Trepidatious Jubilation

October 23, 2010

Dear Family,

Last April, I spoke too soon. Just after we'd started the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, Ben began eating like he'd never seen food before--after a lifetime of severely picky and self-limiting food choices, he was suddenly eating soups, and meat, and chunky vegetables, for _hours_ per day. It was like some actual other kid had dropped in from outer space to inhabit my own child's seat at the table. I was so ecstatic that I stood in the kitchen, and frantically tried to cook fast enough to keep up with his appetite, and cried.

I wrote an amazed letter to describe this fantastically anomalous week. Unfortunately, I didn't yet understand the extent to which healing a human gut is a non-linear proposition. Three or four days into the miraculous eating interlude, we reintroduced fruit into Ben's diet. And as his pathogenic gut microbes flared, his explosive behaviors, lack of appetite, and acute sensory issues came right back, nearly as bad as they'd been before. No matter how we tried to tweak his diet after that, and during months of trying, his appetite never resumed. He remained less anxious on average, and was slightly improving, health wise. But not fast, and not enough. The crazy picky eating continued over the summer, until recently I was at my wits' end: how do you heal a child with a healing diet if he won't _eat_???

I am absolutely, positively convinced that eating disorders do not spring from Poor Body Image, or Type A Personalities, or Media Portrayal of Beautiful People. Eating disorders are, at their most basic, a manifestation of gut dysbiosis. (Someday I will do my own research, and write more on the subject. For now, I'm a bit too busy cooking.)

I am too wise to make any more sweeping pronouncements at this point. But over the past month, due to an absolute and complete storm of effort, Ben has begun to eat again. We are now at a point we've never reached, ever before in his short life: for a solid week and a half, Ben's been eating huge quantities of meat, fats, and vegetables--not blenderized, and not diluted with eggs. I will spare you the sordid and overly-informational details, but suffice to say: I'm trying to accept that healing is a slow process. Ben's body is detoxing, his brain is “unfogging” yet again, I'm crossing my fingers. and my exuberance is tempered by the sobering amount of work it's taken to get him to this point--and how much work it will likely take, over at least several years, to continue his healing.

In later years, I predict that Ben will be so neuro-typical and smart and creative and easy-going, that people will tell me how he "grew out of" his symptoms, that kids “just go through these developmental phases,” and how “He was never that bad,” and “lots of kids have anxiety/throw tantrums/,” and that “you shouldn't have worried so much - kids always try to manipulate us,” and that "Ben just needed to get hungry enough to eat.” I recognize that I must get solid in my own self-love, and make sure _I_ appreciate Jeff's and my dedicated parenting, and enjoy my extraordinarily rewarding own life, and be perfectly willing to accept: These People Will Not (and may never, ever, ever) Understand.

I'm trying to hold a visualization these days. It's an image of the four of us, Jeff and Ben and Jem and me, moving through life, each of us mostly happy and mostly healthy, most of the time. We are so on our way there.

In case you missed the link before, this continues to be my favorite article-to-recommend about the GAPS Specific Carbohydrate Diet: a clear, to-the-point summary of the whys and hows and theory of Gut Dysbiosis:…

The following article was very helpful for me, as I tried to understand Ben's unique symptom-set and nutritional deficiencies.…


Jeff showed “Thank You For Smoking” at the common house, and he says it's a great movie--satirical and funny and smart. (Netflix summary: “On a mission to make the country forget the dangers of smoking, Big Tobacco spin doctor Nick Naylor promotes his product in the movies and hushes those who bad-mouth cigarettes, all the while trying to remain a role model to his young son.”)

Also in our Netflix recently-watched queu: “TiMER.” It was about 99.9% better than it could have been, due to surprisingly sharp acting and excellent humorous timing. (”In this comedic fantasy, science has facilitated the search for a soul mate via biotechnological implants that count down to the moment one is supposed to meet his or her match. But Oona is worried: She's nearly 30, and her TiMER isn't ticking yet. Will her dream guy get snatched up by someone else?”)

Ben and Jem would like to recommend “Little Bunny Foo Foo” (as told by the good fairy), which we have read approximately 37 times and also discussed in great detail:


Last night, I took a chance and brought Ben and Jem up to the Cornell Origami Club. It's a weekly two-hour gathering of folks (mostly students) who like to fold paper, and the boys and I neatly rounded out both ends of the age spectrum. (Since when are college students so young?!) It was, in most every way, a Really Fun Evening. Ben had just eaten a big meal, and he was not too anxious to talk to people, and Jem chatted loudly while I read him books and he folded “couches,” and I folded a seashell, and Ben got a lesson on how to make an origami bat. It was just a fun, low-key adventure.

And then we went home. No explosions. No anxiety attacks. No inflammatory parental frustration ulcers. The outing took a lot of forethought, and advance preparation, and meal planning, and when we got back the boys ate while I cooked some more. And of course, bedtime was delayed. Usually if we go out, I do all that work and the outing escalates in its stressy-ness as Ben gets more anxious, and generally it's almost never fun enough to be worth the trouble. But last night, Ben was so much calmer, and it WAS worth it. And this is what I always longed for: to have low-key, adventurous _fun_ with my children! Not to mention, the physical stamina not to be entirely worn out afterward...


Forgot to mention a highlight of last week: Uncle Jake came to visit! He was en route to Milwaukie, where he was preparing to add to his resume by doing some Politicking. We hope that everyone's being very nice to him now that he's there, and that The Best Candidate Wins!


Some people just think they are God's Gift, and you know who they are because of the slogans emblazoned on their wardrobe. I saw a young man yesterday with a tee shirt that shouted, in huge letters: “I [heart] FEMALE ORGASMS.”

How I wish I'd had the balls to walk up to him and say, “Hey, what a coincidence! I do, too!”


Yesterday, we were discussing fire trucks and ambulances, and why they go fast, and why ordinary mortals need to pull over to let them go by. “But why do police go fast, too?” Ben asked. “They can't put out fires.” Uh, I don't know, I said. I guess so they can get to the emergencies too....and maybe help people. “What do they do to help?” Ben wondered. Maybe...protect people if they're hurt, till the ambulance gets there? I theorized.

“WHY would they go to mamergencies?” Jem echoed. And then he posited his own theory: “Do police go fast to hug people?”


It is kind of a bummer that my very part-time cooking career--which has been enjoyably increasing in the past year--feels like it needs re-jiggering as part of this whole carnivorous diet switch. I mean, of course I can go on catering vegetarian meals for crowds, and I will probably keep accepting some vegetarian gigs. But I'm much more interested in learning how to cater Traditional Foods that support human digestion and health, which as you know, according to my recent research, involve a lot of animal products. And yet, I'm only just beginning to cook meat at all, forget about in huge quantities. So I'm trying to come up with some creative not-back-to-schooling for my continuing education...

Please let me know if you hear of any opportunities!



Cause to burst with a violent release of energy: “consplode”



Watching me perform the time-honored method of lens-cleaning-via-breath-fogging, Jem asked: “Why are you hah-ing your glasses?”

Walking through the piles of leaves in the back yard: “This is really a CRUNCHY day!”

Scrubbing his paint brush over the paper repeatedly, using every color possible (as well as a quarter-inch puddle of water): “This is a picture of a fish with a boat floating on it.”

Suddenly remembering that Papa was working upstairs: “But I want to kiss him afore we go!”


It's one of these lovely fall days, during which I could get Lots of Things Done. And Ben is kind of chilling out, and Jem is too, and all I can think is: I Wonder if I'll Ever Be Able to Get Off My Butt, Ever Again?

I hope you're having a more productive day, wherever you may be. :)