Kishmish and Pista are going to turn 6 in December. Over the past years, I have learned enough to provide advice on dealing with all the pains and fevers and bleeding and sleepless nights that come with various benign childhood illness. Having a child who is suddenly ill with a fever or a cough or an allergic reaction to bedbug bites is just terrible and makes a parent question his/her existence, but let me tell you — the experience of having a child not acutely ill with an as-yet-undiagnosed but extremely irritating abdominal pain? That takes it to a different level.
For almost six weeks now, Kishmish has been complaining, off-and-on, of tummy pains. I can write about this now because the pain is not constant, it’s not waking her up at night, and we have a few possible answers as to the cause of these weird pains — at least some of which will not completely disrupt everyone’s lives.
So now I will share a few things I have learned, having a child with as-yet-undiagnosed abdominal pain over the last six weeks:
1 – Your first thought might be, “Is this appendicitis?” Then, after reminding yourself whether it’s the child’s right side, or your right side when standing over the crying child, you realize the pain is nowhere near the lower belly. That’s when you should forget about appendicitis. Appendicitis is surprisingly rare, especially in little kids, and staying up late at night wondering what you will do about work if your child has to have and appendectomy is likely a big waste of time.
2 – At first, you’ll run your hand across your forehead and say you’re so relieved it’s not appendicitis. But that relief will come and go. In fact, a diagnosis of appendicitis and an emergency appendectomy, after which life returns to normal, would be perfect.
3 – Abdominal pain makes kids useless and miserable to be around. My father’s advice: you can’t do much about the pain, so it’s ok to medicate them with TV, because it may be the case that not much else will work or will distract them from the pain. Recognizing that TV is valuable for moderating pain — that it doesn’t reflect badly on me that my child doesn’t want to curl up with a good book when she’s in pain — was a huge realization!
4 – My father’s other advice: it may make sense to medicate the adults, too, because children with abdominal pain are so miserable. His suggestion: a glass of wine. My suggestion: one of these iced coffees. You’re going to need it to stay on top of the tired people around you. Seriously, I went through what should have been a month’s worth of this cold coffee in about 10 days.
5 – And finally. . . . what if all else is ruled out, and it seems that you might have a child with food allergies? You might want to think it makes sense to begin elminating stuff from her diet, in attempt to figure out what’s causing all the problems. But everyone from the attendings, fellows, residents, and (yes!) medical students we’ve seen to the websites towards which I gravitate against my better judgement say don’t modify the child’s diet just yet! That could mess up the whole testing regimen that is looming on the horizon.
Which brings me to the muffins.
There’s a possibility that we’ll find out Kishmish — and by extension the rest of us in the family — is allergic to gluten. That would actually make me so happy, as it would explain all at once everything from the past few weeks. But until then, as long as we are eating a “normal diet” I’ve decided we ought to really relish all the gluten-y treats we cook together. I’m not saying we go out of our way to eat this stuff in excess, but all the muffins and pancakes and breads and. . . let’s enjoy them a little more for the next few days!
This muffin recipe was one of the ones we “developed” by mixing up stuff we had on hand, based on a few basic flour-soda-powder ratios. It turned out well! Typically when that happens I’m so excited about the product that I fail to write anything down and never manage to reproduce the product. I’m psyched we wrote this one down.
Cranberry Orange Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus butter for the pan
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup yogurt (I used lowfat)
- 1 tsp clementine zest (more if you can manage it) plus juice from one clementine (or a small orange)
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup cranberries, chopped in the blender or food processor
- 12 walnut halves (optional)
Butter a regular muffin pan.
Cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add the egg then the yogurt. Then add the clementine zest and juice. [I used clementines when we were experimenting with this recipe, because that’s what we had around. I’m sure oranges would work just as well.]
Mix together the pastry flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon in a separate bowl. Sift these dry ingredients into the wet ingredients; we used a sieve to do this. I found that the sifting was a little too strenuous for my helpers. But they liked this step nonetheless.
We had fun trying to take good action shots:
Next, stir in the dry ingredients until just barely mixed.
Chop the cranberries in a blender or food processor. I thought I chopped them too much, but it turned out to be nice to have them finely chopped. Fold the cranberries into the batter.
Fill the 12 muffin tins. Top each bit of batter with a walnut half. (This is a step I added for anxious kids who wanted to “do more!”)
Bake at 375 in a preheated oven for about 25 minutes.
Remove from the pan when cool.
These didn’t last long.