WE HAVE HAIR!!!! Yes, indeedy. 30 days into a new eating plan and Toodle has FULL-ON HAIR.
It is the sweetest, most precious, baby-fine, bleach-blonde peach fuzz I have ever seen. I need more adjectives and hyperbole in that last sentence. But, slow as it is to come in, it is adorable. Her hair looks like newborn hair, soft and delicate. So then I not only get emotional about this major medical development, but I also reminisce about her newborn days. Because motherhood. Gets me every time.
And this is ALL WITHOUT PRESCRIPTIONS. Yes, perhaps the greatest joy I have about this development is we are gaining strides without steroid creams. After extreme hair fall the past four months, her body is turning a corner all on its own. Why and how? Well, this. Hang in there with me.
K-Hubs and I had been losing sleep, as in, literally staying up at night while the girls slept, debating our options for her treatment. Making medical decisions for someone else is an entirely different ball game. And when it’s for a little? Well, let the guilt and cognitive dissonance come flooding in.
We began to feel guilty about putting her on a steroid in the first place. But K-Hubs and I didn’t know any better two years ago. Honestly, no one did. And then I felt bad about considering taking her off the steroid without having an alternative. Never mind that the medicine didn’t actually work as a cure and stopping treatment was a logical option. I couldn’t just quit on her. False security wouldn’t let me. Because motherhood. Gets me every time. Bald is definitely beautiful. But I kept thinking, so, too, is a healthy immune system.
Rare but serious side effects of the steroid treatment include Cushing’s syndrome, a poorly functioning pituitary gland, and a poorly functioning hypothalamus. These are extreme examples, and patients are supposed to go off the medication after something like two weeks. But, omigosh, this kid has been on the medicine for TWO YEARS. So now I get to panic about the damage we’ve already done to her. Because motherhood. Gets me every time.
And then I found Dr. Amy Myers and her book The Autoimmune Solution, a work that promotes more than just autoimmune health. She goes in-depth about inflammation and resulting diseases, covering everything from acne and ear infections to weight issues and fibromyalgia.
The diet and lifestyle are strict. But, the benefits are worth it. One element of the plan includes stopping all nonessential medications. The timing couldn’t have been better. No more sleepless nights. This is what we were looking for. So, out went the clobetasol. And in came more fruits, vegetables, bone broth, and animal protein.
I have come to believe food is medicine. And I do think Toodle’s hair is growing in as a result of this diet. One could argue that not only is food medicine, but when all the unhealthy food is gone, there is nothing left but the good. Inevitably, the body is going to heal itself. Not exactly overnight, but in due time. Rather than feel cautiously optimistic about this, I think it’s apt to say we are feeling patient. From afar, Toodle looks almost completely bald. But upon close inspection, you’ll find the adorable peach fuzz, a common beginning for regrowth in alopecia sufferers. She has both dark brown and bleach blonde fuzz. People pay big bucks for that look.
The girls, affectionately named Whiney and McBawlerton throughout this process, put up a fight for about two days when we started following The Autoimmune Solution because another part of the plan required us to take out ALL GRAINS. Yes, you are reading this correctly. No grains, cereals, oatmeal, rice, etc. In some autoimmune cases, the body mistakes foods like these for gluten. Because Toodle wasn’t improving to the degree we wanted prior to this diet and she has a wheat allergy, it dawned on us her body may not be able to tell the difference. Out they went, along with sugar, nuts, seeds, legumes, and nightshade vegetables. Thank God we had already given up dairy. Fine, 3/4 of our family has permanently given up dairy. Oh, I’m sorry, do I love cheese? Maybe.
However, something amazing happened. When all the tasty comfort food went out the door, never to return, it was shocking how quickly the Whiney-McBawlertons got on the fruit and vegetable bandwagon. Yeah, avocados aren’t so bad are they, kiddos? Huh, that’s what I thought.
I will admit, though, I have come around to embrace this diet. I might even consider chickens for the backyard (should we build a fence?) and a cow for our back deck (probably I should measure the deck and the cow to ensure spatial compatibility – who wants to go cow shopping with me?). What about pigs? Maybe they could sleep on our front porch. No one would notice, would they? I hear pigs are great for resale value.
I follow the diet 100% at home, but when I’m out with my friends, oh, you know I’m ordering a main dish of gluten with a side of dairy complete with sugar for dessert. Because that’s how I roll.
I told K-Hubs I would give up my beloved oatmeal but I got to keep coffee. As I told him, “I am the ONLY person in this family foursome who does not have an immediate medical reason to eat like this. I think I get wife and mother of the year for this one. Now excuse me while I drive around the neighborhood scarfing down my Jimmy John’s.” Recently, it was a bag of Doritos. I change up my parking locations so as not to appear suspicious. I can just imagine what the conversation would be like if I ever did get stopped by a cop.
COP: We got a call about a suspicious parked car. What are you doing, lady?
ME: Me? What am I doing? Just, um, inhaling a bag of Doritos.
COP: Are you high? Under the influence of anything?
ME: No. It’s not that exciting. My family just can’t have gluten. Or cheese. Or tomatoes. Or sugar. Or grains. Or nuts. Or seeds.
COP: Then what can you have?
ME: Chicken and tree bark, that’s what we can have. Delicious, too. Especially if you season it with organic dirt and all-natural leaves.
Fortunately The Autoimmune Solution comes with delicious, real-world recipes. Organic dirt is entirely optional. Lettuce chicken wraps? Yes, please. Whole chickens? Don’t get me started, but I am an expert on cooking those bad boys now. Breakfast turkey sausage? Where do I sign? Apple crisp? Twinkle Whines and then McBawls whenever we run out. Seriously. She cries in her high chair if it runs out. It doesn’t dawn on her that apple crisp doesn’t grow on trees. Well, the crisp part doesn’t anyway.
And I sleep well at night. I know that K-Hubs and Toodle are feeling the best they have felt in years. I tell myself the new diet will heal them and maybe even undo the effects of having been on medication. Toodle’s hair is growing in slowly, but now I feel confident that if, for some reason, she has another hair fall episode, I can keep searching. There are people out there way smarter than me who have the same questions I do, and they have the labs and resources to find the answers and pass them down to me.
As for Twinkle, I worry less about her getting an autoimmune disease. She is at a much higher risk for it than, say, I am. But with this plan, we are all eating healthy, and I know it has been good for me, too. I confess I feel a little pride in that. But, that coffee? Oh, yes, I still look forward to it every morning.