Monday, April 27, 2009

So Far, So Good!!

One week into our wheat trial and all seems good thus far ... yahhh!!! I'm so excited. We are still only giving him one serving of wheat every third day (so three trials thus far), but this seems to be tolerated fine so shortly we will be bumping it up to every other day.

We did have a couple down days where he was more cranky and clingy and went back to his morning naps (if he's real miserable I usually try put him to bed in the morning because he's just driving me insane). But after two miserable days a cold/cough set in. Since he was still getting over the last cold/runny nose I may not have noticed this new cold set in the first couple days, but after two miserable days he began a nice barky cough. So hopefully that is the cause of his down days and all is still good.

Regardless he did not react with any obvious symptoms of the bowel system, so things look pretty good. This means we no longer have to be so particular and panic if he picks up something with wheat in it. We can now allow him to eat things that have wheat further down the ingredients list and hopefully in due time he can eat wheat regularly. For now I just have to be patient and not rush the wheat trials as fructans is still a big concern.

Peek-A-Boo. I took out the camera to take a picture of Matthew and he immediately had to ham it up and began to play peek-a-boo. The reason I wanted to take a picture of him was because how he looked reminded me of his dear brother, James. He had bright red cheeks and sticky sweaty hair that was a mess and sticking out here and there. Thankfully Matthew does not look sick here as was the case when James would looked like this -the picture below is an extreme as he had just gotten out of ICU there, so that's several days of unwashed hair. The picture of Matthew ended up not really showing his red cheeks or sticky hair all that well ... instead it shows a happy little guy having fun ... but I'll still remember why I took the picture.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Oats, Barley .... and .... WHEAT!?!?

I was just reading back to the last time I talked about Matthew's health on here (see here) ... wow, that's a long time ago. I didn't realize I hadn't said anything for a that long of a period of time. But that's okay, because it would just have been complaining if I had. The good period that I talked about in the Decmeber post lasted for a whole months ... the longest we had ever seen Matthew do so well. We were getting quite confident by the end of the month that the fructose had been the problem and we had a cured boy ... we were wrong.

The month of January brought the "old/normal" Matthew back. A cold brought him down and he stayed down. For the next few months we seen ups and downs. We enjoyed the good times and prayed for the good times during the bad times. We were often perplexed how a child could have two such drastically different characters. The only thing we could see was that there was a relationship between food and the attitudes. When happy he ate well, when miserable he didn't eat. I gave up being too concerned about his eating habits. We tried our best to feed him, gave him options, bribed him with fruit (the only thing he likes) and let him snack throughout the day. We tried not to stress about it and let him decide when he wanted to eat and when not. We knew that if we couldn't get him to eat while bribing him with fruit we might as well give up because there was no way he was going to eat. The other thing that perplexed us greatly was that he gained no weight during the month that he ate like crazy .. or the next couple months. For three months his weight stayed the same, then suddenly one week he packs on 12oz (without eating a whole lot) ... only to lose it again a week later from another illness :( When he's eating fine I don't care how much he weighs or where he stands on the charts, but when he's not eating good it starts to get to me that I'll never get the kid to gain weight and stay on track.

At the same time we also dealt with a very bloated tummy almost all the time. We couldn't seem to track the cause of this, or even see a relationship in the size of his tummy to how he was acting ... it just left us wondering. We took him off of soy milk for a period of time and ta-da, bloated tummy gone ... for about 4 days ... and suddenly reappears, just not as bad. So frustrating. Then he became sick and refused to touch any food at all. On top of his lack of oral eating he started decreasing the amount he was drinking. We had him on rice milk and after one week of not touching solids and not drinking well we had no choice but to put him back on soy formula so he could get better nutrition and most importantly protein and more fat. We watched his belly, but it never got as bloated as it used to be ... who knows what the cause was, we don't!! So he remains on his soy formula which is mixed with rice milk to lower the sugar content but still give as much nutrients as necessary.

Thankfully since the beginning of April Matthew has been doing good. I haven't had him weighed for a month now and I'm really not concerned what the scale says anymore. I just want to see him eating well consistently and right now I'm happy with his eating. I would say he has mostly normal toddler ups and downs. He won't necessarily eat every meal or when you want him to, but when he's ready he eats decently. I read somewhere that for toddlers we should look at the weekly intake instead of the daily intake as toddlers don't eat consistently. I like this way of approaching it. There are many days I'd have to be concerned because his nutrition isn't balanced if I look at it daily ... but on a weekly evaluation I'd say he's doing pretty good. He's not a big eater but he's eating and that's all the counts right now. We thoroughly enjoy these times but try not to get too overally excited as we know that he's gone this long before and then crashed, but there's always that hope in the back of our minds that maybe finally he's feeling better.

My hope that he's finally feeling better is greater increased by the fact that he seems to have a bit more tolerance to foods now too. I'm quite impressed with the variety of fruit that he can now handle, although this is offset by the fact that he continues to have issues with vegetables. Seeing that his tolerance was better, the bloating was less, and his stools were doing good we waited for a good/happy stretch and as soon as he seemed to have set into a good stretch we decided to take the plunge and introduce him to gluten so that once and for all we could know whether he's gluten intolerance or has Celiac Disease. We started with oats (which technically doesn't have gluten, but due to cross contamination is avoided by those who cannot have gluten) ... all went well. Next we moved on to barley and were overjoyed that he had absolutely no issues with this ... yah, we are NOT dealing with a gluten intolerance!!

Todays challenge was the big challenge ... wheat! We now know he's not gluten intolerance, but he could still be wheat intolerant. And if not wheat intolerance he could have issues with the fructans in the wheat (which basically would still mean he's wheat intolerant). Many who have Fructose Malabsorption (FM) cannot eat wheat because wheat has fructans (chain molecules of fructose) in it . Oddly though there are also those with FM who can handle wheat. The FM that Marietta, Rebecca and myself have is mild enough that wheat is not a factor at all. Even those who have more severe FM can sometimes still handle the foods with fructans. So it will be a bit of test to gage if Matthew can tolerate wheat and how much. We will start by giving one serving of wheat every 3 days and see how it goes. Todays serving did not result in any instant (diarrhea like he gets from some veggies) or obvious reactions, so once again we're encouraged. This challenge will take much longer then the oats and barley challenges, but we're excited just to have had a stable child long enough to be able to challenge him.

I am truly hoping that Matthew one of those kids that manages to outgrow his allergies/intolerance by the age of 2-3. Previously it seemed that many foods we would introduce caused him to react - although not drastically, enough for us to notice. But lately he's passed each challenge we've given him. I keep dreaming of the day that we won't have a "special diet" food cupboard anymore ... and then I remind myself not to get too far ahead of things and just enjoy them as they are now, and regardless to be thankful that it appears that most of the issues Matthew had were likely related to his body struggling against various intolerances.

At the beginning of April I began to go to the chiropractor for my headaches, jaw, neck and shoulder pains. Matthew would trudge along with me and entertain everyone there. It came up once that I had to do baking to restock Matthew's supply ... which brought up Matthew's diet ... and lead to the chiropractor wanting to check out Matthew and saying that he could help him. So here we are almost three weeks since Matthew's initial visit ... coincidence that he's doing better?? The chiropractor that we are seeing isn't just the regular bone-cracker. He uses a special table so that when he adjusts you don't even feel it. He also uses applied kinesiology (muscle testing) to determine what needs adjusting or attention. The method used for this is similar to the hollistic allergist we took the kids to before (see here). It all leaves me rather skeptical. It's probably because it's just a foreign concept that I just can't wrap my head around. But yet many of these work with the same concepts as chinese "medicines" (acupunture etc) and there is much positive that can been see in the world of chinese medicines. Each time we see the chiropractor he asks how Matthew is doing and he seems more confident that he has cured Matthew. Regardless at this time Matthew is doing fine ... whether coincidence or not doesn't really matter, we're just happy to have a happy boy.

Our energetic little boy who can't sit still for more then two seconds is actually very cooperative each visit and loves going for a "ride" on the table (the table goes upright so that a person does not have to climb on it but can just step on and then be lowered). On the first picture you can see how he is using the applied kinesiology. Matthew's small intestines are often weak and so he applies pressure to them and a spot on his head (this is the "power source" that is used to reenergize the problem area). See how one can be a bit skeptical??

Candy Time
The poor deprived boy went so long without sugar that now he craves it something awful. We are learning quickly not to leave a purse laying around (now that he knows how to open zippers) or any candies out as he will try to inhale them. Thankfully there are a few candies that he is allowed to have (Rockets and Nerds) and as soon as the girls have a candy he is pointing and asking for his. I will put them in a bowl and he will plunk himself down on the floor whereever he was standing that that moment and wait for me to give him his bowl.

Reading with his sisters
. He still loves to read, although his attention span is short. He also loves glasses ... just has a bit of hard time getting them on properly

I finally had to pack away this toy as Matthew would drag it all over the house to use it as a stool ... this is how he managed to get ahold of candies, as well as other foods that he shouldn't be eating if we weren't looking ... makes it hard for me to know what he's reacting to when I don't know what he's eating ... thankfully I usually caught him on time.

Some time ago Matthew became obssess with Thomas the Tank Engine books. We would read them many times a day to him. We never introduced them to him, he found them himself on the girls shelf and would bring them to us. When we realized he'd become attached to these stories we gave him his Thomas train (he got it for his birthday but we never gave it to him because we figured he wouldn't appreciate it at that age). Well Thomas and the no-name car we gave him went everywhere with him for a few weeks. It is neat and precious to see his attachment to this toy and reminds us of James and his Leon's truck. A few days ago I decided he was ready for a new thrill and gave him Annie and Clarabel (Thomas's coaches) to go with Thomas. Thomas was forgotten for a day or so as he dragged Annie and Clarabel everywhere, but now he plays with all of them together.
One of Matthew's favourite places (besides the train track) to play with Thomas was on the change table. He would climb up on the table himself and ride Thomas around the edge of the table. It was neat that this is the first place he headed to with Annie and Clarabel.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Small Adjustment to the Plan

We all have decisions and changes that come throughtout our lives, some of them bigger then others, some of them easier to make then others.

A recent decision made me reflect on the career changes that have happened during our married life. Before we got married I was adamant that we would never move to Chatham - they were all just a bunch of backwards hillbillies and as much as I love the country there was no way I was living out in the sticks like that. After two years of marriage Rob made a decision to go from being a mechanic to a pig farmer ... and the farm he decided to work at was half-way between London and Chatham ... and so we became members of Chatham and joined the "backwards hillbillies". I soon realized that my stereotype was very very wrong. We did a lot of "growing" in Chatham, especially spiritually, and loved those years we spent there, which went by far to quickly.

Before I knew it we were adjusting our lives to another thing I had never thought I would do in my life - living in the city. With Rob's decision to go into the ministry came another move, this time to the city. Both of us were born and raised in the country, so this required a big adjustment, one that took quite some time to get used to. Amazingly I have adapted to the city, and although I still much rather live in the country, I have come to see the advantages of city living. Given where our lives are currently it would take a bit for me to decide to move back to the country, although now that we finally seem to be seeing doctors less often, I think I'd be more willing to entertain the thought.

So what does this all have to do with my title ... guess I'm just reflecting on how our lives keep changing, that each time we get settled, there is another jog in the road, and with each change we adapt. So when Rob made another decision on Saturday evening, it of course comes with us wondering about how this will effect the future, but I can take it in stride knowing that the Lord has always been there in the past and He will continue to be there in the future.

Okay, so what is this decision?

Rob has decided that he will not be going back to school in September but will be taking a year off (hopefully only a year). For some time Rob has felt torn between where his calling should be at this specific time. His desire is to complete school and go into the ministry, but at the same time he saw a need that required his attention, and felt that he should be helping out. It often ate at him, especially during those times when school was so thick and tough that he preferred to quit.

I had always said that I would support his decision to quit if he truly felt that was what he wanted to do ... but, I had one condition. He could quit, but he could not go back to trucking ... long hours where we (especially the kids) never seen him. Those hours may questionably be okay for a summer job when you have to make as much money as possible in a short period of time, but they are not ideal for family life. This was usually enough to set him back to some serious studying, for when he imagines working again he thinks of trucking ... the diesel in his blood runs strong in him. Thankfully his desire to be a minister is even stronger (I think ... it's an honourable desire, although living in a fishbowl isn't exactly what a person dreams of :)

Once again I am faced with something we thought we would not do. Rob will return to working for his brother-in-law, Ike, for the next year. Over two years ago Ike suffered brain injury from what they recently believe was a case of listeriosis. For the most part, this has left his wife, Heather, to run the business as well as take care of the family and keep up with the numerous appointments and hair-pulling medical issues. While Ike tries to pull his weight, this is not always possible. As you can imagine, this is taking a serious toll on Heather, who is becoming worn down, and they cannot go on in this manner without help. Help comes in the form of ... Rob. When the request for help was voiced, Rob knew it was an answer to the pull in his heart on what he should be doing. Since my dear hubby is talented in many ways :) he is ideal for the job. The biggest advantage is of course the fact that Rob has worked for Ike before and that Ike and Rob tend to have similar (and particular) ways of working. Rob is a mechanic and welder who can keep the fleet running, as well as do service runs. He has spent a fair amount of time behind the wheel, and has also done some dispatching, so he can fill in where and when necessary on that end ... he has a basic understanding of the overall business. Since this is not the run-of-the-mill trucking company, but one which specializes in modular office space, always wide loads, often over length, and occassionally over height, there is a fair amount of training one needs to be able to wear 3 different hats at one time. Rob can slide right into the position, where as someone else would need training, and most importantly, build trust and confidence. They are all too familiar with the consequences of having confidence in the incompetant... but that's another story.

Really this doesn't change our lives all that much ... not like the previous career changes that required moving and adjusting to new surroundings ... it just sort of puts things on hold for a bit. I guess it's just the whole idea that no longer are we more then half-way towards our goal, we're now only half-way (if that). It's more the fear for Rob and how he will be able to keep in tune with his studies (especially his languages) while he takes time off and the hope that the time away will not make it more difficult to return to his studies later. And while everyone probably thinks that it's great to have an income again for a year, this is probably my biggest worry and I must remind myself how we made it this far. The Lord has provided ... and He always will if we trust in Him alone. Those who are in the same situation as us will understand how working a year can mess things up as now our 2009 and 2010 tax years will have an income and we will no longer be low-income people. As low-income people we get good benefits from the government (CTB, OCCS, GST, etc) which we greatly depend on. As well we qualify for free dental services, most of our prescription drugs are covered (due to a very low deductible on the government drug plan), and we get discounted city services (e.g. swimming passes and lessons). This mean the first two years Rob is back in school will be more difficult ... but as I said, I must trust in the Lord. On the bright side ... at least we can have a social life again, no more of this studying till midnight every night.

At the same time we are thankful that Rob is able to help out and pray that his assistance will indeed be helpful. Due to the way the college curriculm works this is the most ideal time to take a year off - between first and second year. After first year Rob enters the rotating curriculm (2nd -4th year students all study together, so the same thing is only taught once very 3 years)and it would take longer to get all his schooling done if he took time off then. We often try to plan everything out in our heads, but time and again we are reminded that the Lord works things out the way He sees best. Eventually I will have to get used to life changing just like that, for if Rob ever does make it to the ministry we might find ourselves picking up, moving, readjusting and changing a few times in our lives yet ... guess I just thought that for the next three years I knew where we were at and what we were doing. I am thankful that at this time this is only a small adjustment to our plans.

For those of you had heard about our summers plans ... well those are now changed as well. Originally Rob was working the month of June and maybe the end of August. Taking the rest of the summer to study, study, and study as well as read, read and read and input his books/library into his computer. The plan was to spend the month of July living at my parents place while they are gone on holidays. We could all enjoy a big spacious house and even bigger and more spacious outdoors out in the country. Rob was looking forward to spending his time working outside on the deck enjoying the nice quiet of the country and going for long walks in the country to do his memorizations. There had also been some thought of spending some time in August in Chatham, this idea will no longer be feasible. We will still be spending July at my parents, but Rob will be working instead, which means a shorter commute to work for him. So a bit of an adjustment to our summer, but as long as we get our time out to enjoy the country all is good ... the kids would never forgive us if we didn't get to stay at Grandpa and Grandma's anymore, they've been really looking forward to the change of scenery this summer (as have the parents ;)

So that's the scoop from here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

March Break Part #2

So here it is the end of the Easter Break and I'm finally sitting down to finish the March Break off. After the March Break I had two extremely busy weeks. Last week was a nice calm, quiet week were I got to stay home everyday (Rob laughs at that description since we had to go to appointments or somewhere almost everyday after the kids got home - but since my main "working" hours are during the time the kids are at school I consider them precious if I get to stay home all day and get things done) and get some work done around here ... that is minus Friday, which was Good Friday. So anyways ... four days of catching up ... twas wonderful.
Back to the March Break ... if I can remember! :)
Monday was a quiet day as the kids recuperated from the late nights after our weekend away. On Tuesday we did some visiting and each of us got our hairs trimmed. Wednesday the girls went away for a play day at friends. It worked out that both of them went away on the same day, so I had a quiet day at home with Matthew.
Throughout this time Marietta continued to suffer from her long lasting flu/virus. Somehow she had survived the weekend doing well (we never checked her temp so maybe she still had fevers, but she was having too much fun to complain), but the weekend must have wiped her out becuase Monday she was back to fevers and not feeling well, just wanting to sleep and a bit of a sore throat. This dragged on and as long as I gave her a good dose of Motrin it kicked the fever and she felt okay. Finally Thursday morning I gave up and decided to take her to the doctors ... which made for a very rushed morning, but we managed to drop Matthew and Rebecca off at a babysitter, make it to the doctors, picked up a prescription (doc didn't know what it was but said she didn't look very well and had been sick long enough it was worth trying an antibiotic - she thought maybe a sinus infection), and make it home just on time to meet my parents who were taking us to see Disney on Ice. We picked up Rebecca from the sitter and also took along Esther (friend of the girls, whose mom was watching Matthew and Rebecca).
Since we watch very little TV in our house the kids had not seen very many of the Disney movies in the show, so we had to do lots of explaining while we were watching. But they really enjoyed watching it and thought it was very neat to see. We sat up on the balcony ... so this is as close as my camera could get.

After watching Disney we picked up Rob and went out for an early supper before dropping Marietta off at her piano lessons. Once that was done then my parents took the girls and brought them to Uncle Mark and Aunt Val's were the slept for the night.
The next day Mark and Val took the girls to Toronto Zoo. The girls took there camera along and captures a few pictures just to prove that's where they went.

All that walking at the zoo made for some pretty tired girls that night who were off to bed on time for a good sleep. The medicine began to kick in for Marietta and we stopped seeing fevers, after a couple nights of good sleep she was back to her healthy self.
That brought us to the end of the March Break and the kids were back off to school again. Seems like a long time ago already ... then again it is almost a month ago ... time just flies.