd trialed his allergens back into her diet and he was now non-reactive to them - mom could lift the restrictions for both her and her toddler! most of the moms and babies i work with get to this point eventually.

happy as i was for them, i couldn't help but reflect that in over 4 yrs of radical restrictions, my son has never lost or "outgrown" an allergy yet, despite complete avoidance and gut-healing protocols. i think it might be time to blog it out, to finally just put it in writing and face it to deal with it. not only does my son have severe multiple food allergies, but they're not acting like "normal" ones at all. he can't try new things, he becomes allergic to them. they don't become milder over time, they become worse, his sensitivity to them increases and his sensitivity levels on tests gets higher the longer we avoid them.

i feel the normal frustration and confusion set in and push the thought of blogging about it away. putting it into text and white will make it real, allow others to bear witness, make me have to accept it. i don't want to accept it, we are muddling through despite the difficulties, i will write about it when we have a positive change or clear cut answer about his unusual presentation, to share.

i ignore my glaring monitor and beckoning keyboard to run some errands w/ my little guy while my other children are in school. we run into another mom i helped through breastfeeding difficulties recently. she stops me to catch up and her 16 month old toddler is taller than my 4 year old and outweighs him by over 10 pounds now. when i get home, i look through my records and realize that almost every single baby or infant i have worked with has surpassed my son in height and weight by the time they are 18 months - 2 years old.

i tell myself he's always been small and ignore the persistent whisper in my brain that reminds me that we now know he hasn't grown even of a fraction of an inch since last may (7 months now) and has typically not gained more than 2-4 oz per month since reaching toddlerhood - in fact, some months he has lost weight - despite my care to provide and track 1200-1400 calories plus unlimited access to breastmilk day and night. i've been nursing for 12 years straight next month and we know that human milk tends to grow fatter the longer a woman lactates, so i guesstimate he is getting at least another 200-600 calories from human milk on days that he nurses longer. i push down the burgeoning weight of the panic that wants to come when i see much younger toddlers surpassing his growth. i will write a blog entry when he's had a growth spurt, i decide.

we make a trip to pick up my daughter from kindergarten and 'lou builds a lego vehicle and tells a classmate of hers. the boy looks at me and exclaims "your baby can talk?!" we stop at costco on the way home and 'lou asks if he can run up and down on the grassy median next to our vehicle while i load up. i say yes and begin loading up only to hear someone calling out to me. an employee working in the parking lot jogs up and points at 'lou and exclaims,
"your baby, your baby!"
i'm puzzled and tell him,
"he's not a baby, he's 4. he's okay there, he knows not to step into the parking lot."
the man apologizes and explains that he thought i hadn't noticed my baby running off. now i recall & understand an incident inside the store. i'd agreed to let 'lou stand in the toy aisle and browse while i walked 20 feet away to look at bedding and towels. a woman had led him back to me by the hand and said,
"she wandered away!" (everyone thinks he's a girl right now - even when he's *not* playing princess dress-up with his sister!)

it sank in that i see him and normalize his size to match his abilities and development, but other people are perceiving his size to be much younger than his years now. i know a lot of children with food allergies - both in real life and in groups and forums online, but i don't know any who have had the slow growth and now apparent total lack of growth that my son has. i know children who have much much higher overall IgE levels who still grow. children who are anaphylactic and airborne, who still grow. children actually allergic to more things than my son and on more restricted diets, who still grow. children who are even allergic to things like heat and cold and their own sweat, but still, they grow.

i think about sitting down and putting this new issue on my blog - of wrapping my brain around it and trying to grasp it and speculate about it - but everything in me just pushes the thought away.
"i'll give it more time", i think.
"it's probably just temporary, once i can look back on it after having gone through it, i can write about it in a more helpful way, with more answers
for other people who might be in the same boat."

well, it's been 7 months now and it hasn't gone away. my son is stuck at 37" and 28 1/2 pounds at 4 years. in summer clothes w/ short sleeves and pants, he still fits in his 3-6 month infant outfits. in long clothes, he's in 18 months - 2t. i am always surprised when it jumps out at me in pictures with all of my kids together. they are all 15 mos- 22 mos apart with the exception of a 3 yr gap between #'s 2 and 3. but #2 is small and #3 is big, so they all end up looking like stair steps...and then there's 'lou, falling way down in the stair step design, also only 22 mos younger than his closest sib but looking 3 or 4 years younger. with 5 kids, you can sort of plot the genetic curve of your family and see when someone is popping up out of it - or falling down out of it. i remember before the food allergies grew like wildfire, their weights were at 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 pounds exactly. this greatly pleased the OCD side of me. now the other 4 are all still within 10 pounds of each other, but 'lou is 4 and his sister is 5 and he is almost 30 pounds less than her.

i still wasn't ready to blog about all that we're dealing with right now, until i got an email from a reader of my blog. she has a child with similar allergies to mine. she thanked me for blogging about it, she thanked me for speaking from the heart and sharing what has worked and what hasn't... but most of all she thanked me for just putting it out there because she said she'd never found another site that she could relate to. just hearing that she wasn't the only one, her child wasn't the only one, helped her so much. the dr.s don't know how to tell her to feed her child, they can't tell her why he's so allergic or when/if he'll outgrow it. she didn't need me to have all the answers, she didn't need me to fix her problems, she just needed to go somewhere and read that someone else was going through it, too. that someone else was as scared and as frustrated and as lost and determined as her. having a multiple food allergy child is a lot like being lost at sea. this is one diagnosis where the dr.s are possibly learning more from us than we are from them.

she is right, it's so important to share what we are going through - even when we're floundering, because we just might be able to learn from each other and find a better way - and we don't have to use our medical insurance or wait for 9-5 business hours to do so. i know sometimes when i search the other multiple food allergy mom blogs i don't want new recipes, i don't need updates on food allergy organization activities - i want to know what they're dealing with now. i want to know how their journey is going - what twists and turns their path is taking.

so, i'm going to write about where we're at and if i leave it unfinished, well...that's where we're at, too.

'lou is allergic to: corn, dairy, egg, soy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, seafood, most beans, lentils and sesame as well as dogs and cats and the usual seasonal allergens like trees, molds and grasses. he's never had shellfish yet, but i know if i gave them to him, he'd become allergic. he has become allergic to most prescription medications i (rarely & only when absolutely necessary) take, even when compounded to remove all allergens.

for the last year or so (until very recently), i have been unable to get him to baseline for any consistent amount of time. i still breastfeed him and he and i avoid all of his allergens 100%. instead of just wheat, we are gluten free (everything w/out wheat uses soy or corn as a sub anyway, so it's not even really an option!) and i always err on the side of caution when i'm not sure if something could be making him react. we are also very lucky that the tests are almost always in perfect harmony with what i observe. (ie, if i suspect he is becoming allergic to beans, the test shows i'm right). we are even more lucky that none of his reactions are anaphylactic, like his big sister's peanut allergy is.

he almost always has a setback in summers. when he was younger, it seemed that multiple summer viruses were the trigger. viruses can set off reactions in children like him as if they've eaten a food they are allergic to. this past summer, i just could not get him cleared up. on my personal scale of 1-10 for allergy reactions and overall misery of life (w/ 10 being the worst), he was at a steady 7, sometimes 8. i just could not figure out what he was reacting so strongly to. his worst/most sensitive allergies are to corn, dairy, egg and dog. we had gotten a new dog (2 great danes now) but i've seen with my own eyes that he does not react to these low allergen dogs, so i knew it wasn't that.

eventually, his reactions got so bad that his swiss cheese skin full of open sores began to slough off in patches on his hands and feet and we had to do a round of oral steroids and antihistamines and practically bind him up at night to stop the incessant scratching. one day it hit me like a ton of bricks that even though we knew better than to take *him* near the public dog park (instant hives!), we were taking the new dog almost daily over the summer to help with her socialization. and then bringing the dogs home *in the vehicle 'lou rides in*, covered in the fur, dander, slobber -and sometimes worse!- of dozens of other dogs, potentially hundreds! we'd bring them home to spread one of his worst allergens all over the house!

as soon as i realized this had to be the cause of his misery, we stopped going to the dog park, deep cleaned the house (thanks be for all wood floors, i say this daily!), washed the dogs and waited to see if he improved. he did, rapidly and dramatically. before the dog park excursions, we'd had his overall IgE level tested and it was elevated, but not alarming. normal is around 118, and his was in the 300's, if i recall correctly. after the dog park excursions, we retested him and it was at 3, 776. this was the end of the mysterious allergy setback of summer, 2011.

we have been settling in for fall and winter and getting ready to enjoy 'lou's healthy time of year. this is when his weight gains and growth become consistent and bigger, this is when his skin gets healthier and this is when we can test with food trials to see if he's tolerating his lesser allergens yet (wheat, soy). but this year i'd taken him to a new dr., a holistic MD - during the height of the summer outbreaks, when we hadn't yet figured them out. we got the results of his extensive testing after 'lou was well on the path to recovery and we were as surprised as the dr. to hear the results. 'lou's blood tests had revealed markers and red flags for a rare, autosomal-recessive genetic disorder called Glutaric Acidemia II (GA2) , an inborn error of metabolism. he recommended that we take 'lou to a biochemical geneticist next.

the more i learned about the disorder, the more i noticed symptoms of 'lou's (and maybe even jonah's atypical seizure disorder and jake's atypical sleep disorder!) that could fit for milder forms of the genetic disorder. 'lou cannot ever go for more than 3-4 hours without food or nursing. at 4 yrs old, he still nurses multiple times a day (6ish on most days, more when he's not feeling well) as well as a couple of times through the night. at this age, most self-led weaning children will begin to avoid public nursing, but 'lou does not. he becomes frantic when he hasn't eaten and needs to nurse, saying things like, "i need mookies now, i'm gonna die, i'm gonna barf..." when he's symptomatic he also has mild/moderate exercise intolerance and muscle weakness and throughout his life there have been several times that someone has noted that he has acetone breath, including right after he was born and had nursed for the first couple of times. if it turns out he does have this or another metabolic disorder, i am certainly going to credit long-term breastfeeding with helping to keep metabolic and sugar crises at bay, because no matter where we are, no matter how far from food, i always have calories and nourishment perfect and ready for him.

by the time we got in to see the geneticist, 'lou was at baseline and as healthy as he gets. he was retested for GA II, but it came back normal. the dr. tells us that you have to test when the child is sick for accurate test results, so now we have to wait until he is sick again. which, it's my job to hope he never is again. in the meantime, his examination revealed several mild or benign genetic/birth defects that 'lou has which the geneticist felt could fit another genetic syndrome that includes lack of growth ("short stature" and "failure to thrive" were his official diagnoses of 'lou's size), so we agreed to test for that one, as well.

the test results for Russell-Silver Syndrome also came back negative and we agreed to see an endocrinologist to cover all the bases, until we can retest for GA II, when 'lou is ill.
he also has genetic abnormalities that match the description of Aarskog-Scott syndrome, so we will be testing for that next.

the endocrinologist said there could be 4 causes for lack of growth in a child:
1. severe emotional stress; like death of a parent, divorce, move to a new house, abusive environment, etc... none of which are present in our case.
2. nutritional deficiencies. not applicable in our case - which even the dr. agreed with after seeing all of 'lou's bloodwork for vitamin & mineral levels.
3. excessive steroid use. 'lou's only been on oral steroids 3 times and we don't use any other form, like sinus sprays - this isn't a factor for him.
4.inflammation. excessive inflammation with many autoimmune disorders can cause the patient to stop growing. i've known of many, many cases that were far worse off than my son's, who still grew - but i'm not sure if anyone can say what level of inflammation stops growth for any individual person - so i leave this one as a possible question mark.

what we do know for sure now is that his "short stature" is not what was genetically intended for him, based on the tests the endocrinologist performed. he said that 'lou's results came back indicating that he has the growth hormone levels of a person of average height. given his small size, the dr. expected to see levels for a person of short stature. which means something is interfering w/ the growth hormones actually getting to where they need to go to make 'lou grow to average height for his age. but it's not his thyroid or any other gland or organ that has anything to do with hormones or growth factors; they all tested normal. so this dr. has given 'lou 6 more months (5 at the time of this writing) to grow an inch. if he does not, his recommendation is for daily human growth hormone injections until 'lou is 16 years old.

i wonder what the consequences of forcing a body to grow taller when you can't get it to gain weight consistently could be. i don't want to make my son emaciated and weak by forcing his body to grow if it doesn't think it should expend the energy doing so, on its own. i'm very driven to find out the cause behind this lack of growth before i just start treating the symptoms blindly.

the endocrinologist agrees that we need to follow up with the geneticists and explore and rule out growth and metabolic disorders in the meantime.

we already saw a GI specialist for him when he was younger as well as a dietician/nutritionist. the GI dr. said he most likely has Eosinophilic Esophagitis. other than the poor growth and multiple food allergies, though, i see no symptoms of it whatsoever. so i declined the confirming biopsy because we already do what we'd need to do if he did have it, which is a radical elimination diet and oral steroids when needed. the dietician said his diet is fantastic and she'd like to share my blog with other patients.

we tried S.L.I.T. therapy this year, and the dr. said 'lou was the 1st patient he'd had with such an incredible sensitivity to corn. (we got to 1 part corn, 10 MILLION parts water and he was still having reactions). the dr. had to recommend we discontinue therapy, and said he'd not had a case he couldn't treat before, so he thinks there is something besides normal food allergy going on with 'lou also. even though it didn't work for us, i completely recommend this therapy (and this dr!) and would try it again in a heartbeat if 'lou were eligible. i did a lot of research into it before we attempted it and this local dr. in particular treated us and our unusual case with the utmost care, concern and careful research. i unhesitatingly refer any interested mothers i work with to dr. tulin-silver for this therapy locally.

so we've been muddling through dr. appointment after dr. appointment and blood test after blood test these past few weeks and all the while the actual allergy reactions really seem to be calming down. i would get 'lou to baseline, then he'd flare up and i'd figure out it wasn't a food, but fleece, which i had no idea is a known skin irritant! then it was any microfiber and wool. he hasn't had a reaction i would put above a 3 all of this fall. we've even had a couple of accidental exposures (white beans in some chili and citric acid in some pineapple) and his reaction was fleeting! instead of the 2-4 weeks of rash, sores, sleeplessness and itchy misery even the smallest ingestion of citric acid used to cause, 'lou was only red and itchy for 2 hours last week! the beans barely caused a blip on his allergy radar.

i've also noticed that 'lou is beginning to react to all kinds of synthetic fabrics just from touching them now. when we go to the drs'. offices or stores or pretty much anywhere outside our own home, he is at baseline when we leave and begins to flare up in the new environment.

he gets red and blotchy, sometimes with wide streaks going down from under his eyes to his jaws. he starts scratching and rubbing. even the rash is not in the typical pattern of a food reaction, so i can tell it's from contact. his nose will start running and yet sounds inflamed and stuffy at the same time. if he sits near a smoker or heavy perfume wearer, his eyes will start burning and he will start asking for a wet rag to put on them.

as soon as we leave, it will all start clearing up - literally while we are still in our vehicle, 10-15 minutes later. it is the most amazing thing i've seen. anyone with a child who has only had very long-lasting, very severe atopic reactions will know what i mean when i say that these temporary and transient reactions seem like magic to me.

perhaps the oddest and most instinctively contradictory part of this for me as a mother to an anaphylactic-reactive child AND an atopic one is that 'lou has also occasionally broken out in hives w/ this new pattern of chemical or environmental reactiveness and i have had to consciously remind myself that while hives are an emergency of the most dire kind in my daughter, they are nothing to worry about in my son and will fade away as soon as we get him out of the area where they started!

his allergist has been telling me all along that the general course these hyperallergic children seem to follow is if they are born with food allergies or develop them in infancy, then they tend to start outgrowing them by 2 or 3, whereupon they begin to develop seasonal/environmental allergies/asthma instead. he thinks these recent changes in 'lou's reaction patterns could indicate that 'lou is finally falling into line w/ the typical pattern, although he's doing it a little later than average and the dr. says most children like 'lou already had chemical sensitivities all along and don't develop them this late, at the same time as the seasonal ones. so we decided to test his allergies with a RAST blood test again and i just got the results the other day.

his overall IgE score has dropped from 3, 776 to 1, 180 (again, w/ around 118 being normal). i think this reflects us cutting out the dog park cross-contamination exposures, his allergist thinks it might signal the seasonal allergies abating w/ the colder weather (3,776 was august, 1,1,80 was december). so this was in line with what we expected and hoped for.

his allergy to dog has more than tripled and is now off the charts. it is literally not measureable anymore unless it comes way down and gets back onto the charts. (it went from 42.7 to over 150). this one didn't surprise me when you think there are hundreds of dogs that go to that dog park and my dogs were bringing home traces of them all, all summer. the allergist worries our own dogs are keeping this number so high, but i've seen with my own eyes how he reacts to dogs (hives, instant "sunburn" rash everywhere, itching) and he doesn't react to ours.

his allergy to cat went from 9.75 to 80 which added insult to injury as i rehomed my beloved cat of 15 years over 2 years ago because of his allergy and he has almost no exposure to cats, ever. he maybe goes into a home with cats in it once every 3-6 months, if that.

grass and trees are now really bad, which also lines up with what we expected.

what we didn't expect is what happened with the foods. dairy quadrupled. dairy has gone up as if he or i are consistently eating some form of dairy. he has never in his entire life eaten any form of dairy. he only got exposed to it through me in utero and then for 7 wks postpartum, through my milk. after that, i cut out every trace of it. the only way i can think he is getting exposed now is simple contact from the rest of the family eating it. his skin is as thin and fragile as rice paper, even when he's not reacting to something. it is always tight and dry, more like an elderly person's than a child's.

he is now also showing up as allergic to all the things we eat. bananas, beef, pork, coconut, avocados, garlic, even rice. he's beginning to have reactions to contact with some of these foods, like coconut. combined w/ the foods he's been allergic to all along, this doesn't leave us much to eat! i call this an "allergic crisis" and this is the 3rd time it has happened to him. we may have to put him on steroids, go down to eating only 2-3 or items that are safe for him for a couple of weeks and hope the steroids calm things down. it is interesting to note that he continues to gain weight through the previous 2 - and this - allergic crisis. he is getting harder and harder to keep at baseline, and he is beginning to wake at night with itching and crying, but he has gained 4 oz in 2 weeks, which is excellent for him. testing also showed that his vitamin d and niacin levels are currently optimal (they were low before and we began supplementation).

atopic children have extremely permeable skin and can transmit allergens directly into their bloodstream this way. 3 of his 4 siblings and his father still eat dairy in our home. the only way i can think of to stop these exposures is to ban dairy from our house completely. it puts a whole new perspective on things like the ice cream party my daughter just had in her kindergarten class. even tho i brought her her own rice milk ice cream, 29 other kindergartners sat around her, dripping and oozing dairy onto their faces, hands, chairs and tables. i've now come to view dairy the way other mothers might view, say, ebola smears.

he starts kindergarten next fall. if i think asking our school to go peanut free was fun, what would it be like to ask his classrooms to give up their pizza and ice cream parties? i guess i will just be keeping him home on party days if his levels remain this high.

all of his other food allergies have gone up, as well -although none so drastically as dairy. (those who know me well and recall that my first recommendation toward gut healing for *any* allergy child is to ditch the dairy (a known gut irritant) can perhaps appreciate the irony and my extreme irkability at this test result!)

wheat was almost close to being the first allergy he "outgrew", but it's back on the allergic radar now. corn is up, despite me seeing less severe reactions with accidental exposures.

his allergist is very surprised as we both expected all the foods to be lower as the seasonal went higher. i can't imagine a child this allergic to *everything*. thoughts of the bubble boy movie come to mind. i am holding out every hope right now that the test just hasn't quite caught up with the reality. and that his growth is also on a delayed reaction from the horrible summer and that soon it will rebound and he will have a nice growth spurt and we can be done with the scarier potential diagnoses.

although honestly, there have been times i've thought the shots and supplements and diets and protocols for those disorders would be easier than what we have to do right now - especially if treating the underlying genetic disorder helped to clear up the food allergies.

so that's where we're at, 4 years later and no clear cut answers or real improvement yet. still, i feel like we are on the edge of some kind of change and i am putting all my energy and intentions toward it being for the better. i'd love to hear from anyone with any similar experiences or insights!

and my best new tip is this:

make an album on FB to keep track of your child's (or your!) allergy symptoms. i went back and put in pics of all of 'lou's reactions and rashes, chronologically, right from birth - with a brief description and list of possible triggers/exposures next to them. this has turned into an invaluable tool for me. i scan through the pics in perfect order and pick up on patterns and triggers much more easily than from my food log alone.

for instance, i recently noticed that in every night-crying-and-scratching pic, he was sleeping in our microfleece sheets, but in good sleeping pics, they were cotton sheets! i also noticed which type of rash seemed to go w/ which type of allergen this way. and it has become especially helpful in meeting with new specialists. i email it to them before our appointment and a picture really is worth a thousand words as it saves us both time and effort in trying to keep track of and describe his symptoms. you can copy and paste the public link to allow anyone to view it, even people not on facebook.

and for anyone in michigan or nearby who thinks they might like to utilize the fact that our dr.s and pharmacy have already had to learn about corn and other "extreme" food allergies because of treating 'lou, here's a list of the dr.s i use and highly recommend:

Welcome to Troy Family Practice, PLLC » Troy Family Practice, PLLC ( dr. stacey beltz is a primary care physician who "gets" and works with concerns of a mother breastfeeding a hyperallergic child)
allergy/bahrainwalla (dr. abdul bahrainwala is the most patient and open-minded allergist we've ever met who has learned to think outside the 'prescriptions for symptoms" box for kids like 'lou & truly respect, value & listen to a parent as an expert on their child)
Bio Energy Medical Center 734-995-3200 (dr. james neuenschwander, holistic MD - not sure if i love this guy b/c i told him once i thought another dr. might be avoiding my calls and he laughed his ass off and said, "want me to call him and tell him that's not gonna work with you?" or because he's not just another pretty dr. face but digs deeper and looks for the main cause and not just the symptoms. if we find out 'lou really does have GA II, it will only be because this dr. took the time to look harder then anyone else so far.)
S.L.I.T. (dr. tulin-silver gets all of my referrals for local moms considering allergy shots as well as ones having unresolving food allergy issues akin to 'lou's.)
http://www.richmanrootdelaney.com/ (dr. delaney is a peds dentist whose entire staff consider and accommodate children with concerns like 'lou's.)
Physicians Compounding Pharmacy - full range of compounded medications, including cosmeceuticals, nutraceuticals, and pharmaceuticals. (best compounding pharmacy ever! karen raetz has learned everything about corn terms right along with me, i trust her implicitly not to make a mistake or overlook anything in making our medications and supplements.)

being a mother.

there are certain times when your status as somebody's mother hits you like a ton of bricks.
like the 1st time you hold, wear or catch the fresh warm offal of another human being.
you think,
"omg!! this is what only parents do, i'm really a parent now!"

or the 1st time you watch one of your children become gravely ill,
choke until they turn blue, or have a seizure or anaphylactic reaction.
and you think,
"my life depends on yours - if this child dies, i will die, too -
omg, i am really a mother."

or deep in the dark watches of the night, when lispy little declarations
of love are whispered fervently in the general direction of your breast.
and you think,
"i am your mother, what on earth did i have to live for before you?"

and sometimes you have to look a little harder for it.
like when you always hang your leather belt on the empty towel rod
in the bathroom, just so.

and one day you walk in and there's a miniature copy
of your brown leather belt hanging right next to yours, side by side,
hung just so.
and you think,
"i am her mother - she wants to be just like me. how lucky am i?"

Coconut Pumpkin Pie with Almost Graham Cracker Crust.

i'm so excited to have finally come up with a pumpkin pie recipe that is totally alternative-ingredient based but still tastes enough like classic pumpkin pie to serve at thanksgiving. it's taken me almost 4 years to get it just right! this year i also finally found the perfect combo of spices to make the crust have that 'graham cracker' flavor - it's a sprinkle of allspice and a dollop of honey - who knew?! this pumpkin pie recipe is: dairy, egg, soy, wheat, gluten, peanut, tree nut, corn and GMO free, vegan and completely delicious!

Coconut Pumpkin Pie with Almost Graham Cracker Crust
3 cups 'bob's red mill' dairy free, gluten free all purpose flour
1/2 tsp 'real salt' sea salt
1/2 cup virgin, unrefined coconut oil
1/2 cup 'c2o' brand pure (single ingredient) coconut water or cold spring water
2 tsp allspice
a generous swirl of raw, (preferably local-grown) honey around the ingredients in mixing bowl (can try agave syrup if honey is not vegan enough, but this might reduce 'graham' flavor)

combine flour & salt in a large bowl. add oil & stir w/ a fork until flour forms 'pebbles'.
add water, mix further w/ fork & form into a dough ball. divide into 2 equal halves. roll our 1/2 of the dough - can use wax paper to prevent sticking (place dough b/t 2 sheets - a little water under bottom sheet will prevent sliding and a little dry flour on the surface w/ prevent sticking). roll out dough. peel back top sheet of wax paper & turn pie crust upside down into 1st pie plate. peel off remaining layer of wax paper. press edges of dough w/ fork or thumb around pie plate. prick bottom and sides of crust w/ a fork. bake for about 10 mins in a preheated oven at 375. repeat process w/ 2nd ball of dough - this recipe makes enough for 2, 9" pies.

pumpkin pie filling:
4 cups organic, single-ingredient pumpkin pie filling.
1 1/2 cups organic brown sugar
1 1/2 cups full fat coconut milk (i only use 'thai kitchen' brand in the can).
1 1/2 cups hemp milk (can sub rice/soy/almond/oat as allergy restrictions allow)
1 TBS pumpkin pie spice
6 1/2 TBS tapioca starch

combine ingredients in sauce pan. bring to simmer, stir until it reaches desired thickness. the thicker the consistency, the firmer your pumpkin pie. requires constant stirring once it begins to simmer, you can't walk away from this pan. pour into prepared crusts. bake at 375 and begin checking at 45 mins. depending on the combo of milks you used and oven, it can take from 45-60 minutes to finish cooking. i go by smell and darkness of the pie filling itself, as the crust may appear darker than normal due to the allspice. refrigerate overnight to set up. this is the closest i've ever come in texture to traditional pumpkin pie -and tho you may be tempted to try a less fat version of the coconut milk, i can tell you from experience, your pie will be soup without it. we warm up and serve w/ a dollop of softened coconut milk vanilla bean ice cream instead of whipped cream. enjoy!


i've finally perfected a whipped cream made from coconut milk to be the perfect complement to this pumpkin pie! it's rich and heavy and yet stiff and fluffy just like "real" old-fashioned, homemade, heavy whipping cream - here's the recipe, but you might want to double the quantities, b/c nobody will be able to get enough of this - my kids would eat it on veggies if i'd let them!

refrigerate 1 can (i prefer thai kitchen brand) coconut milk overnight prior to needing it.
it will separate, solid cream on top, liquid on the bottom.
scoop out all the solid cream only into mixing bowl.
whip in mixer on high for several minutes.
add 4 tsp sugar (or as desired to taste - more sugar helps cut the coconut taste)
add 1 tsp safe vanilla (for true "real" whipped cream flavor w/out a hint of coconut left - can omit)
set up in fridge before serving, if possible for about 10-15 mins.

thank you all so much for all your support and votes in the contest. i still can't believe i finished 4th out of 114 contestants! these are some of the best blogs i've ever found for food allergy help and info - and clicking on this button will take you right to a list of the entire 25. if i had had this list somewhere when my hyperallergic son was 1st diagnosed, it would have saved me so much time and trouble. besides the increased exposure this contest has brought my site, i feel like the reward is having this list of the top 25 food allergy mom blogs, it's worth its weight in gold.

vote for green and bitchy!

i am honored to have been nominated into 'circle of moms' top 25 food allergy mom blogs list.
if you enjoy this blog and like speculating beyond the food allergies, EE and other epidemic-proportion diagnoses our kids are getting these days to what might be causing them...and you suspect that finding more natural ways to nourish and nurture our children might be the key...then vote for greenandbitchy!

you can vote as often as once every 24 hours until 11/16. i'm delighted to have been nominated - thank you to whomever suggested my blog - and thank you all for the support!

this is a very exciting competition and we have a little less than 2 weeks to go! i have been hanging in at the top 3 spots by the skin of my teeth and even made it to #1 a few times - thank you for the support and votes and keep it coming!


healthy tips for flu season!

from a mom of five kids, four of whom are in public schools
during flu season in the midwest, USA, here are my pearls:

~cod liver oil (carlson's, lemon infused) - 1-2 tsp every night
(the vite d alone helps boost the immune system and reduce allergic reactivity- and this time of year in michigan, we ALL need more vite d - this is one of the best, most readily absorbed sources!) Cod Liver Oil Lemon Flavor at Carlson Labs
~elderberry extract or concentrate, 2 tsp every night when everyone is healthy, 2 tsp 3-4 times daily or as symptoms pop up - you can't overdo this stuff and it's super YUMMY! (just google "elderberry & flu" and you won't b/l the amazing properties of this wonder food).
Natural Sources Elderberry Juice Concentrate 16 oz

~pomegranate molasses for when the sore throat is past the 'tickle' stage. this powerhouse antioxidant is packed with immune-boosting vitamin c. even better, if honey or elderberry syrups are just too sickly-sweet for a queasy system, pomegranate molasses has that perfect tart zing to it, so it won't upset your stomach on top of a sore throat or impending flu. it's super heavy, so it coats and clings to a sore throat. this is our #1 choice for sore throats - we do 1 tsp 3x daily w/ sinus/flu/sore throat symptoms (some can experience a warm, tingly belly if taken on an empty stomach). most often used as an ingredient in latin and persian soups and sauces, it can usually be found in latin and middle-eastern stores. if not, it's also available online - or you can make your own by simmering pure pomegranate juice until thickened. 'indo-european' is the best brand.

~sinus rinsing/flushing. the squeeze bottles by neilmed seem to be easier for the young kids than an actual neti pot. we always use the neilmed saline packets - or you can make your own saline mixture to add to the warm water. NEVER use plain tap water, unless you boil it first. we buy a 3 gallon dispenser of distilled water just for the nose bottles and keep it in the bathroom closet. we do this every morning . (this helps to rinse away allergens, dust and environmental irritants breathed in while sleeping all night and helps to remoisturize sinuses dried out and irritated by the artificial dry heat in winter. evidence suggests that it can also help to control or alleviate facial eczema by soothing and controlling the initial flare-up that begins in the sinuses with airborne exposure to seasonal and environmental allergens.  if one of our kids has a stuffy or runny nose, we will do it as often as 2-3 times daily to keep the nose clear and prevent stuffiness. since beginning this routine, our kids have never progressed past clear nasal mucous nor had a crusty, snotty nose again!
NeilMed Pharmaceuticals

~lanolin or aquaphor to line nostrils, every morning. we use q-tips - if you don't like petroleum-based products, use 'lansinoh' brand lanolin. if you have hyperallergic kids, you might want to stick w/ the aquaphor. this lines and seals the delicate nasal membranes and prevents more penetration by airborne/environmental allergens. it also seals in the moisture from the nasal rinsing and is 100% effective in preventing winter nosebleeds if done at least daily! we do the rinsing & moisturizing 2-3X daily when the kids have very runny noses, especially if it turns greenish. with this routine, my kids never have more than clear snot for 2-3 days anymore, even with the worst flu and colds. this also prevents crusty, painful & irritating buildup -& boogers!- in the noses. i also apply a thin layer around mouths and cheeks in the colder weather to prevent dryness, chapping and cracking.

~slather the feet with vapor rub and cover with socks for congestion and coughs - especially at bedtime! it somehow penetrates and seems to work better - especially on kids who have sensitive skin and say that "it burns" on the upper body.

~peppermint oil in a tepid bath can help to reduce fever - and the anti-nausea part of the aromatherapy can help anyone around it!

~use pure hydrogen peroxide as a mouthwash once weekly, especially during times of illness. not only does it have amazing health benefits and kill germs and bacteria, but even only doing this once a week, i notice all the kids' teeth get whiter and brighter right away & any bad breath is eliminated and reduced for days! i don't recommend it any more often for kids, though - as it can cause tooth sensitivity.
~we use 'republic of tea' brand 'get wellness' & 'get soothed' teas for when sore throats and stomach upset creep in. chock full of beneficial healing and soothing herbs, they're the perfect remedy to stomach flu.
The Republic of Tea

~coconut water for hydration during vomiting. loaded with essential rehydrators and electrolytes and nothing artificial, there is no match for pure coconut water during illness with vomiting and/or diarrhea. it has been used as an actual IV fluid in emergencies, it is so benign & beneficial to the human body. forget the bubbly corn syrup- laden clear sodas, this is best for sick people!
c2o Pure Coconut Water - Naturally Isotonic, All Natural Coconut Water

~ice chips spritzed with lemon juice and sprinkled with sugar is another aid i have found for children with stomach illnesses to help rehydrate them. doesn't leave a nasty aftertaste like 7up, and lemon juice is an incredible anti-bacterial and germicidal agent.
~'dr. bronner's' peppermint magic soap in a bucket for actual vomiting. perfect for kids who might not make it to the toilet. the uplifting, soothing fragrance is a known anti-nausea remedy and fills your house with much lovelier aromas than those that come with stomach bugs! also much nicer going down the toilet than a plain bucket of barf!!
Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps

~for travel barf buckets, we take an empty water gallon and cut a face-sized hole out of the top, leaving the handle 90% attached. this creates a portable receptacle that is virtually backsplash and spill- proof. it can even be set on the floor of the vehicle fairly reliably if the child can't stand to have have the smell near them after use. if we have foreknowledge that someone isn't feeling well, we add a cpl inches of soapy, peppermint dr. b's to it before leaving the house. this tip is a carsaver for families with children prone to carsickness!

and if you're reading this idea too late and your car has already been baptized, the same dr. bronner's i recommend as aromatherapy for the for the green-gilled is also the best vomit smell-remover and cleaner i've ever found. the hard way, of course - on a vacation in florida, in a rental car in 100 degree heat, no less! the car rental company ended up calling to ask what air freshener i had sprayed in their car as everyone loved it and they wanted to use it in all their cars! (i used hot water to make a rich lather, scrubbed with a scrub brush, toothbrush and q-tips over all the barfed on areas, then used hot, damp towels to wipe up and press out the excess soapy residue).
these are the things we do in our house that we've found really work in a state of neverending flu season and very little sun. we also can't use traditional medications on our multiple, hyperallergic little guy, so these are the natural remedies we've found & tried.

~and here's an addition we've just discovered for heartburn/reflux, queasy stomach, diarrhea and even constipation! this stuff just seems to put a GI tract right back on track:

a peek into my world.

i had the following convo this am & had to share:

me: "it's time to go - "where are 'lou's shoes, you know - the doc marten's?"
jonah: "which are those? did they used to be jake's?"
me: "yes, the black hand-me-down shoes that he just grew into."
jovie: "and were they bo's, too?"
me: "yes, you know, they're black with thick soles & yellow laces, he wears them all the time now - have you seen them?"
jonah: "were they mine, too?"
me: "yes, you loved them & helped me pack them away for the next baby - do you know the ones i mean now? where are they?"
jonah: "were they get-wet shoes or not?"
me: "not, they'll get ruined if you get them too wet."
jovie: "were they mine, too - or are they just ugly boy shoes?"
me: "ugly boy shoes, you never liked them."
jovie: "was he wearing them yesterday?"
me: "yes! those are the ones! the doc martens! where did he put them?"
:::long pause as they all look at each other:::
jovie: "we have no idea what you're talking about."

:::fast forward 20 minutes and i have found them down in the costume bin:::
me: "THESE are the ones, THESE are the doc martens, NOW do you guys know what i was talking about?"

jovie & 'lou get those light bulb expressions and exclaim almost in unison:
"OH! you mean the waspy SPIDOODLE STRING shoes!!! why didn't you say so?!"

New Study on Allergies & Food Bans

Thomson Reuters-NPR Health Poll: One-in-Five US Households Have Food Allergies

Majority Support Bans on Common Food Allergens in Public Places

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Aug. 5, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- One in five Americans reports having at least one household member with a food allergy or intolerance, according to the Thomson Reuters-NPR Health Poll.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20090507/NY12658LOGO )

Thomson Reuters and NPR developed the monthly poll to gauge attitudes and opinions on a wide range of health issues.

The latest survey in the series finds that among the 20 percent of U.S. households where someone has a food allergy or intolerance, milk and milk products were the most commonly cited problem (36 percent), followed by fruits (19 percent), vegetables (9 percent), peanuts (9 percent), shellfish (8 percent), gluten (7 percent) and wheat (6 percent). Food allergies were far more prevalent among respondents under 35 years of age (24 percent) than those in the 65+ age group (15 percent). Approximately-two thirds of households reporting food allergies said they had been diagnosed by a physician.

Among all respondents, a 59-percent majority said they support bans on common food allergens (such as peanuts) in public places such as airplanes and lunchrooms. Conversely, 49 percent of respondents said they felt food allergy fears have been blow out of proportion.

"I'm intrigued by the significant difference in reported allergies among those under 35 years old and those over 65 years old," said Raymond Fabius, M.D., chief medical officer for the Healthcare business of Thomson Reuters. "It appears that the younger generation is more acutely aware of food allergies and they are making dietary decisions based on this information."

"Parents hear a lot about food allergies these days as school systems exclude problem foods from their cafeterias and field trips," said Scott Hensley, NPR health correspondent and blogger. "These data show that most Americans don't object to the bans of foods, such as peanuts, from public places for safety's sake."

For a copy of the poll results, visit http://healthcare.thomsonreuters.com/npr/assets/NPR_report_FoodAllergies.pdf

To date, Thomson Reuters and NPR have addressed numerous healthcare topics, gauging sentiment on generic drugs, abortion, vaccines, food safety and other issues. NPR's reports on the surveys (including this latest one) are archived here:http://www.npr.org/templates/archives/archive.php?thingId=137038712&ps=sh_sttag

Thomson Reuters also offers a library of past poll results: http://healthcare.thomsonreuters.com/npr/

The Thomson Reuters-NPR Health Poll is powered by the Thomson Reuters PULSE(SM) Healthcare Survey, an independently funded, nationally representative telephone poll, which collects information about health behavior, attitudes and utilization from more than 100,000 US households annually. Survey questions are developed in conjunction with NPR. The figures in this month's poll are based on 3,014 participants interviewed from June 1-12, 2011. The margin of error is 1.8 percent.

About Thomson Reuters

Thomson Reuters is the world's leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals. We combine industry expertise with innovative technology to deliver critical information to leading decision makers in the financial, legal, tax and accounting, healthcare and science and media markets, powered by the world's most trusted news organization. With headquarters in New York and major operations in London and Eagan, Minnesota, Thomson Reuters employs more than 55,000 people and operates in over 100 countries. For more information, go to www.thomsonreuters.com.

About NPR

NPR is an award-winning, multimedia news organization and an influential force in American life. In collaboration with more than 900 independent public radio stations nationwide, NPR strives to create a more informed public - one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures.

SOURCE Thomson Reuters Healthcare

Back to top


More Green Tea Remedy!

I've still been using the Green Tea to stop 'Lou's itching - especially at night to help him sleep, but he's begun to dislike being misted with it. It apparently has a cooling effect, similar to Noxema. Now that we have the air conditioning on, it really chills him to be misted with it when his skin is raw and inflamed and not able to maintain temperatures properly.

I've searched high and low for a cream, balm or ointment made with a base of green tea and nothing he is allergic to. The closest I came up with was a google search that returned info on a new prescription medicine for genital warts made from Green Tea. Interesting that even Big Pharma has caught on to its amazing properties, but not helpful to my toddler son's issue.

I checked with my wonderful compounding pharmacy and within hours they made me a heavy cream made entirely of Green Tea powder in Shea Butter!

My son's skin is actually too thin, inflamed and fragile for the Shea Butter base at the moment, so I need to call back and have it done with coconut oil or white wax or calendula or somesuch, but I am so gratified to have a resource like this! For $17.50, I got a jar of much more potent and concentrated itch relief for my little guy that will stay on his skin longer than the spray mist I have been using. This should also keep longer, as the tea I brew up spoils after a week or so at room temperature.

I'm sure this compounding pharmacy could ship it out to others wanting to try it - Physician's Compounding Pharmacy in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. 248.758.9100.
It is "EGCG 1% in Shea Butter, 60 GM".

My little pill swallows a pill!

My little allergy guy has been away from baseline long enough that he's starting to reach milestones centered around being broken out and flared up. His current big one is learning to swallow capsules at
3 3/4 years. Hearing his allergist say today, "That is not possible, he is too young to know how!", almost made me as proud as if it were just a "normal" milestone.

In addition to the antihistamine Cyproheptadine (corn-free Periactin) that he's been on since June for this current outbreak, we've also started him on Niacin as his levels are low on this restricted diet. The Cyproheptadine we always got in liquid as it was easiest to get into him, although so bitter it makes him gag. The Niacin I decided to ask for as a powder inside capsules, so I could dump it into a teaspoonful of applesauce or elderberry syrup. Then I decided to make it even easier and just teach him to swallow the capsule.

I showed him by swallowing one 1st myself, being careful to show him just where the pill has to lay (at the very back of the tongue) in order to be swallowed. I told him to be careful not to choke on the water as he uses it to "swim the pill down to his belly". I used my finger to make sure the pill is as far back on his tongue as it can go and had his cup of water at the ready. He got it the first time!

It makes our lives a lot easier, especially as he is beginning to show signs of infection at his hands and feet from this current renewed outbreak since stopping the Prednisolone and we are starting a new, stronger antihistamine, Hydroxyzine (corn-free Atarax) and may need to put him on corn free oral antibiotics if the topical ones we're starting today don't clear up the beginnings of the skin infection he's now developing.

One thing to r/m when going from safe, corn-free liquid or pure powder compounded medications is what the capsule is made of. I triple checked to be sure ours are made from gelatin and not plant-based materials. Plant based materials need to be thoroughly researched to be sure they are not corn-derived.