Something really, truly life changing happened a little over a week ago. Not to get too hyperbolic.
My girlfriend and I had a joke going that in September I would suddenly be able to eat dairy. For her it may have been serious, but for me it didn’t seem likely. It had been a couple years since my last allergist appointment, though, and in the interim I had a couple dairy run ins: a wrap with hidden goat cheese (I immediately took Benadryl), a sip of milky coffee (I waited for a reaction, nothing came). So in August I scheduled my allergy test appointment.
The test is in three phases. First, they dot your arm with weird “essence of whatever allergen oil” and prick you with a tiny needle. Then you wait for 30 mins for itchy mosquito bite looking bumps to form. This time, barely any bumps showed up (other than cats and dust mites, my constant sneeze pals). I rationalized this in that maybe there was still antihistamines in my system, who even knew how accurate the results were?
Next was a blood test. My least favorite activity, I was sent to a second lab when I told them I might faint. Miraculously, I did not faint and celebrated my victory with a bubble tea. I waited a few days, called the allergist a couple times, and finally the results came in. Negative. My blood test was negative for every component of cow’s milk as well as goat’s milk. I held out on cow’s milk until phase three, but I did dabble in some goat cheese after that result came in. Yum!
The final test is called a “food challenge.” I’ve done it before with shellfish, but it’s a pretty weird concept. You BYOAllergen. Meaning I brought my own shrimp to the allergist and ate it while they watched and monitored to make sure I didn’t react. This time, they told me to bring some regular milk as well as some milk that I boiled for 10 minutes to reduce the allergen. Boiled milk smells kind of weird (actually kind of like cheese), and has the tendency to boil over. It took two tries to get the necessary amount of boiled milk. I showed up at the allergist with boiled and regular, and proceeded to drink.
I told everyone in the office how nervous I was (being chatty is a coping mechanism I guess?). Imagine living your whole life being told this thing is poison, it’ll close your throat. Suddenly the doctor says drink? Scary. She told me that I should be fine, that I had negative test results and that my blood test was nearly negative last time, two years ago. She said skin tests can sometimes produce false positives. Growing out of my allergy wasn’t the remarkable part, carrying it from childhood into adulthood was actually more notable. Many kids have dairy allergies but they usually grow out of them at a fairly young age.
I chugged the boiled milk, quarter cup, half cup, full cup, waiting 20 minutes between each for a reaction. Nothing! The doctor said she was more interested in how I’d fare with regular milk. Interested? Yikes. She poured me a cup, and I sipped it. Not as strong a flavor as boiled milk. Pretty subtle, especially compared to my usual soy. We waited, and… nothing! Oh my gosh, I thought, this could actually be happening. I know I had all those negative tests to suggest that yes, it’s real, but it didn’t feel real until that first sip of milk.
All that said, before that final food challenge I had started compiling a list of dairy items I needed to try. I was straddling the line between not letting myself get carried away and getting super carried away. Pre- and post-test I’ve shared the list with many friends, and accepted additions, letting it grow to over 100 items. There’s a lot of dairy out there!
After ingesting a full cup of milk, I squatted by my charging phone (it had been dying due to over-snapchatting) and settled on a place to meet my girlfriend for dairy item number one: PIZZA. Choosing a pizza place took some thought. I wanted something better than ok, but not the best. You can’t start with the best! Recommendation acquired, I headed down to Soho.
I left the allergist telling everyone I was going to get pizza. “Enjoy your new life!” They understood how much of a game changer this was in my life. I was in a daze. I CAN EAT EVERYTHING?! Everything on a menu, no special requests, no weird questions or clarifying that mayo isn’t dairy. My mind was blown, I was having trouble processing.
I walked into the pizza place and there was a line out the door. “Will this place be too good?” We both wondered. Unsure of what to order, she ordered me a plain slice and a margarita slice, and dressed them both with all the pizza fixins. I took my first bite of the plain slice, and it was good. I was still so out of my mind about the situation that I was barely tasting it. A little like boiled milk (which I guess is just pre-cheese), it was a taste I had never experienced before. “Do you like it?” she asked. “Yes, I think I do!”
I munched through the first slice and headed for my second, the margarita. I liked this one better. This time I could definitively say, “yes, this tastes really good, and unlike anything I have ever tasted.” Still, the whole first dairy evening I was living in a little cloud of exhilaration, unable to fully process anything.
The pizza was over so quickly, I wasn’t ready to be done. On the way home, I stopped at Doughnut Plant to finally try my first dairy donut. I had a vanilla bean doughnut filled with jam. It was delicious, but if I’m being honest there is a vegan donut shop that does them just as well. The question a lot of people have been asking me is, “what have you had a good dairy-free version of, and what have they not gotten right?” So let me tell you, they have gotten donuts very right.Still, a donut is delicious no matter how you slice it, so I happily enjoyed dessert.
*** A little note: I changed the name of the blog to reflect my new dairy-filled life! More changes coming soon, including a new URL and a new design. Rolling it out in phases, because I’m lazy.
[I’ll update you on all I’ve been trying through a few posts, since this one about day 1 grew so long.]