And so came and went the last week of July 2010. I spent this week moving between the stages of helplessness, frustration, and anger. I was grieving. After a couple of days reflecting on the appointment with the allergist, I was determined that my new life of advocating had begun and it was time to hit the internet for resources. I spent hours upon hours, late at night researching FPIES in hopes of determining if it was indeed the appropriate diagnosis and trying to understand what it meant. How in the world could an infant not eat protein? What exactly is food protein? The questions were limitless (and still are).
A great friend suggested I try facebook and Baby Center for resources, and I hit the jackpot. Who would have guessed? Not I! What I found were other moms desperate for answers. Some were worse than Elianna, terribly worse. The information was overwhelming and came rolling in by the encyclopedia full. These moms knew way more than the doctors. The reality of the diagnosis was setting in, as well as what it meant. I looked back at the last year and realized I had never really stopped to let it soak in. We have a special needs child. And the next week was her first birthday.
In the middle of all this I was planning a birthday party, which I soon discovered to be FPIES style and very common. No cake. No ice cream. No treats. No way to blow out a candle and no cute pictures of smashing the icing. I decided, most reluctantly, to embrace our new situation, and a 'fruit theme' it became. I poured over invitations, decorations, and gift ideas in an effort to make it a special day for her in spite of her condition. And I cried. No cake. No ice cream. No candle. I cried again.
I think this is probably a major transitional time for most FPIES families. It is when the reality hits if it hasn't already. For some reason the pediatric community sees 12 months old as being some magical age where 'real' food can be introduced and breastfeeding or formula no longer becomes as critical. Children are expected to begin eating, sitting at the table, and joining in. And they know. They want it, they reach for it, and they can't have it. This was affirmed by my visit to the allergist.
I neared the end of this reflective week. I had spent hours on my knees praying, as well as on the internet researching and making connections. My conclusion: FPIES it is, and not knowing was not acceptable. I made a return appointment for the GI where I knew someone was on my side. And I pleaded for help from a small handful of women I now 'knew' from the internet. I started a written medical journal for Ellie, going back through the last year and documented what I could. I wrote a summary of symptoms and changes, and then wrote a list of recent changes and current symptoms. What became clear is that she was not well. We had seen improvement with the change to Nutramigen Lipil, but we had not seen what I now know is called 'baseline'. She refused food because it meant pain, and we could not move forward. I had to make a plan because I could not sit and wait for the allergist who had never called. Life as we knew it must change whether we liked it or not - and I guarantee, none of us liked it. Now if we could just figure out how to move forward.