WIth A Tip of His Hat

I was 16 years old when I met John LeBret. It took over a year for us to actually become a couple, but it was totally worth it. He was the first boy to tell me he loved me, and the first boy I said that to. He was the first person I ever had a knock-down drag out fight with. He totalled my first car. He was there the first time I got drunk. He was the first person I ever lived with who didn’t share my DNA. He was the first boy I ever talked about forever with. If not for him, I might not have met either of my husbands. When we broke up, I thought I wouldn’t survive. When he cheated on me, I thought my heart was broken beyond repair. He hurt me more than anyone ever had (and it would be years before someone else hurt me that much again) because I loved him more than I ever thought possible.  He was talented and fun and everybody loved him. He was one of those people that just took over a room when he walked in. He was Jim Carrey’s Riddler meets Armand Goldman from The Birdcage. Even when things were really terrible, he could still make a joke. Because, why would you ever let tragedy get in the way of a good joke?

It is so weird to think about how much a person can change your life in just four short years, how important that person can become. At the time, it seemed like an eternity and now it feels like the blink of an eye. He was here and then he was gone and now he’s really gone. I guess at the right time and the right place, things just fall together some times. Or maybe there’s just nothing like first love. I would not be the person I am today if I had not known John. If I were memorializing him for myself, I would probably use Garth Brooks lyrics, “I could have missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss the dance” or “Yes, I do think about you, every now and then”. But, since I’d like this to be less about me than him, I will leave you with words that remind me of the John I knew back in the day.

“Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed! –tear up the planks! here, here! –It is the beating of his hideous heart!”     – Edgar Allan Poe

Salicylate Intolerance: Discovery and Diet

I have a lot of health issues, particularly with regards to food, and, historically, I have almost always either lacked the spoons or the insurance to seek a doctor’s care. So I have spent my adult life just trying to figure out, on my own, what I am reacting to and how badly I need to avoid it. In God’s grace, he has seen fit to make none of my allergies/sensitivities life-threatening. As far as I know, up to this point. Right now, I finally do have insurance and I am grateful for the gift of being able to afford that. But, while I wait for a referral to an allergist, I am on a self-administered elimination diet because I have recently begun to suspect that I am Salicylate Intolerant. So I thought it might be fun to write about how I got to this point and what I find out when I do go to the doctor.

So without going too far back in history, I think it will be sufficient to say that somewhere between 10 and 15 years ago, I started having more frequent headaches and that’s also when I began noticing the reactions which I believe are symptoms of Oral Allergy Syndrome, or OAS(that is another story, for another blog post). By about 5 years ago, when I moved to my present home, I was to the point when it was a rare day when I didn’t have at least one headache (usually multiple headaches a day, of various “kinds”) and I was pretty sure that almost everything I ate would hurt me in some way. But there seemed to be so many things I was reacting to with so many symptoms, it was beyond emotionally and physically daunting to try to figure it out (I didn’t know it then, but this was my lack of spoons). In addition, my new husband’s work insurance would have cost me about half our mortgage in premiums. Not really financially feasible to go to the allergist at that time. So I was trudging along with daily headaches, fatigue, brain fog, standard stuff in the chronic illness world. Then, maybe eight months ago, I noticed that I got a very specific headache when I ate margarine. As luck would have it, a few weeks later, we switched brands due to a sale at the Grocery Outlet. ($0.34/lb! w00t!!) This brand did not give me a headache. I compared labels and the only ingredient different was palm kernel oil. Okay, avoid palm kernel oil. No problem.

Fast forward again to last month. I switched shampoo because I colored my hair. My husband and I are alone in the house one weekend, so we snacked. Excessively. =) Same weekend, my brother in law left an open container of gasoline in the garage which vents into our house. Basically, things aligned just right and my face swelled up enough that my husband could see it. There were no hives, just swelling, which I don’t usually have. And my mouth and lips were burning and my teeth hurt and I was a little wheezy. I thought it might be the gasoline, but, swelling, especially face swelling is one of those things that they always tell you to watch out for.  Eli had it, too, but his went away after the gas was gone. When my swelling stayed around, I started to investigate. Reading labels of all the food I had been eating, what do I find? Palm Kernel Oil. So I go to my Google.

Apparently, it is almost impossible to be allergic, in the technical sense, to palm kernel oil. Generally speaking, allergic reactions are a histamine reaction. Anyway, everything I could find said that an allergic reaction to Palm Kernel Oil would be extremely unlikely. But I did find an article where a woman talked about reacting to palm kernel oil because she has salicylate intolerance. So I looked at the symptoms. Many of them were like mine. What do people react to? Many of the things I knew I react to, that aren’t usually included in the lists for OAS.

But, wait, what are salicylates, you ask? One of them you probably know pretty well. It looks like this:Salicylic-acid-skeletal.svgIt’s salicylic acid or Aspirin. We developed it from salicylates found in the bark of willow trees and now we put it in a lot of health and beauty products as well as OTC medicines. It is related to ibuprofen and other NSAIDS as well. It is also a natural insecticide and, therefore found in a large number of plant things, especially fruits and vegetables. Not, however, in animals, grains or most legumes.

So I got a food list. I highlighted the things that were low in salicylates (that I could eat) and then marked the things I can’t eat anyway. The good news is after just a few days of eating this way, I felt much better. For the first time in years, I went days without headaches. I was less tired. The bad news was my list looked like this:



Also, my face was still a bit swollen even after a week on the diet. On a whim, in the shower, I read the label of my shampoo and, sure enough, it had salicylic acid in it. I had been using it for about two weeks. I had been smearing enough aspirin that my husband could smell it all over my head. No wonder my face was swollen. Sure enough, I went back to good ol’ cheap Suave and the swelling went away.

So it’s been about six weeks, I think. I feel pretty good until I decide that it’s probably all in my head and one granola bar (or whatever) won’t hurt me. How much coconut oil (or palm oil or corn syrup) could be in there? And then I’m on my back all afternoon with a dizzy headache. So however much it is, it’s enough.

It is a restrictive diet, but I still can eat meat, fish, rice, cheese, all sorts of sugar (as long as it’s not honey or corn syrup). Almost all the spices and herbs (except chives, parsley, salt and garlic) are out. I can still have soy sauce, which is good, because I’m Filipina. =)  Coffee and all teas are high in salicylates, which is sad. I managed to time my caffeine withdrawals with having the flu, though, so it kind of got lost in the shuffle. I am almost used to hot lime sugar water as a morning drink. As far as treats go, I know that Pepsi Throwback (“real” sugar, no corn syrup) and Haagen-Dazs chocolate ice cream are completely safe.

Right now, I’m still getting over that flu. I still have a cough and a stuffy nose. In addition to that, I’m crashing from having to teach last night. Even given all that, I still feel better than I did, probably any day last year. It is awesome to not have a headache or dizziness or light-headedness or face pressure and to be fairly certain that what I eat is not going to give me any of those things.

Standard note: I am not a doctor and I don’t give out medical advice. Please don’t take my putting myself on an elimination diet as a recommendation that you do as well. Also, please don’t post comments about how I shouldn’t go on an elimination diet without a doctor’s supervision. I would have waited to talk to a doctor but knowing that that would be at least weeks, if not months, I couldn’t not take the opportunity to feel better. I still eat meat, fish and rice. I actually eat a really good diet. It’s nutritionally sound. Billions of Asians, throughout history, support it.

(Edited to change a sentence which said that aspirin is related to acetaminophen to say that aspirin is related to ibuprofen. Because that is what is true.)




They Way They Should Go

They Way They Should Go?

I’m having a few big struggles right now. I’m sure I’ll get to all of them eventually, but the one weighing on my heart today is parenting. That is, parenting my adult/soon-to-be adult children in light of the cross. At the end of the day, the Bible doesn’t have a whole lot to say about parenting, but there is always this gem:

Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old, he will not depart from it.

-Proverbs 22:6

I know the way we should go: toward Christ. But how do you train a child to do that? How forceful should we be? And what do we do with regards to children who have not been well “trained in the way they should go” and are now at or past the jumping off point and seem like they might be/definitely are departing from it?

I guess what has put this on my mind right now, oddly enough, is that my brother in law has been living with us and he is soon moving out. I am so happy for him. We helped him in exactly the way we were supposed to, I think. He has paid some bills and figured out some things and now found a home for himself and his children which should be good for them for a while. He has gotten to a point where he wants to take care of his own life for once. This is exactly what it seemed like they needed. But, of course, my overachieving, obsessive brain (thanks, autism!) imagined more. I was hoping that we could become family, that they would become part of “us.” I wanted to take them to church, bring them closer to Jesus. I didn’t really get to see that happen.

I only hope they saw Jesus in us.

But we helped them. I believe that God moved them here in his perfect time and he is moving them out in his perfect time. And if the results are not what I wanted or hoped for, I believe His hopes and wants are better than mine. I feel like I was hoping for more that I didn’t get, but maybe the “more” was for me. Maybe they got “more” that I can’t see.

Blended Families
Blended Families

And now I wonder about what I should be hoping to give my children. What I should be hoping they get from me. Our oldest daughter lives at her bio-mom’s. She says she is still Christian and I believe her. She says she loves Jesus, but I wonder. I mean, does she love Jesus with everything? Is she walking toward him on a daily basis, loving him, wanting him, pursuing God as he has pursued her? She doesn’t go to church, as far as I know. If she has any other Biblical activities or pursuits, I haven’t heard about them. And I want to get in there and find out. I want to ask the hard questions and force the issue. I want to call her bluff, if that’s what it is. I want to make sure that she is not just a “Christian in Name Only”, like I know her dad was at her age.

But, I don’t know if that’s the right thing. I don’t even know if it’s any of my business. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t want me in her business. Should that even matter? I don’t want to mind my own business, I want to love her in the way that I understand it. Should that matter? Most of all, I want to do what God wants because I know if I do that, then it will work and it will come out just the way it is supposed to. But I don’t even know what that is.

I guess the good news is that I have come to the point where I don’t view it as some sort of weird contest between me and her mother. I don’t have to fight that woman for anything. Any questions I had in that area, I know the answers. Or I don’t need them anymore.

I know she loves her mother. I’m glad for that. I hope she loves me, but that’s kind of beside the point. I love her. That means I want her for God. I want her in heaven. I don’t care if she picks her mother over me. I’m afraid she’ll pick her mother over Jesus.

And I don’t know what my place is in all that. Do I need to try to see if it’s happening and help her see it if it is? Do I need to just pray and trust and be Jesus to her? I mean, I know I do the latter anyway, but is that sufficient? I don’t know.

I am just glad that I can rest in the knowledge that whatever I do, it will not be enough. My work can’t save her any more than it saved me. Whatever I do, whatever happens, it’s all God’s work. And, if she is saved and she walks with Jesus, God will be glorified. And if she doesn’t, God will still be glorified. And, at the end of the day – at the end of THAT day – that is all that matters.