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When a Little Person Can’t Tell Us What is Wrong

  • Profile photo of April Grewell-Meek Jun 14, 2012

    Annika Meek was a year old when we began noticing that her new baby hair was falling out in patches. Her skin was sallow, and began to have sores. Her weight was dropping rapidly, and her eyes were dull. She projectile vomited and was sick from both ends and it had an odor reminiscent of death. She went from being animated and cheerful to being very clingy and non-responsive. Every cold, rash or ailment within 2 feet of her resulted in an illness. She was never well.

    We had no idea what was wrong. Tests were run constantly on our little lady. Her doctor told us that she was malnourished and to feed her ANYTHING she wanted to eat, just to stimulate her growth and appetite. The more we fed her, the worse it became. I decided to eliminate various items from her diet to determine the cause of her illness. Nothing worked. The damage was so profound that it was impossible to tell what triggered her sickness.

    I stayed up all night, every night with her during the sickness because I was terrified she would stop breathing. I would sit on the internet for hours on the medical sites to try and come up with some kind of diagnosis in case our doctors were missing anything. One night, I came across “Celiac Disease” and the symptoms and started to sob. My gut feeling was that they had not tested her for Celiacs. We called our excellent doctors and asked them to order a Celiac Panel for Annika. It came back positive.

    Celiac Disease does not end. It is a lifetime health concern. What this means, is that we have been given a reprieve! Celiacs is easily treatable. It took about 2 years to get her back into perfect health, but she is alive and well! She is happy and healthy, too! I have called the manufacturers of all of her favorite foods to get lists of their gluten-free products. I call restaurants ahead of time to make sure they can provide something that will not make her sick. There are sections in every health food store with gluten-free products. If you Google “Celiac” you will find hundreds of support sites to help you.

    Buy a stand mixer because you will be making lots of gluten-free alternatives like cakes, breads, etc. Even the slightest amount of wheat or wheat gluten will make a celiac sick, so watch seasonings and additives (food starch can be a wheat product) and ask if their meats and other foods are breaded, prepared with seasonings, or if the ground meats and sausages are prepared with food starch. Barley malt is another additive that makes a celiac sick, and vinegar can have malt in it, so watch it. Even with condiments, it is best to check. My rule of thumb is, the fewer the ingredients listed, the better your chances of being right. Take many multi-vitamin and fruit and vegetable supplements because you have to re-establish nutrients in your stomach and re-build your stomach.

    Happiness is knowing that your little person has a chance to evolve into a happy and healthy adult!

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  1. Profile photo of Zander Hathaway

    Great story, April! Gluten free is definitely the way to be!

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