I met my girl friend at the Zoo today so the kids could burn off some energy while they ogled the animals and we could have a much needed gab session. She said she’d noticed that I spent a considerable amount of time writing about poop. I laughed about this, but on the drive home I thought about it. We really, really, REALLY seem to have a bit more poo issues in our home than the average Joe family. If my life were a Novel there would have been some foreshadowing, but looking back I just can’t recall any warning and I never had any inkling of the possibility that a such a lovely child could posses Linda Blair’s digestive tract.
Now, I had small glimpses of kids growing up, but I didn’t spend an excessive amount of time caring for very small children day after day. I did the usual weekend baby sitting as a teen, but most of the kids I cared for were potty trained, with the occasional diaper wearing toddler. I never watched a child with any kind of a food allergy, the most serious issue I had contact with was a ten year old with Asthma. When Connor was born, he was a whiny over dramatic clingy baby, but normal. He physically could eat anything we offered him, he just chose not to unless it was deep fried in oil and drenched in salt, or covered in a sugar and butter mixture. He stayed on that course for about the first two years of his life. His stomach is lined with iron, he can eat half a pepperoni lovers pizza topped with a box of nails then polish it off with a double chocolate shake and sleep soundly. When Max came along… to say the rules changed would be a gross understatement. Someone took the rule book, put it in the microwave with an M-80 and set to detonate.
When Max was about six months old and started eating table food his stomach issues began. We had a pizza night followed by a dozen diapers filled with a foul smelling bloody ranch dressing consistency of poop. I was sure Max had food poisoning and put him on a strict BRAT diet. Things cleared up a bit, but as I gradually added foods back in he started to have diarrhea again, on not just a daily basis but an hourly basis, then a quarterly hour basis. At this time I started to lose track of reality. My husband started flying out of state on research trips for weeks at a time leaving me to care for a spontaneously shitting son and a three year old that had just given up naps and wanted my constant attention and unending entertainment. I’d wake at least a dozen times a night to Max screaming in his crib and rush in to find him covered in foamy vomit and soaked with liquid diarrhea that saturated the sheets, his pajamas and after weeks of this had also totally removed the skin from his bottom, scrotum, penis, legs and pelvis. His skin was so terribly shredded there was no way to just wipe him off and put on a fresh diaper. I’d have to start the tub and pour in some oatmeal bath. I would peel away his wet clothes and very tenderly clean off all of the acidic poo by pouring warmed water over the areas, he couldn’t bear a cloth to touch it. While he was calming down and letting the bath soothe his patchy skin I’d have to strip his crib. Take off the sheet and mattress pad, wipe the mattress down with Clorox. Put on the fresh linens, put the soiled sheets in the washing machine. Get Max out of the tub, spray him from the waste down with dermoplast and slather him in diaper cream, dress him in clean pajamas, nurse him, dose him with some motrin for his painful skin and lay him down with a wish and a prayer that I’d have a solid hour of sleep before doing it all over again. This was the several times a night routine for MONTHS. At the beginning of each night I would lay out a stack of mattress pads, sheets, pajamas, diapers, dermablast spray, and Costco sized tub of diaper cream. Each time I’d wake I would push the laundry loads through, first load to dryer, next load of dirty linens to washer so the soiled pieces would all be ready for the next evening. I was so sleep deprived, so deep in a postpartum fog and so isolated that I forgot to stop and question if this was normal. I hadn’t gone through it with Connor, so reason would suggest that it was NOT the natural way of things, but I was so exhausted and bewildered my brain had not even bothered to stop and examine the situation. When I was on the phone with my dear friend after a particularly awful marathon evening she said, “I think you need to consider getting some food testing done.” It was as if I’d been standing alone in a coal mine a mile under the surface of the earth tasked with building a space shuttle with no light or tools and someone had just hand delivered me NASA’S finest and an action plan. I had been so deep in it, I was just in survival mode, just getting though, I never stopped to consider that I could make a change, ANY change, and things could get better. His Doctor ordered allergy testing and we discovered severe allergies to Dairy, Soy, Peanuts, Tree Nuts,Vanilla, and the Family Dog. We made major diet changes for him, the dog went to live with family friends and I started sleeping though the night. Max came back from the brink of extinction, and has grown into an amazing child.
As Max has grown, we allow him to have very small amounts of dairy and soy which can still cause severe diarrhea . The lining of his stomach and intestine become so inflamed he just can’t process it . He takes probiotics and we are very cautious but still try to allow him to enjoy a french fry now and then. The crazy poop episodes are a result of that imperfect diet. We can’t allow a nut item of any kind, exposure to nuts can be fatal, but letting him eat cheddar goldfish crackers is simply part of being a child and research suggests that small amounts of exposure are necessary to aid his body in learning to process trace amounts.
So, now it seems as though Ainsley might have some food allergies as well, she has some testing next week. My girlfriend asked me what I would write about if I didn’t have to worry about poop under towels in the hallway, midnight sheet washing and scrubbing shit from underneath fingernails.
I have no idea. But I have a feeling I don’t have to worry about that. I see no end to the excess of poop in my future.