This is a guest post by Krista of Welcome to Married Life.
Our journey to gluten free began about three years ago when my now 5 year old son, Cory, was 2 1/2. He’d developed what I called a rash on the contact surfaces of the fingertips of his right hand. Only the one hand. The skin was peeling and cracking. I mentioned it to the doctor when we were in for a regular visit and over the course of the next year we tried just about every different kind of cream he could think of from anti-fungal to steroids. None of them seemed to help much so we ended up just using a thick lotion to “maintain” the skin and keep it from bleeding, but it never really went away. I figured he had some kind of eczema exacerbated by the fact that we live in a very dry climate, especially in the winter.
Last year about this time I took both my boys to a naturopath (then 4 and 1) to see about alternatives to immunizations. While there I showed her Cory’s fingers and she immediately suggested that he might have a gluten allergy. I was shocked and didn’t want to believe it. No one in my family has any kind of allergies… but my husband’s grandmother was a diagnosed Celiac and his twin sister lives a gluten free lifestyle that most likely cured her “fibromyalgia”. Since doing a gluten free trial felt overwhelming to me I wrote it off and instead the naturopath helped me come up with a mixture of lanolin and calendula oil to calm his fingers. It helped a lot, but the “rash” still wasn’t going away.
Then in June we went to Baltimore to visit my husband’s sister. We were there for a week and I forgot the lotion. However… his fingers cleared up completely by the end of the week. I was so surprised, but chalked it up to the 85% humidity they had while we were there. And, once we got home they started to peel again.
We continued to visit the naturopath and she again suggested the gluten free trial. I started looking at my calendar trying to figure out a 3 week period when we wouldn’t be going too many places as I thought it would be really hard for me to try and keep him from eating other things if we weren’t at home. By this point I was also 3 months pregnant and exhausted/nauseous all the time.
In October we hadn’t started the trial yet when one day everything just clicked in my mind. I realized that while we were visiting my sister-in-law back in June she had fed us main meals that were entirely gluten free. Yes, we had a few sandwiches and toast while we were there, but the amount of gluten we ate that week was probably 25% of what we normally eat at home. Combined with the humidity his fingers healed. I felt like a horrible mother. Here I was causing my son pain because I was scared to try an allergy free diet. Of course it didn’t help that my husband (seeing what his grandmother had gone through) didn’t want to believe the boys might have an allergy so wasn’t completely supportive when I first brought it up.
I immediately started them on a gluten free diet. The first week probably didn’t count because I really had NO idea what gluten was in. I fed him cornbread at a potluck thinking it was better than regular bread. We got the order for the blood test and on Halloween my husband took him to church and gave him a hotdog… with the bun. When they got home I decided we’d better just do the blood test anyway even though it hadn’t been the full three weeks so I loaded him up with bread and took him in the next day. That week waiting for the results was really difficult. I wanted to believe he didn’t have an allergy, but my gut told me differently. There were other symptoms too, mainly he complained of a a stomach ache often, especially when at my parents house. They eat even more gluten filled foods than we do. He would sometimes have to leave the dinner table to run to the bathroom while at their house.
Thankfully the test came back that he did NOT have Celiac disease, but he did have a significant gluten allergy. You can read my immediate reaction on my blog. I mentioned that I started both my boys on the gluten free diet… because my second son, Noah, then 18 months had also started to develop the same rash on the finger tips of one hand. He’d also had a red bumpy rash on his legs when we first introduced him to solid foods that I now attribute to gluten. The final telling factor is that after we went gluten free, his poop suddenly hardened up. (sorry for the TMI!) It never occurred to me that even after we’d introduced solid food he’d still continued to have a soft bowel like a baby. He has NOT been tested, but probably will be only so that we have documentation for school. I’m sure he has the allergy as well.
So, these past 6 months have been a whirlwind for me, especially because just a month later we discovered that I was carrying twin girls (who are now 5 weeks old). I didn’t have a whole lot of energy to try anything new so we mostly modified what we ate and bought prepackaged gluten free foods. Now that I am feeling better I’m branching out and going to try my hand at making my own of all kinds of GF food. I’ll be watching my girls like a hawk and probably won’t introduce gluten as one of their first foods (here’s looking at you, Cheerios!).
The other night my husband casually said to me, “So, who’s the missing link?” and pointed at himself. He wonders if he should be on a gluten free diet considering how many people in his family need it. I won’t hold my breath though as he loves his bread!
In all, I am so thankful that we don’t live 50 years ago when his grandmother was diagnosed. It’s so much easier now to live gluten free.
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