“Mrs. Hill? This is the pediatrician’s office. Your daughters’ blood work came back with results of multiple food allergies. We need you to come in right away for us to test her for Celiac’s Disease, and we need to make an appointment with an allergist. Mrs. Hill, are you still there?”
That telephone call changed our lives. I remember hanging up and calling my husband to tell him the news. We sat together on the phone and cried; in part because we finally had an answer and also because of the answer. It was mid-July 2010 and we knew our lives would never be the same. The lab results for the Celiac’s Disease were negative, and she tested positive for allergies to wheat, soy, peanuts, and tree nuts. We had no idea what to feed her. For days and days we went to the store each day to provide food in small quantities. We ate grilled chicken and steak with rice and fresh vegetables. The dinners were healthy and good, but they were also becoming boring. After three days of being away from her food allergies, we saw a dramatic change in our daughter. That change motivated us to realize the positive outcomes of the restricted diet. Two weeks after that initial phone call; I purged our kitchen. I gave away what I could and threw away the rest. We had decided, as a family, to make this change together. There would not be any segregated meals in our home. The chance for contamination was too great. We had agreed the only food that would be staying was the pizza rolls our son and his friends enjoyed. Our first trip grocery shopping was daunting yet liberating. Our journey to reach this place in our lives had been long and frustrating. Finally having an answer was a blessing, but to the unprepared also felt like a curse. That first trip lasted hours and I remember becoming teary only once. We kept those first trips pretty simple with lots of rice, rice pastas, and beans. Anything we could find ready-made was great; especially for lunch. We were able to provide her classroom with a microwave for her use only. She took lots of allergy-friendly frozen dinners in the beginning as I was not confident in my cooking skills. I explained to people that it felt as if I had had a stroke and was having to learn how to re-do everything. I had prided myself on being able to prepare organic, home-cooked meals with fresh pastas and desserts. All of a sudden everything I had learned was obsolete.