Tomorrow marks the end of our third week of Operation Heal Lemon's Gut. She has been on a horribly depressing diet of nothing more than pastured lamb broth, coconut oil and fermented kraut juice while waiting for unwanted bacteria, yeast, and God-only-knows-what to flush from her system. I stopped feeding her the hard-earned list of eight "safe" foods she's been eating for months in hopes of re-setting the dial and starting over with the introduction of egg yolk. [Read: All day and night all we can give her is broth.] Gulp.
The agony of watching my baby girl suffer through this initial round of detox has been very rough. It's also been very affirming. She was sick. At one point it felt really good to blame something so I began to fixate on my worst-ever bout of food-born illness I had while traveling in Myanmar years ago. As the overnight ferry we were taking upriver got stuck in a sandbank, it became clear that we would not be arriving at our destination by morning. Somewhere around hour 23 of this disaster all rational thinking was replaced with hunger. Even now I can't say for sure why it seemed like a good idea to eat that God-forsaken samosa. It wasn't until Christian (the man who will eat ANYTHING) wandered over and looked at me quizzically that I knew I had made a catastrophic mistake. I graciously offered him a bite of my ebola samosa..."Uh, no thanks. That one's all you."
"But it's delicious" I say nervously, struggling to defend my choice to eat a snack food prepared in a world without refrigeration or electricity. "It has to be so fresh!" It was not fresh as it turns out.
I'll give you one guess what kind of meat it was. Wait for it....
Lamb. The one food source that sustained life for both Lemon and me, from my nursing diet to her past year on broth. Oh life, you are full of irony.
I am aware that to people outside of my house (and possibly to a few inside my house) Lemon drinking broth bottles, feeling all sickly looks like a step backwards - "Uh...why are we removing food from her diet?!" And my answer is this. I have a nagging feeling that the eczema that appeared two months ago and began to take over her face is a sign that her insides are not heading in the right direction. Her increasing complaints of tummy aches will likely soon result in the loss of one of her few "safe" foods and I will be faced with a real come to Jesus moment. I worked so hard to create protective milk for her first 16 months of life that if her ability to eat real food falls apart now, I might too. I have heard similar stories from other parents of kids with FPIES and they scare the living bejeezus out of me.
Here at the end of the third week of holding, rocking, and sitting nearby while she doesn't want me to touch her ("Go away Mommy!") it is starting to get better. Yesterday she sat up at the table to draw. Today she helped carve a pumpkin. Did I mention her eczema vanished within the first three days? Her body is adjusting to the addition of egg yolk which she licks from a spoon like it's ice cream. This is a massive dose of nutrition for her and I feel like we have a finger on the Holy Grail.
Scooping up courage one day at a time, I rely heavily on my village for understanding, love, and prayers. I feel held while I hold this little girl in my arms, knowing that her healing is also my healing. We will get through this.
"The best way out is always through."
-- Robert Frost
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