My Experience With Lactose Intolerance
How I Became Lactose Intolerant and Didn't Know It
Since I was young I loved to eat just about everything, but my favorites were ice cream and lasagna. When I was 25 years-old- I got pregnant with my first child. One early morning as I drove to college, I suddenly started violently throwing-up everywhere!! All over the car, myself, the road--like I said everywhere. I pulled over, flung the door open and stuck my head out the door, but didn't quite make it. I was shocked, upset, and incredibly curious to know if I was pregnant. I had been on Birth control for four years and had barely gotten off from it in the summer. I hardly ever had sex with my husband so how could it be. I drove to a grocery store nearby(throw-up and everything), nothing would stop me I had to know. It was fall and I had to graduate from hygiene school in the Spring. I took the test and 30 seconds later there it was positive. This was the beginning of a horrible four months of constantly throwing-up practically everything I ate. I would throw-up so violently the back of my head would hurt. One thing that was particularly noticeable was my throwing-up instantly after drinking milk. It got to the point where even the smell of it would make me sick. The four months subsided, I started to hold most of my food down and throwing up less until it stopped completely, but I still couldn't drink milk. I had never been pregnant before and had not expected to get so sick. I thought my throwing-up and general sickness was from my pregnancy, and that after my baby was born I would be able to drink milk again--I couldn't wait to eat cereal again!
Learning by Trial and Error
More Symptoms of My Lactose Intolerance
When I had my baby one of the first things I did was eat cereal...huge mistake. As soon as I swallowed about two bites, I ran straight to the toilet and, yup, threw it all up. I wasn't sure what was happening or why, but decided to just stay away from milk. As time went by and I started to eat what had been my normal diet before my pregnancy, which was pretty much everything. I found myself getting frequent stomach aches. With time they progressed in frequency and severity to the point where I was in such horrible pain I could hardly breath and thought I would pass out. It felt like knives were cutting the inside of my stomach and it would last for hours 2-3 hours. Finally I mentioned it to my gynecologist on one of my post check visits and she asked if i was lactose intolerant. I didn't know what that was. She told me that we have enzymes in our bodies (I knew what that was!) Enzymes break things down into smaller pieces that the body can use them. She told me that we have different ones for different foods and sometimes our body loses those enzymes and can no longer break down certain foods. In my case it was possibly the lactose enzyme which breaks down the lactose sugar in dairy products.
What to do, How to Know, Other symptoms, Foods
The Dr. told me to try to keep track of when I got sick, what I had eaten, and try to rule things out(keep a journal). For example write down, if I ate green beans, chicken, and mashed potatoes and got sick. Then try to eat chicken and see if I got sick, then green beans, then mashed potatoes and so forth and see what was making me sick and how sick. After doing this I begin to notice a pattern. Over time I have found that certain foods with a minimal amount of dairy like mashed potatoes would give me bloating and slight stomach pain. Other foods like ice cream actually give me severe stomach cramps and diarrhea. Milk I can't even imagine drinking. Whipped cream-- aah!! immediate nasty burps and nausea. Cheddar cheese cramps and almost immediate diarrhea. Yogurt hardly any symptoms, salads with parmesan cheese hardly any symptoms... maybe a little gas.
What To Do, How To Fix It, Could It Be Something Else
The Dr. told me to try a lactose enzyme supplement. You can find these in the health department-laxative isle of most grocery stores. They have different names from brand name, LACTASE which can be pretty expensive $10-$12 dollars for 60 capsules, to store-name or generic brands which range from $7.99-$11 dollars. You have to take 1-2 tablets before you eat any dairy product so it can get pretty expensive and annoying if you like a lot of milk-products and anything which has milk in it. The lactose enzymes work, but not always 100% depending on what I eat. sometimes it just reduces the symptoms other times it works just fine. After a while you learn which foods make you sick. In my case I've found that even spagetty noodles make me a little sick, and even soy milk doesn't go well... so you have to be careful and figure out if you only have a lactose intolerance or something similar like irritable bowel syndrome or a gluten allergy. For more information on those talk to your Dr. Sometimes they can do food allergy tests and/or give you more information, and help you diagnose it.
THERE IS HELP
Learning To live With It--Embarrasing Story
At the beginning being lactose intolerant can be embarrassing, but as you learn to recognize what foods make you sick you begin to avoid certain things, eat just a little, not eat them at all. You can find alternatives to drinking milk such as rice milk, coconut milk, soy, and LACTAID or other lactose free milk and cook with it too. etc, and or keep that lactose enzyme handy where ever you go. When I first found out I was lactose intolerant I had a really hard time not eating the things I used to eat like my favorite ice cream!! or my lasagna, umm umm umm. I also had a hard time telling people. One time when I met my second husband we were at a fast food restaurant. He ordered a piece of very delicious-looking turtle pie covered of course in whipped cream. He was trying to impress me and kept insisting I eat it. All I would say was "no thanks, I can't." He kept insisting and thankfully my five-year-old came by from the playground and said, "I'll eat it mom!" On a second date with this same man. He came to dinner at my house. He brought his two daughters along about five and eight years-old. I made lasagna, (HE HE hahahI didn't actually make it, I only baked it) and it fed plenty. I took my lactose enzyme pills, but they didn't quite do the job. We were sitting together on the carpet in a circle doing a family activity when sudden I tooted. Everybody looked around at each other and the girls said, "Dad!" He didn't admit to it, so I had no choice but to say it was me. Regardless of it, we ended up getting married.