Sunday, March 10, 2013

Cupcake Grief

I came across this today, an old post that never went up, but which really brought the moment back. This was the day before my daughter's 14th birthday last year.

Cupcake Grief

I've been a bit down these last two months. Came down with the flu. Came down with whooping cough. Plus, it's been very hard to keep up with the cooking and the kids all by myself, what with the hubby working in another state at the moment.

Like many people who are still learning about their allergy or reaction to food, every few months, I learn something new about our food. I learn about an added ingredient that wasn't on the label, or that was part of the processing, and it invariably throws doubt onto whether a reaction was from X vs. from Y.

Part of this is the nature of the beast. With an allergy, it's scary as all get out, but a severe allergy seems as though it's usually easier to track down. With an intolerance, it can be a delayed reaction that occurs a day or two later, or a reaction that only occurs after X amount has been ingested, or even a reaction to a food that simply involves inflammation so the body starts feeling pain after eating anything. That always makes deciphering even the best kept food journal a real challenge.

It's less terrifying, but more frustrating, I think. As an example, in my food journal at one point, I reacted to salt. You read that right: salt. I reacted to salt after salt after salt. Iodized salt and sea salt both. It took me ages to find one that didn't make me sick. I found out that many salts that made me sick had contact to one of my 'bad' foods and thought that might be the reason.

And then recently I discovered that these salts were also bleached with sulfites, which I also react to. So now, as we are working to increase my sulfite tolerance, I'm left with a choice: stay away from these salts, or try them again. If it was a sulfite reaction, I might be able to have them again. If it was contact with one of my other 'bad' foods, then I'm going to react to every single one.

It makes you think: how important is it to have this food? Is it worth a few hours of pain, a few days, a few weeks?

Sometimes, the answer is: it's important, whether emotionally or physically. And sometimes, it's not jus for me, it's for the kids. Like cupcakes.

I've been letting the kids try a few of their food intolerances in the last couple of weeks. We thought that it might have been food Y instead of food X, or perhaps food M, which we are starting to suspect may be an issue. Food M being coconut (please, PLEASE don't let it be coconut. That stuff is used in everything, even water filters!)

In any case, the kids tried a few new things, and because my daughter's birthday is coming up, we were hoping to find something she could have for it. Just one dessert, any dessert. 

And then I heard of a nearby gluten free bakery that makes gluten free, dairy free, egg free, soy free, CORN free cupcakes. I was so excited! We'd just tried this combination recently and had eaten some GF food that didn't make the kids sick, for the first time in, well, ever! So we were so happy to try these.

They looked beautiful, the frosting all floaty and thick and white. It was a perfect day, nice blue sky and dainty poofy clouds, almost no wind. We picked this pretty little wrought iron table to eat at, just outside the bakery, and the kids dug in. Within five minutes, they were pale and hunched over the table, holding their stomachs and looking at me with such a look of loss it broke my heart.

They both broke down in the car. My son curled into a ball and hid his face against the door for the rest of the drive home. My daughter cried very softly and just sort of crumbled.

I wanted to cry with them. It's so stupid. It's just a freaking cupcake, I thought. Why are we all upset over a stupid cupcake? Because the sad thing is, they weren't upset over the pain. I hate that this is true, but they're both used to pain so much that they shake off all but the worst now.

But the fact that we couldn't sit down and eat this one, tiny cupcake really got to all of us. I want that for my kids. I want them to be able to do this, and right now, it's not looking like they will ever get it. And I NEED to find a way to make them okay with that. Considering that my daughter has some problems that neither we nor the doctors have been able to figure out yet, this type of thing is going to happen again, and it will happen more frequently if we take chances. I don't want that for her.

I only wish I was a better cook so I could make something better tasting for them. I think it would be so much different if I could just accomplish that. I'm still struggling with that so much. For myself, I honestly don't care. I'm perfectly fine eating the same food four days in a row, for every meal, as I figure out what else I want to eat. But the kids aren't. They were old enough when they were diagnosed that they remember what it used to be like.

They still miss their food, or rather, they miss food that tasted good. They have enough pain from 'bad' foods that they aren't even tempted to try and eat them, usually (my son has his moments). But we are a far cry from where we were. There's not a variety every week, or a 'favorite dish' even, at the moment.

We all need to learn more about cooking to make this work and I only hope that someday, moments like this will be something we remember, but don't experience any more, because we'll have so much food that we enjoy that it won't even matter.

More than 6 months after I wrote this, I'm happy to realize that we do have some favorite dishes now. They aren't anything huge. Fried potatoes and sage-beef are one of them. Falafel with hummus. Socca bread is now on the list. Cilantro cod is another my son loves. And our baked apple sorbet is our go-to dessert of choice. Both the kids enjoy that.

It's nowhere near the fancy frosting laden desserts we had in the past, but having any food that we like is such a huge step up, it's a relief. So while my cooking is still slow to improve, at least it's heading in the right direction!

1 comment:

  1. Food allergies and sulfite allergies are so difficult. We just want to eat what everyone else wants to eat - a little bit of normal.