Tuesday, October 6, 2009

It does not do a body good.

"You're not sick, you're just a person," says John Campbell. I had always taken this for granted, that being sick and tired and unfocused was part of being a person, especially a person recovering from college and a couple of years on an antidepressant. Apparently, though, lethargy, lack of focus, and depression are part of being allergic to milk.

My new doctor, an osteopath, has me hold allergens or touch pressure points while he plays a game Blade and I like to call "Flops or Not Flops" (F/NF). If the doctor pushes on my leg and I'm able to resist, then whatever allergen or pressure point I'm touching isn't a problem for me. But if it makes my leg flop down on the table, he runs more related tests to narrow down the problem. Using the patented F/NF method, Dr. Gelband of Naperville determined that my chief problem (besides being overmedicated) was milk. I'm allergic to milk. Apparently, I've been allergic to milk for a long time, but I've never been tested for it, because I didn't notice my stomach hurting.

Dr. Gelband backed up his F/NF New Age feel-goodery with a conventional x-ray. Behind my ribs, I could see what looked like an extra, coiled up bone. "That's food," Dr. Gelband told me. It was food in my intestine that had calcified. Because of milk. It wasn't necessarily making my stomach hurt, but it was keeping me from getting energy from any of my food.

Unlike someone who is lactose intolerant, I can't just take a pill with an enzyme to make it better. I just have to avoid dairy. I'm learning that we make most things with milk. Frozen vegetables or chicken are often injected with butter. Whey is in things like cookies; casein is sometimes used as a filler in over-the-counter drugs and tends to creep into all kinds of seemingly innocent foods, like soy cheese.

However, also unlike someone who is lactose intolerant, I am able to eat dairy-ish things, as long as they come from goat or sheep milk, like feta cheese. And I can eat some kinds of yogurt, as long as they have live cultures. I can even have some kinds of well-aged cheese, like Romano.

The safest foods are the ones marked vegan or parve. I can consistently eat Asian food, since most Asian food doesn't use milk at all. (When's the last time you had Chinese food with cheese or butter?) My doctor said, though, to be wary of Asian food places that are owned by Americans, because they might have changed the recipes and added milk to the soups and sauces. I eat a lot of fried rice, egg rolls, and extra-dark chocolate with almond milk, so that is nothing to complain about.

Almond milk and soy ice cream are delicious. This has not stopped me from having stress dreams about Dairy Queen.


'Cause calcium is deadly
But tender to the tooth
And it's one sure-fire way to know
If you're MX missile-proof
Or if you're just aloof.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

It's a job. It's a job.

Since graduation, I have only been unemployed for a total of one month. In fact, I am on four separate payrolls right now.

1. Teas and Toes, Glen Ellyn
I brew loose leaf tea and get to drink any leftover samples. I'm learning a lot about the health benefits of loose leaf tea, as well as the different sensitivities of different varieties. That accounts for the "Teas" part. The "Toes" part means that I prepare foot soaks -- hot river stones, deep copper bowls, detoxifying foot soaks, aroma therapeutic salts, rose petals -- and then clean up after the client has left. I also do a lot of explanations about the differences between a pedicure or traditional foot massage and a reflexology treatment. The best part is sitting in a zero-gravity chair.

2. Christian Youth Theater, DuPage
I teach the Advanced Improv class to 12-18 year olds. (In my class, it's more like 12-16 year olds.) Teaching middle and high school students is a whole different ballgame than teaching college students. Younger students are more likely to feel paralyzed by their peers' preconceptions and expectations. College freshmen and transfers still have that new-start feeling and don't think they've got each other pigeon holed before practice even starts. That accounts for some of it. But the CYT kids continually surprise me with fun character choices, and it makes me itchy to find a place to play again.

3. The Reading Tree, Downers Grove

Unlike the above jobs, this one does not have a regular, weekly schedule. The Reading Tree initially hired me to teach a sentence diagramming course, sort of a grammar boot camp, for kids transferring from public to private schools. They've kept me on their list of tutors and call me when they need someone to tutor a student in phonics, grammar, literature, or reading comprehension. This will get busier, I predict, after report cards come out and kids are threatened with groundings if they don't get those grades up.

4. Bundles of Books and Gifts, Glen Ellyn
This feels like volunteer work, but it's great. Basically, I categorize and shelve used books for a few hours per week. In return, I get store credit. That adds up to several free books every week. I spend most of my shelving time working on the mystery section and romance section, which seem to collect the most donations. I entertain myself by holding a contest (in my head) for most ridiculous title. The winner so far? Highland Vampire, a Harlequin(ish) romance. It's actually in it's second or third printing right now. The mind reels.

It rather feels like my fifth job is getting healthy. Lately, I'm at the doctor about three times a week on average. But that's another post.