Monday, April 29, 2013

Lactose Intolerant

Mom didn’t breastfeed any of us, so we were raised with formula.  She says I was a fussy baby.  My stomach muscles would cramp after each feeding, and I cried constantly.
She didn’t know if it was because of the milk substitute or from hunger, so after trying several different formulas, our family doctor suggested evaporated milk. That went okay for a while until someone accidentally fed me a bottle of it undiluted and I went into convulsions. Next, he suggested goat’s milk, but she felt sorry for me and that was that.
In between all of these attempts she would feed me rice water or oatmeal water, old remedies suggested by my grandmothers.
She started me on cow’s milk early.  I was close to my first birthday and it was a little easier on my stomach than the others. Besides I was old enough to supplement my nourishment through other foods.
She continued to foist glasses of milk on me throughout my childhood, and I refused to drink them unless they were camouflaged with chocolate or strawberry flavoring.  There was no fooling my stomach. It continued to rebel – cramps, bloating, diarrhea, gas.  I was the life of the party.  
For years everyone thought I suffered from a “nervous stomach” just like my dad, but it wasn’t until recently (after decades and decades of suffering) that I learned the truth – I am lactose intolerant.  
There is nothing sexy about a person who is lactose intolerant.
I don’t know if it could have been prevented if I had been breast fed as a baby and slowly eased into cow’s milk, but then my dad suffered from the same symptoms and my grandmother breastfed him as a baby. Either way, it is what it is.
I eat foods rich in calcium and take calcium supplements.  I eat yogurt and lactose-free milk, but even those sometimes give me symptoms.  My stomach can tell immediately if the cheese enchiladas or the drive through ice cream cone is made with real milk or some sort of synthetic.
I crave real cheese and ice cream. I eat them knowing the consequences - none of them are pretty nor polite – so I adjust my schedule and make sure no one is around to suffer with me (except for my poor, dear husband. Sorry, babe.)  

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