Going to a party at my boss’s house tonight.  Dinner will be fondue.  Now, me and cheese are not pals.  Not since I was a kid and diagnosed with lactose intolerance.  Young cheeses especially are problematic for me, and my understanding is that fondue cheese is just this side of mozzarella for youth.  So what to do?  Bring my own food, I decided.  I approached my boss Thursday at work, a quick wrap up on a few things before the holiday break.  Oh and one more thing, I told her.  My gut’s been particularly bad this week and I think that it won’t thank me for loading it up with cheese.  “Oh no,” she said “do you want me to make something else?”  “No, I don’t want to add to your duties as host….but I was wondering if it’s ok if I bring something that I know I can eat and that can be shared.”  Sure.  And it is ok if it has meat (she and her husband are vegetarians) which is good because once you take out dairy and beans (lots of nickel in most if not all of them), I’m sort of screwed for food options.  Cooking up some chicken penne with red and green peppers for a holiday touch.  I feel a little odd bringing food, especially food with meat, but I think this is about the only way I could handle the event without getting sick or being strangely unappetiteful.  Also on deck is a large container of cider and a side of pre-mixed spices for it.  I don’t drink booze, and we were assured there would be booze.  So this is my fancy substitute drink of choice.  Me and the kiddies will be sipping our cider.  The others are welcome to add liquor if they want.

You really have to be ready to just take the bull by the horns on the food issues when you have food related or food exacerbated health issues.  No more passing out in public, thanks.  And I’ve spent more than one high stakes dinner at someone’s house being violently ill in the bathroom (department head’s post-colloquium dinner party in grad school and dinner at the rather conservative jewish parents of a boy I was dating in college….I, btw, am NOT Jewish, something that wasn’t lost on ex-boyfriend’s mom).  If it happens, it happens.  But there are some things I can do to make that less likely.  This is the first time I’ve tried to exert this level of control in this sort of setting.  Wish me luck!

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  1. Glad you decided to take food to the party, it’s the only way you will have a good time. I have the same problems and always bring a dish with me, usually the hostess is happy to see more food. Before I leave for relatives or friends (especially for dinner) I eat at home so I’m not hungry. You’d be surprised how people don’t really notice when you eat just a little, especially if you are walking around at a party. Have fun!!!!!!!!!!

    • Thanks Mo! It worked out pretty well. It really helps that my host is medically aware. One of her jobs is to help students with food related health problems receive dietary accommodations at college, so she’s not new to this.

  2. Thanks for your willingness to post about your situation and experiences. I quote blogs like yours to my patients frequently. As a Holistic Family Physician, I get to see people with a vast array of biologic and life variation. Their stories and the context of their lives are critical elements in our mutual decision processes. Reading posts like yours is helpful to my and their understandings. Thanks.

    • Thank you Dr. Jonas. I have this blog in no small part for me, but also because I do want others to hear about experiences that they might share. It can feel very lonely and isolated to be stuck with a life changing health problem. I’ve also found it useful for pulling together medical histories for doctors. The post “my life in rashes” was particularly helpful when I saw an allergist this past year. I’m really glad to hear that you think patient perspective blogs are useful for your patients.

  3. anaphylaxing

     /  December 23, 2012

    Smart of you to bring your own food! Sorry you have to though. Interesting on the young cheese thing. The histamine list I quasi follow says older cheeses are higher and sometimes not tolerated. But before I was sick I hated the taste of fresh cheese and adored cheddar etc. Do you know why the young ones are an issue?

    • Ana: On the young cheeses – I figured it was because they have more lactose. I know I’ve reacted very badly to fresh mozzarella and ricotta in the past. But I do love it (and was raised in an Italian American family so both cheeses are common in my family recipes). So sad. I recall a very bad ride back to my dorm on the train one evening after a dinner out with friends in the North End in Boston….oh god how awful. I spent most of it curled up in a ball on the seat, and then straight to the dorm bathroom to be violently ill for hours. 😦

  4. anaphylaxing

     /  December 24, 2012

    The best Italian food I ever tasted was in Boston. Italy included. Can’t wait to get back to Boston someday.

  5. I think it is so great that you took the initiative to bring food so you can enjoy the evening, rather than missing it or having to put up with something that can end up being drastic. 🙂


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