Say Cheese

So I’m mildly lactose intolerant. Not enough to where I can’t eat dairy products at all, but enough to where I can’t gorge on them or have large quantities over a short time.  I actually at times forget about it. That’s how infrequent the effects occur.

My current host family has their own cows. Not many; just three. But my host mom makes her own diary products. She makes her own cheese, yogurt and a cheese spread stuff that’s delicious. She said she used to make butter, but it was too…. something. I don’t know if she said hard or time consuming.

A national favorite and cultural staple is Katchapuri. It’s sort of like cheesy bread but heavy on the cheese. She made one for dinner the other day and it was delicious. And we had leftovers the following morning, too.  Well, by the time school was over, my stomach started to feel as if it were tied in knots and it proceeded to get worse as the day went on.

Explaining that you are sick to a Georgian family that can’t REALLY understand English is a stressful conversation to have. They know something is wrong with you and they are extremely concerned no matter what or how bad.  They try to troubleshoot and get you to do things you know for a fact will make it worse.  And compounded with that, they don’t seem to understand the concept of ‘loss of appetite’.  “What do you mean you aren’t going to eat AT ALL?” “Maybe you don’t understand, I said do you want to eat… food.”

Eventually I got to the point where all I could do was lay in bed and not move. In the wee hours of the morning, it hit me. THE CHEESE!!!!!  In preparation for my trip to Georgia, I packed pills of all kinds. And one of them was a lactose pill. But the instructions read to only take immediately BEFORE FIRST BITE of dairy.  …okay.

The next morning fortunately I felt better. I went downstairs to eagerly show my host family that I could eat their food again. And what was on the table that they especially prepared for me? A grilled cheese sandwich.

***

Lactose Intolerant Statistics
Total percentage of people who are lactose intolerant 33%
Total percentage of adults that have a decrease in lactase activity 75%
Total percentage of people who maintain ability to digest lactose after childhood 40%
Total number of Americans who are lactose intolerant 40 million
Total percent of all African-American, Jewish, Mexican-American, and Native American Adults who are lactose intolerant 75%
Total percent of Asian-Americans that are lactose intolerant 90%
Average amount of time it takes for side effects of lactose intolerance to occur after intake 30 min
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