Earlier this week I realized that the apple sticks I'd been buying had wheat in them. I couldn't believe I'd made that mistake. I check labels compulsively. I recheck labels that I've already checked a dozen times, because time has taught me that labels can change and that just because something was dairy free last month doesn't necessarily mean it's dairy free this month.
This wasn't a mistake like that though. I've been buying veggies sticks at Aldi for months now and they're gluten free. The apple sticks were in the same sort of packaging and for some reason my brain just assumed they were okay.
In the last month both Sadie and Patch have outgrown their allergies. It's been amazing. When the allergist called and said the retest for Sadie showed no allergies at all, and that we could start gradually reintroducing foods and see what happened, I was ecstatic. And Patch will still get sick if he has regular cow's milk (which he despises) but all the other dairy products he's tested out have been fine.
Still, I was afraid to even try gluten or casein with Maggie. You see, she never tested as having allergies like the other two. She would just get really, really sick every time she ate even the tiniest amount of either food. The first three times it happened I was still skeptical. But then it happened like clockwork after every exposure, and I realized that she really, really couldn't have almost all of her favorite foods.
There were times when she managed to sneak a tiny bite of something with wheat in it, and I'd forget to mention it to her therapists and would get a call a few hours later asking if she'd had gluten because they could tell. It happened over and over again (as she'd usually manage to sneak something every three months or so) over the course of the last three years, at more than one office.
So I was stunned when I realized that she'd been eating apple sticks, made primarily from wheat, for a week and a half and hadn't had a reaction. I quickly texted her main therapist and asked if they'd noticed anything in the last week. She said that they hadn't, that Maggie was doing better than ever.
And so we decided to see if she'd outgrown her allergy and that night I let her have three graham crackers.
I waited. Would she be up all night sobbing because her stomach hurt? Would she lose all the words that she has and cry non stop for the next two weeks?
The answer, for the first time in three years, was no. She was fine. When I tucked her in she ran through the names of the Bubble Guppies on her backpack, pointed out and labeled all the colors on it, and then asked if we could go to the "swimming beach." When I said no we couldn't, it was night, but maybe we could ask Daddy if we can go soon, she asked to go to Daddy's office. She hasn't even seen his office yet, which added to the general shock I was feeling having just had the longest back and forth conversation (by far) we'd ever had in her entire life. So we called Paul and asked if she could come see his office soon and she repeated "Daddy's office?" a half dozen times before drifting off to sleep.
Since then I've let her have a tiny bit of cheese. He therapy tech said she had another great day, with a huge amount of language, and that she'd been trying to run her own therapy program, but that she had been a little emotional. Since emotional days happen now and then anyways, the jury is still out on dairy, but we had another rather long back and forth conversation at bedtime, and so I'm cautiously optimistic.
I'll admit that this has brought up some questions though.
Before we moved to Michigan, into an old house built in the 1920s, no one in the family had food allergies. After living there for a year, all three of our kids had food allergies. And we were all sick constantly.
Over the course of the time that we lived there the basement would flood every year (not a huge flood, but a steam going from one side of the basement, through a wall, to the other), along with the yearly backing up of the sewer when the tree roots would grow into the clay pipes, which meant another flood. I was constantly battling mold with bleach after the floods. I wouldn't be able to see any mold after I was done cleaning, and everything would look fine, but I wondered. And worried.
We've been out of the house for four months now and the three kids who had allergies while we lived there all seem to be allergy free. No one has been sick since we've moved. In fact, I feel ten times better than I've felt in years. And I can't help but wonder if somehow it's related.
I asked Maggie's neurologist at her appointment last week and he said we probably would never really know. But I can't help but wonder.
Now to make a new meal plan and a new shopping list (that will be spectacularly less expensive). I'm pretty giddy. This means we can do things like church picnics and doughnuts after Mass and all the things that were little family traditions that were so hard to give up.