Monday, April 7, 2014

Not for the Squeamish: The Effects of Being Glutened

Tonight's blog post was going to be a detailed recap of the Gluten Free Living Conference and all the wonderful people I met and information I learned that I want to pass on to you. Instead, I'm writing about my afternoon, because if you're the parent of a gluten free kid, this is probably a familiar story.

Sometime over the weekend, my son got glutened. No one is entirely sure when it happened, although my husband suspects it may have something to do with a piece of candy. If that last sentence makes no logical sense to you, welcome to my world. My 5 year old is generally so anxious about food that he always asks if it's gluten free.

Anyway, fast forward to today. My son attends an after school program at his school where he gets to run around and blow off some energy before coming home. Today when I picked him up, I could tell right away that something was wrong. He was standing very still, and the look on his face told me he wasn't doing well. The daycare provider told me he hadn't been feeling well, and then he started waddling over.

He had experienced diarrhea, and had been too embarrassed to say anything. As soon as he got close to me I could see him fighting back tears, and I was lucky enough to catch the principal who got us into a bathroom. All the kids at my son's school have a change of clothes in a shoe box, and the principal was able to get it for me.

Just to be clear, my son has been toilet trained for years. What happened today is a very common reaction to ingesting gluten, which is uncontrollable diarrhea. He also had his telltale rash and low grade fever. The diarrhea was everywhere, all the way down to his socks and up his back, and I have no idea how he managed to stand it until I got there.

So, using 1 ply bathroom tissue, I tried to clean my son up the best I could, while simultaneously holding on to my toddler who was fascinated by the urinals and determined to get an up close and personal look at them. If you've never navigated a bathroom stall with two small children, enough diarrhea to sink a ship and toilet paper that's thin enough to see through, consider yourself lucky. Once my older son was changed and the dirty clothes were tied up in a plastic bag, we set out for home.

When my son was a toddler, before we knew what was wrong, public diarrhea accidents happened all the time. Back then, I was prepared with diapers and wipes, or an extra change of clothes. I've written about it before, HERE and HERE.

 Since we're so careful these days, these incidents are thankfully less frequent, but no less traumatizing for him when they occur. Thankfully none of his friends or other students noticed because he segregated himself until I arrived, so hopefully he won't be ridiculed at school tomorrow. How does a 5 year old explain that he really doesn't poop his pants after doing it at school? He was so embarrassed he tried to tell me later that he had just peed his pants a little bit, even though I had been the one to clean up the mess.

These are the moments that make my heart break for him, because he was frustrated with himself, while there was nothing he could have done to avoid it.  Unfortunately, for him, the effects will continue for at least a week. He woke up a few minutes ago feeling the need to throw up, and his diarrhea will last a few more days before it subsides and we start to put back the weight that will have come off during this round.

This is why it's important to have safe gluten free food, to have knowledge and education, and to make sure that people take gluten free seriously so that those who truly need to eat gluten free can avoid incidents like this. I'm not sure what got him this time, but the reaction is so classic, that I have no doubt we're in for a rough week ahead.

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