Monday, June 4, 2012

Rationing Oneself for good or ill

JAN BROGAN - A woman I play  tennis with told a story last week that I can't get out of my head.   She was never allergic to almonds or nuts of any kind. She ate almonds  her entire life, and then one day, she ate something with almonds in it and she swelled up like a balloon. Every since, she can't even brush an almond to her lips or her lips get suddenly puffy and itchy. And now, she has to carry some sort of antidote in case she eats one by mistake because she could die.  She went to the doctor and he explained it like this:  With certain things it is like filling a cup.  You eat almonds, you fill the cup. Then, one day, when it gets one almond over the cup; WHOOSH, you are allergic.

That made me think:  A lot of things are like that, when you think about it.  I love tennis. But now because of deterioration in my cervical spine,  I have a limited amount of smacking-the-ball-as-hard-as-I-can left in me. I don't want back surgery so I've started to limit the amount of times I play tennis and who I am willing to play tennis against (men WHO HIT heavy TENNIS balls with a lot of spin are on my boycott list). I have self-rationed.

So how about the rest of you, are there things that you love - like almonds - that you love so much you'd be willing to ration yourself for the rest of your life? Any area of your life that makes you wary of overfilling your cup?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN : What? Can this be true? (Isn't there that Will Smith or (someone) movie, where he's told he can only say 1000 more words for the rest of his life? If he hits 1000, he'll die? I thought that was a kind of cool story idea...)

One almond over the cup and you are Allergic? No. NO. I cannot believe it. How many is too many? Anyone? Anyone? Does this make sense?

Okay, rant over. Janny, I know you were asking about something else entirely. Frankly, I feel as if I already do that, ration myself. But I eat almonds every day, you see, and now I'm starting to itch. No, really, I'm not kidding.

HALLIE EPHRON: So weird -- that is what happened to me with mussels. I ate them for years and then BLAM just a taste and I get violently ill. If it had happened with almonds I'd be bereft.

RHYS BOWEN: I already have a love/hate relationship with nuts. I love them but they don't love me back. So I've learned to chew a cashew very, very slowly, once in a while. Hank, I don't think I could ration myself to a certain number of words (but what a great story idea!) I'd probably die not shutting up. When I was a small child I was horribly allergic to berries. Two strawberries and I came out in giant blisters. Strangely enough I outgrew this.
I would have no problem with any kind of food or drink. I'm quite disciplined about what I eat--but only one episode of Downton Abbey a year? Only half an hour of As Time Goes By? Or worse still--only ten minutes of reading a day or my eyesight might go? Those would be super hard for me.

JAN: Rhys, I hadn't thought of Downton Abbey, but that's what PBS seems to be doing to us, rationing us on our favorite program. Come to think of it,  I have DVD copies of both the old Pride and Prejudice and the Keira Knightly one and ration myself to once a year. I'm afraid I'll get bored (maybe because I already know every line by heart) and one day, I won't get the same thrill out of watching them.

ROSEMARY HARRIS: And of course my first thought was....hmmmm,.... she's gonna save herself a lot of money in injectable filler treatments in the years to come if all she has to do is rub a nut on her lips and they swell up like Angelina Jolie's. But I guess I digress.

The hard part for me here is the defnition of "fill my cup." Or we talking death or other unpleasant experiences? I always feel that I have to ration myself when it comes to cheese - and peanut butter. my husband has taken to hiding the cheese (who moved my cheese?) because I don't know when to stop. Same thing for peanut butter. Oddly enough if the package is sealed or the jar unopened I don't mind. But once it's out there, I will eat it until it's all gone. Unfortunately when it's over I have the same thin lips.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I'm not allergic to anything, thank goodness, and tend to be moderate about foods that I do like.  But oh, I would hate to have to give up tea, or cheese, or eggs, or lemons--I am addicted to lemons. And olive oil.  The list goes on, but none of these are things I'd sit down and eat pounds of.

I think Rhys has it.  The worst thing to have to ration would be reading.  I do, in a sense, because I almost never read fiction during the day, or I'd get even less work done than I do now.  But if I could only read five or ten minutes a day? Or only read a certain number of words? Yikes.  Lots to be thankful for, right?

LUCY BURDETTE: Ro, you gave me the best laugh for the day! For me it's cheese too, and milk. I'm one of the few weirdos who drinks milk with dinner and always with cookies or cake. My father was deathly allergic to peanuts and eggs that weren't hard-boiled. We were all well-trained to put the jelly on a sandwich first and then the peanut butter, so the jelly would never accidentally become contaminated. But I digress too:). I'd hate to have to go gluten-free. I adore bread and cake and biscuits and pizza...but reading would be worse. We went shopping for my mother-in-law who can't read normal print very well (and hasn't totally mastered her ipad.) The large print book department is really quite appallingly thin....

Oh wait, wait, I forgot one more...if I became allergic to pets, it would be a true tragedy!

JAN: So come on, we all self-ration in one way or another. To keep your cup from running-eth over, what kind of discipline do you impose on yourself? And in what areas?

And don't forget to come back tomorrow when social media expert and my new guru Glenn Miller (not the big band leader) gives us the best advice ever on how to ration our social media energy.


  1. "... men with heavy balls with a lot of spin are on my boycott list." Jan, this post is so fun and worth reading for this line alone!

    I cannot give up humor. But reading withdrawal? That would be a death sentence.

  2. And what does Elaien think...since she is once again appearing on our page? is this a subliminal message?

  3. Reine, I'm so glad you responded quickly. I love JR every day but only respond rarely - it would have been so unfair.
    But JR's what's with Elaine's picture every day?
    Mary Moody

  4. I'm going to pass on the "heavy balls" line -- major discipline at work there -- and say only that I rarely show any restraint. I'm a glutton for everything I like. The one thing I try to watch is my JR comments. I read every day but worry all of you ladies will get sick of me.

  5. I'm right there with Jack on my JR comments! And what Reine said about that line...

    I also already ration my dark chocolate and cheese, and so far have not gone over the edge with almonds -- or mussels, for that matter. Rationing reading would be very painful. Rationing writing would be even worse.

  6. just fyi--we would never, ever get sick of any of you!!!

  7. This post reminds me of my dad and one of his sayings: "Grandpa always ate the chicken skin and he lived to be 100." You have to die of something. If it's the one almond over the cup, well, I do enjoy me some almonds.

    But that picture of Elaine is freaky!

  8. Well said, Ramona. Nobody gets out alive.

  9. OKAY -


    You can see how ensconced in tennis, I am. That interpretation never even occurred to me.

    Jack, Edith, et al, we could never get sick of you!

    And can anyone tell me how Elaine got there?


  10. Ramona,

    I think this might enter may standard-English-phrase usage:

    one almond over the cup.

    Edith, stop rationing your dark chocolate. You are supposed to eat some every day. It wards off cancer - especially if you believe it does.


  11. Oh, I absolutely eat dark chocolate every day. But I try to control myself to two pieces. Otherwise it might ward off cancer but I'd be too fat to enjoy life... ;^)

  12. Okay guys,

    (Reine and Jack especially)

    I've gone in and made the correction.

    Glad I could make you laugh, however, inadvertently, this morning!


  13. This one almond over the cup thing has happened to me.

    I hit my life limit on coffee when I was about 28. Until then, I mainlined the stuff, especially when I worked in a newsroom where good, strong java was right there for the asking all day long. When the heart palpitations began I was sure I was in deep trouble, but my doc diagnosed me as merely over-caffeinated. The cold turkey headaches were brutal so I switched to half-caf, half-decaf for a while, then eventually weaned myself entirely. I drink one cup of decaf a day now (strong, and large) and am okay with that.

    Then about ten years ago I hit the dander wall with cats. We had two at the time. For the rest of their lives I took medication that disrupted my sleep but allowed me to breathe. We have been cat-less since they went off to kitty heaven.

    That is especially sad for my partner, who is a real cat lover. Fortunately, she loves me more.

    Brenda B.

  14. Jan, you have my sympathy. It happened to me with shrimp when I was in my early 30s--broke out in bright red streaks on my face and my then-husband, a doctor, said it could get worse any time. So now I just look with envy at people who eat shrimp. I can eat crab and lobster, though previously frozen lobster gave me a problem once. I've wondered too if allergies might not go away over the yars--afraid to try.

  15. Jack, Edith, we LOVE seeing you here very day!!!

    And Reine, I'm still laughing....

  16. See Brenda, that's what I'd be afraid of--no more cats. Our current resident is a real winner...though come to think of it, the last two were not so maybe could have stopped after them:).

    And coffee...oh my...and shrimp, very sad!

  17. Allergies are such mysterious enemies, and I do wish someone would find a cure . . . The latex allergy is my most recent and came with friends, related allergies to aloe and to certain foods: bananas, kiwi, avocado, potatoes and chestnuts. My friend's doctor included strawberries on that list, so I do try to ration them -- I would hate to tip the balance and never have one again.
    There were a few years when I could have no caffeine (fibro-cystic whatever), and I did miss chocolate! I told friends that I haven't dated since '83 and I'm fine, but doing without chocolate . . . (Don't feel bad, guys, it's not that men aren't wonderful, it's just that it has to be the RIGHT guy, whereas with chocolate . . . ;-)

  18. Sigh, I've been allergic to practically the entire outdoors my whole life (grass, leaves, leaves of grass, bees, pollen, you get the idea). So in terms of being able to do what I please, I've just never had an option. My mother on the other hand developed allergies in her 60s! We've had many discussion on whether it is better to have had them forever (and not know what you're missing in terms of breathing) or to get them late and have had many years of enjoying them before you couldn't any more.

  19. I've been two weeks without coffee and I miss it like crazy. My doctor's nurse suggested warm almond milk--not even close. Brenda, I'm so impressed that you were able to wean yourself off slowly.

  20. I have no allergies, thank heavens!, but I did hit a point as a big coffee drinker when i couldn't drink coffee anymore. I developed malignant tachycardia (which doesn't mean cancer--just that the rapid heartbeat could cause serious harm). I'm still on meds for it. Had to go cold-turkey on coffee and was supposed to do the same on tea. Instead I allowed myself one-half cup of black tea in the morning and only herbal the rest of the day. Over the years, the meds have helped so much that I can drink several cups of tea spaced out over the day and an occasional cup of coffee (though I can't have grapefruit or grapefruit juice, since the medicine reacts badly with that!). I only ever have coffee at a restaurant or coffee shop that has excellent coffee. I can only have a little so I don't waste it on bad or mediocre coffee!

    I wonder if Elaine is haunting us to suggest that she should join the JRWs. I thought I'd come across every awful thing Blogger could do over the years, but this is something I've never seen before.

  21. Hello, Deborah introduced me to this fascinating blog and if you all allow I will add my two (alas: EURO) cents from time to time. I'm a writer, too, but specialised on Food & Drink, though I write fiction from time to time as well.
    So here's a question about food :-): food allergies happen all the time but I've never heard they happen because you had too much of one product. It has more to do with the permanent restructuring of the immune stystem and may change again. Today there are very good antidotes out there which allow all food allergics to eat extacly what they want to after taking them. Without the side effects these medication had some 20 years ago.

    So, no need to say good-bye to the tastes you adore. But - as I found out for myself, being an food allergic since birth: once you find you are allergic against something, you loose the taste for it.

    As for reading withdrawal - my mother has been a librarian professionally. At age 25 she acquiered Minière disease and became deaf. Now, at 88, she has Makula and is going to be blind as well. But due to an Op some years ago she is able to listen to books read to her and so she subscribed to her favorite paper's edition for the blind. Plus she has the technical means to enlarge her reading material and my brother scans her some books or buys ebooks to enlarge. It's a daily fight against Scylla or Charybdis or both but she won't give up. That's what will happen to you all if you try to ration reading, I guess. You'll find the time. If only to say: not with me! No way I'm going to pretnd I'm illiterate! So, keep enjoying being author and reader turned in one.
    Greetings from Upper Bavaria in Germany, Bibiana

  22. Bibiana,
    I'm so sad to hear about your mother's problems, but happy she still fights the good fight and finds a way to read

    Jeffrey, I'm just like you. I'm allergic to anything and EVERYTHING that's airborne. That includes dog and cat dander, but I completely ignore the dog dander thing and have always have dogs. Although I go with hair instead of fur now. And my daughter has a Siberian cat that I love and doesn't bother me, so I get to cat sit.

    But airborne allergies are starting to sound like a walk in the park compared to this food thing. SHRIMP Judy? that's almost tragic.

    Brenda - I actually addicted myself to caffeine/coffee after gaining sixty pounds when my son was born. I lost all the weight but was starting to have heart palpitations so went to the doctor - who made me give up coffee. That lasted a couple of months, now I'm right back at it, and now thinking about my third cup.....


  23. Jan,
    I read JRW before breakfast as I was beginning to sip my coffee. I nearly choked on it when I read a certain sentence. Not saying anything else about it.

    Apples. I can no longer eat apples in any form, whether raw or cooked. The abdominal pain it causes nearly sends me running to the ER. Red peppers have recently begun to affect me the same way,raw or cooked. I used to buy them on sale and slice them into strips to snack on at work. OUCH. Can't do that any longer.

    I love grapefruit and grapefruit juice but gave them up due to the possibility of interactions with my cholesterol medication.

    It looks like melons are going to be crossed off my diet next. They do not sit well on my stomach. So tired of having to give up healthy foods. As long as I can still have dark chocolate I think I will survive!

  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. Big Jack,
    We will nevr get tired of seeing you here. You give us...dare I say it...balls.

  26. I have no food allergies , more's the pity ;) but i have to watch everything due to various ailments, which can get thoroughly boring. If I had to give up reading, i might go mad. meanwhile, I am just addicted to you guys, and Facebook. No physical reactions there, other than tired butt.

  27. Ration reading and Downton Abbey unthinkable! Great article! P.S. I will leave the ball part alone also! he he he

  28. Oh, Deb! Apples, red peppers, and melons? That would be awful. Has your doctor checked to see if it could be due to some underlying problem? Could it be your gall bladder? Apples and melons are not usually on the troubling foods list.

  29. This weird, Elaine does not appear on my screen. Maybe she is haunting us selectively?

    Have no food allergies, touch wood, but a lifetime of sensitivity to many environmental allergens, including mold, mildew, dust mites, cat and hamster dander, several tree and weed pollens, grasses, and poison ivy. However, over the years those have lessened considerably, so maybe it's as possible to lose a few allergies as it is to suddenly gain new ones.

  30. kin stag"Come on, Jack, you're not REALLY a glutton, are you?"

    "My wife once bought me a birthday treat, a giant box of Milk Duds, as big as a milk carton. I ate the whole box watching a movie one night."

    "Were you sick?"

    "Four days. But I still love Milk Duds."

    1. By the way, I love it here on Jungle Reds. I don't know what I'd do without you all.

      Elaine's ghost appears on my computer but not my iPad or iPhone. I think someone hacked her in. You need your web page person to delete the code. It's easy for a programmer.

  31. Well now I'm blushing. Did I say something wrong?

    Jan... now that you've changed that line I look like a real jerk. Oh well, what's new about that?


  32. Uh-huh, "heavy balls" -- the Alec Baldwin SNL skit anyone? You know what I'm talking about, right? Just thinking about that skit makes me laugh.

    Rationing reading would be so hard. I would call that quality-of-life issue, in fact. These days I'm dealing with my mom's dementia (stressful), and the one thing she has that's safe thus far is reading novels. I can't imagine what she'll do if she can't read...

    I think I overfilled my cup with wheat products--all those bagels in my 20s and 30s! It's amazing how much better I feel when I minimize gluten--but it's hell-of hard. On the other hand, wheat is such a Monsanto-ized, GMO-'d, franken-food (at least on this side of the pond) that I'm not surprised my body doesn't like it.

  33. Ghost Elaine is still gracing my screen [although she does seem to have moved down a bit more toward the bottom of the post . . . .]

    I’m fortunate not to have food intolerances or allergies; I do try to for reasonable moderation [coffee being the exception since I tend to drink pots of it every day] . . . but I’d really suffer if I had to ration books. I have an eReader not because I prefer it to a “real” book in hand [I don’t] but because it allows me to take books with me wherever I need to go. I don’t think I could survive very well if I couldn’t read . . . .

  34. Sorry Reine,

    But once I realize where ALL YOUR MINDS WERE - and me SUCH AN INNOCENT - it just had to go.

    Thank you for keeping me on my toes. (Is there a double entendre I can get in trouble with on that way?)

    No kidding, you set a very funny tone for today's piece. Or maybe I did inadvertently, WHAT EVER!! It made for a few laughs.

    so thank you,


  35. Speaking of Milk Duds...some of you may know that my first book was inspired by a local CT story about a mummified body that was found near my home. The body was found with a box of Milk Duds. Back then I was naive enough to think I needed permnission to use the brand in the book. It took me so long to get no answer that I changed the candy to Cadbury's - which was another company that had changed hands many times in the last century - with no ill effects.

  36. I don't know. I JUST don't know about the ghost of Elaine. it's my fault, somehow, certainly, since it was a blog I posted. What did I DO? NO idea.

    And Reine, back atcha. xoox

  37. Bibiana, welcome! So lovely to see you here!

  38. Elaine is with me wherever I go, no matter which device I use. I think she's reminding me to read her books. It's kind of nice to see her!

    Linda, I don't remember if I have ever mentioned the apple thing to my doctor. I know I have never mentioned the red peppers and the melons. One of my sisters has similar problems and her doctor told her she has some sort of syndrome. She has other weird food sensitivities as well. I have some oddball things going on in my own body (not counting all the spine problems) and have had to make other dietary changes. My doctor seems to think that I have some sort of syndrome, too,and has pretty much told me not to worry about it. I might mention it the next time I have a check up but his eyes will probably light up and he'll start talking about syndromes again!

    As for giving up non food items: I think JRW ought to to threaten to give up Blogger unless Blogger agrees to stop being so heartless! Yesterday I had to try seven times to prove that I am not a robot! Blogger simply refused to take my word for it. That hurts! And only a human being can experience hurt feelings, right? Therefore I am NOT a robot! The only good thing Blogger has done lately is to allow Elaine to float around the page.

    It's interesting that you were able to add coffee back to your life,in moderation. I don't know if I could give up both coffee AND tea! I can understand why you continued to drink tea in very small amounts.

  39. Oh, Brenda... I am so glad your partner loves you despite no kitties! xo

  40. I developed the same almond allergy in my 50's without warning; my allergist says you can become allergic to anything at any time...

    That being said, I could never ration my reading~

  41. Allergic to ANYthing at ANY time? I still think that's so strange..

    And Jack, you are part of the fabric, of course..xoxoo

  42. Reine, you are never a jerk! xoxo

    And Hank, Ghost Elaine is not your fault, at all. Blogger is eeevil, I'm telling you.

    Deb, I think you ought to let your doctor know about the apples, peppers, melon intolerance. Lots of those "syndromes" have remedies, such as meds, that would make your life easier. And that hateful Blogger! To treat you like a robot when all of us know you have such a tender human heart! Some of those photos of numbers are so distant and blurry that no one could read them.

    I think I couldn't give up JRW. Love those Reds! xoxo

  43. Elaine has moved, eerily, down the page to middle.

    I think its because I'm on the Ipad though.

    I can't wait to see what she does tomorrow.

    Maybe we should start a pool or something about where she is going to appear.


  44. Mami,
    I wonder what it is about nuts - that can be so GOOD for you, and then suddenly nearly kill you.


  45. Maybe we should all be allergic to Elaine.

  46. Hank, Linda is right. Blogger is evil. Maybe Elaine's photo rode in on something carried over via The Lipstick Chronicles? Weird though, but probably not to a programmer or maybe your JRW webmaster.

    Oh, Linda you are the dearest, and probably too very, very kind to notice my jerkitude.

    I hate captcha.