Thanks again for all of your prayers for Emma. She is doing OK but is still complaining often of stomach pain. Hopefully the diet changes I describe below will help!
The results of her tests were somewhat inconclusive. Blood work showed high levels for celiac disease (gluten intolerance). Her endoscopy showed intestinal inflammation but no damage to the small intestines. This could mean that she DOES have a gluten intolerance but it hasn't had an effect on her intestinal walls yet, or it could be something else going on. And X-rays show that she needs to, um, get moving in the bowel area, which is also a possible cause of stomach pain (and we are giving her meds to help get things going).
But though the tests were not completely clear in pointing to gluten intolerance, she does show enough of the antibodies and the complaints that we decided to try her on the gluten-free diet for a few months and see if she feels better. Changing her food intake can't hurt her and may even help, as we are all trying to eat more fruits and vegetables, things like hummus as a dip, and get creative with sides and desserts (we had a great g-free dessert "fruit pizza" thanks to Granny!).
I decided to go "g-free" with Emma to support her and be her buddy (and if I lose my muffin top, even better!). This past weekend, we headed to the bookstore to get cookbooks and then to Whole Foods to stock up on foods and flours that will allow us to be g-free. Next, she and I rearranged the pantry so that she has her own "g-free" section of safe treats. However, Emma has been a picky eater for a while, perhaps because of her stomach pain, and so getting her to eat a variety of healthy foods is definitely going to be challenging.
Going g-free is not easy; it's not just a diet but a true lifestyle change. You can't go through a drive-through and expect something g-free AND kid friendly, for example. So we are being more purposeful about bringing our own snacks and lunches when we are out and about, which is healthier and cheaper in the long run. Emma and Bella love Lunchables, which are neither nutritionally substantial nor g-free, and I'm thinking of getting these cool Easy Lunchboxes things to make our own:
We're also keeping a running list of g-free foods and restaurants. Thankfully, there are several phone and Ipad apps that are helping us as well. Check out Gluten Free Registry -- this is how we found a place to eat out last night. We tend to avoid chains when we go out, though there are several that do offer g-free and other allergen-free menu options. We ended up at a cool cafe that had a gluten-free menu and a kids menu (thank you, Xtra's Cafe in Carytown, you were AWESOME!).
We are blessed that we live close to a metropolitan area that has many g-free food and grocery options. And I am grateful that gluten intolerance is manageable, requires no medication, and won't put Emma in anaphalytic shock if she is exposed. My heart goes out to the many folks whose allergies (or those of their loved ones) require supreme vigilance.
We are also blessed with many friends and supporters near and far. Thank you for sharing this journey with us!
Please be in prayer for the Warner family. They are in Eastern Europe right now to pick up their son, Joshua. He is very sick and suspected of having either pneumonia or TB. If it is the latter, they may be stuck in country for weeks. On top of it all, mom (Lisa's) sister died two days ago. Oh, my heart aches for them. They are stuck in limbo, grieving, running very low on funds, and parenting a child just out of the orphanage who is sick and not used to his new surroundings.