Finally after a five days of this and nothing helping I took her in the ER and they just said it was a bug, do a stool sample and I am sure she will be better by the weekend. She wasn't eating anything at all but staying hydrated and sure enough come Friday was slightly improving, so she started to eat. What do you eat when you are sick with a stomach bug...bread, crackers and what happened....she got sick again. This time it was every hour through the night and the next morning I took her in for dehydration and they did an IV on her to help her. The poor thing was so scared, so weak and it was awful. We would also have to constantly disconnect the IV every ten minutes so she could go to the bathroom and it wasn't until the second bag that she was finally not going to the bathroom and getting fluids back in her. Graham was such a sweet big brother while we there. I eventually called a friend who came and picked him up but while he was there he was so concerned about her. Every time someone came in he would tell them that "Pey Pey tummy hurts," and he would give her hugs and make sure she had her lovey. It was so cute. My favorite part was when they wanted to do a throat swab and the nurse said she would show Peyton what was going to happen by doing it to me first. I did it and then Graham insisted on doing it. As soon as he did it he turned to Peyton and said, "it is ok Pey Pey, it just tickles." He is so in love with his big sister. We left the ER, feeling better and then....
We came back to the hospital two days later because it started up again. Another round of stool samples and NOTHING! I was so frustrated, anxious, scared, tired and so close to tears. We came home and had another rough night and the next morning I was in tears and sat outside the doctor's office waiting for her to open and just started crying with despair when he saw me. The appointment went the same as the others and I felt so helpless. After that appointment I was talking to my best friend here and she mentioned that I should look into whether it was a food allergy as it has been three weeks now and nothing was showing up. We both started looking into it and my same friend mentioned a gluten intolerance and also helped remind me of other smaller events/symptoms leading up that could indicate that such as several weeks of loose stools in the middle of the night that seemed to start out of nowhere, a persistent lack of energy from her, her hair not growing well and even a pediatrician mentioned a long time ago about malabsorption and increasing vitamins because of her hair look/feel. At this point I figured it wouldn't hurt so we went gluten free.
Going gluten free in Saudi is NOT EASY! There are some options but not much and it was pretty challenging and still is. We made a trip to Bahrain to a couple stores there and found more items to help. I even found sliced bread (made from rice flour) from Seattle of all places and bought several loaves of the rice flour one and then a corn flour one and a tapioca flour one and have them in the freezer to do sandwiches which is a lifesaver at lunch time!
So far we have been gluten free for almost two weeks now and......I can happily report she is doing great! Peyton FINALLY has her energy back (she was sleeping all day), normal stools and is not losing weight (she had lost around two pounds). It took several days for her body to recover and it was hard finding foods for her to eat and convincing her to try new food items and explaining why she couldn't have other foods (bread, goldfish) which is pretty traumatizing to her but once she understood what was going on and saw the difference she was willing to give this a try and has been awesome in asking whether things have gluten in them. She even reminded me that they were having a party at school soon and to ask the teacher on what she could eat. Thankfully she reminded me so I had time to make a gluten free cupcake for her so she wouldn't feel left out. I went ahead and froze a bunch so I have them in emergency situations. I am just not used to thinking like this. I still need some serious practice in baking gluten free items and making certain items, my first attempt at pancakes were awful but we are all learning together and I am so thankful to see an improvement in her! I have mastered homemade gluten free chicken nuggets which she devours and I did manage some yummy homemade cheeze-its!
What has been even more eye opening is that we have seen set backs when we accidentally gave her something with gluten in it and immediately within 4-6 hours she is sick again. It happened last weekend with vanilla milk (vanilla has carmel coloring which has gluten) and then again last night when we went to Chili's and didn't pick 100% gluten free items for dinner :(.
Next steps are to continue to go gluten free. I changed her in flight meal to a gluten free one and I am so excited about going to Washington and the abundance of gluten free food, restaurants and ease of finding food so I can take the time to learn, try new recipes and get better at this. I am even trying to find a gluten free baking class to get used to all the different flour types and when to use it where. I am also going to talk with her pediatrician there about what it means to do a formal diagnosis. From what I have read it is pretty invasive and would require us to go back on gluten for a period time for comparison which scares me. So I am not sure whether we will go ahead or just lead a gluten free lifestyle without the formal diagnosis especially as I am wanting her body to heal. Either way a long journey and venturing into so many unknowns regarding food. Please pray for Peyton's body to heal, for her to continue to be receptive to a new diet, for us as parents to gain the knowledge we need and for me to develop a new lifestyle of baking, making, prepping everything from scratch.