TWIFU

TIFU. Know what it means? Click here (at your own peril) if you don’t.

Now take the T (“today”) and substitute TW (“this week”), because the events I’m about to describe happened on Monday.

In yesterday’s post I talked about starting Heilkunst. Martin’s first two clears arrived last week. I waited to start them, because I hadn’t had time to peruse the instructions for the clears, or to revise Martin’s daily supplementation sheets to include the clears and the accompanying drainage formula. Monday I had the time, got everything prepared, and decided to start Martin’s first clear.

By Monday we also had been waiting more than a week, since our visit to Dr. Zelinsky, for Martin’s new glasses to arrive. Martin, with characteristic precision and fierceness, had said he wanted his glasses to arrive “on Saturday, November 1 and no other day!” They didn’t. So when the glasses finally appeared on Monday, November 3, I was eager to present them to Martin and let him start wearing them.

Here’s what happened after the school bus dropped Martin off Monday afternoon:

3:50 pm. Martin put on glasses for the first time, agreed to wear them generally.

3:50-4:20 pm. Martin played, read, and drew pictures, wearing glasses. He took his afternoon supplements.

4:20-6:20 pm. We went to social-skills group. Martin wore glasses. On the way, he drank his camel milk. The group leader reported that Martin had a great session and participated well.

6:30 pm. Driving home from social-skills group, we pulled into Stop & Shop for Martin to pick out his own Lärabar®. Even though we have Lärabars at home, Martin takes great pleasure in going to the store and choosing one. (No doubt he also likes that Stop & Shop stocks “cherry pie” and “pecan pie” flavors, which I don’t keep at home.) Martin, glasses on, seemed energized, if not decisive. He ran back and forth between the standard Lärabar display and a temporary rack of “seasonal” flavors like “pumpkin pie” and “gingerbread.”

7:00-7:30 pm. Martin sat at the dinner table. His dinner was bone broth and pasta with squash and cauliflower. While Martin sipped his broth, I assembled and administered his evening supplements, including for the first time the Heilkunst drainage drop and a Heilkunst clear. He took them without issue.

7:30-7:45 pm. Although Martin loves pasta, after just a bite or two he pushed the pasta bowl aside and said he wanted to finish only his soup, which he did. He also requested dessert and ate a small piece of chocolate. Then he said he didn’t want to wear his glasses anymore, didn’t want to take a bath, and was going to get ready for bed.

8:00 pm. In his room, teeth brushed, pajama-clad, without glasses, Martin scrunched himself into froggy position on the floor and said his belly hurt. Did he need to return to the potty? I asked. Could I get him a drink of water? Would he like more soup? No, no, no, Martin answered. He climbed into bed and asked me to read him a story.

8:20 pm. Martin was in bed, lights out. From the kitchen, I heard him calling me. I walked down the hall to his doorway. “Mommy, my tummy hurts,” he said and smacked his lips. I realized what probably was coming and started toward his bed. Too late. Within seconds, Martin, his pillow, his sheets and blanket, several stuffed animals, and a small part of the mattress were splashed with vomit. In the mess I saw several undigested supplements, along with the few bits of pasta he’d eaten.

Martin almost never pukes. I think it’s happened maybe two or three times in his life.

And I didn’t know what caused it Monday. That was the TWIFU. I know that I should separate new supplements, treatments, therapies, and even vitamins by at least two-to-three days, in order to pinpoint the cause of any reactions. I know that. What did I do Monday? Without a second thought, I let Martin wear new glasses for several hours and started the Heilkunst. When he reacted, when he puked all over poor Curious George, I couldn’t isolate the cause. Was wearing glasses too much stimulation for Martin’s brain stem? Did he get dizzy? Or did the first Heilkunst clear cause his body to reject something? How could I tell?

I’ve been working at Martin’s recovery for four years. You’d think by now I’d have a clue.

P.S. Because of my carelessness, I had to undertake some additional investigation. By the time I finished cleaning Martin, washing linens, and doing my best with the mattress and pillow, it was late evening. (Admittedly, I would have been awake anyway. The Rangers went to a shoot-out.) I didn’t want to bother Dr. Zelinsky or Rudi Verspoor at that hour. Instead, I texted with another Dr. Z mom I know and posted an inquiry in a Heilkunst group on-line, which generated immediate responses. By the time I went to bed, I was 90% confident that the vomiting was unrelated to the new glasses and instead was a proper reaction to the first clear, which was a clear for the coxsackie virus Martin had two years ago. I was even more confident when Martin woke the next morning with a slight rash on his hands, a much lighter version of how he’d looked during the virus. Still, I can’t be 99.99% confident, and that bothers me.

So Here’s Something Else New We’re Doing

We have started Heilkunst, a form of sequential homeopathy. We’re working with Rudi Verspoor of Ottawa’s Hahnemann Center.

Four years ago, when we started the process of recovering Martin from autism (as opposed to helping him live with autism, through traditional therapies), Adrian and I resolved not to go too far “out there.” The first MAPS doctor we brought Martin to is a graduate of Harvard College and Yale School of Medicine, and completed her residency at Massachusetts General. These credentials were important to us, because we didn’t want to be dealing with, as I put it, “a graduate of the Pacific School of Holistic Touchy-Feely Medicine.” (Let me also add that Martin’s first MAPS doctor is empathetic, intuitive, and utterly knowledgeable, and that we switched doctors only because that one moved to California.)

We’ve been through a lot in the years since Adrian and I resolved not to go too far “out there.” We’ve used two homotoxicologists, one in New York City who did not work out well—part of the problem could have been me not understanding homotoxicology at the time, and her not explaining the process in a way I could grasp—and for the last two years Lauren Lee Stone in Connecticut, with more success. Martin has participated in craniosacral massage, muscle testing, naturopathic assessment of food allergies. He’s drinking camel milk daily. He’s slept on a grounding sheet, inside an RF-blocking tent.

I suppose I’ve strayed pretty far “out there” with Martin, and Adrian hasn’t stopped us. When your son stops running in circles, and starts talking, and stops thrashing around in his bed, and starts realizing when you’re in the room with him, then you pretty much go where the journey takes you, and go gratefully. I still care, a lot, about credentials and science, but you could say my horizons have expanded.

On an “out there” scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being ABA and MiraLAX® for autism, and 10 being having Reiki vibes telepathically sent from Mongolia, I would put Heilkunst at about an 7.73. In their book Autism: The Journey Back, Rudi Verspoor and Patty Smith describe Heilkunst as a “comprehensive, integrated system of Western medicine based on the principles of natural law regarding the removal of disease (cure) and the restoration of balance in our functioning (healing).” As I understand the process, Martin will progress through a series of homeopathic “clears,” one every two or three weeks, to alleviate the insults to his immune system, from pre-natal development through today. The insults to Martin’s immune system have been many, from his traumatic birth to vaccinations to living in a home under renovation. I had to list all this out in order to begin Heilkunst. It was not a fun process.

Now, let me add this: Scoring Heilkunst an 7.73 on the “out there” scale does not mean I don’t have faith in the process. To the contrary, Heilkunst is energetic healing, and I am administering it to Martin, and I think my faith therefore is necessary to its success, and I would not have proceeded if I didn’t expect results. I’ve talked to many families whose children have progressed with sequential homeopathy. I’ve witnessed their progress. Plus, sequential homeopathy makes sense to me. I know many of the factors that affected Martin’s immune functioning; I’m eager to help him work back through what happened.

I’m also glad we did not start Heilkunst sooner. We needed first to get the biggest stuff under control: his digestion, his ability to rest, his communication skills to participate in the process.

And we had some mental blocks to remove. Mine.

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Less-Meat GAPS (With Photos!)

I received this inquiry: “The GAPS diet is so meaty. If Martin is eating only one meat serving per day plus broth, what all is he eating?”

Fair question.

I’ll use today as an example, and as I’m writing this, I’m realizing that, depending on how you define “meat serving,” he might have had two.

For breakfast, Martin drank a 12-ounce glass of homemade bone broth and ate a small dish of fermented vegetables—today, eight string beans. Some weekday mornings Martin takes only broth. I prepare a full breakfast only on the weekends, when Adrian eats at home and we have more time.

Martin’s school asks that we send two snacks each day, and a lunch. Today I packed both snacks into one container. The morning snack was homemade protein bars. That recipe varies every time; this version had organic SunButter, chia seeds, coconut flakes, cacao nibs, honey, and sea salt. For afternoon snack, he got gummy treats, which I made by heating and pureeing strawberries, then adding pure bovine gelatin and pouring the mixture into silicone candy molds.

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Did you catch that? Bovine gelatin in the afternoon snack. If you count that as meat, because it comes from a cow, then Martin had two meat servings today.

As for Martin’s lunch, if you read yesterday’s post, you already know what it was: meatballs that were actually half-vegetable.

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When Martin arrived home from school, per his custom he immediately wanted another snack, which he was allowed to select from his snack drawer. Today’s snack choices looked like this—

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Martin went with a cappuccino Lära Bar. (Yes, that has a small amount of coffee.) Per my custom, I asked Martin to finish his camel milk before eating the snack. I added cinnamon to the camel milk.

An hour later, when we were leaving for his piano lesson, Martin demanded yet another snack. As I rushed to get him out the door, I came up with some leftover freeze-dried blueberries. He arrived at the music school with purple hands and a purple face.

For dinner, I gave Martin the choice of pasta, which I would cook with veggies and olives, or “cheese and crackers.” He decided to have the latter, Dr. Cow fermented nut cheese paired with New York Naturals kale crackers. With dinner he had another 12 ounces of bone broth.

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Then, of course, it was time for dessert. Martin got a quarter-cup of “chocolate ice cream,” a cashew-based product sweetened with raw agave. Agave is not GAPS-legal! But there was very little agave, and I decided we would all survive the experience. While I was serving the ice cream, Martin asked, “Mommy, why don’t you put some chocolate chips on it?”, which I did, in the form of raw cacao nibs.

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Throughout the day, including at school, Martin drank Fiji water from a Lifefactory bottle, into which I mixed a splash of juice and his MitoSpectra powder.

No day is perfect. Today Martin had too much sugar (from honey, strawberries, dates in the Lärabar, blueberries, juice, and “ice cream”) and one non-GAPS ingredient (raw agave). And it’s probably apparent that I don’t have big oxalate concerns at this time; with all the nuts and cocoa, it was an oxalate-heavy menu. Still, he had his camel milk, 24 ounces of bone broth, and veggies in reasonable quantity.

Then he went to bed, and I had wine.

Sneakin’ and Foolin’

What’s this picture? Any guesses?

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It shows the makings for meatballs. More specifically, it shows tiny pieces of carrot, garlic, onion, and parsley.

I, like many parents, at least the kind of over-the-top parents I hang around, use meatballs as a vessel for veggies. Martin loves when I send meatballs to school for his lunch. He finds many ways to tell me how much he loves when I send meatballs to school for his lunch. For example, last night after his bedtime, I returned to the family room to find that he’d written “MEATBALLS FOR LUNCH?” on a balloon and left it on the toy chest.

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If nothing else, he’s subtle.

So meatballs it is. But I shall insist on concealing veggies in those meatballs. I process onions, fresh garlic, and whatever else I have on hand, then mix them with ground beef, maybe a 1:1 veggie-meat ratio, or slightly less.

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Then I form the mass into balls and store them in a glass container.

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For the next three mornings, I will cook meatballs in olive oil, add strained tomatoes (from a glass jar), and pack them, hot, in a stainless-steel container for Martin to take to school. (I also fill the container with near-boiling water for five minutes, then empty the water and add the meatballs. This helps keep them warm.) As I mentioned on October 29 (see the paragraph numbered (3.), which begins, “I’m an empiricist”), I have Martin down to one serving of meat daily, not counting bone broths. For the next three days, the meat serving will be meatballs at lunch, and I’ll be happy to think I’ve snuck in almost the equivalent of a side salad. If I could find a way to keep the veggies raw while cooking the meat, they would be more salad-like still.

Time for a confession: Martin’s not the only one getting fooled these days.

Although Martin has been gluten-free for almost four years now, I’ve never made our household gluten-free. I like bread, and occasional seitan. Adrian likes to take a sandwich to work each day, along with crackers for his hummus or raw-milk (over the top!) cheese. This summer, after reading a few opinions and reviewing my own experience, I became more concerned about cross-contamination between our gluten-containing products and Martin’s foods. Although I have separate toasters for gluten and gluten-free bread, they both leave residue in the cabinet. Although I wash the cutting boards between uses, it’s not like I never find a few bread bits clinging to the edges. Crumbs are untamable. They fly everywhere! Cheese and yogurt, the two dairy products that Adrian likes, so we have them at home, are much easier to subdue.

I knew I should make our house gluten-free. I also knew that I’d be pushing it with Adrian if I told him my plan. Adrian is super-duper supportive about what we do for Martin. That being said, Adrian works long, tough hours and hates to have his little pleasures denied. I can see his point, or the point he would have made had I told him that the house should be gluten-free: How necessary is that? Is it too much to ask that I take a sandwich to work as part of my lunch? That I have toast with weekend breakfast? Enjoy a plate of cheese and crackers and grapes when I come home late?

So I did what any sensible autism-recovery mom would do: I kept my mouth shut. Over a couple months, I searched for the best tasting gluten-free products that I could substitute without Adrian realizing. Crackers were easy; he’s always liked good-quality rice-, quinoa-, and seed-based crackers. The challenge was bread; most varieties I found were crumbly, or dry and nutty tasting, or both. (The chicken-and-egg bread I make for Martin is not an option, because Adrian doesn’t eat chicken.) Finally I found a variety at my local Stop & Shop that is almost indistinguishable from gluten bread. It is less dense and the slices are smaller. Other than that, hard to tell. It’s been more than a month since I’ve brought gluten into the house. If he’s noticed, Adrian hasn’t said anything.

Wait! you might say. This post has just gone public. Isn’t Adrian about to discover his unwitting gluten-free lifestyle?

He doesn’t read my blog every day.

Maybe I’ll get lucky.

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Two of these products (I won’t say which two) are more processed and full of ingredients that would never be in my kitchen if I were baking. The other two are pretty good, and products that I would consider for Martin if he weren’t on the GAPS diet. Adrian is getting all of these. He can take it.

Snack Drawer

For the past six months or so, I’ve kept Lärabars and other snacks for Martin in the second drawer of our pantry. That drawer contains other foods, too: nut butters (including peanut butter), non-gluten flours, cacao nibs, hemp seeds, Adrian’s chocolate stash, stuff like that. A variety, only some of which Martin can eat.

I never thought Martin paid much attention to where I keep his snacks, until one afternoon two weeks ago. That day, Martin came home from his school, took off his shoes, opened the pantry, and started rummaging through the second drawer in search of a snack.

To me, that seemed like reasonably typical kid behavior and, for Martin, a new independence that I should foster. The second pantry drawer is somewhat too high for Martin to access comfortably (though with the way he’s growing taller, next week that might not be the case). Also, it seemed unfair that he should have to push aside stuff he cannot eat—e.g., peanut butter, or Adrian’s chocolate—to reach his own treats. Therefore, I emptied the third drawer of the pantry and redistributed those items in other drawers (a challenge in my snugly packed pantry!). Then I filled the third drawer with after-school snacks and taped labels on the front: “Martin’s snack selection” and “one snack per day!”

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The contents of the drawer reflect a preference Martin has (again, typical, I think) for store-bought, packaged goodies over what I prepare at home. I make protein bars, truffles, and macaroons similar to what’s pictured here; Martin wants the colorful, the prettily wrapped, “what you buy at the store!” (The homemade items I send to school.) Note also that not every product in the drawer is 100% GAPS-compatible. A few contain agave and, for whatever reason, have slipped through my control.

The snack drawer has been a big success. Martin loves to pore over its contents and select the perfect “snack of the day.” This weekend, when he was allowed to pick a snack to take to his activity program, he removed five different snacks, lined them up on the kitchen table, took a few minutes to decide which he wanted, then returned the other four to his drawer. When he wasn’t looking, I snuck in and rearranged the returned snacks into the appealing, every-snack-visual format. That’s me.

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I’m inspired now, to try to display Martin’s clothes in a way that makes him want to pick his own outfits. I like to dress him in the sports jersey of my choice, but I suppose I need to focus on his autonomy, too. The pumpkin glasses he’s wearing in that photo count as autonomy, I guess.