One thing that is absolutely for certain about our healing journey with Ellie, is that some things are just hard to understand until you live through it. Isn't that so true for life in general? Often I find myself just shrugging and stepping out, figuring we will make sense of it when we get there....or not. Sometimes it never makes sense. Such is life.
Periodically I have heard other mamas talk about retracing. It has been a hard one to wrap my brain around - this idea that as healing progresses and the body is more equipped, it deals with unfinished business from the past. Sounds even more hokey in writing.
I have been attempting to learn more about sensory processing and how to help Ellie with her missed milestones and gaps in attachment. She missed out on quite a bit from 0 to 18 months of age. Even though I did everything possible at the time to help her sick, hurting, and malnourished body, the pain did not stop. The result was an attachment issue that until now I would have naively assumed applied only to children without parents sitting in orphanages. Oh, the ridiculous assumptions and generalities we make based on our limited experience.
About 2 months ago Ellie began to regress emotionally. She began to do weird things, like want to crawl, baby talk, and be carried sideways by me like an infant. At times she would just simply sit and cry, wanting to be held. Sometimes she would start yelling "mine! mine!" She had separation anxiety. And I began to realize that she was working through some of the things she missed. Her behavior was about that of a 12-14 month old.
Interestingly enough, this time frame coincided with the same time that her health began to really take a nose dive. By 16 months old her complicated symptoms were at their worst, and by the time we started her on GAPS at 18 months old she was critical. This 12-14 month mark was a time of developing unexplained respiratory symptoms, rashes, and a LOT of diarrhea. I remember her poor little bum was so raw and bleeding from her green acid poop that she would scream whenever she had to pee.
About 1 month ago Ellie started to get sick. There were a lot of factors, but the decline began about the same time our hens stopped laying eggs and her daily egg intake went down. She kept getting sicker so I sought out another source for eggs. I found soy free, corn free, wheat fed eggs and figured that her need for the eggs seemed to out-weigh the possibility she still might have an issue with what the hens were fed. I was wrong. Eczema, diarrhea, reflux, then on to vomit. We don't know whether the eggs were the main culprit, or the honey and fruit I gave her access to prematurely, or the addition of winter squash, or the other environmental toxins she was dealing with (for example I put up one of those white boards at the same time, DUH mommy fail!). Most likely it was all of it rolled into one big episode of pushing her too far.
Nightmares, toxic all night pee, sweet smelling breath, cradle cap, constant inconsolable crying...it was all a strange flash back. Her neurological symptoms were getting worse, and her verbal was disappearing. Environmental exposure pushed her into a daytime seizure and I called it quits. Though we had pulled the egg it was not enough. Her body was so overloaded she was refusing coconut oil and fermented coconut water. Back to meat, broth and a little bit of summer squash we went.
Daddy had a hard time with this. He was adamant that after all this time she did not need such drastic measures, and determined she was healed beyond this. It was hard for him because the symptoms combined with the food changes, sent us reeling backwards to a time we longed to be in her distant past. We had to stop and evaluate and realize that it was not as it appeared. It was the equivalent of Ellie getting the flu. What do we ALL need and benefit from? Broth. Soup. Basic.
Brenda at The Well Fed Homestead published a post about how she got physically ill while helping her children heal missed milestones. It got me thinking, and I made the observation that Ellie's symptoms were entirely pre-GAPS, and coincided to her behavior changes as well. Bizarro. Right on down to the funky respiratory issues and crazy horrible eczema. As I tried to clean her poor burning butt I thought 'boy, this is harder with a screaming, talking toddler'. Diarrhea! Up until now she has never had diarrhea like this on GAPS. She has battled constipation for months, and this is not great for progressing in the healing category. Her systematic yeast was out of control again, and this time her body was doing what it was supposed to do by pushing it out. Retracing. Back to a time when it was not equipped to respond in such a way.
Remarkable! This was the sign that she was entering another stage of her healing journey. Progress in illness? Illness that is resolved and that her body was allowed to fight and work through. Illness she was nutritionally equipped to handle...finally.
It took about 3 days for her body to begin to reset. That is astonishing after the length of time she has needed in the past. Her eczema is almost gone. Her distended belly is gone once more. Her words are all back. That funky breath smell still comes and goes. She is guzzling coconut water and eating coconut oil once more.
She has come out the other side sleeping longer at night (will it stick?), not peeing as much at night (sweet!), and with loose formed stools multiple times a day, instead of constipation (say what!). And she finished it up by getting a snotty virus that she has shared with the rest of the family. I can not even remember the last time she had a snotty, respiratory anything that was not toxin or food related, causing us to bust out the nebulizer, inhaler, or make trips to have her oxygen levels checked. She seems to be working through it this time just fine, all on her own.
I think I may be finally starting to wrap my head around this idea of retracing.
photo credit 1: WilsonB photo credit 2: telepathicparanoia