Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My Dream of Being a GAPS Groupie

Its been awhile since I posted about our current needs with Ellie. We are financially stretched to put it mildly, but God continues to provide as we go along. I figured it may be time for me to throw out another post about what our current situation looks like.

On a weekly basis Ellie eats/uses approximately:

1. 10 pounds of grass fed bones
2. 7 pounds of grass fed organic meat
3. 7 pounds of zucchini

This is a conservative estimate, and cost varies depending on the type of meat we buy. While beef can cost us between $5 and $9 per pound, lamb usually begins at $9 per pound and goes to about $12 per pound. Total we spend between $100 and $150 per week on Ellie's food.

In addition to Ellie's food needs, I discovered an opportunity after the application deadline for scholarships. Dr. Natasha (GAPS) is an active member of the Weston A Price Foundation, and will be speaking at their annual conference in November in Dallas, TX. In addition to being an auditory learner, and having had a severely steep learning curves in the last six months, this conference looks like a incredible one-stop-shop for getting me over the hump and into the land of the science of real food. We have been 'stuck' with Ellie for awhile, and the pressure is on me to figure out what food next or how to trudge my way through GAPS. This conference would meet several needs in our home and for Ellie: I would be given the opportunity to listen to hours of Dr Natasha providing education on GAPS protocols, there would be multiple classes on cooking real food and those hard to figure out items such as ferments and making ghee, and there is a full day presentation on poultry farming and raising them without commercial feed!

For obvious reasons this expense is hard to cover. The conference is $440, the chicken workshop is $85, airfare would be about $250, and then there is the cost of the hotel.

Can you join me in prayer that I can save for these expenses? Perhaps someone knows of a secret coupon code for airfare, or a house that needs 'sitting' in Dallas? Maybe there are scholarship funds remaining in spite of the deadline being passed? Who knows. Maybe. Maybe not. But it certainly doesn't hurt to ask for more prayer. After all, it was only a few short months ago I had no idea I would be led down the path of GAPS, and now I can't wait to be a groupie!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

More Provisions

I was getting ready to start the search once more. Ellie relies heavily on liver and organ meats for some of her vitamins, and one of the most important is vitamin C. Since the only vegetable she eats is boiled and peeled zucchini, and she can only handle a limited amount of fermented cabbage juice, liver and heart are very important pieces of her diet.

A few months ago the local Henry's Market turned into a Sprouts. Henry's carried the only reliable grass fed, organic beef liver that I have been able to find. Sprouts has not had liver on the shelf since the switch.

It is extremely difficult to get liver from the meat vendors at the Farmer's Markets where we purchase our other meats. Our regular meat supplier, Winterport Farm, has been unable to get liver from their processor. The reason it is so difficult for these farmers is because they need a USDA certified organic processor to butcher and bag their product for market. The USDA (government) likes to keep all extra to resell for things like dog food and to make extra money. If the farmer wants back the marrow bones or the tallow or the liver, all very nutritious pieces of the animal, then the farmer must pay extra. The best way for us to get access to these things is to purchase a whole cow and butcher it ourselves, but we have not been able to cover the cost.

Ellie has been without liver for a few weeks now. I was getting ready to start the sourcing again, and call a beef farm that I have not purchased from in quite some time because they charge more than $3 a pound more per cut of meat than our favorite Winterport Farms. I cringed at the thought, because the cost of Ellie's liver was going to go up substantially.

But wait! Today I saw some of the best news ever come across my facebook page! Some friends who have helped to supply Ellie with bear, venison, and elk in the past, are coming home from a hunting trip. The news? The organs hunters normally leave in the field were harvested, bagged, and brought home just for Ellie. Deer liver! Can't get much more grass fed than that! I cried.

And when I expressed my gratitude, I was told by one of the men in the party that 'those hearts and livers were first priority' with each animal. I cried again.

Humbled. Humbled is a word that still can not express how thankful I am. Glory to God for His provisions, and thank you a million times over to those men for being a vessel of love and supply to our family.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bok Bok

We have 14 chickens that are about 6 weeks old. They are currently on a soy free and corn free feed, and I am occasionally feeding them grain free feed that I have created. Within the next couple weeks I hope to have them grain free. The goal is to get some laying hens for grain free eggs. My thought today: if we have gone through all of this and she can not have eggs I will certainly kick something.

We have a freezer full of soy and corn free chickens, and tried the first one out this week. After one day of just the broth and no meat, Ellie stopped pooping. Is it the grain they were fed? Is she just having a hard time with a new meat? is it....? Here is where my brain is stretched. Here is where FPIES 'pull the food' clashes with GAPS. Do we push through? Do we stop? Is she having an IgE or IgA allergic response? Is it only intolerance that can be pushed through? Is it the grain? The never ending guessing game.

Ellie has been on the same few foods for several months now. She gets approximately 8 to 9 cups of food a day. In that giant half gallon jar I mix 2 to 3 cups of meat puree, 1-2 cups skinned and boiled zucchini puree, and the rest bone broth. In addition to that she gets 1 scoop of Gut Pro probiotic, 1/2 teaspoon fermented cabbage juice, and 1/8 teaspoon of nystatin powder mixed in to her bottles daily. We also include liver. We have spent an incredible amount of time ( a couple months) trying to get raw egg yolk into her diet without success. It is time to try some new things.

The constipation from the chicken is giving me the impression that the egg yolk will be a hang up, too. Other moms have said they had to start with one drop of egg yolk a day in order to build up the tolerance slowly.

I think we are going to change our plan of action. Instead of continuing to trial one thing at a time for several days, and attempt to build up egg, for example, we will add a very small amount of something, and the move on to something else. She has eaten a few things on 'accident', like a raisin last week, without large response at all. This shows healing has been taking place, so time to start over. Back to the beginning to take a look at some of the things she had a hard time with before. Healing takes time, and clearly Ellie will need lots of just that. But I am hopeful! Another FPIES mom and friend has progressed her twins at an amazing pace with GAPS, and I am hopeful for Ellie. One main difference - her twins do not have a corn intolerance. If you would like to hear their amazing story you can read here: An Advocates Tale

So for now, we try to push through the chicken constipation by increasing the probiotic and fermented cabbage juice, and then choosing a new vegetable to try. Here we go!

Friday, September 9, 2011

I Stand Corrected

I didnt wait long enough. It hit her today. I feel HORRIBLE.

The small amount of lentils and scone have caused the worst poo I have seen in quite some time. She has a huge diaper rash that burns and a tummy ache. She is spending the day feeling icky.


The only consolation is that she did not have vomiting or shock symptoms, and that it is clearly her candida out of control again (better than full blown FPIES). From such a small amount?!?!

Once again I am amazed at the sensitivity of the body. Of Ellie's body. As I scratch my own painful eczema because I ate homemade candy with honey last night. It is a marvel at how strong she is. *sigh* Lord bring us healing.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

More Proof

Of COURSE, immediately after I resort to anxiety and wondering how Ellie will progress, she spends the evening asking for bites of my lentil soup, and spends today carrying around and nibbling (licking) a blueberry (almond flour) scone!

WAIT. Before you panic, let me tell you the GOOD news.

Yes, I did what every FPIES mom should NOT do - let her just go for it. BUT - We have already moved all food in the house over to full GAPS (grain free, soy free, corn free, starch free), so I had the reassurance of knowing this while she was carrying food around. Also, the 'bites' of soup were so microscopic that the total ingested was probably 1/32 of a teaspoon.

It was only months ago that Ellie could lick a spoon or have a sticker placed on her skin, and we would have anything from a classic to atypical FPIES reaction. Vomiting, diarrhea, shock like symptoms, etc. from such a small amount. It was terrifying.

This time I knew we had almost 6 months of healing on the calendar. This time I knew that her asking for food was pivotal in making progress. I took a risk.

And this time - NO FPIES RESPONSE!

OK so we had some loose stool the next day which said 'mama what were you thinking', and her eczema is flared, but no vomiting, no extreme diarrhea, no shock like symptoms.

THIS is amazing confirmation that she is truly progressing.

Baby steps.

This does not mean we can begin feeding her, or even that lentils are safe. To start feeding her these things would be silly and just cause damage to her still healing gut. But it is hope. Healing. Exciting! Encouraging that she is ready to begin adding in more foods.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

More Patience

Stuck. Again. OK not really stuck. The fact is, we are making progress towards healing, but the majority of the time it just.does.not.FEEL like we are making any progress. The last few months have gone something like this:

give her egg
take away egg
give her egg
take away egg
uh oh, is it the beef? nope not the beef.
try egg again.
take away egg.
try egg.
take away egg.

WHAT in the WORLD?! Healing. Healing.....takes.....TIME. No magic pill. No fast fix. Individual bodies, individual systems, and individual little intestinal villi that need to regrow at their own individual pace. *SIGH*

The issue of egg continues to be one that is unclear. Is it what the chickens were fed? Or just egg? For a couple months now we are holding firm in the same place:
bottles with 1 ounce zucchini, 2 ounces meat, and 5 ounces of bone broth
fermented cabbage juice

She still doesn't chew or swallow. She is learning to take her broth from a straw. Egg has continued to be a puzzle. So what next? We have to keep moving forward. But not too fast, because healing can't be rushed. Do you see my continual balancing act?

We are nearing the 6 months mark of Ellie being on nystatin powder, and will have to wean her off soon. We no longer have a good source of corn and soy free eggs, and no sources that are grain free. We no longer have wild game in the freezer supplying a variety of meat nutrition, and are making a small rotation through beef, pork and lamb.

So we decided to test her healing progress by giving her zucchini with the skin ON. Yup. Up until now we have given her peeled zucchini to remove the extra fiber which might be too tough on her intestines that are focusing hard on healing.

The verdict? Confusing at first. We had too many other factors and it took a little while to work itself out.


Small steps. Baby steps. Signs of healing. This is huge. And I just have to keep reminding myself that.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Foundation of Food

I am so incredibly humbled by the support of friends and family regarding our journey with Ellie, as well as the launch of the new FPIES Foundation. One friend has gone above and beyond, and it is truly amazing. This awesome friend helped pass the word and I am humbled, flattered, and completely blessed by it.

Check it out here:
Foundation of Food by Front Porch Fighter

Pics of the Chicks

In the Incubator

Ellie's Chicks

The hunt for corn and soy free eggs for Ellie has pushed us towards our own backyard chicken flock. It is not my dream to have a morning and evening chicken routine, but $10 a dozen is not realistic for the budget. In our best attempts to eliminate the soy and corn influence, I purchased fertile eggs from a nearby farm. After 21 days of anticipation we hatched our own heritage chickens using an incubator and a lot of excitement. Starting with 24 fertile eggs, we were happy to end with 14 baby chicks. In only a matter of days Moriah was naming them, and somehow telling them apart.

Here is a picture of our eggs before hatching:

Since these chickens were so incredibly important for Ellie's nutritional needs, I contemplated sitting on them myself. The result was me up at 3 a.m. as the first chick hatched, and attempting to catch it on my iphone. This is a slow and amazing process! Working hard to get the videos to upload but having trouble with blogger.

It will be several months before these chickens start laying eggs for Ellie. In the meantime I am hunting down information on feeding chickens a grain free diet, and figuring out how to tell the roosters from the hens.