the trouble with dairy.

For those of you who might not know, I’ve had a life long struggle with health problems. Nothing serious mind you, just significantly irritating and limiting. The basic gist of the symptoms are that I have really serious insomnia, and little to no energy all of the time, accentuated by periods of time where I develop mono-like symptoms in which my throat and mouth fill with sores and my energy reserve dips from low numbers to negative numbers.

When I was a kid, various doctors simply diagnosed me with strep throat and threw antibiotics at me, while most non-doctors simply diagnosed me with laziness and treated me with the corresponding lack of respect.

As far as school was concerned, it never really counted against me. When it comes to public schools, where teachers are often stretched to the max with classes exceeding 30 students, low energy combined with an ability to understand quickly and articulate oneself well actually make up the cocktail for the ideal student.

Yet, the further I move into adulthood the more troubling and discouraging this problem has become. It really bothers me that I haven’t been able to work while I’ve been going to school because school uses up all the energy I have. It puts an unfair amount of the burden for our financial welfare on Emily and the kindness and generosity of family. It’s not that I don’t have time to work, I have plenty of extra time, it is that Emily and I both know that I don’t have the energy necessary to work and continue going to school full time. It’s barely been enough to keep up with my internship with The Other Journal with enough energy; even there I feel I don’t pull my weight very well.

The best metaphor I’ve been able to come up with to describe the overall sense my health creates is that it feels as if I am trying to walk the wrong direction on one of those airport people movers, but one moving at double or triple speed. It is like everyone else gets to walk on regular ground, and I feel as if it drains me much more doing regular activities than it seems to drain everyone else, like I get to the same place as everyone else, but it seems to require more effort to get there.

I explain all of this because at long last it seems we’ve diagnosed the cause of my problems. My new doctor here in Seattle, Dr. Mischley, recommended I get blood work done to gauge my blood’s reaction to certain foods. The resulting report is a double-edged sword. The good news is, we’ve discovered the cause of my lifelong problem with energy. The bad news is that I have to enter a three month period in which I omit all dairy, eggs, and oddly enough, garlic, from my diet. After the three month period I will need to keep it out of my diet, or at the very least significantly limit my exposure to it.

As it would turn out, the blood work revealed that my body responds to eggs, garlic and casein, a protein found in dairy, the way one’s body normally responds to illness or infection. So, you know that rundown, exhausted feeling you get when your body is fighting off a nasty infection… I feel that way whenever I ingest dairy.

Tasty, tasty milk

For those who don’t know, I drink a gallon of milk a week, I love ice cream, lattes, and cheese of any kind. And don’t even get me started on garlic (which is an unexpected flag on my blood workup that is a bit more difficult to understand)!

Basically my body is constantly at war with milk, eggs, and garlic, I’ve just never known it. Thus, I am terribly excited that my life may change forever in the next few months, but terribly disappointed that the cost for this change is just about every comfort food I can think of.

Tasty, tasty cheese

At this point, I’m just coming to grips with what this entails, so I will try to keep the ole’ blog updated in how things are going with the new diet, as well as how my mental and physical health change over the course of this three month trial period. Tonight I’ve begun my quest to start replacing my regular dairy consumption with a cup of rice milk (something that I enjoy much more than I anticipated) and a double tall vanilla americano instead of a double tall nonfat vanilla latte. So far, so good!

Here’s to hope!


7 Responses to “the trouble with dairy.”

  1. 1 Jesse
    January 5, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    My condolences. Seriously. At least you live in one of the more accommodating foodie cities in the country. You shouldn’t have much of a problem finding better (though by no means indistinguishable) substitutes in Seattle.

  2. January 5, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    Oh, my brother! My prayers are with you during this time. You are entering a fast. May God heal you during this time. May you gain amazing insights on this particular journey. Emmanuel. Peace.

  3. 3 Kj
    January 6, 2009 at 2:29 am

    bittersweet indeed- good luck on the launching of this vast effort

  4. 4 W
    January 6, 2009 at 8:28 am

    A few positive points for you in this experience:
    – margaritas contain no dairy whatsoever
    – you aren’t a zombie (none of us are. YET.)
    – pseudo-veganism can be quite healthy for you

    I’m just happy to hear that there’s finally a light at the end of the tunnel for you. And that you aren’t a zombie. YET.

  5. 5 Mom
    January 6, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    Glad to hear you have an answer sorry to hear that you have to give up cheese and milk, that stinks.

    check out vanilla rice milk that is what Lori drinks these days and also found rice cheese, can you have that? so far have found cheddar, mozzerella and american.

    Love ya

  6. 6 Grandma
    January 7, 2009 at 10:31 am

    WOW!! sorry to hear all of this news. However, if you finally have found an answer, Praise the Lord! Hope that you feel better soon.
    Love you,

  7. 7 Aunt Sandi
    January 8, 2009 at 9:41 am

    Sorry to hear you have to give up the “comfort” foods, may you find new “comfort” in Jesus the ultimate comforter and healer. Check the health food stores and organic sections of the grocery store they sell non-dairy ice cream. Tell Emily we said Hi. We love you. Aunt Sandi

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