And this is how it all began…our Gluten-Free Adventure:
Does this look like a girl who has been in pain for almost three weeks??? My sassylicious, spunktastic (yes, that’s how awesome she is…she needs made up words to describe her) little Braelyn Boo has never been one to let any kind of sickness or discomfort get her down. She once had a minor cyst removed from her head and afterwards the doctors told me she would probably be lounging around all day due to the effects of the anesthesia. Yeah, that was a funny joke. Especially when I found her running down the neighborhood street in her pajamas less than two hours after returning home. That’s our life with Braelyn. She is just full of energy, full of life, full of happiness.
So when she threw up one morning back in November, 2013 I simply chalked it up to that dreaded time of the year…flu season…and figured she’d be back to her normal craze-maniac self in a mere 24 hours. However, I was a little taken back when she continued to tell me day after day that her tummy was hurting. I did find it strange that with her “flu” she only threw up once and had no fever, but I’m no flu expert. When her tummy ache lasted for a week I began to wonder; when it lasted for two weeks I began to worry. I finally took her to the doctor and he informed me that some viruses are known to linger for about three weeks, so there was no reason to be alarmed. Her quick urine test came back normal and he didn’t feel any abnormalities in her stomach. He assured me that if it continued we could get some blood work done, but nothing pointed to anything serious at the moment.
Now I’m not the most sensitive mother to my children. Haha…in fact I’m not all that sympathetic to anyone. I’m a “suck it up” kind of person. But seeing Braelyn acting so differently and watching her radiant little spirit start to fade, I just couldn’t wait any longer. So I called the doctor and had him order the blood work. I knew Braelyn was really in pain when her doctor phobic self actually sat on my lap and allowed her blood to be drawn with a needle in hopes that someone would fix her. One week later on our yearly Christmas road trip to Utah we got the news from the doctor. Celiac. What? Celiac.
That was the last thing on my mind. I never even considered Celiac. I know it runs in families, it is mostly genetic. But, we are missing a lot of Braelyn’s family history due to her adoption so it was never a red flag. You are telling me that my three year old carboholic daughter is Celiac? It was definitely a moment of shock. But, it was also a moment of strength. I can do this. We can do this. This will not define us, but we will define it. Celiac is now our adventure.
We returned home from Utah in January with a scheduled endoscopy to confirm the results from the blood work. I woke Braelyn up at 5:30 in the morning, drove for an hour and sat by her side as we waited for her endoscopy hoping that we fit into the 3% false positive category. This was the hardest day of all. Braelyn’s tummy had really been acting up lately and this particular morning she was at her breaking point. Literally minutes before being wheeled away, she was barfing in the bathroom. Since her first tummy ache weeks prior, this was the first time I cried. I couldn’t help it. I felt so bad for her and there was nothing I could do.
She was so brave through the whole procedure. I was so proud of her! She woke up jabbering away like always, talking up a storm with the nurses. They all thought she was loopy from the anesthesia, but I informed them, “nope, that’s just Braelyn”. We returned home and waited and waited and waited. One long week wondering what the doctor was going to say. I went ahead and started her on a gluten-free diet following the endoscopy knowing that there were no other tests that needed to be performed that the absence of gluten would skew. Plus I was desperate to get a head start in helping her feel better. Sure enough a week later the doctor confirmed what we already knew and the journey began.
Braelyn being her curious and inquisitive self has made her gluten-free living a game. It’s a puzzle to her to figure out what she can and cannot eat. She asks anyone and everyone if what they’re eating has gluten or wheat in it. She makes sure that her preschool friends bring gluten free snacks to school. She even asks the servers at restaurants what menu items are safe. I’m so appreciative of her optimism. She has become more adventurous in her food choices and trying new foods since she can no longer rely on bread and crackers to fill her up. She sings this song at every mealtime that goes something like this “I gotta try new foods cuz they might taste go-od!”
I’m so grateful for the family and friends that have been so supportive. Thank you to a fellow gluten free foodie Emily from One Lovely Life that brought Braelyn her very first gluten free English muffin! She inhaled it.
As stressful as it can be adapting to a new way of living, we have really come to grow as a family. We are more health conscious, more sensitive to Braelyn’s needs, and more unified since we’re in this together. I am determined to never have my child feel as though she is missing out. Pardon the French, but I will learn how to bake gluten free and she will be eating damn good gluten free goodies if it’s the last thing I do! So here we are at the starting line, about to run this race. Let’s take our world that’s been turned upside down and kick some trash. Ready, set, go!!!