BRAD     |     EMILLIE

Friday, May 04, 2012

In the haze of a sulfite spray

Nikolai's flushing had already started by 3 months when everyone was continuously telling me that he must be sick with a fever... he was always that flushed.  By the time he was a year old I was used to the fluctuating cycles of rosy cheeks, sore bum and hyperactivity.  I generally assumed that he just suffered from serious teething symptoms.  That was, until he got his last set of teeth just after his second birthday.  At that point in time the rash on his cheeks and bottom were so severe that a trip to the doctor was in order.

Given that the doctor was in Ireland, and the Irish health care system is mainly based on prescriptions, Nikolai was declared to have a yeast infection.  We were given an anti-yeast cream along with a backup prescription for an antibiotic/steroid cream (I ripped up the spare prescription immediately, I was not going to be smearing his cheeks and his nether region in steroids without some sort of certainty about the cause of his skin rash).

Over the course of the year Nikolai was declared to have a yeast infection on at least 5 different occasions.  Each time we would go on to an anti-yeast diet for a few weeks, use the anti-yeast cream and everything would clear up.  It was this continuous cycle of yeast infections that caused us to do the hardcore anti-yeast diet last summer.

After a summer of no-sugar, yeast, white grains, etc. Nikolai was pretty clear.  In September we went back to our usual healthy diet and his skin issues came back!  Another trip to the doctor resulted in another diagnosis of a yeast infection and another dose of cream.  Even the doctor was starting to express doubts about the background of Nikolai's yeast problems, and she suggested that perhaps he should be tested for diabetes.  Seriously... diabetes... which if you'd met Nikolai then you'd realise that it's quite unlikely that my very perky and energetic kid has type 1 diabetes.

After some googling I decided that maybe his problem was a sucrose allergy, as it is linked to chronic yeast infections.  Going off sucrose worked great.  His skin was pretty clear, and we (mostly) stayed off sugar... until about two months ago.

After returning to Canada we caught up on all our developmental checks, and it was during a check up with a community health nurse that I mentioned the sucrose free diet.  She basically laughed off my hypothesis. She said that his symptoms sounded more like a regular allergy than a problem with digesting sugar, and recommended that we see an allergist.  I was happy to have Nikolai back on sucrose so we gave up on the diet, which resulted in his symptoms flaring up again... and our Doctor in Canada sent us along to an allergist.

Phew, this is quite the story, but I'm almost done...

The allergist looked at Nikolai's diet diary and skin... and suggested that he might have a sulfite problem.  According to the allergist (and I'm inclined to agree) testing for food allergies with blood, scratching, saliva, etc is quite unreliable.  Dietary testing is the only way to go, so we are spending the next 2 weeks sulfite free!  Oddly enough, the sulfite diet is pretty similar to the anti-yeast diet... nothing white (the bleach contains sulfites)... nothing pre-packaged (nearly everything contains sulfites, even if it's organic, and it's not generally on the ingredient label)...  no dried fruits or pre-shelled nuts... no bulk foods (mostly all sprayed with sulfites).  I'm only into day 3 of making everything from scratch, and it's been a struggle.  None of my usual flavour enhancers are available... no soy sauce or boullion, and I don't get any short cuts... not even canned tomatoes are allowed, let alone any crackers or other easy kid foods.  And absolutely NO EATING OUT!  Sigh, it's like a blast to the 1800's.  I'm busy making up homemade vegetable stock and peeling those tomatoes by hand...

The scary part is... that Brad and I fear that this could actually be the cause of Nikolai's flushing and bum issues.  The no sugar diet seemed to mostly work... but that greatly reduced the amount of processed foods available for Nikolai to eat.  Staying off sucrose is eerily similar to avoiding sulfites.  So I may be a slave to the 1800's kitchen for a while.  Sighs.

The pictures are from the Times Colonist 10 km run that happened last weekend (the start/finish was about 3 blocks from our house).  Brad's company sponsored everyone to run, so he had joined the running crew at work to practice for the 10 km (it only took him 53min, so not too shabby).  Nikolai did the 1.5 km kids run in 15 minutes!  And he was probably one of the youngest kids to run the race without any assistance.  I don't have a picture of Brad crossing the finish line... but it wasn't for lack of effort.  The place was a zoo!

1 comment:

The Tewksburys said...

Wow. I had no idea how much we were exposed to sulfites. It sounds like such a challenge to eliminate them. I am sure it is nice to maybe have an anser finally but you probably wish it were a little simpler. Do you have to change soaps and shampoos, etc? I know they are laden with sulfites too. Hang in there and give me an update! Tell Brad congrats on the race! Maybe he should come run a half marathon with me in Portland sometime :)

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