Saturday, February 23, 2008

Two Allergy Books

Allergy Free Naturally: 1,000 Nondrug Solutions for More Than 50 Allergy-Related Problems, Rick Ansorge and Eric Metcalf: Part one of this book is an overview of allergy theory, testing, and the three major medical approaches to allergy--conventional, environmental-medicine, and alternative. Because allergies can be so horribly confusing, it helps to be able to peg your doctor as using one of these three approaches so that you can understand where he's coming from and why he might order completely different tests for you than your friend's doctor does for her. I did not find the rest of the book very helpful, though, since it mainly deals with inhalant and contact allergies, not food allergies.

Coping with Food Intolerances, Dick Thom, D.D.S., N.D.: With its odor of cheap publishing (double-spaced lines, poor editing, etc.) and the occasional reference to something called UNDA numbers (hope I'm not stepping on anybody's toes here), I wasn't sure how helpful this book would be. Turns out it was good enough to add to my allergy resources sidebar. In section one, Dr. Thom explains his framework for evaluating and improving one's health. It is a wholistic approach that takes into account nutrition, genetics, and emotional wellbeing, among other things. I found this to be very encouraging because it accounts for why I get sick after one late night while some people apparently have no need for sleep at all. The author goes on to explain allergy theory, the difference between allergy and intolerance, and the range of tests available for diagnosing allergies. Next he explains a six-week elimination diet and the re-introduction phase. Finally (and, again, very encouraging for me) he recommends a manageable rotation diet. He doesn't advise rotating food families, just individual foods; and he allows you to eat a particular food as many times in a day as you like. This is much more manageable than the extreme rotation diet recommend by other authors, which nearly drove me insane when I tried it last year. Subsequent sections deal with environmental allergies, food recommendations and substitutions, recipes, and even a grocery list.

Back on the Menu

There are very few books that I read more than once, so it's saying a lot that I am reading the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries for the third time. Dorothy Sayers, I'm rediscovering, was a brilliant craftswoman. I'm going a bit more slowly this time, gleaning all the little details that I previously trampled on in my mad attempt to arrive at each mystery's solution. I'm looking up a lot of words in the dictionary. Know what a taradiddle is? No, I'm not going to tell you. I wouldn't steal from you the delight of looking it up and discovering for yourself.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Shadow Stories

The sermon today was from Hebrews 7 and 8, which say that the tabernacle and the sacrificial system and the law and the old covenant were but a shadow and a copy of what is real. To explain to us what we cannot see, to reveal our hidden hearts and unveil the loftiest and most invisible sanctuary of heaven, God painted us a picture. He sang us a song. He wafted incense and let us watch the blood drain from innocent lambs.

This is the God who speaks our language. He teaches us in human terms.

I spent all my high school years trying confusedly to prove that art and beauty were necessary. I needed them to be necessary, because they were the only things that enabled me to make sense of life and they were the only things that held out the promise of something better. In fact, I went to college in the vain hope that there I would find the final proof, the answers to my questions.

But I lost those old lovely dreams--partly for the good reason that they were my idols. I didn't have a real god, so I had to worship those. The path I followed when all those gods tumbled down is a story in itself. My point here is to say that when, out of the nothingness, God spoke, I started over with only Him. But He, I soon learned, also contained those other things.

I am beauty, He said, as I watched the Atlantic Ocean touch the rocks by the Bar Harbor Shore Path last June. I am truth, He's been insisting, as I revel in the hard clarity of reality: renewed health, the ability to wash dishes, the draining challenges of family life, the ever unknown future. I tell stories--that's what I heard today, and it elated me. I feel like I've been handed back something I thought I'd never see again, and now I know the true value of it.