When Celiac gives you presents…..

I talked before about how we are not one of those Celiacs that just get to go gluten free and be done with it. Noooo, in our daughters case (and possibly mine but never mind that lol) Celiac has come with some extra special gifts.

Aili has had bone pain on and off for many years. After her Celiac diagnosis we thought “oooh, thats why she didn’t want to walk / put her feet down, she must have had bone pain”, then the years went by, and the bone pain, it never really went away. From time to time its been really bad, with tears when she has to use a staircase, at times so bad she doesn’t want to walk and we use a pushchair still even though she is 7. We often put it down to her Celiac, I heard myself say many times to people that “she probably has weak bones from not being diagnosed quick enough”. I even explained to people about how when you have no villi your body cant take up any nutrients and your body will suffer.

Villi are the small tiny “hair” like things in your small intestine responsible for “soaking up” all the nutrients in your food. In a Celiac who is eating gluten, these tiny “hairs”get destroyed resulting in a smooth small intestine that is incapable of taking up any nutrients, resulting in varying degrees of malnourishment. 

Most celiac’s of course go gluten free, the villi heals, and over time they feel better. In Aili’s case feeling better hasn’t really happened. Yes, she is growing, no, she has no gluten exposure, but she still has many symptoms from many different things, some still unexplained.

We thought for a long time that her bone pain continuing was growing pain or her silly low vitamin D causing issues, then once the EDS diagnosis came we put it down to that.

I thought a few times about a bone density scan, and it was mentioned to me as well but it was never done, until this summer. When they told me we were doing it I was super happy, because its good to know stuff, not suspect or think.

So yes, bone density done, and yes, it is low. Very low. Far far far to low for a 7 year old. And bingo, a new diagnosis. Osteopenia. Osteopenia is not as bad as Osteoporosis, but its bad enough. Osteoporosis is also known as “brittle bone disease” and Osteopenia is the stage just before that. The bones are weak but not brittle.

We are lucky though, even though our GP had told me to take her off the vitamin D as her levels now are acceptable (they had just crept above 40), I continued them at a high dose. I know Aili better then most and I know what happens to her vitamin D levels when she is not in the sun daily or doesn’t take supplements.

Not saying anyone should go against dr’s advice here, but sometimes you have so many dr’s telling you different things you just have to make some decisions on your own.

I told our rheumatologist I had continued the D  and she actually smiled and gave me a high five, she said things could have been much worse without and to keep giving the D at exactly the dose I am. Now Aili is on other meds as well to help her, but unfortunately the steroids she must take for her lungs counteract with those meds, so all we can do is hope for the best. We were letting her rest a lot because of the Ehler Danlos and the fatigue that comes with it, but now with the Osteopenia we need to push her instead, more walking, not less. Her bones need it to get stronger.

Our lung dr. who has been reading up about Ehler Danlos and osteopenia says that Ailis case is so rare we may not ever fully know what symptoms are linked to which disease, we can learn about some of the diseases separately, but we may never know exactly to the full extent of what is going on with her. We suspect she may have MCAD as well, but nobody in Poland at this point can diagnose that. Her lung disease has never been seen before in a child, or a female. There is nowhere to read about a case like ours – because we are the first.

How much of what we have going on is Celiac related? I dont know. The Osteopenia for sure is, the malnourishment seen in (undiagnosed) Celiac is a direct cause of her osteopenia. Many with Ehler Danlos seem to be Celiac as well, but I can not find any research directly linking the two. The lung disease is un related to Celiac , but may be linked to the Ehler danlos. See….? This is why my hair is rapidly turning grey 😉

At this point I am less interested in having a full diagnosis and more interested in trying to make Aili’s life as normal and as enjoyable as possible. We have had to many hospital stays this year already and whats the point really in going if nothing is changing by us going? Maybe at this point we need to concentrate on the big stuff (lungs) and just try to enjoy ourselves more? To heck with limitations and musts. We do what we can and what is possible.

 

Follow mine and Aili’s journey on my facebook page

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image credit: Donna Roberts

 

 

Its May again

May is important in my house as its Celiac awareness month. This is the first May that we know for sure all 4 of us have it. May is also Ehler Danlos awareness month, and Lupus awareness. How awesome is that? (Or actually not so awesome as it happens). As you know my daughter has EDS and is under investigation for Lupus. May is also when her birthday is!

I will do my proper Celiac awareness post later in the month, but for now, please, if you do follow my blog, pop to my facebook page and share some of the celiac awareness posts Im sharing in May. There will be a new one daily, all tagged #celiacawareness #nochoice #pleaseshare . Maybe we can reach another family like mine, a family that suffered greatly and had never even heard of celiac disease. Maybe we can help prevent some suffering somewhere. So head over, like or share or comment. And Thank You!

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5 years gluten free!

We have been gluten free for 5 years this week. 5 whole years! I remember it like it was yesterday. We were called in to the clinic, it was a Saturday morning, they had some results they said. Aili had been in and out of hospital, I was drained, mentally and physically. My life revolved around my screaming baby and lots of vomit.

We went in, the clinic was busy, lots of screaming kids, everyone was rushed. All the staff knew me by then, by voice, by name, by daughters name. We were ushered in to see the dr between two others who had appointments, it was rushed, no examination, papers handed over. I had been hoping it was lactose, but it wasn’t, it was gluten and my whole world was spinning.

We walked out, papers in hand. Gluten cant be in to many things right..? My son was hungry, my baby girl was hungry, we were in a mall and the mall was spinning. I let out a small sob. My drained self couldn’t cope. That small sob was it. My husband rolled his eyes and told me not to cry again, our life was a mess.

I never cried about gluten again. I cried many times since obviously, but not about gluten in particular.

We went to mc Donald’s. Son had a burger, Aili had some fries. No gluten in fries right…? We went home. We went home and nothing was the same again…..

It was good different though, not bad different, because the vomiting….? It stopped that day. Our girls life was saved that day. It continued to be saved every day since.

I look back at that day now, and I feel sorry for the exhausted mum that I was, and I wish I could have given that mum a hug and told her it will all be ok, that its only hard at first, and that life will get better now. I wish I could hold that mum and tell her to cry it all out, get it over and done with – the crying. I wish I could go back and smile at that mum and encourage her, because back then, going gluten free seemed like such a huge huge task, keeping my baby girl safe seemed so impossible.

I was so tired from months of illness and hospital and clinic visits that any task – no matter how small- would have seemed impossible that day.

We did it, of course. I did back then what I still to this day do with all the new stuff. I learned everything I needed to learn, I got on with it, I looked forwards and upwards and onwards and I remained as positive as I possibly could, and I have, almost every day since. Even in my darkest deepest moments of despair, I am still a very glass half full kind of girl.

Gluten now, 5 years later seems like such a minor thing compared to all the things we are facing today. Sure, its hard still, but its second nature, I have done it for so long it no longer bothers me. 

If you are that mum that I was that day, today, tomorrow, yesterday… please know this. It gets easier. Really. It really really does.

Happy 5 years to us!

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Dont forget to join me and my family on Facebook! 🙂

 

Sometimes I just want to scream- an update on our diseases.

I am trying to process all this new information, come to terms with it, understand it…. but its hard to come to terms with things that are maybes, things that aren’t for sure.

With the Celiac process I also felt sorrow, and guilt (because mummy didn’t know) and then I read and read and read and learned whatever I could, made a support group because there wasn’t one, met others and I processed. I not only processed but I excelled in my knowledge, helped others (and still do) and it was all ok. Celiac was ok, our disease was not a lonely thing. We were “severe” symptom wise and issues wise, not those happy go merry celiacs that go out and function somewhat normally. We had issues, many of them. Now ofcourse I know most of those issues were probably not celiac at all but all the other crap that we now know about.

Trying to process a disease that I have to google every time I need to write it because I cant learn to spell it (hypereosinophilic syndrome) , trying to process a disease that she probably has but they dont want to say for sure yet because there is no damage, (lupus and rheumatoid arthritis), trying to process and understand a disease that is super rare and the only specialist that deals with it in the country we live has closed down his email and no doctors know how to get us the help we need (Ehler Danlos Syndrome). What else…? Haha, I mean, we for real have to think twice to make sure we include everything when we are told to give a medical history. The allergies and the celiac take a backseat will you, you are so minor I mostly forget! I even find that offensive myself as a celiac advocate, but it is how it is right now.

Then there is her immune system, a system that we know its faulty, but they cant figure out what part. She gets sick and her system doesn’t respond, she doesn’t fight. Her levels are ok on paper, but in reality…. not so much. They are testing and re testing, the road has already been so long, and yet there is an awfully long way to go before we actually get to someone saying a. yes, this is whats wrong with her immune system, or b. There is nothing wrong with her immune system and whats happening is a symptom of her other disease(s) that are not yet fully diagnosed. 

Meanwhile we are at home a lot. We rest. We eat. We try to live a normal life. What is normal anyway? This is normal to us, pretty much has been for years, naming the crap really doesn’t make much difference in how we live, although I must say I do feel better.

When baby girl says she has a bad day now and she’s tired, I let her stay in bed all day. A year ago I would have felt guilt, guilt that she isn’t playing outside, guilt that we never DO anything, guilt that she didn’t get enough fresh air etc etc etc. All that guilt by the way, it wasn’t my guilt, it was the guilt that society puts on you when you have a child that doesn’t look sick. If they don’t look sick they cant be, and so they must conform to a life where you do stuff every day, go out every day, dont use a puschair when you are 6 etc etc etc. Now the only guilt I have is that I pushed her when obviously on those bad days she needed to rest.

Oh, and I have guilt about her hair! Gosh, this hair that we grew and grew, and she would cry when we brushed and I thought she was just being a kid. She asked to cut it, and I didn’t say no, but I talked her in to keeping on with growing it long, every time. Now after reading and reading I realise that most EDS patients have “hair pain”, many cant stand to have their hair brushed as there is so much pain involved. Who the hell am I to try to talk her in to having it long?? I listen now. I have learned to listen with ears that aren’t tainted by our societies pre set expectations of what life should be like. I listen like a true listening expert and whats more, I hear her.

I will keep processing, I will keep on hanging in there. Check in on us on facebook (which is far easier to update then here).

Love and spoons

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Having a healthy child….

When you are pregnant and people ask which sex you would like you happily answer that it doesn’t matter “as long as its healthy” you say. Because then and there, thats what you are supposed to say. It doesn’t matter if you wish for a girl or boy, the wish for health comes first.

Then fast forward a few years…… and the child, the child that was born with 5 fingers on each hand, 5 toes on each foot and an adorable heart shaped birth mark on her bum…. this absolutely perfect human being that you made. She is not healthy. Not even a little. And you know what…? It doesn’t matter even one tiny little bit. You don’t love her any less, you don’t secretly wish to return her for a refund and you wouldn’t change anything about her for the world.

You learn to live with the cards you have been dealt, you make the best of the situation you are in, learn everything you can about the diseases and issues you face, and life goes on. It goes on, and you live and you fight, and sometimes its hard, so very very hard, but its ok, because its your life, and everything you do is for your child, and it really doesn’t matter one little bit because to you she is perfect in every little way. 

Don’t feel sorry for us, don’t say oh poor you, don’t say it. Don’t say you are lucky that there is nothing wrong with your child. This health thing, its a tricky thing because it can come and go, instantly. Think instead, think for a moment, if you see me struggle, how can you maybe help…? There is so much you can do, really there is!

Spend time with us. Understand when we cancel for the 15th time. Forgive me for forgetting really simple things. Come for coffee. Ask if you can bring something – I will always say no, but its nice when you ask. Call or text, even when if I forgot to reply the last time. Send me a link to a funny or cute story, better yet, make me laugh.

Just be there, be our friend, be our equal, not someone who pities us. My child, my princess, she is perfect in every way, just like your child. Things sometimes aren’t as simple for us, just accept this. Accept us, this way, the way we are.

Things are a bit tricky for us lately. Don’t walk away, we need you now, more then ever.

(putting most our health updates on Facebook lately – go visit)

My child has an invisible illness…..

Its hard to explain to people. The questions, “why is she not in school”, well, she is sick a lot, “oh, so were mine at that age”…. yes, but not like this, she is different. I don’t want to explain, just leave us alone. We didn’t take her out of school for fun or for attention.

We cant come to your house, I don’t feel safe there, I don’t know how clean it is, or what allergens are lurking. We are not allowed to go to busy places…. I don’t want to explain.

Im sorry we cancelled on you again, we are not lazy, we do want to take part but its really hard for me, for us to stick to things we planned. We need to take each day as it comes.

Im sorry I park in the spot reserved for mother and baby or pregnant ladies with my 6 year old. There are days when she cant walk very far without getting out of breath, she is too big for her push chair and I don’t have the strength to carry her so far.

Im sorry I am sometimes unreliable or wont set things in stone, Im sorry Im sometimes so tired I can hardly spell my own name or listen to you when you talk to me.

I sit and watch over my child at night, measure oxygen levels and temperatures and give medications.

Im sorry she doesn’t look sick. Im sure if she did it would be easier for you to understand. Some of the sickest people you will ever meet don’t look sick in the slightest.

So the next time you ask and I try to explain, please don’t say “oh but she looks so well!” or “oh, she looks fine to me!”. You are not her doctor, you haven’t seen her paper work. You don’t know about the bone pain that sometimes makes her cry walking down the stairs or the nausea that sometimes hits her and is so overwhelming she has to lie down straight away. Or the breathing issues or the tiredness that comes from fighting. I know. I know. She has an invisible illness.

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Those darn celiac genes….

Yeah, I need to go on about those darn genes again. Im over it, I dont care, but maybe you guys do and you deserve to know.

Hubby has the gene too. Although it was expected, it just seemed far fetched….. well. He has it, which I guess now makes his DH diagnosis 100%. He has one of the genes only, but if I understand the result correctly he has both sides of it so would have gotten it from both his mum and his dad. Our poor kids really didn’t stand a chance eh?

Well, Ive said it before and I will say it again. Everything happens for a reason, this was obviously meant to be.

Now we are a family of 4 that are gluten free, no longer because we chose it, but because we have to be. All of us. Sons last profile was negative, but he only did 11 days of gluten. Those 11 days his rash came back and his tummy was bad and he didnt want to eat any more of it…. not putting him through 6 weeks of it, partly because its cruel, and partly because we cant as it will expose his very sensitive sister. So thats it, he will now be 100% gf out of the house also.

Shall I rename the blog now? GF & US? 😛

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