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By Robin Dearing
Back when Margaret was a baby, I was always afraid that she was going to get appendicitis (for no reason in particular — I chalk it up to being a result of my general quirkiness). I remember wishing that she could identify and communicate her ailments. I wished that she could tell me when there was something wrong with her. But as the saying goes, be careful for what you wish. Now, that's she's developed a sophisticated-enough vocabulary to hold a conversation with most anyone, she constantly barraging me ailments. She'll cry that she needs multiple Band-Aids for a mere scratch that she is sure is going to cause her to be exsanguinated. She needs "two pills" (her reference to children's Motrin) for an ache she claims is preventing her living her life to the fullest. She complains that her stomach hurts ... And that's the one that always gets to us. For several months last year, Margaret's stomach did hurt — we could tell by her urgent and frequent trips to the bathroom. At first, we thought that she had eaten something bad or had a bug, but it didn't seem to go away. After too many days of suffering, we took her to the doctor. I like our family doctor. He's pretty patient with me and my sundry, bizarre ailments and is pretty practically minded about treating children (and me, as well). We discussed the possibility that she might be faking it and discussed the possibility that she had a legitimate problem. We decided on a course of diagnostics and we decided to begin eliminating certain foods from her diet. She had an x-ray which revealed nothing major. Next step, diet modification. First things, first, we eliminated milk. Being that many people are black-toast intolerant, er, I mean lactose intolerant, we thought dairy might be the problem. Well, guess what? It was. We eliminated regular milk and now she drinks lactose-free milk instead. That seems to have helped a lot. But she still complains about her stomach. We're pretty sure that she's OK and that she uses her delicate, digestive constitution as an excuse, but what if she's not? What if she's got an ulcer? Or gastroparesis? Or appendicitis? Just another reason why parenting is so dang hard.