(with profuse apologies to all Holmes fans out there, but I just couldn’t resist!)
As we head into our 5th month of E028, the positive impact of the elemental diet on M is plain to see. Family, friends and even casual acquaintances have commented on his improved health, behaviour, appearance and overall much happier demeanour. We have seen glimpses of the happy-go-lucky, confident and outgoing child he can be when constant pain is not plaguing him and we have celebrated that success with him. We’ve even embraced the somewhat daunting prospect of food trials despite the lack of useful advice we were originally given and have ploughed on regardless, surviving the highs and lows of this latest rollercoaster ride. Believe me, there have been plenty of both.
The highs have been encouraging;
We have successfully reintroduced rice, chicken and cucumber to his diet and he’s loving being able to eat something solid once again. I’ve adapted, tweaked and sometimes created from scratch recipes to give him a range of meals that make meal-times more exciting than just plain boiled rice, grilled chicken and a few slices of cucumber 3 times a day. We’ve even found a new favourite in rice noodles, something he would never eat when he was small and, thanks to the advice of 1 kind reader, I have even managed to lay my hands on a bag of the elusive rice pasta and he’s enjoying the variety to his diet. The bonus of finding some amazing allergy-friendly restaurants earlier this month was a real boost and will make a big difference to us all.
M has stayed positive and has very much been involved in making the decisions about what foods he trials next. We are working closely with our GOSH dietitian to choose our hit-list of foods in a balanced manner and I speak to her every 2 or 3 weeks to provide an update on our progress. Even better, she is constantly contactable via e-mail, which has given me huge peace of mind as I know I can ask her any questions I might have and she will always come back to me by either phone or email, even if it’s just to say she’s looking into it and will let me know. We’re once more on a small break, but are looking forward to attempting carrot, corn and apple over the coming few weeks.
And the lows have been exhausting.
I never realised just how exhausting the process of food challenges would be and that’s on all levels: physical, mental and emotional. Each new food starts with the excitement and hope that it will be a safe food for M and managing expectations has become key. It feels easy at the moment to be downhearted as we have had 4 fails – pineapple, pork, sweet potato and banana – and a question-mark over the 5th – salmon; but it’s critical we stay positive as there are an awful lot more foods for M to try, and every success brings with it many more options for meals. Unfortunately, every fail leads to disappointment and discouragement and we have to pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off and look forward to the next one as best we can.
The need to be constantly alert to the risks of cross-contamination during food prep, as well as ever-vigilant about rogue additions to lists of ingredients and being constantly alert to any signs of a reaction in M, requires a stamina I didn’t know I had. That is something I’m sometimes finding it hard to hang on to. Whilst we are almost desperate to successfully introduce another ingredient to our meagre list, it’s become clear that we have to do it at a pace that suits M’s pernickety digestive system, and that seems to be a very slow rate indeed.
However, despite the exhaustion and the blood, sweat and tears shed in the name of finding another safe food, the future is looking bright and M’s better health gives us all a reason to keep going, even when it seems tough. To have him in the best health we’ve known for 9 years means that our decision to go elemental really was…well…”elementary, my dear Watson.”