So then…my daughter Chloe clutches her tummy, writhes about in bed, and complains about a stomach ache AGAIN.
This is probably her wily way of prolonging snuggle time. She’s 7 and loves to chatter and giggle as we lay in her bed before bedtime, so a tummy ache makes me stay longer with her.
It’s not so much a PAINFUL ache – it’s more of an ANNOYING ache – and I’m usually able to distract her or get her to sleep when they occur.
But this has been going on for a long time, so I take her to the pediatrician just to check it out.
Lots of questions, poking, prodding — which leads to:
Perhaps she’s not moving her bowels frequently enough?
Hello, Metamucil and fiber-rich food.
But the intermittent stomach aches continue, so then the doctor suggests:
Perhaps she’s lactose-intolerant?
Goodbye milk, cheese, and ice cream.
Hello tears. (From her AND me, because dammit, it’s hard to scarf down a Baskin-Robbins sundae when your lactose-intolerant kid is jabbing you in the ankles with a spoon.)
So we ALL forgo dairy.
And while there seems to be a reduction in frequency, the stomach aches continue.
So now friends suggest a therapist.
“For ME?” I ask hopefully.
“No, for HER, you knucklehead!” they respond. “Maybe she’s stressed out, so her tummy hurts.”
“What does a 7-year-old have to be stressed about?” I wonder.
But I gently and casually talk to Chloe about school, friends, family, activities, etc to see if there’s any anxiety in a particular area. Nope, all’s clear. Very happy, cheerful little girl.
But she still complains about occasional stomach aches, so I take her to a Gastroenterologist.
Oh yes I do.
Let’s get a specialist up in here!
My poor baby’s suffering. Let’s fix this now!
Which leads to:
Perhaps she has reflux
or ulcerative colitis
or celiac disease.
“Perhaps she should stop eating gluten,” the Gastroenterologist says.
“What has gluten in it?” I ask.
Turns out: Everything.
EVERYTHING has gluten in it!
Wait, purists, let me rephrase that.
EVERYTHING WORTH EATING has gluten in it!
So now we begin the painstaking process of figuring out what this poor kid can eat.
And still the frikkity-frik stomach aches pop up every few days.
I admit defeat.
I am baffled.
But she’s a trooper, this Chloe. We try to avoid lactose and gluten, but they creep back in. We try to keep stress to a minimum. The aches begin to dissipate.
Then, other things take center stage – other things claim our focus as life goes on.
Finally one night, I’m lying on Chloe’s bed while she’s getting ready in the adjoining bathroom and I realize:
“Omigosh! Do you realize it has been MONTHS since you’ve had a stomach ache? Like, literally MONTHS and MONTHS!”
“Yeah,” she says nonchalantly. “They stopped a long time ago. I figured out what it was.”
She says this dismissively like it’s no big deal.
I sit up abruptly. “WHAT!? You know WHY you had all those stomach aches? WHAT WAS IT?”
She pokes her head out of the bathroom. “I was allergic to something in my Disney Princess toothpaste. So if I swallowed some, it made my tummy hurt. As soon as I switched to Crest, the stomach aches stopped.”
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
Pediatricians, Metamucil, lactose, gluten, stress, gastroenterologist, and celiac disease?
And the WHOLE TIME it was the FRIKKITY-FRIK DISNEY PRINCESS TOOTHPASTE?
AND she didn’t even tell me when she found out! She didn’t put me out of my medical-mystery misery!
It’s almost enough to make me write a strongly-worded letter to the Disney company and include my receipts for all the doctor visits, soy milk, and chalk-tasting gluten-free cookies we suffered through.
But oh, Bella, Ariel, and Cinderella, I can’t hold it against you.
You probably don’t know your toothpaste contains Sodium Fluoride, Sorbitol, Hydrated Silica, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Trisodium Phosphate, Cellulose Gum, Sodium Phosphate, Sodium Saccharin, Carbomer, Red 28.
And you probably don’t know the Directions on the product that you use in YOUR MOUTH say: “Do not swallow.” And if too much is swallowed, “get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away.”
Really, call the Poison Control Center? On a toothpaste for KIDS?
— Darcy Perdu
Original Illustration for So Then Stories by Shelly Draven
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(Of course we laugh about this now — can you relate? Have any of YOUR mysteries been solved by something equally ridiculous? Any “Damn you, Disney” moments to share? Let me know in the Comments Section!)