Recently, the Sane One has realized that she has become lactose intolerant and the result of consuming dairy products means some horrible digestive pain. As a vegetarian, her dairy consumption is pretty high, so this means that most meals result in the accompaniment of Lactaid to make sure that her nights aren’t spent in the bathroom or curled up in bed. I tried telling her that this was a great way to lose weight, but her glares of death suggest that she is definitely a glass half empty kind of gal.
This got me thinking back to when I experienced lactose intolerance when I first arrived to the US. As some of you may know, East Asian cuisine doesn’t have a lot of dairy in it, so that means that many people from those nations have negative experiences when consuming such delicious items like cheese, ice cream, and well, you know what, I’m not going to Forrest Gump every single awesome dairy item, so let’s just say it’s quite extensive in Western cuisines.
Now, as luck would have it, my brother and sister didn’t really seem to have any issues with dairy. Maybe this was because they were much younger when adopted, or maybe it was that they are just lucky ass bastards, who knows. Let’s go with the latter for sake of being irritable. Now, it’s important to know that we didn’t know that I was allergic to milk. I suppose I need to explain this a little bit.
Believe it or not, boys and girls, there was life before WebMd. It wasn’t necessarily a lot of fun, wallowing in ignorance, people died because ducks floated in water, which meant that you were most definitely a witch. However, it did mean that we didn’t completely freak out that every huge zit was a symptom of lupus and we actually listened to our doctors.
Pretty soon after I arrived, I started to get nosebleeds on a daily basis. Since most 6 year olds don’t have a raging cocaine habit, my parents decided that this might be a medical condition and decided that a trip to the doctor’s office was the prudent next step. Family practice physicians back in the day in tiny rural towns aren’t exactly Dr. Gregory House, so this was a giant puzzle for everyone. But our Kleenex budget was getting blown up, so ideally a solution to this was very much desired.
Then one day, my mom met this guy Dr. Lendon Smith. Dr. Smith was a famed doctor that talked about children’s nutrition. She asked him if he knew why I was getting nosebleeds every day, and he instantly diagnosed me with a dairy allergy. And from that point on, it was no more delicious food for Derek. I know that soy milk is the rage now, but I promise you that in 1981, soy milk technology was nowhere what it is today.
Many years passed before I decided that life without French onion soup is just not very fun. So, I decided that a nosebleed was a fair price to pay for pizza. And you know what? Eventually my nosebleeds started to diminish and then it was only if I was participating at a queso eating contest where I would gush blood. So I had done it! I beat my allergy!
DO NOT TRY THIS YOURSELF because I’m not a doctor. Even if I look like one and can fool anyone at a cocktail party with my medical prowess, I don’t want one of you to decide that mass exposure to wasps are a great way to beat your allergy. Because it isn’t. But it did work for me in this situation.
How does this relate to adoption or life in general? Well, I think we treat negative things in our life as an intolerance or allergy, and we treat it by completely expunging it from our lives. But the problem is that by doing so, we will always be allergic or intolerant. And there may be situations where that allergy and/or intolerance will make life very difficult. Again, we can’t do this with serious life-threatening issues. Like I am also allergic to bees, wasps and hornets. I will go into anaphylactic shock. So I’m not going to dive in and piss off a bunch of wasps. But to me, a nosebleed and death are at the opposite ends of the reaction spectrum.
Look, life sucks in a lot of ways. Life sucks for international adoptees in very unique manners. I also don’t think that the way many people treat us is necessarily fair and we should fight injustice when it is appropriate to do so. But I do believe that our ability to tolerate some of the micro-aggressions or silly comments and remarks will allow us to not let the bullies in our lives have the upper hand. I have no qualms whatsoever going into a redneck hillbilly bar, because there is not a damn thing that can happen that I haven’t been exposed to and I know I can handle it. Just like pizza, the ability to go where I want is more important than having to adjust my life because I can’t take the consequences. Nobody told me that I would successfully overcome my dairy allergy, but I decided it was worth trying rather than living a life absent some pretty awesome things.