Investigative Journalism, Part Two

In yesterday’s post I described three articles that have appeared in the Chicago Tribune. The first, published two years ago, questioned the scientific underpinnings of ASD treatment and profiled the case of an apparently (?) recovered seven-year-old boy whose father contended that the boy would have progressed without, and may have suffered (yet unmanifested) harm from, biomedical interventions. The second and third articles, published last month, reported that this father’s complaint against Dr. Anju Usman, one of the boy’s treating physicians, had led to medical board charges against her. They also provided the detail that the boy’s treatment had been the subject of a divorce proceeding in which his mother, who supported the biomedical interventions, had lost custody.

Today I’m writing about the effect that such an article has on a parent undertaking a recovery journey. Specifically, this parent. Me.

I’ve made no secret that we’ve chosen an arduous path. Treating ASD biomedically means we’re raising Martin inconveniently. We’re navigating 21st-century America without processed or packaged foods, tap water for drinking or cooking, a microwave, grains, sugar, non-organic products, or restaurants. Martin swallows a lot of supplements—I’m not going to claim “six pills at once,” like the father in the Tribune article, but enough—and participates in 16 HANDLE exercises daily. We do RDI. It’s so much that, any moment when I’m not marveling some new achievement, I’m probably contemplating giving up.

Which means that during the past three months I’ve had a lot of time to contemplate giving up.

When I do research about Martin’s treatment, I seek out multiple sources and do my best to weed out bias, hyperbole, and blanket statements. When I speak with Martin’s practitioners, whether Track One or Track Two, I attempt to engage in dialogue: question, answer, challenge.

A mainstream-newspaper “investigation” is a different sort of animal. Because of their stature, we count on the big sources to do our homework for us, to examine every side and summarize fairly. To question, answer, and challenge without our participation. I studied magazine journalism as an undergraduate, and I remember this rule: When you’re going to write a major article, for that moment in time, you must become the world’s leading authority on your topic. In my mind, before the Chicago Tribune reporters sat down to write their original piece, they should have been the world’s leading authorities on biomedical ASD recovery.

And when the world’s leading authorities say a process is “dubious” and “unsupported,” that’s a pretty good reason to quit, right? Especially if the process is taking a toll on you like none you’ve ever known.

I admit that I hesitated, even, before sending last month’s Tribune articles to Adrian. I feared that they might make him want to quit. (A fear unwarranted: I sent them, we discussed, and Adrian remains as dedicated to Martin’s recovery as ever.)

And now I worry that those articles, and the actions of the Illinois medical board, might make other families want to quit. Goodness knows we’ve got the deck stacked against us as it is.

I can’t tell other families whether to continue biomedical recovery or to quit. I would never try. Heck, I don’t even know where my own family’s journey will end.

I can say that I don’t think the Tribune reporters became the world’s leading authorities, or if they did, they failed to demonstrate that. I know at least one family who allowed one of the reporters to meet their fully recovered son, whom Dr. Usman had treated. I saw no mention of any such families in the articles. I saw no investigation into whether (as I thought the articles may have hinted) the father’s complaints simply arose within a divorce context, or were instead prompted by that context. The Tribune presented the incompetent actions of rogue DAN! doctors; it made no mention of the compassion of competent biomedical-recovery practitioners.

All in all, I thought it was lopsided reporting.

But to a parent who’s desperate, and exhausted, lopsided reporting might just suffice to make you throw in the towel.

That, I think, would be a sorry effect.

Stupid Yeast

We’re battling a renewed outbreak of yeast. That’s why Martin’s attention has dipped so low. I’m certain now. All the signs point to yeast. He’s scratching his legs. He’s grinding his teeth. His pee stinks. His energy flags. He has trouble settling to sleep. He giggles drunkenly.

Finally realizing that yeast is at work here (again) stirs mixed emotions. On one hand, I’m beyond frustrated. We started fighting yeast in February, and by the beginning of summer we had it under control. I even allowed more carbohydrates to sneak into Martin’s diet. Not many, but more—quinoa pitas, rice crackers, banana muffins. On my mental checklist, “balance yeast” had thick line through it. But now yeast is out of whack again, and I’m learning that as soon as one strain is defeated, another may flourish.

On the other hand, I’ve expended so much attention on Martin’s diminished attention without knowing the cause. I’m relieved that we have a culprit now. The yeast realization provides a roadmap. We conquered yeast once before, and we’ll do it again, adjusting diet and anti-yeast supplements (sac boulardii, &c.) as necessary.

Indeed, pinpointing yeast helps me filter Martin’s current issues. Yeast clearly does no favors for attention, energy, or language; I’ll call those the “yeastier areas,” and admit that they’re in bad shape. Yeast doesn’t seem to affect body control or mood as much. I posted several days ago about what’s going right, even now. To that list I will add that Martin is steady on his feet, engaging in few self-stimming behaviors, transitioning well, and more or less happy. I’ll call those the “less-yeasty areas,” and hope that their current chart-topping performance means we’re making progress despite the yeast flare.

I’ve said before: It’s an amorphous enemy, this autism. ASD is defined by symptoms, not causes. The causes may differ for every child, and they may change within one child.

Then again, every child—neurotypical or otherwise—is different, too, and every child changes throughout life. When we’ve finally wiped out autism, Martin will create some new worry to keep me up at night.

Well, bring it on.

A Little Bit Here, a Little Bit There

Pretty good week, this last one. Pretty crap day, today. Martin unresponsive, lacking attention, and throwing tantrums instead of transitioning. Tired and not himself. Mildly ill, even. Yesterday he threw up in the car, a special surprise that may have been tied to his beginning to eat meat products. (Since we started with the beef broth Martin has, now and again, after meals, appeared nauseated.)

Still, even on this crap day, some skills shined. Martin’s language, when he chose to use it, was appropriate and expressive. Also, we went shopping around Union Square, and three times (that I remember) he intentionally caught the eye of a salesperson and said, “Hi!”

I think in those terms, now. What worked today? What didn’t? I scrawl my observations into the daily log I keep for Martin.

I’ve tried to apply the same thinking to Martin’s recovery, on a meta-level. Which treatment or therapy is working? Which is not as helpful? Those, however, are much tougher questions.

The truth is, I see Martin making progress (two steps forward, one step back, usually), but it can be tough to discern the individual catalyst of progress like saying hi or trying to catch a stranger’s eye. Most likely, I suppose, every such advance results from some combination of the treatments we undertake.

As I have described previously, we see Track One doctors, who as far as I can tell have evaluated Martin but done nothing to help him. Apart from Track One doctors, this is Team Martin:

Track Two doctor. Martin’s excellent Track Two physician is riding the edge of autism recovery. I like to call her “post-DAN!” because she is so on top of treatments beyond the standard DAN! protocol. She oversees every facet of Martin’s biomedical recovery.

Home consultant. I’m new to this world of autism recovery. Questions come up on a day-to-day basis. Kathleen Reily answers them. She also helps me, for example, plan Martin’s diet, find local practitioners, and research kitchen products (water filter, lead-free glass, cutting boards not treated chemically, &c.). If I’m the coach of Team Martin, Kathleen is the manager.

Homotoxicologist. A big part of recovery lies in driving toxins and pathogens from the body. Martin’s homotoxicologist, Mary Coyle, works that angle, in coordination with his Track Two doctor.

Cranio-sacral therapist. I drive Martin all the way to Pleasantville, in Westchester, to see Diane Diamond. She helps figure out what’s not functioning well in Martin’s body and makes appropriate adjustments. She once told me, based solely on putting her hands on Martin, “I’m sensing some bile blockage. He’s not processing all this fat in his diet.” A week later, a urinalysis confirmed her assessment medically.

HANDLE therapist. We visit Katie Penque every four-to-six weeks. She observes Martin, interviews me and Adrian, evaluates how Martin’s current HANDLE exercises are working, and suggests and helps us learn new exercises. Katie and Martin’s Track Two doctor are also the proponents-in-chief for the “less is more” approach to recovery.

RDI consultant. RDI incorporates a variety of games and routines, but really it is a therapy that becomes part of daily life. Allison Zevallos helps us make that happen. She makes a home visit every month or so. In between those visits, Adrian emails her videos of Martin in action, which she reviews for a weekly phone consultation with both of us.

CPSE preschool. Martin attends a top-notch preschool for children with learning delays and developmental disabilities. Adrian and I are profoundly grateful for this service, which is provided through the Department of Education’s Committee on Special Preschool Education. Martin spends more than five hours per weekday at his CPSE school.

Speech therapist. Martin’s preschool provides him a bilingual speech therapist, in accordance with his individualized education plan, or IEP. She works to unlock language skills like pronoun use and asking questions, which Martin’s ASD has hidden.

Physical therapist and occupational therapist. Martin also sees these two professionals at his preschool. Together they assist him with gross and fine motor skills, practical life lessons like watching where he’s walking and being aware of the world around him, and performing everyday tasks.

So what among all this is facilitating Martin’s progress? Adrian and I credit HANDLE therapy for helping Martin develop better control over his body and lose some of the jerkiness that characterized his earlier movement. His physical therapy likely augments HANDLE in that regard. We credit RDI with helping Martin (this is an emerging skill, coming about slowly) learn to read faces and expressions and to better pace himself with others, so that he can undertake activities like holding my hand as we walk together. His occupational therapy likely augments RDI in that regard. It’s all puzzle pieces, coming together.

I consider the biomedical process—the restricted diet, the supplements, the detoxification—to be the sticky backing that holds those puzzle pieces in place. It was the biomedical process that got Martin sleeping and rested, eased his gut pain, and reduced the lethargy that used to characterize his days. Without that foundation, the pieces would probably still jiggle around, unable to interlock fully. Without the stronger body biomedical recovery is giving us, the therapies could have less effect.

A little bit here, a little bit there. I don’t want to spend too much time figuring out what progress comes from where, so long as we’re moving in the right direction.

As of September 28, a Weekday. And Some Sunshine

On August 5 I posted about my typical weekday. One reader sent this comment, via email:

You are not only an afternoon sous-chef/lawyer, but you have incredible perseverance (re utilizing every minute of the day) and patience. Somehow you maintain confidence it will be okay in the long haul. I got tired just reading it, especially the activities even after Martin went to bed. Someday it will all be all right.

That sounds sad to me. Does it sound sad to you? As if I’m so overwhelmed that I survive only by clinging to confidence in a better future for Martin?

Okay. Fair point—sometimes I am so overwhelmed that I survive only by clinging to confidence in a better future for Martin. It happens.

But I’m determined to stop being such a downer on the blog. If you are a reader acquainted with me off-line, you know that, in person, I am not a walking bummer. To the contrary, I’m quite sunny. (Adrian, the only party besides Martin with 24-hour access to me, might disagree. Fortunately for me, I’ve not yet added a “Husband’s Page” to the blog.) The reason I’m quite sunny is that I have a stable family and a blessed life. What concerns me most is how close my son will come to neurotypicality, and whether we can cover the distance quickly enough to overcome a late start to social interaction. That concern weighs heavily, but it’s not poverty, or terminal illness, or homelessness, or hunger, or unemployment, or abuse. Mine is a concern that, overall, I feel I have the tools to conquer.

Today I am posting optimism and contentment. Martin’s attention is returning, after that bad month we had. Yesterday I phone-conferenced with Martin’s excellent Track Two doctor, who ran some tests regarding his adrenal stress and is preparing appropriate homeopathic relief. Although the “meat thing” has proved difficult for me, Martin seems to be taking to beef broth without issue. Two evenings ago I enjoyed myself thoroughly at a happy hour for parents from Martin’s new special-education preschool.

Furthermore, since Martin started his new school earlier in September, my days have improved, time-wise. A typical weekday now looks like this:

6:40-7:00 a.m. I rise. I feed the cats. I check email and respond to any urgent missives. I prepare Martin’s morning homotoxicology and other drops, which “cook” ten minutes in hot water, to burn off the alcohol in which the active ingredients are suspended. I start Martin’s breakfast, which these days alternates among duck egg with squash fries (weekend treat), muffins with Dr. Cow “cream cheese,” grain-free veggie pancakes, and the occasional bowl of buckwheat or quinoa cereal with nuts. My mother just sent a waffle maker and recipe for almond waffles, so I’m going to add those into the rotation.

7:00-8:10 a.m. Busy time. Adrian won the desirable job of waking Martin (he’s like a sleepy little bunny rabbit in the morning) and the less desirable job of getting Martin onto the potty and then dressed. While they are thus occupied, I finish making Martin’s breakfast. I’m also running up and down the stairs from kitchen to bedrooms, bringing some supplements and maybe doing a HANDLE exercise or two. Adrian brings Martin downstairs by 7:30. I help Martin with breakfast and remaining supplements and oils, while Adrian showers and gets ready for work. I also fix Martin’s lunch during this time, because I like it to be as fresh as possible. His typical school lunch comprises nut butter slathered on homemade crackers (which get soggy if I prepare them the night before), accompanied by a dish like sauerkraut, avocado, pear, or hard-boiled quail eggs. By 8:00 Martin is teeth-brushed and ready. He makes one final visit to the potty with Adrian. At 8:10 precisely they walk out the door together, Adrian wearing a laptop/document backpack and Martin wearing a zebra backpack stocked with school supplies, lunch, and toddler training pants. Adrian puts Martin on the school bus.

8:10-9:00 a.m. Kitchen and me time. I empty the dishwasher, load in any plates lying around, give the kitchen a once-over, and if necessary do basic prep work for dinner. Then I get myself washed and dressed, and walk to the corner coffee shop for a soy latté.

9:00 a.m.-3:15 p.m. Lawyer time. I spend as much of this time working (as a lawyer, my “real job”) as possible. I may also sneak out to the natural foods store or continue dinner prep. Occasionally, daringly, I start a blog post. Samara picks Martin up at school at 2:15. They dawdle, wander here and there, take the subway home, usually arriving around 3:15.

3:15-6:15 p.m. Flex time. I keep doing lawyer work, as necessary. I assist Samara with Martin’s afternoon and evening supplements. I finish preparing dinner. I do HANDLE exercises with Martin. Some days Samara takes Martin to the park or a play date. By the time Samara leaves at 6:15, she has Martin bathed, pajama-clad, and halfway through his dinner.

6:15-7:00 p.m. Sleepy time. Martin keeps a 6:30 bedtime these days. That’s when we head upstairs to read a book, brush teeth, and snuggle. While Martin dozes off I sit in the rocker and check Facebook, read, or play Scrabble on the iPad. Adrian, when he’s home for bedtime, doesn’t hang around while Martin goes to sleep. I can’t leave. I cherish seeing Martin off to rest at day’s end.

7:00-10:00 p.m. More flex time. Some days I need to head back to my desk for more lawyer work. Some days there is laundry accumulated, or a pressing household task. Always there is kitchen work, for Martin’s special diet or for Adrian’s snack when he comes home between 8:00 and 10:00 p.m. My favorite evenings are when Adrian comes early, and I go for a walk or out to meet a friend.

10:00 pm.-? Bedtime and blogging. Sometime after 10:00 I head upstairs to read, talk through the day with Adrian, and blog.

I can manage this schedule, much better than the chaos before Martin began full school days. In fact, Samara now takes one day off per week. I cut work at 1:30 then and pick Martin up at school myself, and the two of us hang out for a couple hours.

Here’s what I still cannot figure out, though: Despite this new schedule, help from my mother on Martin’s food, and what should be more time for me, still I rarely put away the computer or iPad before 1:00 a.m. Honestly, I can’t even tell you what I’m doing all that time. Playing Scrabble, emailing, writing, reading, who knows? My next project—lights out by 11:00 p.m.

The Gentle Approach to ASD Recovery

I referred on Friday to an email that Martin’s HANDLE practitioner sent me, on the topic of gentleness. Here’s part of what she wrote:

I got a little concerned about the September 5th blog entry.  Through all of this, Gentle Enhancement still remains a truth about recovery or healing. That’s the idea that a stressed system doesn’t get stronger. It’s not popular or common sense, but it’s still true and I have learned the truth of it over and over again in my work with clients. . . .

While I think you have mastered Gentle Enhancement when it comes to Martin’s HANDLE program, sometimes homotoxicologists and DAN Doctors need to hear from a parent who understands Gentle Enhancement. Less is more, even if it’s hard to swallow for them, or goes against their training. I encourage you to insist on it, whole-heartedly. He shouldn’t have days where he’s detoxing so much he’s foggy, sick, tired, or can’t sleep. He can’t afford to lose more days neuro-developmentally, and there’s plenty of time to detox as he becomes more relaxed and integrated.

Detoxification occurs naturally for the neurotypical person because we go into “rest and digest mode.” That’s the branch of the autonomic nervous system that’s opposite of “fight or flight” mode. If Martin’s treatments are causing him stress they are doing the opposite of what they are trying to accomplish. . . .  I’m suggesting that the process needs to happen so slowly that you barely notice.  That will truly be the fastest road to recovery.

Upon receiving that email, I decided I would like to post a few words about the gentle approach to treating autism, which reminded me also that I never revealed how Martin’s first round of laser energetic detox (LED) treatments went.

Katie, the HANDLE therapist, is right. Parents who have recovered their children have likewise warned me against moving too quickly, trying to do everything at once. I use the term “treating” autism. I could write more accurately. What we’re really talking about is healing. The goal of approaching Martin’s autism biomedically, as I understand the process, is to help his body heal. We’re healing his gut, driving out yeast and then viruses and pathogens. As his digestion and gut functioning improve, so too will his neuro-functioning, and we can try to guide him back to more typical development. For now, however, his gut troubles have weakened all his systems, and we seek to make them healthy again.

What Katie means is that if we are exasperating or otherwise overtaxing Martin’s systems along the way, his body will snap out of healing mode. I feel like Martin’s excellent Track Two doctor shares this understanding. We spoke by phone last week about Martin’s current “rut,” in which he’s been tired and echolalic, without much attention. The doctor reduced Martin’s supplements and decided to run some tests regarding adrenal stress, to make sure we are not doing too much at once.

The LED, which was the most “radical” of Martin’s treatments so far (Adrian and I did extra research before proceeding), was not harsh. It involved the use of mild lasers attuned to Martin’s vibrations in order to help him expel toxins. Martin enjoyed the process tremendously, because he got to jump on a mini-trampoline to get his blood flowing. We had the LED over two days, and when it was done and he was happy and feeling fine, I thought, “This is it? This is our most radical and controversial treatment?”

The Track One doctors warned me against a biomedical or DAN! approach to Martin’s autism. These same practitioners, however, never warned me against mainstream “treatments” meant to mask autism’s symptoms—treatments such as atypical antipsychotic medications.

I am bewildered by a medical industry that would sooner give brain-altering anti-psychotic medications to a child than encourage neuro-improvement through gut healing. I am bewildered by doctors who warn me against “vitamin overdoses” without once mentioning that a child whose autism remains unresolved may face a lifetime of gut pain, of sensory overload, of frustration.

Martin’s Track Two team has approached his healing slowly, concentrating on the whole child and his overall well-being. I cannot say the same for his Track One team.

On September 5 I referred to ASD recovery as “beat[ing] the daylights out of Martin.” We were doing too much. We’ve scaled back. That’s what gentleness is all about.

Magic-Potion Fatigue: Vitamins and Oils and Supplements, Oh My!

Martin’s day is governed by a ditto sheet. It’s a print-out that I designed.

At the top are spaces to note the date and day of the week, followed by how Martin slept the previous night. About half the page comprises a chart describing each of Martin’s sixteen HANDLE exercises and identifying the adult responsible—me, Adrian, or Samara—for completing the particular exercise. With each description is a box for the adult to write the time at which the exercise was completed, because some of them cannot be done too close together.

Below the HANDLE chart is an entirely separate graphic, this one devoted to Martin’s biomedical interventions and food for the day. The food is easy. I jot down what he eats for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner; nine times out of ten I’m just transcribing what appears on the typewritten menu I devise a week in advance. For the biomedical stuff, which along with the restricted diet is the heart of what I call Track Two autism treatment, I list each vitamin, oil, or supplement Martin needs to take, and when. Next to each of these is a box to check once the supplement has been administered. I check most of the boxes. Samara checks the rest, for the supplements she does mid-day.

Finally, at the bottom of the ditto is a space marked “Notes,” where I record how Martin’s day went, how he acted, his bowel movements, any remarkable developments, and so forth.

This ditto is revised every time we visit Martin’s HANDLE therapist, homotoxicologist, or Track Two doctor.

I am not going to list Martin’s supplements in this post. I don’t think that would be helpful to other parents/caregivers, because such a routine must be professionally customized. I will say that on Martin’s current supplements graphic are 46 boxes to check. Most boxes represent one item each—one pill, one capsule, one type of drops, one scoop of powder, one teaspoon of oil, one dab of cream, one spoonful of liquid. A few of the boxes denote “combos,” like eight types of homotoxicology drops combined, or three different phenol drops. Two boxes are checked only every third day. Many of the supplements I can combine and give at once, like vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K2 floating in a teaspoonful of MCT oil. The supplements chart represents everything recommended by Martin’s Track Two doctor, allergist, and homotoxicologist. Each of them knows what the others are doing.

Almost nothing we give Martin requires a prescription to purchase. It’s gentle and natural, like fish oil, parsley extract, probiotics, or digestive enzymes, stuff you might find in an organic grocery.

And getting through the extensive routine isn’t half as bad as you might think. It takes time, but the chart makes it easy to keep track of, and Martin helpfully swallows just about anything I or Samara pops into his mouth.

What is driving me bonkers, however, is trying to find a way to spread the supplements out as requested. Several of them are not supposed to be taken within 30 minutes before or 90 minutes after eating, and a couple are not supposed to be taken at the same time as other supplements. Martin spends about 12 of every 24 hours in bed. In the remaining 12 hours he eats three meals and at least one snack. In less than two weeks he also will be in school, or traveling to/from school, for seven hours each weekday. Seriously, there just are not enough hours in the day to get the supplements right. I have the chart divided into first morning, 10 minutes before breakfast, with breakfast, after breakfast, after school (this in anticipation of his new fall schedule; used to be with lunch), after bath, before dinner, with dinner, after dinner, and at bedtime. Even that is not sufficient. I cut corners on spreading everything out.

When we first began biomedical intervention, I stored Martin’s supplements in a wire basket on the counter. As the routine expanded the supplements moved into more spacious quarters in a plastic food-storage container (which I’m no longer allowed to use for food storage), and then two plastic food-storage containers, plus an in-door shelf of my refrigerator. By June the counter was getting so cluttered, I had no choice but to evict a couple stacks of dishes and surrender the entire bottom of my dish cabinet to supplements. That’s the picture below; most everything there is Martin’s, except for half a dozen bottles of my own vitamins, and a tube of poultry-flavored toothpaste for our cat Freddy’s at-home dental hygiene needs.

There’s one more box that gets checked on Martin’s daily ditto log: “brush teeth.” That means Martin’s teeth, not Freddy’s. Because in the course of an ASD-recovery day, it’s easy to forget the obvious.

Something’s Fishy

In my recent post describing Martin’s diet, I mentioned that we had added three non-vegan products: eggs (now, duck and quail eggs), ghee, and honey.

I neglected to mention fish oil. I suppose it didn’t make the cut because, in my mind, it falls more on the “supplement” side, and less on “diet.” Fish oil is the most recent non-vegan addition to Martin’s diet. For me, it was also the most difficult to come to terms with, as it is not only non-vegan, but non-vegetarian. I’m certainly hoping that Martin will not be swallowing it for long.

If you think in vegetarian terms, you might be wondering why I decided to allow fish oil. What happened was that Martin’s excellent Track Two doctor wants Martin to have 1,000 mg (in any combination) of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) daily. There are good sources of DHA that are vegetarian, usually under the brand name life’s DHA. I searched and found the highest-DHA vegetarian oils I could. Those oils have plenty of these omega fatty acids for the general population. With Martin needing so much DHA and EPA, however, I was having to give him several tablespoons of the vegetarian oils in order to hit the 1,000 mg mark.

Martin, you may remember from the diet post, was previously showing some signs of ketosis. I want to keep healthy fats in his diet, but not to overdo it. Since Martin already takes MCT oils twice daily, and his diet encompasses plenty other oils, I felt that several additional tablespoons of vegetarian oil with DHA was, indeed, overdoing it.

So I bit the bullet, so to speak—I’m trying to work this into some metaphor about shooting the fish or something, and I’m failing—and got Martin some fish oil, with which I am able to clear 1,000 mg EPA/DHA with only one teaspoon. I was worried about the possibility of an allergic reaction, as one of my brothers is terribly allergic to all seafood. No signs of that so far.

The whole decision reminded me of when Adrian and I thought the hardest thing we would be doing for Martin, diet-wise, was trying to keep him vegan. Then, after Martin’s ASD diagnosis but before we radicalized his treatment, we wondered how we would ever be able to go gluten-free with him. Those days seem so bygone, almost quaint.