Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A challenging time

I've been quiet here on the blog for a month now and thought I should write a quick post ... not that I imagine anyone is out there waiting with baited breath!

This has been a really challenging month for me personally. On Thanksgiving my beloved Grandma had a stroke. Initially we believed she would be able to recover but after about five days in the hospital the family decided it was time to move her to Hospice. Her last night in the hospital I received news that she was not doing well and in a flurry I packed bags and food, planning to stay at my Aunt's house and not knowing how long we would be gone. I feel extremely lucky that I live nearby and was able to spend an entire week with my Grandma at the end of her life.

The week was full of intense emotions: gratitude and sadness being the most prominent. In many ways it was a wonderful week and I got to spend lots of time just holding my Grandma's hand and telling her how much I loved her. I got to revisit favorite memories with her and tell her what an incredible influence she had had on my life. I got to sing her the lullaby that I learned from my Grandpa and my mother and on her last night our family surrounded her, singing Silent Night, as she took her last breath. Death is a terribly sad event, of course, but my Grandma showed me that it can also be full of peace and grace.

The week was also extremely challenging for me as a mother. Ellie is nearing two and a half and is very, very needy, especially of her mother. The week necessitated breaking Ellie's reliance on Ian and I for everything, and my dad heroically stepped in and took care of her, even putting her to bed at night, so my mom and I could be with my Grandma. Finding a way of involving Ellie in the Hospice experience was challenging to say the least and I couldn't have done it with out the help of my parents and my aunts, uncles and cousins. One of my aunts helped Ellie find a way to connect with my Grandma when she suggested Ellie rub lotion into Grandma's hands. Such a simple act, but it created profoundly beautiful moments where a young child was able to truly care for her Great Grandmother. Ellie also created great memories when she sang Christmas carols for Great Grandma.

Managing our diet was nearly impossible as my focus shifted away from food for the first time in a long time. I had forgotten to pack our Vitamix in the mad dash and so we were without our morning green smoothies, which have become an institution. I slapped food together to the best of my ability and gave myself permission for Ellie's food and my own to not be perfect. And, naturally, as a result, she started waking up in the night with tummy aches. I didn't know how to fix it, and I had to forgive myself and move on. (It was only when we returned home that I discovered that the non-organic Treetop applesauce I had been feeding her was likely the culprit. I still have no idea why ... pesticides ... hidden sugar? Who knows.)

Dealing with the emotions at Hospice was challenging, and I felt especially frustrated by the community kitchen, where families brought in treats to share. Where some people might have seen cookies, brownies, doughnuts, cakes and candies, I saw a rotating display of gluten, sugar, dairy and eggs. All the comfort foods of my past sat there taunting me. I didn't give in to those, but did give myself a little leeway at times, like having some corn chips one night and some salad dressing that included sugar another. Every time I could feel the impact and wished I hadn't even gone there. After we got home I enthusiastically returned to our diet and was so happy to start the day with green smoothies and fuel myself with meat and veggies.

The weeks since then have been hard as well. Ellie contracted Hand Food and Mouth disease and was ill for a week. I saw a new doctor and learned that I likely have Hashimoto's disease. I will have more bloodwork done in January and I'm sure will write more about that later. And this past weekend was the Rosary and funeral for my Grandma.

So it's been a month of challenges. I look forward to a quiet Christmas at home, followed by a weeklong vacation with my family. I am in need of some serious rest and recuperation.


  1. Hi. I just wanted to write a quick note to thank you for writing this blog. My family is going through a very similar healing crisis with my 19 mo old son. I definitely understand and feel your pain in having a sick child and trying to do what's right for them even when the world (docs and most others) thinks you're crazy and over worried. We are preparing to start gaps in the next week or so and I've searched for someone who's done this with a toddler and you are a Godsend. I've been so worried he wouldn't eat and become malnourished... You give me hope. I have been searching for an understanding Dr. but so far I'm not having any luck. We have a wonderful chiropractor but I definitely think we need a nutritionist and neuropath. I live in Nashville TN so I can't see yours :( but maybe they could recommend someone ?? Would you mind emailing their contact info to me? Bennettaj@hotmail.com. Thanks again!

  2. Hi there! Thanks so much for your feedback - I am always so thrilled to hear that our journey is helpful to another. I can PROMISE you that your child will not be malnourished on GAPS. I'm not a fanatic GAPS proponent at this point (as can probably be inferred by my blog) but I do believe it has healing power for many people and it certainly is nutrient dense! Our challenge was that Ellie turned out to have problems digesting fats and GAPS is very fats-focused. If your kiddo goes on a food strike, you can always make a change. My advice is to not get trapped by the rigidity of Intro when it's not working for you. Trust your gut and trust your kid and you'll be just fine :)

    My advice for finding a supportive naturopath or nutritionist is to check out the Defeat Autism Now Web site. Ellie doesn't have autism, but I thought finding a DAN doctor would give us a good chance of finding someone familiar with gut health and GAPS and it worked for us. Our naturopath is great, and she referred us to our nutritionist who saves our bacon on a regular basis. :) And actually our nutritionist does work with people over the phone so that's actually an option for you. Check her out at http://www.replenishpdx.com/.

    Good luck!


  3. So sorry for the loss of your grandmother.
    I truly am so grateful for real people like you blogging and sharing their experience with GAPS.
    I am new to GAPS and feel soo overwhelmed by it most days.
    How did you find out your little girl was having problems digesting fats?

    1. Hi there!

      The discovery that Ellie was having trouble digesting fats took a long time, and happened with a lot of support from a nutritionist who helped us tease apart what was going on. I think the discovery is pretty well documented here on this blog if you want to read back a ways.

      Starting GAPS is tremendously overwhelming. Don't do what I did, which was obsess about doing it perfectly. Do it at a level that feels manageable to you and know that that will be enough.

      Take care of yourself,