Hippocrates said, “Let food by thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” He said that way, way back in 431 B.C. That’s a solid right hook ya got there, Hippocrates. I bet he ate spoonfuls of dirt right along side all his fermented foods, and I bet his gut bacteria was stellar!
In the past three years of this journey, we have certainly been convinced that a food-as-medicine approach to life is the right track for us. We have seen many different and distinct changes in our health through the ever-evolving changes we’ve made regarding food, however, none as significant as what we’ve seen so far this week.
This week has been many things, and I’m really not done processing, because we’re still in the thick of it and will be for a while. We have been baffled and in awe of the swift change in Raleigh’s skin. We have gone from multiple daily and nightly wet wraps on his face and body to not needing even one wet wrap. He’s still a little dry and a little itchy, but his skin began to clear so quickly after the first two days that he just didn’t need the wet wraps to trap the moisture. I typically do multiple loads of laundry a day in order to keep the stash of socks we use for wet wrapping ready for the next round, and I haven’t had to wash a single sock since Wednesday. That is unbelievable.
Upon waking Wednesday morning (day 2), it was clear Raleigh was experiencing die-off and detoxing. He was upset and his skin was angry, red, and flared everywhere. The first thing he said to me was he didn’t want anymore soup. Well, soup was what was on the menu, the only thing on the menu, but he wouldn’t touch the chicken soup I had prepared until 1pm that day. He was extremely thirsty and drank a lot of water, as well as lemon water, and then slept. We did wrap him after a bath because he was itching his skin until it bled. He proceeded to sleep most of the day, took an epsom salt detox bath, and, finally, a few more bites of soup around 7 before he went to sleep for the night.
Day 3 is when we saw a big change. Toward the end of the day, the skin on his chest, back and upper arms had cleared. They looked and felt like typical skin; soft and even moisturized. I thought I was looking at a mirage. It was what I wanted to see so badly for so long that I almost didn’t believe my eyes.
By day 4, Raleigh was significantly weaker since he had eaten even less on day 3. His skin looked better upon waking up and even more spots had begun to clear. However, he wouldn’t eat anything for breakfast, and lunch was approaching. So, out of a semi-panic that he would refuse all food all day, and Sam having left for Kansas, I decided to make a dish from Stage 2 of the Intro diet: Boiled meatballs. Mmmmmm. Licking your lips? I bet you’re hungry, huh? Doesn’t that just sound so enticing? Well, it worked. I made three to start, simmered the ground beef in some chicken stock, and served it up with some kraut juice. He devoured it and asked for more. It was then that I heard the Hallelujah chorus and the angels singing….It was a good moment. A really good moment.
So, we had officially made the move into stage 2. Stage 2 is basically the same as stage 1 except for raw egg yolks and a couple other possibilities. On day 4, I also made ghee, and we tested for any sensitivity to it by letting some dry on his wrist overnight. At the end of day 4, he had eaten two helpings of meatballs, and we had to trick him into eating the stock as well. Anytime he hears the word “broth” he pretty much runs and hides, so I’ve begun calling it by any other name I can think of, and, soon, I’ll need to look into other languages, because I’m running out of alternatives, fast.
Day 5: no reaction to the ghee on his wrist, so he gets to taste it. I drizzled some over some meatballs, and it was a hit. Who doesn’t like butter drizzled over just about anything? I know I do. I’ll take all the butter all the time, and as Julia Child said, “If you think you’re using too much butter switch to cream.” A solid rule to live by.
By day 5 his skin was clearing even more. I put lotion on him in the morning and after a detox bath, and that was it. I was putting loads of all kinds of lotions and creams on his face and body, on repeat, every hour of every day. What a change. I won’t lie though, there is that part of me that wants to hush the excitement I feel because this has never happened before. Our reality has always been red, itchy, cracked, blotchy, angry, and dry skin. Day in and day out.
In six short days that have felt like an eternity, we’ve seen a drastic change. At the end of day 6, Sunday night, Raleigh started to come back to us. His energy returned, he asked for more meatballs (shocker!), he joked at the table for dinner, he didn’t cry over not getting what we ate, but he happily enjoyed his meatballs, soft vegetables in stock and even drank the stock. He laughed and shot me with a toy gun after dinner and even played cards and dominos with us, throwing his head back in laughter at times.
When your child is not your child, it’s heartbreaking. When you know he is going through something you really can’t fix and all you can do is watch and wait, well, it’s agony. These past six days have been agony in many ways, but they’ve also offered us some incredible hope for the future. Our bodies are capable of healing when we give them the right tools that heal. But more than that, God’s provisional hand is blanketed over all of this, and I continue to call out to Him for help. I have hope; and hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul. Emily Dickinson said that.
Other than making meatballs twice a day, I’ve also made a batch of meat stock. When it cools down, the lovely, protective layer of fat forms at the top. The fat is awesome and so good for you, and it’s a significant factor in the healing process, believe it or not. If you’re a product of the 80’s like I am, you likely grew up believing the fad that was surfacing back then that fat was bad. Well, I’m here to tell you that fat is good, if it’s the right kind of fat. I also made a steak soup with mushroom and leek gravy – with duck fat! The taste of that gravy is insanely delicious. I’ve actually saved what was left of it so we can rewarm his meatballs in it and dunk them like fondue. It’s pretty extraordinary.
I realized after I took this next picture that it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen Raleigh’s hair fall naturally onto his forehead. Up until now, he has been so slathered in creams that a portion of the cream would end up in his hair, and it would be matted and stuck in a clump.
As positive as things have been going, we aren’t out of the woods yet. He is still flaring on and off and itching. His body is still healing, and we’re trying to learn to decipher when the flare or the itch is related to his emotional state of flux or a new food being introduced. We did introduce ghee and have since decided to remove it as we think it could be causing some of the itch to return. So that’s now a wait-and-see situation.
It is a delicate dance between adding in new foods and waiting and watching for a response. We hope to move him into stage 3 of the Introduction Diet in the next day and with stage 3 comes necessary supplementation like fermented cod liver oil. That is going to be one fun challenge as it tastes a bit like dead fish.
We begin a new week tomorrow and with it comes new adventures in meals and finding creative ways to get Raleigh to eat things other than meatballs along with meatballs, of course. Seeing him smile and laugh again after a long 5 days of nothing but sadness and irritation is so, so good. We keep praying for healing, and we keep on keeping on.
I’ll leave you with a Batman-Spiderman-cowboy hybrid. He didn’t get any personality. None at all.