I left the hospital that day, September 17, 2010, with an answer to my 10 months of questions. A collection of documents told me what items I could no longer eat if I wanted to remain pain free. Four hours later and four pieces of paper literally changed and dictated my life. I didn’t even realize how much of what we eat contained food with the lactose sugar. These documents listed off things like M&Ms, because of the milk chocolate, and cake because of the butter that the recipe called for. What?! Surely, this is a mistake.
Cream cheese, sour cream, milk, all these things I expected to be off limits, but those pieces of paper told me that if I had “lactose” or “milk” in the ingredients, I had to stay away. Most of these items derive from milk. Those darn lactose sugars. Are you freaking kidding me!? This was going to be stressful.
As I usually did for most moments in my life, I called my parents as soon as I drove back to the office upset, but unable to even shed a tear. My dad wondered why I ALWAYS had to have something wrong with me. I wondered the same thing. Mom was honestly just relieved to know what was wrong.
I told my boss and other people at my office. “What?! NO CHEESE!? I WOULD DIE! AREN’T YOU DEVASTATED?”
Drama queens much? So many other delicious foods, in addition to cheese, would have to be removed from my life. I tried to take those Lactaid pills when I attempted to eat something with lactose products, but it seemed to never work, no matter how many doses I would take.
Weeks went by. My trips to the grocery store were so different. Recipes and cooking were not as fun as they used to be. Watching Food Network shows were becoming annoying. I love me some Giada de Laurentis, but her cheesy crusts and 1/2 cups of Parmegianno in everything was starting to make me cry.
I avoided my favorite hobby. What was the point of making delicious delicacies that I couldn’t even enjoy?? I would sit at home sad, depressed honestly, because of my new found diagnosis. I remember one evening my parents and I were supposed to go to Abacus for dinner. I didn’t even want to go. What was the freaking point when I couldn’t savor some of their famous dishes?? I sat on the kitchen floor that fall day so angry at life, crying like a baby.
Why Lord? Why did you have to take one of the only things that brought me happiness? Why did you have to take one of the only things that brought me joy? I quickly realized that I didn’t find joy in eating the foods. (Who am I kidding? My reeses peanut butter cake is damn good.) It always brought a smile to my face for my friends, family and sometimes strangers to enjoy my tasty treats and savory items. That was the ultimate goal in all of my culinary adventures. Even though I couldn’t savor my delicious delights, I would still be happy to see others enjoy it.
If anything, I had a new niche in my culinary journey, a lactose free niche. Seems like a lot of people today have some sort of allergy to food. They weren’t complaining. Neither was I.
Cooking and baking is a part of who I am. I couldn’t stay away from long. Halloween 2010, a little more than a month after my diagnosis, I paid tribute to my lactose-free life by going as an ice cream cone. Funniest thing ever. I hung out with my goddaughter that evening for some family-oriented fun. She was so tickled by my outfit and still talks about it to this day.
I also brought a dessert for work pot luck. A delicious Reeses peanut butter cake that I found on Picky-Palate, but added a few yummy things because I always change recipes! It was a HUGE hit. I am so happy I was able to share it with my co-workers. Not going to lie. I may have snuck a small bite just to see how it tasted. This journey is a indeed a journey. hehe!
The next year, I made the most delicious Snickers cupcakes ever! We were having a going away party for a dear fire fighter friend of the organization who was moving back to Wichita Falls to receive around the clock care. Kelly had ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. He had been requested a dessert from me for the longest, and I thought what better time to make it for them than that day.
He LOVED them and so did everyone else. Four fire fighters walked up to me, asked me if I made the cook and then proceeded to remove their wedding rings and propose to me. If only it was that simple. hehe! Those cupcakes are the still all the range in the fire fighter world. Everyone heard about them around the State. Even though I’m no longer with the organization, I live on through that story.
I celebrated two years of my lactose-free life a couple of weeks ago. I still take time that day to remember my health journey. To many people, the fact that I can’t consume dairy products (besides eggs) is sad to them, to others, maybe it’s not a big deal. It’s all about perspective. I am really proud of myself for not dwelling in self pity for too long. In the grand scheme of things, it all could be a lot worse.