Monday, June 10, 2013

How to Eat an Apple

Overachiever #1 has been trialing cooked apples for several weeks now.  He's been doing VERY well, with no signs of an IgE mediated reaction (no hives or breathing difficulties) and minimal symptoms that could be attributed to an eosinophilic response in the GI tract.  We had been reluctant to transition to raw apple because we were afraid to mess up a good thing.  (And by we, what I really mean is me!)  It is so very difficult to begin a new food trial knowing that, if the usual path is followed, we will have to take it away again in a couple of days, weeks or months.  While I would like to be optimistic, I am more of a realist by nature and the odds just really don't seem to be in his favor!

So what's a reluctant mother to do?  Ask the doctor, of course!  But not just any doctor.  I needed to hear from a physician with the knowledge and compassion for our experience who could gently point out that my fear is overblown.  As luck would have it, we were scheduled to see two such doctors!  I often refer to first as the Eternal Optimist.  I can walk into his office filled with anxiety and armed with a miles-long list of questions that I simply MUST have answered.  (Who doesn't need a plan A, B, C...Z?!)  When I leave his office, I am feeling totally calm and comfortable with "let's just see what happens" as the answer to most of my questions.  (How does he DO that?!  I want that calm in a bottle!)  This doctor, of course, told me there was no reason not to proceed with raw apple and that we have a good chance of it going well.  But that's not  a surprise to anyone, is it?

What I really wanted to hear was what the Realist would have to say!  He, too, feels that it is safe to proceed.  And even better, there was not a hint of the "this woman is crazy!" look that I get from most doctors when I indicate apprehension about proceeding with food challenges.  Perhaps I did an awesome job at hiding my fears...or perhaps this doc just "gets" it as no one else does.  Or maybe (just maybe!) I am simply over-analyzing again. It's been known to happen!

So I washed an apple and handed it to Overachiever #1.  Then I tried to keep myself busy in the kitchen so that he wouldn't have to endure me staring at him.  I think I made it about 10 seconds before I just had to look!  And right then, my heart broke.  In just a few months, it will be 5 years since we initiated a strict elemental diet.  During that time, a lot has been lost.  The muscles of the mouth and tongue weaken without the constant workout of chewing and manipulating various foods in the mouth.  (One can only create so many textures with sugar and ice!)  Even something as simple as knowing which teeth to use is tough when you've not had to do it since you were 3!  Realizing this brought tears to my eyes.

Putting on a smile, I noted how tough it is to break through the skin of an apple.  We talked about how some of our teeth are pointed while others are broad and almost flat.  We had spent many hours recently digging dinosaur bones out of plaster with various tools.  He remembered that the sharper tool had a different purpose than the one that looked like a hammer.  He hypothesized that our front teeth are intended for biting off pieces of food, and our back teeth are for chewing it into smaller pieces.  Then we tested that hypothesis.
Biting into this apple is hard work!

It was a real workout for those under-utilized jaw muscles, but those front teeth did the job.  And then the back teeth did theirs!

It worked!

And that, my friends, is how you eat an apple - one bite at a time.

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