Pieces of the puzzle

Week two has certainly been enlightening. In a matter of a few days we feel like we’ve fit together a couple of the pieces to this very large puzzle that is Raleigh and the healing of his gut. I imagine that puzzle, once put together, would be rather large and possibly very gross to look at as I imagine the digestive tract not to be very appealing since it resides inside our bodies. But I digress…

As I mentioned in my last post, on day four I made meatballs for Raleigh and in the meatballs was an egg. It was his first introduction to egg, and, from days four to nine, he continued to eat many eggs hidden in the meatballs, and on occasion, had one cracked onto a meatball, and even a couple of fried eggs as we attempted to move him into stage three. During those five days his body slowly began to flare up again. It was subtle at first, and we thought it was only really happening when he got upset because when he got upset, he proceeded to itch everywhere. Every night he went to bed a little flared but woke up clear-ish, so we didn’t think much of it until the morning of the tenth day. When I saw his body, I knew we had to remove something, and my gut was telling me it was the egg.

We hadn’t tried much extra other than a slight increase in the kraut juice, so it seemed logical the egg was what was making him flare so badly. His itching was getting out of control, so much so at times he couldn’t control attacking his legs and feet, two areas that had begun to heal were once again being ripped open. We jumped too soon and moved him into stage 2 far too quickly. Egg had to go.

I was upset for having let this happen. I was angry with myself for moving too quickly and not giving his body the proper healing time before a new food was introduced. I was confused, discouraged, and sad. Seeing his skin clear for a few days, having a happy boy who wasn’t so plagued by relentless itching, was a dream. It was a light at the end of a tunnel, a far distant light but a light none-the-less. It felt like finding the Promised Land but only being let in for just a few short days to be kicked out again. It really felt like all of that. It was a heady and cumbersome weight to bear.

I had to pick myself back up, obviously, I’m the cook. I’m the planner and the maker of all the food, and I couldn’t wallow…not for very long anyway. So we cut out the egg. How in the world was I going to make a meatball without an egg and with no other suitable binding agent at my disposal? Necessity is truly the mother of invention, and, for the first batch, I ended up mashing some pre-cooked and very soft carrots with some gelatin, mixed in some chopped chicken and chicken liver. Liver, again. Again with the liver! The liver, a.k.a. elephant ears, haunt me in my sleep. They sort of dance above me like sugar plums, but they aren’t sugar plums; they are black and bloody chicken livers trying to touch my face! But perhaps the worst thing about them is when they are chopped up really fine to be added to meatballs, they look like little black slugs in the bowl. Little black blood-sucking slugs. It’s bad enough to have to squish raw ground beef between your fingers, but throw in some chopped chicken liver, and you have tiny black slugs slipping between your fingers and sticking to parts of your hand and it takes hours to wash it all off. Not really hours, I’m being quite dramatic, but some really long, laborious minutes for sure! Nothing about raw animal meat is appealing or appetizing to say the least, and it’s a miracle of miracles that I don’t gag my way through the process.

IMG_1796
my chicken liver face

Now to deal with the itch. We went back to some wet wraps because they work well to give relief, and, for the most part, stop him from getting to certain areas to itch himself to a bloody pulp. Going back a stage or two does something to the mind. It feels like failure, and I had to spend a little time reminding myself that we hadn’t failed, but what we had discovered was a significant piece of Raleigh’s puzzle. We now know that egg is a problem, and likely every time he ate eggs before GAPS contributed to the eczema we saw. We also learned that his skin will be our biggest road map to deciphering what is going on on the inside. That’s huge and significant. Though it came at a price, it’s worthy information, and we move forward more gingerly.

After spending one day, day ten, going egg-less, he went back into what I can only imagine was a state of detox. On Friday the 23rd, day eleven, he took a four hour nap, was lethargic most of the rest of the day on the couch, and, toward the end of the day, we began to see his skin clear a tiny bit. By day twelve, on Saturday, we were certain the egg was the culprit. He woke significantly clearer with very dry and flaky skin. I should have taken pictures, but I didn’t. The flaking of the skin is a very different and interesting phenomenon to us. I’m pretty versed in skin conditions, having dealt with them so significantly with Raleigh, but the flaking is new. As far as we can tell, and since I haven’t dug into any research regarding this symptom, it seems the flaking indicates healing. Like the recent bout of eczema flare-up has to find a way off and does so by flaking off everywhere. Our couch looks like it developed a severe case of dandruff. As off-putting as that sounds and looks, it seems like a positive thing.

We’re hoping to have our boy back again today. Two days of detoxing from egg have left him lethargic and mostly irritable. We feel like his body needs more time to heal before we try another new food. So we’re going to hang out in both stage one and two and move forward with another new food in stage three in a few days. So another week means another batch of meat stock and two new recipes and of course, meatballs. Because meatballs give us good leverage to eat less exciting foods like chicken stock.

I wish the path was a little more clear-cut, and I wish we didn’t have to happen upon things like an egg intolerance and retrace our steps. I wish this was easier and that it could take up less space in my head, but it’s not, and it’s pretty all-consuming right now. I so badly want to move him through these six stages of the Intro Diet and have him on the Full GAPS diet, but it seems, after this week, our journey is meant to be a slow and laborious one. I’m trying to make peace with that. I keep telling myself that if this works, if we spend 18 months or two years on the Full GAPS diet in order to heal and seal his gut, every chicken liver meatball, pot of soup, or detox day will be absolutely worth it. What is two years for the rest of your life? It’s a snapshot into his future of good health, an itch-less life, and man will that be worth it.

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