The web of small red bumps draped around the left side of Logan’s mouth is stubbornly staying put. It emerged more than a month ago, and ever since, we’ve been trying to pinpoint its mysterious cause.
“We better cut out dairy,” we’d said.
That initially seemed to help. The bumps faded and seemed to be healing—but they never disappeared completely, and then returned, just as strong.
“It could be impetigo,” his doctor had said. “You better start Bacitraicin.”
That, too, initially seemed to help. But just like before, the red bumps started to diminish but then came right back.
Or maybe they never faded at all—by now, it’s been so long, I’m struggling to remember. Did I only think the bumps were fading because I was hoping they would, because I was sure they would?
What new foods had he eaten? Jason and I struggled to list them. By now, we were in Stage 3 of GAPS and had introduced the Halloween pancakes I wrote about here. “But he’s had pumpkin before,” I frowned. “And I can’t remember anymore if the rash started before we added pumpkin or not–I think it was before.”
Even more frustrating is the fact that following the GAPS protocol is supposed to help isolate these things – the diet calls for adding new foods one at a time and waiting to see if there is a reaction before moving on. And that’s what we were doing—and still, here we are, with a mysterious rash we couldn’t puzzle out.
“Could it be honey?” Jason asked.
But no, I was positive the rash had started before we’d started allowing small bites of honey.
“Then we’re back to the pumpkin,” I sighed.
“Or the can the pumpkin comes in—“ Jason said, and as he did, I heard echoes of our nephews.
My son gets a rash around his mouth from tapping the eraser-end of a pencil on his face, Jason’s sister had once told me. It’s the nickel in the pencil’s metal.
My dad could never wear a belt, she’d also said. The metal buckle would give him a rash.
“I think you’re right,” I told Jason.
We immediately stopped making his favorite pumpkin pancakes, which broke my heart. Basically his one gastronomic pleasure was gone once again. But Logan actually took it in stride, as long as he could have sunny-side eggs—NOT poached in broth like he’d had to have in Stage 2—instead.
We’ll try pumpkin pancakes again, I promised my sad boy. We’ll buy some fresh pumpkin this week.
Of course, this threw my pattern suddenly far of course. Pumpkin pancakes weren’t the easiest thing to make, but I’d gotten it down. Now that I was using fresh squash instead of canned pumpkin, my pancakes were pathetic. Instead of smooth, cohesive batter that could be poured into small drops in the pan, mine plopped disjointed off the ladle, landing in clumps that refused to stick together. Flipping them was impossible.
Jason suggested I microwave the squash first and mash it in the food processor. He even did it for me once, and this batch turned out acceptable though the batter was extremely runny and the pancakes were paper-thin.
When I tried this method, the batter was horribly runny—so much like water it’d be impossible to make anything from it. I thought I’d be clever and add a bit of hazelnut flour to get them to stick together, since we’d decided to move to Stage 4, where nut flours are acceptable, but that made things worse. Now instead of spilling out all across the pan, the batter turned crumbly and fell apart at the slightest touch from the spatula. Again it was impossible to flip; they cooked instead in a pile ad turned into breaded squash pudding instead of fluffy pancakes.
God, I hate cooking. I really, really do.
Then suddenly, his rash worsened. But he hadn’t had pumpkin pancakes in a few days!
The basil in the pesto I made? The olive oil, also new? The cranberry gummies?
Or the can the coconut milk for the cranberry gummies came in?
“He hasn’t really ever had canned food before,” Jason said slowly. “Except for a time or two—maybe it’s the accumulation of suddenly having it every day, from the pumpkin or the coconut milk.”
Two things support this could be true. One, a study from the Journal of American Medical Association found that BPA levels in people who ate one serving of canned food every day for a week increased 1,221 percent because almost all canned goods are sprayed with this chemical. And two, canned goods contain nickel, and when we ingest it, it accumulates in the body. It builds and builds in the body until the body begins to react.
Without canned goods, Logan’s rash is definitely fading this time. This weekend I found organic, puréed pumpkin in a box and decided to try it instead of the maddening fresh version. I also wanted to see if the rash returned in full (mystery solved: a reaction to pumpkin) or not (mystery solved: canned goods). Logan was thrilled to get pumpkin again, and together, we made pumpkin cookies.
A few hours later, he threw up.
“He could be just sick,” Jason pointed out.
What are the odds he’d get sick at the same time as battling an allergic reaction? Instead of solving the mystery, I only deepened it.
No-Bake Pumpkin Cookies*
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 1/3 cup honey (or less)
- 1/3 cup almond butter
- 1/4 cup pumpkin
- 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spices
- 2 cups unsweetened, shredded coconut
Mix everything except the shredded coconut in a big glass bowl and microwave for 20 seconds to meld the flavors. Stir in coconut. Spoon small dollops onto a cookie sheet or plates and refrigerate for two hours.
*I love these, and Logan initially liked them, too–but since he was sick, he won’t touch them.