Well, I haven't been blogging. Not that I haven't been thinking about it on a very regular basis. I would like to give an update on what our homeschooling/unschooling program looks like this year, but first I feel I owe my readers an explanation about my absence from the keyboard. There are two reasons.
Jasmine's eczema reached what I have called a 'crisis' during July. Back in May I had taken her to the paediatrician to ask for help, as Jasmine was scratching for 1-2 hours every day. That doctor (who is revered in Partner-Guy's family, but who failed to charm me) told me that Jasmine has "high-maintenance skin", and that the cure was to "moisturize, moisturize, moisturize". This was her assessment without even examining Jasmine's skin. I insisted on a referal to an allergist, which she reluctantly provided, as she insisted that Jasmine does not have allergies.
In June we saw an allergist who performed a scratch-test on Jasmine's skin. The eight most common allergens (soy, eggs, cow's milk, seafood, wheat, corn, citrus and peanuts) were ruled out as causing Jasmine's eczema and itchiness. The allergist offered no other investigation into her condition and suggested that I see a dermatologist. Because of the test results coming back negative, I began to feed Jasmine every food I had previously withheld, believing that food was not causing her symptoms.
By mid-July it was clear that something had to be done. Jasmine began to scratch throughout the day and night for up to 3 hours at a time. Her skin on her ankles, knees and wrists began to look like ground meat. She would have skin and blood under her finger nails and still she would keep tearing at her skin. We could not go on this way. During the night I would have to give her to Partner-Guy to take to the living room so that I could just spend 10 minutes alone to breathe deeply, calm down, and then resume trying to comfort and soothe her back to sleep.
Finally, as a last resort, I reached out to the naturopath who my sister had taken her oldest son to when he had eczema and allergies as a baby and toddler: Dr. Peter Klassen in Waterloo.
Dr. Peter listened to my description of every detail of Jasmine's life: my pregnancy, her birth, my diet, her sleep patterns, her physical development, her diet. He immediately put us both on a restricted diet to control the growth of candida: no dairy products, no sugar, no yeast, no citrus, no mushrooms, no red meat. And he ordered a blood test (called an IgG test) that would measure Jasmine's reaction to over 100 common foods. Within two weeks of starting the restricted diet Jasmine was scratching approximately 50% less, and her skin was beginning to heal. I was delighted. Dr. Peter also put her on several supplements to reduce her itchiness and help heal her skin.
It took 4 weeks to get the results of the IgG test (which I paid $240 for). The results showed significant reactions to cow's milk, citrus, soy and gluten. But the most severe reaction was to eggs. Wow. So Jasmine and I are now on an even more restricted diet, to which I adhere completely. I have found some recipes for bread and muffins that don't taste like dirt, and we are learning how to enjoy chicken or turkey every night of the week. I think I've lost over 5 pounds already, and Jasmine is eating more food than ever before. In fact, 2 months ago she was nursing 12 times/day, and now she is nursing only 6 or 8 times/day. This is a very significant change, and she are I are both feeling healthier and more energetic.
Anyway, managing Jasmine's health and finding new foods to enjoy has been like a full-time job for the last month. In fact, I told Dr. Peter that there was no way I would have been able to adhere to the strict diet while working outside the home 5 days/week. I feel really grateful that I can be home with my children and able to give my entire attention to their well-being. And I feel such a huge sense of relief that Jasmine is getting better and that I have found a doctor who can heal her and build her health so that she can grow up free from eczema.
I have begun a course of study called Non-Violent Communication. I love it. I can hardly put down the book and the study guide and make myself go to bed at night. I read each chapter and then I read it again and underline the parts that speak to me the most and then I read it again and follow the study guide.
I am already applying the principals of non-violent communication in my interactions with my daughters, and I can see the difference it is making. I feel different. I feel a deeper connection with my daughters, and I am awakening a deeper awareness of my thought patterns, my habits, my feelings and my needs.
Of great significance is my awakening awareness of my needs and values. I had never really thought about how my unmet needs were the source of unhappiness, and how I had the power to get my needs met. In fact, I didn't even have a clear understanding of my own needs. I have now been able to isolate 5 specific needs that, when met, bring out my greatest authenticity. They are beauty, order, peace, harmony and balance. More on that another day.
So I have been busy. I am completing this course for my own benefit and because I genuinely desire a more authentic relationship with my children, my partner, and my family of origin. But I would also like to facilitate workshops on non-violent communication, in addition to leading seminars on breastfeeding and on authentic parenting.
I look forward to writing more about my studies, providing updates on Jasmine's health, and detailing our unschooled lives. We have much to celebrate.