Home > Food, Health, Parenting > A scary week ended well

A scary week ended well

My five-year-old son, Li’l D, complained of a stomachache when he awakened the Wednesday before last.

He was fine soon after, but awakened with the same complaint on Thursday. This time, he threw up, leading him to join his dad at work instead of going to school.

“Morning nausea in kids can be a sign of terrible things, hon,” I told my husband, Anthony.

“He does not have cancer, Deb,” he replied.

(I’ve read about this symptom in cancer parent blogs that I’ve shared with Anthony. (Bless his heart, he actually reads them.)

“But he could. We just need to keep an eye on it, okay.”

I awakened at 3:30 Saturday morning to the sound of vomiting in the bathroom. I ran to Li’l D and took to rubbing his back while he finished up. I escorted him to my bed afterward, then soothed him back to sleep before consulting with Dr. Google.

When Anthony awakened a couple of hours later, I explained why I’d been up since 3:30 before showing him my search results.

“Well, shit,” he murmured after reading the Celiac disease common symptoms list and overview in an article I can’t find right now. “This all sounds familiar.”

Food sensitivities and intolerances–among others–are also common causes for these symptoms. Regardless of the particular source, the link was strong enough that Anthony supported me immediately starting Li’l D on the Paleo diet I use to ease my own sensitivities. The benefits of doing so while waiting for a doctor visit heavily outweighed any costs.

Li’l D ate Paleo all Saturday. He awakened vomiting on Sunday, but seemed more energetic and happier. He ate Paleo Sunday, too.

boy + 30 seconds + 1 raw avocado = this

Avocado in him, not on him, though

Monday morning was a kind of amazing we haven’t seen for months.

Instead of having to drag a moody Li’l D out of bed ten minutes post alarm, he joined us in the living room fifteen minutes pre-alarm without nausea and with enormous zest. “Good morning!” he shouted while flinging his arms around me. “Can I watch TV?”

Anthony and I gazed wide-eyed at each other.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning were repeats of Monday. On Thursday, Anthony and I let Li’l D eat cupcakes with his class, deciding the social costs of depriving him the experience were probably greater than the health costs of a single cupcake.

He was berserk and inattentive that evening. It was like we’d gone back in time to the Thursday prior.

Yesterday morning was nausea free, but marked by nervous energy and lack of focus.

Now it’s early Saturday morning. Anthony and I are awake after having done as we did in our early dating days: watched and critiqued bad horror. (Oh, Ouija. You should have been five minutes. Maybe six.)

Li’l D came up in post-movie conversation. “It sucks,” said Anthony.

“Yeah, well, when you come from a baseline of thinking ‘cancer’ immediately, it doesn’t seem so bad.”


But that’s the truth. As one who now knows how dramatically food can impact health, I’m pretty OK trading unhealthy foods for health.

That doesn't mean I don't indulge. It's just more sparing, like when I discovered creepy video ordering this  morning

That doesn’t mean I don’t indulge. It’s just more sparing. See, e.g., yesterday morning.

Li’l D will see his doctor soon. In the meantime, his dad and I will enjoy a sweet, upbeat, focused boy displaying little to none of the gradually grown gloominess we’d attributed to his having to share his parents’ time and attention with a littler one.

I began Li’l D’s first week Paleo scared. I go into week two with optimism evident in my last few posts, both thankful and ready to document here Li’l D’s food journey.

  1. March 21, 2015 at 5:13 am

    I am so glad that he has the least scary option. Good for you for thinking on your feet and feeding him the paleo, I don’t know many who would have tried that option!

    • March 21, 2015 at 7:06 pm

      Me, too! Even when he woke up feeling all perky Monday morning, I was nervous that it was a fluke, As the week went on, I felt more and more certain we’d found an answer … maybe not all the answers, but at least this one important one! 🙂

  2. March 21, 2015 at 7:08 am

    Sounds like I should try this paleo thing. I could use some more energy.

    • March 21, 2015 at 7:11 pm

      I cannot recommend it highly enough. I went from having huge energy peaks and valleys to feeling pretty darn good pretty consistently throughout the day (provided no exposure to crazy perfumes/air fresheners/cleaning solvents, but eating Paleo lessens my response to such things). I started with a Whole30, which is just a 30-day commitment to eating according to those specific Paleo foods and seeing what difference it makes.

      I’ve adapted since then, but I’m glad I stumbled upon Whole30’s It Starts with Food–and read all the amazing testimonials–which has made a world of difference to the severity of my chemical sensitivities and my overall health. I don’t usually talk about it unless someone asks, but … when they someone does, it’s hard not to be effusive, given how positively it’s impacted my energy, health and life. 🙂

      • March 22, 2015 at 6:58 am

        Thanks for the link! I’ve heard of the paleo diet, but I’m not really sure what it is. I’ll definitely check it out.

  3. cardamone5
    March 21, 2015 at 7:19 am

    I am glad for Lil D you found an interim and possibly long term solution to his vomiting. I hope the doc concurs with your intelligent diagnosis.

    Now, I’ve heard you mention the Paleo diet before, but this is the first time I have clicked the link and read the rules. The first question that occurred to me is what do I eat for breakfast (usually eat bran cereal with milk, yogurt and tea cups of caffeinated tea sweetened with honey) and what do I serve my family (eggs, toast with peanut butter, juice, bananas, sometimes graham crackers, and sometimes pancakes?) It is not your job to find alternates for me, but i am curious what you eat instead.

    I have the comments notifications turned off because my OCD self can’t handle all the comments from blogs I follow, so can you e-mail me your response to: cardamonefive@gmail.com? If not, I can always check back on this post to see if you responded.



    • March 21, 2015 at 7:39 pm

      I’ll email you in the next day or two, but I want to reply here in case someone else reads through comments and finds this useful.

      The folks who got me started down the Paleo path recommended thinking not in terms of “breakfast,” “lunch” and “dinner” but “meal one,” “meal two” and “meal three.” They emphasized choosing foods they call “nutrient dense” and learning to enjoy them no matter when in the day they’re eaten. That being said, it seems from my readings that lots of folks still heavily emphasize traditionally breakfast fare like eggs and compliant sausage.

      My favorite breakfast these days is soup. I make an enormous batch on the weekend and eat it (with a few extra veggies) through the week for breakfast. I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s just the right fuel to get me through the early day.

      More later, by email! 🙂

  4. Jen
    March 21, 2015 at 7:55 am

    I heart paleo recipes. Glad you are getting to the bottom of this!

    • March 21, 2015 at 7:14 pm

      Me, too, on both counts! I think I’m just about to like ’em more as I start branching out (for Li’l D’s sake) tomorrow. 🙂

  5. March 21, 2015 at 8:03 am

    As we say here in the South, “Bless his heart, and yours, too.” That’s my way of saying you’re a good mom and you’ll do whatever it takes to maximize what’s right for your boy. Good luck going forward.

    • March 21, 2015 at 7:16 pm

      Many thanks, Pat. On another note, it’s so good to see you here! I miss your posts, but hope it’s happy things keeping you away.

  6. March 21, 2015 at 8:34 am

    We went through this exact scenario with our son. Turned out he had Celiac Disease. Then we found out that I was the carrier. Our whole house is now Gluten-free and it’s rare that we have those moments anymore. It’s hard to see at that age, but it’s nice to know it’s kind of an easy fix. Good luck to you!

    • March 21, 2015 at 7:22 pm

      What’s amazing to me is that I personally experienced how profoundly diet can impact health and mood, yet failed to grasp how similarly Li’l D might be impacted. He’s been eating mostly Paleo breakfast and dinner with me for months, but what he’s eating in between has clearly been harmful.

      Seeing the physical and mood changes in D the last week have been so eye-opening. It’s going to take a little adjustment to get food volumes updated, but man, will it be worth it. I feel this even more strongly reading your comment. Thank you!

  7. March 21, 2015 at 10:29 am

    So glad you seem to have found a solution that’s so eminently fixable!

    • March 21, 2015 at 7:23 pm

      Ditto that! Hopefully we’re catching it early enough to have avoided some longer term harms. Any which way, glad to have caught this–whatever particular “this” it is!–now.

  8. March 21, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    It’s always frightening when a little one displays frightening signs! Glad to hear he’s happy and healthy on paleo. I am noticing really low energy in myself when I eat white carbohydrates, perhaps I should try paleo!

    • March 21, 2015 at 7:29 pm

      I highly recommend Paleo. If I hadn’t seen thousands (and read hundreds) of testimonials in the early stages of my switchover, I might be a little more reserved about doing so … but it’s made a world of difference for me, and I’d love other people to experience this goodness.

      (Because the change understandably felt like a loss to Li’l D, we decided we’d permit him an episode of TV each evening he eats his whole lunch. That’s made him a whole lot happier to be almost wholly Paleo!)

  9. March 21, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    I’m so glad you’ve found a likely solution to Lil D’s health issues! I really, really hope a change in diet continues to improve his mood, outlook and health.

  10. March 21, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    Diet is soooo important in all our lives, but especially in small bodies. I couldn’t emphasize enough to parents of my ADHD kids how important proper nutrition was for their kids (wasn’t an easy thing, though, for my teenage students!) Hopefully this special diet will be his answer (and if it isn’t, I’m sure you’ll find something that is!) Good luck, Deborah. I look forward to following his progress…. 🙂

    • March 21, 2015 at 7:34 pm

      I noticed that when I’d have some sugary chocolate-y treat after eating Paleo for several weeks, I could really see how negatively it impacted my mood.

      The more I’m eating crappy, the more that negativity becomes my baseline, so that what’s a short term shock while eating well suddenly becomes longer term and ordinary. Even having witnessed this for myself, I failed to understand how others might truly be impacted.

      Li’l D’s been eating more Paleo than not for months, but it’s clear to me now that the not-Paleo portion–though “healthy” by most standards–has been having an increasingly harmful impact. I’m so glad to be nipping it in the bud now!

      Many, many thanks for the encouragement and sharing your experiences! ♥

  11. March 21, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    Hubby and I are trying to cut carbs. I love paleo food, but as a working mom of 2, I need recipes I can cook fast. Any cookbook or blog suggestions?

    • March 21, 2015 at 7:04 pm

      I’ve ended up setting aside 90-120 minutes to cook on the weekend and using it to make the quickest foods: soup (which I eat for breakfast daily), a different sort of meatball each week, a stovetop meat/veggie scramble, some wet sauteed greens and roasted veggies. That round of cooking gets me through most meals of the week, but I don’t recall where I got the initial recipes.

      I did just finishing perusing the recipes from The Paleo Approach Cookbook (by blogger The Paleo Mom. I haven’t cooked any of its recipes yet, but there are many, many more simple, straightforward recipes in one place than I’ve found elsewhere. (The book has a 4.4 star rating on Amazon, so it looks like others feel the same after having cooked from it.) I’ll be mixing in a couple of its recipes when I cook tomorrow. While I don’t mind the same thing day in and day out, I want Li’l D to feel excited by some of his meals. 🙂

      I occasionally make recipes from The Clothes Make the Girl (the chocolate chili is amazing!) and Nom Nom Paleo. There are some great Autoimmune Protocol ones (which tend to be simpler, and omit ingredients than can be troubling for some) here.

      Good luck!

  12. March 22, 2015 at 5:36 am

    I am so happy you found something that maybe gets everyone healthy and happy quickly and with little real change! Poor baby. Poor Mommy. Deb, I can only say to you, you are a wonderful mother. Rest, relax and take some deep breaths. I hope you feel my hugs from where you are. ❤

  13. March 22, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    I can vouch for gluten-free & reduced carb load eating, it’s done wonders for me! Good luck with Li’l D.

  14. March 22, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    Best of luck with him! I look forward to reading updates as to how this keeps going, especially after he sees his doctor. I’ve experienced symptoms of Celiac since I was around 8, but wasn’t diagnosed til age 16. My first symptoms were the sort of gloomy irritability you’ve mentioned here. At the time (I was 8 in 2002 – people were much less aware of this sort of thing), my mother tried taking me off gluten but my doctor discouraged us because he thought it would ultimately be unhealthy. I do wish he would’ve allowed me to stay off gluten, because the symptoms that followed included stunted growth (my parents are 5’9” and 5’10” while I’m almost 5’1”), joint problems, neurological problems and various paralyses, various effects of nutritional deficiencies, swollen organs… the list goes on. All this to say, I’m so glad Li’l D is feeling better now – it’s an important reminder to me that children today aren’t going through the same medical non-awareness issues as I once did! x

  15. March 23, 2015 at 4:48 am

    Thinking of you all, and so glad you found a (relatively) easy change to adopt that is helping him just as it’s helped his Mama. Hugs all around. ❤

  1. April 9, 2015 at 6:54 pm
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