Monday, August 2, 2010

Wheat Allergies: Will She Outgrow Them?

Sometimes I have such a difficult time regulating Ella's diet. The part that is hardest for me it the wheat thing. Her allergy to it is "high" but her reaction has always been, slow. When she was a baby her eczema was a constant visitor. I just thought that she had dry skin. When she was first allergy tested, after the notorious run in with Mr. Pistachio, I was shocked to discover that she is allergic to so many things. And wheat? How is that possible? Her entire diet at that point had been crackers, bread, bagels and pasta. Suffice it to say that I was in denial about the situation for nearly a year. We tried to limit the amounts of wheat that she would eat, maybe some past here or a croissant there. But one week on vacation nearly did her in. We got very lackadaisical and she ate wheat at almost every meal. So she had a little dry skin. Totally do-able, right? By the end of the week she was covered in itchy, raised welts. It looked like she had been rolling around in a field of poison ivy. No amount of Cortaid or Benedryl could comfort her. The magnifying glass had focused itself on her situation; something had to change.

It was at that point that I looked at my husband and said, "It's gotta be the wheat." I will never forget that moment. We had stopped at an Italian restaurant in Santa Barbara. Ella couldn't eat her dinner because she was itching like crazy. She was going insane, "Mommy, help me." Her eyes that day were potent. The green sparkled in agony. That tiny little brown fleck in her left eye, beckoned me. I was the one that had allowed this to happen. It was up to me to fix it.

Within two weeks of removing all wheat from her diet, all of her eczema had completely cleared. This was the first time in her three years that she had soft, glorious skin. She was vibrant. That "thing" that had felt not quite right wasn't there any more. Ella was at her best.

It has never been easy. We live in a society that has a heavily wheat based diet. EVERYTHING she loved seemed to contain wheat. At first is was all about rice... steamed rice, rice cakes, rice flour, rice pasta, etc.. It took many tries to find products that could act as substitutions for everything she loved. Bread almost seemed like it would never happen again. And then I discovered the right cookbooks! Yes, it meant more work but boy were the results worth it. We have gotten into a groove. We found what lunches worked and which didn't. And dinner could always go either way, but she is a preschooler, after all.

But I haven't stopped dreaming. Any time I read an article and it mentions how children frequently outgrow their wheat allergies I get a little excited. Sure, this is how it is for us NOW but what if... And every time we go to the allergist for her yearly test, I feel like a little girl at Christmas time, waiting; praying for that Barbie Dreamhouse. Maybe this year. PLEASE let it be this year. How many decades of the rosary will earn my daughter the ability to eat wheat with reckless abandon? What if I promise to floss every single night until the end of time? It is like a sick little game that I play with myself. Hoping, praying, begging.

Well, we are in the two week stretch before we see the allergist. My tummy is already in knots. The good news is that we have already adjusted and are doing just fine without wheat in our lives. We can do this. And we are fortunate to have some many growing resources at our disposal. And a Whole Foods just blocks away. So really, we are quite lucky. But I would be a liar if I did not admit that I want Ella to be able to have wheat again. Not because it would make life easier for me, but because it would give her a freedom that she currently does not have. And that would be sublime.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good luck with the testing. I just took my daughter to a new allergist and everything's basically the same (nut and peanut allergy). So we continue on with avoidance of these items.