This past weekend, I got to go to a scrapbook retreat up in Jacksonville, Florida.  It was a last minute invitation from a scrap booking pal who belongs to a Yahoo Group.  Apparently, someone else who belongs to the group canceled out.  I got to go.  As a result, I did not post any new files last week.  It wasn't because I hadn't made them.  They were ready to go.  I had planned on posting them this past Monday...just a few days late...and I had notified my Yahoo Group that this would be the case.  But, you know, sometimes the best laid plans just don't go the way that you would like them to.
     As much as I had a good time at the crop, I left early due to a previously scheduled engagement.  My husband and I attended a lovely dinner with another couple.  She had really put out a nice dinner....pork roast with lots of enticing herbs, carrots and onions, a beautiful salad....and my favorite....mashed potatoes.  I even went for seconds on the mashed potatoes.  It was then that I found out that they had cream cheese in them...and I am allergic to dairy products. 
     Well, I spent the next two days cramping on the couch.  Now, I am not saying that it was just the potatoes that may have caused this to happen.  This is one reason that I don't like going "on the road again."  People don't always take me seriously when I tell them that I am allergic to dairy.  I will hear things like "Well I have another friend who is allergic to dairy and she can eat ice cream....or he can eat cheese....or they use Lactaide....or whatever."  The funny thing about this type of allergy is that we all react to this particular allergy in different ways.  That is what spurned me to write this blog.
     When I first found out that I was allergic to dairy (back in my 20's) it was through a process of elimination.  My face had suddenly started breaking out into a bad case of acne.  Slowly, I was able to isolate the cause and eliminate it.  It only seemed to happen with cow's milk.  I then went to goat's milk because we didn't have all of the products that are on the market today.  The goat's milk didn't seem to effect solved.  But, over time, even that started to effect me.  I would feel bloated.  Then I started having horrible coughing jags whenever I ate ice cream or drank milk shakes.  The worst was when I realized how badly I began to feel after eating cheese...I was in my forties by that point in time.  So, none of this happened overnight.  It happened gradually.  But, the results are very painful. 
    Whenever we travel, it is hard to eat out.  I try to tell the waiter or waitress that I am allergic to dairy, but sometimes, they are ignorant about the allergy.  A lot of people think that dairy is only milk.  Some think that cheese is different.  If my food comes in contact with dairy during the preparation process....I can get a reaction.  So, that is why I am not sure if the potatoes are the only culprit.  I had been away for a few days eating out daily....and may have ingested dairy unbeknownst to me.  But, the results are always the same.  It will start out feeling like menstrual cramps.  But, being 57 years of age...we all know that that isn't the case.  Eventually, it feels like someone is stapling my intestines together.  I can't move.  Luckily, when I found out about the cream cheese, I took some magnesium before going to bed.  It helps in the morning.  Too much information?  Good.  I am writing this to help you to understand how the lactose intolerant among you suffer silently because it is too embarrassing to talk about.  Did I tell you about the gas?!  Even after taking lactase pills...there is the gas.  It is horrible and I don't like going out in public when I am having a bout.  Allergies are serious.
     I had a student in my classroom who could go into Anaphalactic Shock if she was exposed to just a smidgeon of dairy product.  When parents brought snacks to school, I would have to read the ingredients and consult with her mother before allowing her to ingest anything.  There is dairy hidden in everything.
     Now, most of us who are lactose intolerant tend to turn to soy products.  Well, guess what?  Research shows that if you eat too much soy, it can make your thyroid sluggish.  That happened to me too.  I am now diagnosed as being allergic to soy products.  Try getting away from soy protein!  It is in just about everything!
     So in conclusion, when you have a friend who says that they are lactose intolerant, it can mean something different from your other friend who is lactose intolerant.  There is a lot of gray area.  Some are more intolerant than others.  Just keep that in mind as you cook.  And, please don't be offended if after cooking, they come to your house and announce that they can't eat the food because of a particular ingredient.  Even if it is just a little bit, it can cause adverse reactions to the digestive system that can last for weeks.  What is the answer?  When they tell you that they want to bring their own heat up in your microwave...let them.  Don't tell them that you will make something special for them....let them fend for themselves if they so choose to.  It may save them from a week or so of discomfort!