Wednesday, October 15, 2008

An Open Letter to Some of My Very Bestest Friends

Dear Best Friends I’ve Had In the World (and you know who you are).

There are lots of things that I love about you gals. I love the way you know one member can’t digest nuts, so bake batches of cookies both with and without nuts in them.

I love that you know some gals are allergic to shrimp or shellfish, so you only make paella when they are not in town.

I love that you except that one member FREAKS OUT BIG TIME at the smell of tumeric or the word “curry” so you try to keep both away when she’s around.

I love that we know one girl grew up with too many beans begin forced down her gullet, so we don’t bring those to dinners and watch squirm(though that squirm is funny!)

I love that on trips we occasionallly stop at a restaurant because one member approves of the tea they serve (black, plain, brewed, not mixed with the coffee brewing system).

I really love that one of you who is allergic to strawberries drove all around the county to get me strawberry pie for my 50th birthday, because THAT'S what "birthday cake" means to me.

BUT when do I finally get equal treatment?

It’s been over 20 years that I’ve known I have an allergy to cow’s milk. While it’s true, if I’m healthy and the dosage is small, all that will happen is a slight cough. No trip to the ER or anything. Greater exposure and I’m hit with allergic bronchitis which can be treated by Mucinex and allergy pills. During the winter months, or if I’ve already gotten a cold? the dairy will require me to take these meds for 4-6 weeks. Twice a day. Just because I’ve eaten some cow milk.

This one isn’t new - to me or you - yet you never seem to remember that OH YEAH, DEB IS ALLERGIC TO COW’S MILK, SO LET’S PLAN SOME FOODS THAT DON’T HAVE IT IN. A couple of you actually sound offended when I questioned last week why so many of the foods we had at a party contained cow’s milk. We will travel to a retreat together, go out for a tea or celebration - plan what sounds - to me - like a safe menu and then you change it to challenge what I can eat. And you complain when I express my frustration.

Worse is when you ask me to “just eat a salad”. Like I don’t deserve warm/hot food like everyone else because I’m being “difficult” with my food choices. Because my allergy only means difficulty breathing not an epi pen episode. Because it’s easy for you to cook with milk and cow’s milk cheese and you don’t want to change. Ya know, they make some might fine cheeses from goat and sheep milk, and you can even find them at Trader Joe’s!

While we’re talking, I’ve discovered something important these past 2 years. For years I lived on TUMS to fight heart burn. TUMS all day (even if I said I was using it because I don’t consume cow’s milk and need the calcium).. TUMS for the heart burn.

I’ve discovered that if I limit - or eliminate - wheat from my diet, I don’t need to take the TUMS. Hmm. Wheat = heart burn. It’s a recent discovery. I haven’t shared it with you all because you look at me like a 2-headed freak for not using cow’s milk; if I start talking wheat, too, I figure it’s all over. Although you accommodate a lot of other strange food requirements, these two may land me in “never invite anywhere, she’s too whacky” list.

There are many fine grains grown in the world: oats and rice are common, spelt, quinoa (yuck), ya want to list a couple dozen more?

So do think it might be possible once in a while to plan meals we share together - or consider restaurantswe visit- to accomodate the person who is trying to avoid wheat and cow’s milk. That isn’t that difficult: choose an Asian restaurant and I’m probably golden. Most Asian diets do not use cow’s milk and much prefer rice to wheat. They tend to be fairly safe on the bean issue (except perhaps for edamame) and I’m sure they can brew tea by the pot any way the drinker prefers.

Think about it. Afterall I thought I was one of your very bestest friends in the world, too.

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

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