Dear Margo: When Fudging the Facts Is Acceptable

My friend used an egg donor (science) to have her kids but she calls it a ‘miracle.’ Should I say something? Margo Howard’s advice

When Fudging the Facts Is Acceptable

Dear Margo: I have a friend, “Sally,” who years ago went through infertility issues with her husband. After several years, they elected to use an egg donor and successfully had three beautiful children (who look mostly like daddy). Now, years later, when discussing the past, she discusses it like it was a miracle of prayer, not science. I don’t want to ask her why she’s changing the facts of the past, but she’s so convincing with her story that it’s starting to make me wonder if I’m crazy. All of her friends go along with her story, too. Am I making too much of this? — Stickler for Facts

Dear Stick: Well, what is her story? You do not specify exactly what she is saying. That no egg donor was involved? That these kids were born in a manger? From my knowledge of couples with fertility problems and endless rounds of treatment, I suspect three beautiful children could, in fact, seem like a miracle.

While I understand your taking issue with your friend’s rewritten version of history, where, really, is the harm? This should not be an irritant to you, unless you are a fact checker for The New Yorker. You might want to think about why you are so bothered by a friend’s touched-up version of what must have been a distressing period in her life. She is not, after all, fobbing herself off as a Vanderbilt heiress; she is merely blurring the history of how she came to have three beautiful children. — Margo, miraculously

Passive Aggressive Behavior/Food Division

Dear Margo: After suffering for much of my life, I found out a few years ago that I have some severe food intolerances and allergies. It was hard for me to come to terms with the fact that my diet will always have to be quite limited, but I am now beginning to enjoy my newfound health, and I’m creatively coming up with new ways to eat well.

My issue is with my family. I don’t visit them very often, as I am a student in a different city, but when I do, they never seem to get that I just can’t eat certain types of food. Without fail, I am served something I can’t eat, or they make it and eat it in front of me, raving about how good it is and it’s too bad I can’t have any, poor me. Even my grandmother does this. It makes me feel that my family is incredibly insensitive, and frankly, I’m getting tired of it. I don’t want to act like a victim, so I just smile and carry on. Is there a tongue-in-cheek way to let them know I have had enough before I lash out at one of them? — My Way

Dear My: I would stop smiling. What is going on is somewhere between dim and mean. While I am generally in favor of using humor to defuse uncomfortable situations, I am not recommending it in your case because this aggressive effort to push food on you that is harmful is beyond someone saying things that are merely thoughtless. No offense, but these family members are either incredibly thick or strangely unconcerned with your health.

The next time this happens, I would ask: “What part of my doctor’s orders do you not understand? And why would you want me to eat something that would cause a serious reaction? While you are free to eat whatever you like, I would consider it a favor if you would not rave about something you are enjoying that you know I cannot have.” When people seriously misstep, I have no interest in sparing their feelings. — Margo, directly

* * *

Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dear-margo.html. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.

COPYRIGHT 2012 MARGO HOWARD
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

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72 comments so far.

  1. avatar Constance Plank says:

    #1,

    You consider this woman a friend. She managed to have children, even when she was infertile. You object to her saying that it was a miracle! Well, it was. Thank God for modern science and the egg donor! And the reason her children look like her husband is because he was lucky enough to donate his genetic material!

    You, however, are nasty piece of work! Why the h*ll should you care what she says to her family about her family?

    She deserves a better friend!

    #2,

    There are all kinds of hideous family issues. Your family is hooked up on food. My guess is that they aren’t going to get the food issues, even if they received a beautiful engraved version of what you can eat, and what you cannot. Signed in gold leaf, in perfect copperplate.

    Based on my own family experience, I’d honestly suggest staying away from them, and saying that it was because they couldn’t honor your dietary and health needs. Every few years, when they promise you the moon, in terms of behavioral changes, you can check them out.

    They’ll respect you the more that you stay away.

    Alas, my more hasn’t been the great good I hoped for, but it is better than it was!

    Cheers,

    Constance in the Sierra Foothills of CA

    • avatar Nicole Thomas says:

      #2 I think staying away from your family over this issue is going a bit overboard.  And would make her seem hypersensitive.  It doesn’t seem like they are being purposely cruel.  If so, their cruelty would extend beyond this particular issue.  Not knowing her specific dietary restrictions, it difficult to judge, but if her dietary restrictions include common foods like dairy or grains then maybe the letter writer would be better off providing for and cooking her own food, rather than complaining about what is being “served” to her.   It sounds like the family just don’t fully understand the letter writer’s food issues, and she should have a serious talk with them about it.  Food allergies/intolerances are a fairly new diagnosis and I would think her grandmother just doesn’t understand the severity.  .   

  2. avatar JCF4612 says:

    LW1: It’s definitely a miracle that The New Yorker still has a fact checking department, since so many pubs have virtually done away with editors, writers, and other staff professionals. Possibly what’s really bothering you is that your friend is still babbling endlessly about circumstances of her offspring’s births when the kids themselves are pushing puberty. As for looking like daddy, be glad they don’t look like the milkman.   

    LW2: Somewhere between dim and sum, as Margo says, I’d tell these mean-mouths to shut their tater traps or prepare to get a double scoop of whatever they’re dishing out tossed back in their faces.  ”Why Cletus, given your blubbery belly, I’m surprised you’re still slurping up the gravy like there’s no tomorrow” and “Geez, Myrtle, aren’t you worried that chocolate truffle will aggravate your nasty skin condition?” 

    Be glad that you’re feeling so much better through disciplined food choices (I’m sure that’s not easy) and feel free to teach these morons to think twice before opening their pie holes.

  3. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    I suspect that when LW#1′s friend was sharing her infertility struggles with friends, she never considered that someday one of them would be so petty and hateful as to resent her for choosing not to go into graphic detail about the method of conception years later.  I’m with Constance in stating that *miracle* is not an incorrect way to describe what occurred and believe that LW#1deserves a better friend.  Years ago, a friend of mine’s sons were concieved by artificial insemination.  At the time, I thought perhaps it was unwise for him to share thatinformation with so many people as he and his wife may not want their children to know the details and someone, someday, may divulge it unnecessarily and cruelly.  Fortunately, the people who were privy to that information have *forgotten* about it.  I suggest LW#1 forget how her friends children were concieved and that her friend forget about LW#1.  Really…the things that some people choose to occupy their minds with in order to make trouble for others boggles MY mind. 

    LW#2…gloating over being able to eat foods you cannot is indeed boorish on your relative’s part.  I think Margo’s approach is the best approach and I would try it before cutting them all out of your life.  On the other hand, if you are expecting them to refrain from eating foods you cannot eat in your presence, I think you are being unreasonable.  I would also show up with a load of items you can eat and prepare for yourself.  As your host/hostess they should be gracious enough to provide options you can eat…but perhaps they are unsure about the specific requirements of your diet.         

    • avatar Dani Smith says:

      So in other words……..you’re one of those delusional types that goes around changing stories and living in a fantasy world and letter #1 hit a little too close to home for you.  :D Hence your harshly defensive reaaction.  Got it…..

      • avatar Katharine Gray says:

        Boy, who spit in your coffee this morning Dani?  Based on your reply below, it appears you are the one pasting your own experiences over those of the LW and her friend.  Sorry you have co-workers who are *delusional* but I see nothing delusional about a person not announcing to everyone the specific details of the medical procedures which enabled her to give birth to three beautiful children.  But perhaps you are the type of person who goes around telling everything about all of your business to the point where people want to run away screaming *TMI* or, worse, goes around telling everyone about everyone else’s business because you just want to *set the record straight*…in which case may I suggest you are deluding yourself as to your real motives. 

        Upon re-reading the letter, I think that LW#1′s real problem is the woman attributes the miracle to God and not to science and I missed that upon first reading.   Toni’s reply addresses this beautifully.
         

            

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        I kinda wondered what Dani was talking about as well, and finally concluded that she posted to the wrong reply.

        And Toni does sum it up well—the real issue here is that LW1 doesn’t agree with the way someone else thinks about something that is really None. Of. Her. Business.

        It’s no different that Mommy being proud of her child’s art ability and proclaiming him or her an “artistic genius” while someone else looks at it as completely missing the point of the 19th century Impressionism Period and being both maudlin and jejune.

        If we’re talking about reality—who is really the bigger asshat, the mother who glorifies the births of her children, or the woman who criticizes her methods for doing that?

      • avatar snowwhite4577 says:

        I don’t understand why LW1 has a problem with this. That is your friends’ “miracle”. Let her have it.  Unless your friend has a history of being a compulsive liar….I don’t understand how it matters to you what she says about how her children were brought into this world.

        Be happy for her and get a hobby. 

  4. avatar ZippyDoDa says:

    LW1…I guess the only thing I would be worried about is that kids will know the truth. The fact that they share no genetic link to their mom could be problematic in the future if they were to become ill or in need of vital medical knowledge. But I would venture to guess that they the donor information.

    So really, what’s the big deal? We live in a society that gives away too much information all the time. If this person considers her kids a miracle and chooses not to divulge the gritty details of their conception, who are we to judge? 

  5. avatar toni says:

    There’s been some bitterness towards LW1. Here’s the deal folks, she doesn’t believe in God and gets irked by what she sees as someone believing against ‘facts’. Dear LW1: some people see God in all things. Others don’t see Him anywhere. Others fall somewhere in between. And we still live in a country where that’s allowed. [we are lucky!] To me, the sun rising today is a Miracle from God! To you it’s e=mcc. It’s okay for both to be true.

    • avatar Mandy says:

      toni: I’m an atheist and wouldn’t dream of acting the way LW#1 is acting to her friend. LW is NOT being a good friend and deserves truth leveled her way, IMO. Level of belief or disbelief doesn’t excuse the petty attitude.

  6. avatar toni says:

    Dear LW2: I’m so sorry you are getting no support in this from your family. Sadly, what’s happening is that they don’t believe your diet was what’s making you sick. Way back in the 70s my sister turned vegetarian (out of choice not health reasons) and our grandma would cook steak and meat loaf, sure that would lure her back to the fold. It didn’t work. I am an ex-fattie and people still constantly try to lure me when I’m being good (which I’m not always being…) I would actually try a sweeter version of what someone else suggested. “that bacon is 50 calories a strip if cooked crisp. 75 limp. Uncle Joe I’m concerned you’re setting yourself up for a heart attack. Have you had your cholesterol checked?” “That bread DOES look delicious. If I eat it I will be up all night with raging diarrhea.”
    I like margo’s suggestion but doubt it will take. People are likely to drop it if you nicely bore them with facts that they will feel are critical of their own choices.

  7. avatar Lisa Cornell says:

    Well said Margo, on both letters.

    LW#1 I am not particularly religious, but I think the circumstances of these children’s birth qualifies as a miracle. Whether one considers it a miracle of God, science or both is up to the individual. I think the writer is a very poor friend and should either figure out why she is so resentful of her friend or terminate the relationship out of kindness to her friend who deserves people in her life that genuinely wish her well..

    LW#2 For years I suffered the eye rolling and the sneaking in of ingredients which I have an allergy or aversion to by my family. They used to do it over and over and then pronounce to all that I couldn’t really be allergic to something because I unwittingly ate it. For example, I can’t eat onions or anything from the onion family. My sister would put it in many dishes and all the family would laugh at my expense or if we were out at a restaurant and I asked the waiter if there were onions in something, they would loudly inform the waiter I wasn’t allergic to onions and it was all in my head, all the while making cuckoo motions with their hands. I solved this problem by refusing to join the family for Christmas dinner one year. I told them why, that their actions were childish and hurtful and that I wanted to spend Christmas not stressing that I was being sabotaged. I stuck to my guns. Had a lovely dinner, invited friends over and have stuck to that program ever since. My family has stopped their behavior and in fact I was at lunch with my sister the other day, and a lovely flatbread arrived with onions on it. My sister sent it back before I even had a chance to say anything.

    • avatar Cindy Marek says:

      I’m glad your family “came round” and are now conscientious towards you.

    • avatar Lila says:

      Lisa, gaaahhhhh! You were right to ditch your family’s Christmas dinner! That was apparently the wake-up call they needed. Even if it never changed their behavior – why subject yourself to it?

      I just don’t get it . Even if a person simply doesn’t like something, it’s really cloddish to keep thrusting it upon them.

      For foods that a person clearly and repeatedly says make them ill, it’s unforgivable. And for foods that can cause a lethal reaction – it’s criminal. Why do families decide that someone’s health issues aren’t real and then take it upon themselves to “prove” it?

      I wonder – in some families, the adults repeatedly force their very young kids to eat things they really hate, usually with the reason “It’s good for you!” (I think it’s actually a form of abuse to keep preparing it and making them eat it. Dang, there are other foods out there, and no one will starve if they can’t stand Aunt Bertha’s brussels sprouts). Yet, so many families will insist, again and again. Do you think that maybe what is happening with LW2, and what happened with you, is just a carryover from that sort of childhood mealtime tyranny?

    • avatar lebucher says:

      That was just rotten.  And while they are sitting there proclaiming that you just can’t be allergic to the ingredient hidden in the food they tricked you into eating, they got to be blissfully ignorant of the torment you’d suffer later on, as you are trapped in the loo getting RID of said ingredient. 

      At least you finally got through to them.  But really, it should not have come to that, because caring people don’t put others in that position to start with.

    • avatar Dararie says:

      My family is pretty good about my food allergies, my inlaws and a certain friend are not.  I’m basically allergic to any tree fruit except the tropicals.  Weird thing is I can eat them cooked but not raw,my allergy is actually a pollen reaction.  When people make rude comments about the fact that I don’t eat raw fruit, or give a pass on the chocolate cake, I merely state I”m allergic, if they persist, I say “What are you trying to do, KILL ME?”  since I go into anapylactic shock.
      Most people have caught on that I’m not kidding.
      My mother always said, you don’t have to give a reason for not wanting to eat something, and if people insist, they just don’t have any manners and you don’t necessarily have to have manners back.

  8. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    I agree with Margo’s replies to both letters.

    L #1: Just grin and bear it. What are you going to say, “Hey — it was science, that’s it.” Yes she’s not being honest, but honestly? Don’t let it bother you so much.

    L #2: Speak up for yourself directly and pointedly. Or go, “Mmmm! Yeah, I’d like to have some of that…but I’d break out in hives; get throat constriction; become ill for 3 days after — okay??”

  9. avatar Dani Smith says:

    I totally understand letter #1′s position, having crossed paths with an increasing number of delusional people in life whom for them, facts are malleable, to say the least.  There’s a woman at my work where you apparently can’t believe a word she says about most anything…..even everyday mundane types of stories, because she’s just that much of a compulsive liar.  Everything’s a lie for her, and she was busted when people started trading details of her yarns and realizing she’s telling different versions of the story to different people, depending on the mood she’s in.   Nobody will confront her about it though, they just let it go and let her spin her wild tales.  Another coworker makes delusional proclamations about herself, basically what amounts to bold face lies about her body, personality and overall life situation to where it’s almost like she’s begging you to contradict her.   Nobody does though.  But we all shake our heads and think WTH? when she walks away.    Another coworker of mine who shakes her head about both of the coworkers just mentioned is also delusional herself, but in her own, milder way.  Totally in denial about many things about herself and her life, and where she’s also been busted bold face lying about certain situations.   It’s enough to make your head spin, when you have one delusional type warning you about another.  It’s like, is ANYBODY out there honest with themselves anymore?!

    I get why people are defending the woman who had fertility treatment and is now bending the truth, because in the big scheme of things it doesn’t matter.  But for the letter writer it’s the *principle* of it.  She’s obviously somebody for whom “facts is facts.”   And she sticks to the facts, and she’s perplexed by what she’s witnessing.   I too am perplexed by what seems to me to be an increasing number of delusional people out there in the world who are in total denial about the truth of themselves and their life situations.   They’re unable to face the music, so they make up stories or make bold declarations that are obviously false, almost daring you to challenge them.    For some it’s just a pathological need for attention, for others, they are literally unable to face the truth of things.  They start living in a lala fantasy world, rewriting their own history and personality as they see fit.

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      Someone sure does like the word “delusional.”

      LW1: Like what has been said earlier—there’s nothing wrong with adding the term “miracle” to something that for you, is a personal miracle. For some, it’s the sunrise. For me, it was a miracle that my mother quit drinking before she died. Whether the Catholic Church will canonize someone over it is irrelevant. To me, the insight and work necessary to create something as complex or world-changing as in vitro ranks up there with the purported “true” miracles sanctioned by the Church. Let it go and take THIS for a fact: you are risking damaging your friendship with your attitude.

      LW2: Set your stopwatch for 60 minutes. Wait until the next major family gathering involving food—Easter might be nice—and pretend to have the biggest, most dramatic and over-the-top allergic reaction you can possibly muster for an hour, and absolutely ruin dinner for them. Channel spirits and speak in tongues and roll your eyes and spit. A lot. Watch John Hurt’s performance in the movie “Alien” if you need inspiration. And when the hour is up, go have some pie (or whatever is gluten-free) and act like everything is completely normal.

      • avatar Dani Smith says:

        I love the word delusional, absolutely.  It can’t be used enough.  Too many delusionals running around in the world, with made up versions of their life and self. 

        And I think you totally missed the part where the writer of letter #1 clearly said:  “…she discusses it like it was a miracle of prayer…”

        She doesn’t say that the kids’ conception was a miracle.  She presents the situation as if she was able to finally get pregnant through a MIRACLE OF PRAYER.    ie, all she had to do was pray hard enough, and God and Jesus and the Angels would oblige.

        That’s not what happened.  She went to the doctor, and science made babies *for* her.   Prayer had nothing to do with miraculously giving her a baby.   Science did.  She’s misrepresenting the situation, much to the letter writer’s confusion.   

        I get what you’re saying, that hey, in vitro could be considered a miracle.  But again, that’s not what she means.   I’m not sure why people aren’t getting this about letter #1. 

        Oh yeah, and here’s one more for the road…………………..”delusional!”

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        “That’s not what happened. She went to the doctor, and science made babies *for* her. Prayer had nothing to do with miraculously giving her a baby. Science did. She’s misrepresenting the situation, much to the letter writer’s confusion.”

        Discussing something “like” a miracle of prayer and “as” a miracle of prayer are two completely different things. We don’t know for certain that the friend is saying (or truly believes) that her children are the direct result of a miracle. We know that LW1 says that she is comparing it to one.

        And for all we know, God & Co. opened doors for her and allowed in vitro to become a solution to her problem. I can understand why LW1 can become irritated—my aunt and her son treat every Facebook post as a method for glorifying God. Maybe this woman is like that—maybe not.

        It could also be that LW1 is one of those people who fact-check incessantly and show up at Star Trek conventions to one-up everyone with their superior knowledge.

      • avatar mac13 says:

        Yikes, what a joyless life you must have. She could have prayed for a solution and egg donation was the answer to her prayers.  In vitro doesn’t always work, to have it work 3 times is indeed a miracle. You insist on hard facts as seen from your point of view, as if your point of view is all that matters. 

      • avatar KL says:

        I don’t understand why it can’t be both a miracle of prayer and modern science. They aren’t mutually exclusive. I’d imagine for people that believe in god, prayer, etc., that they could very well go in vitro and pray at the same time — I certainly know I would.

        Shoot, I pray with all major medical things for me and my family. It’s not necessarily ALL God or ALL science — and who is to say that God doesn’t work through science as well (works in mysterious ways).

        I think the LW (and Dani) just has a much more limited version of god and science and is upset that her friend doesn’t follow her path as well. Get over yourself.

        Sometimes there is delusion, but sometimes it’s also a legitimate difference in perspective. The wise person can discern between the two.

      • avatar toni says:

        Bingo KL! And David too!

      • avatar snowwhite4577 says:

        Love this comment KL!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • avatar AOT says:

        er… she discusses it LIKE it was a miracle of prayer. Ever heard of metaphor?

        The kind of truth you appear to require at all times is the sort that is needed in law courts, contractual situations, and any situation involving science. Which is OK, but there is such a thing as “the art of living”, and for most of humanity that involves the use of imagination.

        Just out of curiosity, what do you do for a living?

    • avatar impska says:

      I’d be irked by it, just like the LW is. I wouldn’t say anything about it, but it would annoy me.

      Just like my sister in law who likes to tell people that she was a virgin until her wedding. Except anyone who does the math on her first child knows it’s an enormous lie.

      I find it strange that anyone would feel the need to lie about these things. They are adults, they made choices, they are happy with the results of those choices… so why rewrite history? I don’t like it when people aren’t truthful. That doesn’t mean they have to tell me things that are none of my business – but when they choose to tell me about those things, I’d like to be hearing the truth – not some fantasy they’ve made up.

      Ultimately, I can’t truly connect with someone who fills their life with fantasy and white lies. In many ways, it’s worse when I find out that they are lying about something innocent and insignificant. Does anyone care if my sister in law had sex before marriage? No. Does anyone care if the LW’s friend used an egg donor instead of the “power of prayer?” No. And if they’re willing to lie about something as silly as that, what else are they hiding about themselves?

      • avatar snowwhite4577 says:

        I am not really sure you can compare these two situations.

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        And here’s the thing…

        What circumstances are satisfactory for the friend to claim that the births are a miracle in LW1′s eyes? Unexpected pregnancy? Nah—that’s just the luck of the draw. Infertile? Nope—the doctors were obviously wrong and underestimated the sperm count. And so on, and so on…

        Short of the friend having had a hysterectomy, LW1 can pretty much always logic out the biological reasoning for her pregnancy.

        For some a miracle has to have special effects worthy of a blockbuster. For others, it has to be a feeling that someone, somewhere was listening and pushed the “approved” button. Seriously, who cares?

  10. avatar K Coldiron says:

    I understand LW1′s feelings. Whether the woman in question regularly invents things about her life or whether this is the only thing…to me (and this is a little leap, I’ll admit), it sounds like the mother wants to stamp out the idea that a stranger had anything to do with her children. Like the egg donor’s existence makes her uncomfortable, so she’s editing her out of the process of having the kids. “It was…just…a miracle.” However, Margo offers the most generous view of the definition of “miracle” here, and I think that’s probably just fine for how to deal with this woman. If she is behaving about it delusionally, refusing to tell the kids the truth etc., I can see how that would be troubling, but it’s just not LW1′s business. They have to run their family the way they see fit.

    For what it’s worth, LW1, it would really bother me, too. But you don’t have a dog in this fight.

    • avatar Lila says:

      K Coldiron, “…it sounds like the mother wants to stamp out the idea that a stranger had anything to do with her children.” Hmm, maybe so. Maybe her “revisionist history” is her way of trying to stamp out any lingering disappointment in the fact that she is actually NOT the children’s biological mother.

      I’m adopted, and feel fully that my adopted family is my “real” family, and my Dad felt that way too. But not everyone feels the same. For a lot of my mother’s relatives, the adopted kids were a bit different from the rest of the family. After my Mom died, most of them had nothing further to do with us; we weren’t really “their blood.” It was like their connection with us was basically just “humoring” my Mom. I wonder… after seeing your comment… if, deep down, this mom might not secretly feel twinges of the same, and is trying to bury that by emphasizing the answered prayers.

  11. avatar R Scott says:

    LW1 – Like you I don’t throw the “miracle” word around a lot, however, it was years ago and really, what’s it to you? Let it go. Her life. Her kids. Her “miracle”. The doctors who made the miracle happen all got paid and have moved on…. you should too.

    LW2 – Margo was too nice in the statement she came up for you. However, she did say something I think you should modify and adopt: “No offense, but you family members are either incredibly thick or strangely unconcerned with my health”.  Then walk out. Seriously. Call these oafs on it and then walk out. If there’s a napkin to be thrown upon your plate that would be cool too. When you get up and leave try not to knock over your chair because that’s drama kill.  

  12. avatar Kriss says:

    LW1:  you’re not clear on whether or not your friend has completely omitted the fact that she used a donor egg.  If she has then I understand your irritation, but what she chooses to tell is none of your business.  If this type of lie is a deal breaker for you then end the friendship & get on with your life.

    but if she’s saying that the procedure is a miracle then yeah, it is.  It’s a miracle of modern science, it’s a miracle that someone thought up how to do this, it’s a miracle that someone who was infertile was able to give birth to 3 children.  how sad that your imagination is so limited that you’re unable to see the miracles in everyday life.

    LW2:  you’re family doesn’t believe that you have food allergies & intolerences. I suspect that there are other issues that you have with them, this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Do what you have to do to protect yourself because they aren’t going to.

    I have a friend who is allergic to onions.  He sister does not believe that she is allergic to onions.  we were cleaning up after a party & some salsa splashed on my friend’s arm.  within 30 min her arm swelled 3 times its nomal size just from the tiny bit of onions that were in the salsa.  we had to rush her to the emergency room. 

    her sister witnessed this & still believes that she’s making things up.  there are other issues there, I no longer question my friend when she describes her sister as “evil”.

  13. avatar Lila says:

    Re: LW1, I am agnostic and pro-science, but… science has its limitations. Think of all the women who spend fortunes on years of various fertility treatments, and come away with nothing. For someone infertile who desperately wants kids, even the fact that science was able to help her can seem like a prayer was answered. And, well – it was answered, wasn’t it? Even if it got a medical assist? Why quibble?

  14. avatar PortaPetey says:

    While I don’t think LW2′s family deserves an defense – they’re acting like jerks regardless of their reasons – the LW may want to simply ask them why they are mocking her food needs.

    I have a suspicion – no proof – that they may simply not believe that her dietary needs are genuine or serious. She may need to have a genuine conversation with them about her actual medical issue so they understand that she’s not just on some crazy hippie-harpie bandwagon.

    Let’s face it – most of us know at least a few of them – vegetarians, vegans, raw food “primitivavores”, gluten-free campaigners, sprouted-grain only, etc. etc. and many of them – not all, but many – have a long list of presumed medical, biological, philosophical, ethical, moral, whatever arguments to be delivered with haughty condescension at any meal to any person who is so limited and inhuman as to actually dare to eat something not specifically proscribed.

    I’m not saying all people with special dietary needs are like this, and I’m certainly not saying the LW is like this. But we all know a few of them, and some people may go into automatic “la la la la la la” mode with their hands over their ears as soon as someone starts describing what harmful ingredients are allowed to be on their menus or not.

    So, the LW may just want to have a chat with her family and try to help them understand that she’s not just being “one of THOSE”. If they understand this, and they keep acting the way they are, then she can can tell them all to get stuffed. With something that will poison them. :-)

    • avatar dcarpend says:

      I’m one of “those,” minus the condescension. I eat low carb, and I have for 17 years. I do it because I didn’t like being a size 20 at 5’2″, because I had serious food addiction issues, because I have hinky blood sugar and would rather not progress to being a full-blown diabetic, and because eating concentrated carbs makes me feel tired, logy, and ravenous an hour later. None of this adds up to “I will go into anaphylaxis and die at the merest taste of the allergen,” of course. OTOH, more people die of the slow degenerative diseases of bad nutrition than of anything else, and I’d prefer not to go there.

      Many people seem to feel that sticking to one’s dietary program for whatever reason is an insult or a criticism to them. I hear, “Oh, c’mon, it’s a holiday! Lighten up!” or “You need to treat yourself now and then, you know,” or any one of a dozen other common arguments why I should go ahead and eat the pizza or the cake or whatever. (My favorite was “Don’t you have any fun anymore?” I was very tempted to reply, “Well, I really like sex…”)

      It puts me in mind of the sort of pressure non-drinkers get to have a drink (or light drinkers get to have another) “What, you too good to have a drink with me?”

      I don’t care what other people eat. I will happily provide vegetarian food for my vegetarian friends when they visit, and low fat foods for low fat friends, though my diet is the polar opposite of low fat or vegetarian. But there are many, many people who seem to find refusing to eat (x) as a personal insult, and they need to get the heck over it.

      • avatar ann penn says:

        Well, not all food intolerances require such drastic measures, thank goodness.

        I am gluten intolerant. My reaction to accidental gluten consumption will show up hours later or the next day, and it won’t be a pleasant experience.

        I do have some distant relatives that I visit occasionally who do not always “remember” that I cannot eat all that they can eat. It would be lovely if they would ask and not assume, but I’m probably not going to change them. I do appreciate it when I can check the ingredients on prepared foods and make my own judgement on things. It is surprising how many processed foods have gluten hidden in them; I suspect that is also true for other things to which people may be intolerant.

      • avatar ann penn says:

        The above comment was intended as a reply to the following comment about using an epipen… somehow it got ahead instead of after.

      • avatar Dararie says:

        I agree wholeheartedly.  I don’t drink, and I have food allergies, serious ones.  I don’t tell my drinker friends to not drink, nor do I make rude comments about people’s diets.  My feelings are never hurt when someone doesn’t want to eat something I make.

  15. avatar shazzanorth says:

    LW2: If you really like your family’s company (apart from the food issue), I would take your Epipen and Epipen trainer with you next time. Before the meal, tell them that if there is any “insert your allergen” in the food, they should how how to administer the Epipen. Have them use the trainer on each other. That should be the end of the discussion.

  16. avatar Lila says:

    Re: LW2, some of our family gatherings are plagued with the opposite food-tyranny problem: long lectures about the evils of genetically modified corn, or aspartame, or red meat, or… or… or. For those who crave some nachos, or drink diet sodas, or enjoy an occasional steak, it gets really tiresome.

    It’s one thing to offer a dish, or to express concern about something. It’s another to judgmentally badger people to either eat or not eat something, and turn what should be a pleasant social experience into the Meal From Hell.

  17. avatar Rick S says:

    LR1-  I think science led to her 3 miracles.  When she was going through the process it was science and since she has had her 3 kids and enjoys them they are her miracles. 
    I am sure the kids prefer their mom’s view better than yours. 

    Most moms without fertility issues lean towards miracle over biology for how their children arrived.

    Why do you need to correct her view of her history? 

    rick

  18. avatar KeepingCalm says:

    What would LW#1 prefer her friend refer to the children as – her “little science experiements?”
    Is it somehow not a MIRACLE that science makes in vitro a possibility for those that struggle (painfully) with infertility; that some generous woman out there donated her eggs so this woman could become a mother; and that IVF actually worked for her 3 times? All factors of how those children came into this world makes them simply MIRACLES.

  19. avatar Jennifer juniper says:

    Gosh, I’m on the ‘other’ side of things today. It would actually irritate me as well if I had a friend that suddenly decided to revise history. No matter what the hell it was about. I don’t get the sense that this friend is just saying things like the kids are her ‘miracles’. I thought the LW is saying that she’s pretty much outright lying about how these kids came into the world. If that were a friend of mine, I’d end up asking what the heck was going on. (She should ask just to be on the side of caution for when the kids are older.)

    And as for the food stuff. I shouldn’t be amazed at how little patience and time and understanding we have for our own families but I am. Firstly, if it took this woman YEARS to figure out that she had food issues- the reactions really can’t be that huge. Unless she’s really dense. I mean come on – a friend of mine gets horrible diarrhea every time he eats diary – it didn’t take him years to figure out that it was dairy. He’s also more mildly averse to fructose – this is something that did take longer for him to figure out. And it took longer because the reactions weren’t actually SEVERE. So firstly, I think the woman is exaggerating the symptoms in order to beef up her argument. This can prompt reactions in people that aren’t what you’d want.

    That said, she doesn’t actually need to have explosive diarrhea in order to chose to avoid certain foods. But there is no reason why (particularly if they are of a certain generation) her family would immediately understand these things. How about she actually take the issue as an opportunity to educate her family (because it sounds to me like she has a feeder family; feeding = love).

    • avatar ann penn says:

      Once a person is totally off the problem causing ingredient, the symptoms often become more severe and will occur with the slightest amount of the reactive item. Early on, I could consume a little gluten and be OK; later I would often react and then have to hunt to find what caused it… Now I am aware of just how many products can hide gluten (my sensitivity), and I eat nothing unless I know in advance that I can tolerate it.

  20. avatar A R says:

    LW1: I guess it all depends on how you define a “miracle”. For some, it means an answer to prayer that cannot be explained by science. For others, it means simply that something they really wanted came to pass. The LW’s friend seems to subscribe to the latter view. Well, there ya go. For her, the infertility issue solved by artificial insemination, was an answer to prayer that she apparently didn’t expect to work. I guess for her, it is a miracle. If it were me, I’d ignore the woman’s explanations. I wouldn’t care what she said because it’s her life, not mine. Essentially the LW defines a “miracle” in a different fashion.

    LW2: Let me say first that I’m sorry your family annoys you when it comes to food. As a vegetarian, my family annoyed me for years. They thought it was stupid, hippie, and new-Age. Coming from a fine, southern family who ate meat-and-bread at every meal, eschewing meat on purpose was the sign of me being kooky.

    Now, having said that I’ve been in your situation, here’s something to think about: Did you get a doctor’s advice, or did you read about your issues on the internet? You don’t say in your letter that you consulted a doctor about your allergies and intolerance. You say that you “found out”. The reason I ask is that if you decided this yourself, you don’t have as solid of a defense as if you got this from a doctor. If you want to shut your family up, try reviewing the medical visit, the tests, and what the doc said. Many folks will take a doctor’s word as Gospel.
    On the other hand, if this is a self-diagnosis, it’s harder to make a solid defense. I point this out because there IS a difference between “I don’t like the way this food makes me feel” and “I’m allergic”. Here’s a personal example: I don’t like how milk makes me feel a few hours after I consume it, therefore I quit milk in favor of almond or soy milk. However, I’m not intolerant nor am I allergic. I just choose to avoid it.
    Choices of food can be a real hot button in society. Some feel that your choice to avoid a thing is a direct judgment on their choice to consume it. Others feel that people are just being needlessly finicky to make themselves “special”.
    Someone may say, “Why should she have to defend her choices?” Well, she doesn’t HAVE to. She chooses to. If she’s going to, she might as well do it right—-bust out the doctor’s report on them, and let them argue with that. If you didn’t actually see a doctor, then quit saying, “I can’t have it” and try saying, “I don’t want it”. That makes a BIG difference. People can argue all day long if she says “I can’t” without medical backing. However, saying “I don’t want it” doesn’t require medical backing.

  21. avatar Pinky35 says:

    For LW#2,
    I have experienced similar problems with my family and coworkers. My family still cooks meals like everyone can eat it and so it is now up to me to eat what I can of what is provided or not eat at all. There was one time when my parents actually acknowledged my food problems while we were out to dinner. They kept asking me what happens when I eat certain foods and they tell me well so-and-so used to have that problem but he grew out of it. For me, it wasn’t something I was born with but I just can’t eat the things I used to anymore. And I get really tired of explaining over and over again that I just CAN’T eat what they are serving. I try and make jokes by saying my husband will pay for it later and we all have a nice laugh. But, in the end no one but my husband seems sensitive to my dietary needs. So, I’ve learned to make due by eating meals either before or after a family party.

    Then, at work, we always have inventory where food is provided. Usually, there is something I can eat. But, not always. So, a few times I’ve brought my own food from home or gone out to eat during our break time. But, then I get bombarded with questions as to why I’m eating different from everyone else. So, I say that I can’t eat the food they have provided because of my dietary problems. So, they all know that I have to avoid certain foods. Yet, still… nobody ever asks me, “Hey, we’re ordering such and such for the meeting today, can you eat this? Or can we order you a special meal?” But, yet the one time we had a vegetarian who worked for us, they ordered a special meal JUST FOR HER! Sometimes I wonder, wth?! But, in the end there is nothing you can do to teach people about this. They’re gonna be asses at times and you just can’t let it get to you.

    • avatar dcarpend says:

      Yet, still… nobody ever asks me, “Hey, we’re ordering such and such for the meeting today, can you eat this? Or can we order you a special meal?” But, yet the one time we had a vegetarian who worked for us, they ordered a special meal JUST FOR HER!

      Oh, tell me about it. I live in a lefty-trendy college town, and it is often assumed that gatherings must be “vegetarian-friendly.” Back when my husband and I were in a group of folks who rotated cooking lunch for anyone at our church who wanted to stay after the 11 am service, we were told that we should be careful to always have something for the vegetarians and something for the vegans. Organizations I’d like to support will have fund-raising banquets, with the only choice being vegetarian lasagna, because, after all, “everybody can eat it.”

      Not so much. I’m a low carber. I eat no grains, no potatoes, no starchy food in general. I mostly eat meat, eggs, and vegetables. I’ve been doing this for a very long time, and it has dramatically improved my health. I’m not going to eat the vegetarian lasagna or the bean soup or whatever. Yet does anyone ever tell the vegetarians “Be sure to have something for the low carbers?” Oh, heck no. The rather preachy assumption is that it will do all those carnivores good to eat a vegetarian meal for a change. Not when a serving of brown rice is sufficient to drive my blood sugar into the diabetic range, it won’t. Nope.

      You can tell this is a sore spot. As I mentioned above, I’m happy to provide vegetarian food at gatherings, even vegan food. It would be nice if I received the same kind of consideration.

  22. avatar Rosemary Brown says:

    To LW2 –

    I, too, have several rather sever food allergies that my family and friends “forget” or ignore at times. Because I my allergies developed as a teen and not an infant my family felt they weren’t life threatening so I shouldn’t make such a big deal of them. One of my friends even said “What’s is going to do if you eat some nuts? It’s not like it will kill you.” I explained truthfully, that no it wouldn’t kill me, but I would throw up uncontrollably and have breathing difficulty for several hours. She was so horrified (she has a thing about extreme cleanliness) she actually started making and serving a plate of “allergy-free” cookies every time she knew I was coming over. I’m not saying you have to gross people out, but sometimes an overly honest (and brutal) explanation is the way to go. And if your food issues don’t make you throw up, explain what they do to you — graphically if necessary. Bet they won’t forget anymore! Best of luck. Kudos on finding fun ways to work around food issues!

    PS — My food allergies make dessert time especially trying — Red dyes are out, blue dyes are limited, and no nuts. Also, brunch items tend to be difficult — no pork (sausage, bacon, and ham), limited eggs and onions (sulfur intolerance), and no sesame seeds.

    • avatar Mandy says:

      Mushroom allergy here. Bonus suck: I love Italian and Asian foods. Going out to eat is an adventure. I won’t die, but like you, I’ll be sick for hours and curled up on the bathroom floor shivering and struggling to breathe. That description usually does work to drive the point home. My family didn’t really make foods with mushrooms as a kid so I don’t know if I’ve always had the allergy or it developed later. I discovered it in college. Compliments of a school chef who put mushrooms in every sauce and sandwich he could find and about a week of being sick as a dog. My friends brought me food that wasn’t made in the cafeteria and I started feeling better in short order and then the lightbulb clicked. *big hugs* I feel ya, my sister in allergies.

  23. avatar Frau Quink says:

    Ltr. 1: Your friend’s happiness ought to bring a smile to your face, even though you cannot for the life of you identify with her…….

  24. avatar Anne Talvaz says:

    To their parents, most children have something of the miraculous about them despite the fact that it’s a completely natural and very ordinary process. There is something very fascinating about punching out an incipient human being and watching him mature into a complex, mysterious individual in his own right. Chalk it up to the 50-point IQ loss which tends to come with the parenthood package ;-)

  25. avatar Carmen McNeil says:

    As someone who has lived with severe allergies my whole life, I completely feel for LW#2. While my immediate family has always been supportive, there are many others I have crossed paths with that have not been as understanding. I’ve come across people who love to taunt, who flat out disbelieve that allergies are an actual serious thing and call me a liar, and who get joy out of watching me in situations where I can eat nothing provided and have to sustain myself on the luna bars and dried fruit I keep in my purse for just those occasions. 

    I’ve stopped trying to figure out why some just don’t get it. I know that 9 times out of 10 when I tell someone I’m allergic to dairy, their first response will be, “So you’re lactose intolerant…” When I repeat that I’m allergic to dairy, 9 times out of 10 they will look at me blankly, blink, and say, “Uuuhh, what’s the difference?” Then the conversation will either turn into morbid curiosity as to the severity of my reactions or it will turn into 20 questions where every obscure food under the sun has the possibility of me being allergic to it or not. “Truffle salt?? No, I’m allergic to dairy! DAIRY!” It’s actually pretty amusing.

    My recommendation is to be patient with those that are genuinely curious and caring. For those that like to taunt and tease, have a few choice phrases. “Hmmm, do you normally find life or death situations hilarious?” “Hey, can you write down your address? Or just spell it out for me. What? I just want to make sure I send my hospital bill to the right place.” Or my personal favorite, “Oh. My. Goodness! Please tell me what tragic thing I did to you to make you want to try and KILL me so I may make amends immediately!” Is it snarky? Yessiree. But if I say these things with a twinkle in my eye and a half smile on my face it usually makes the other person laugh (possibly sheepishly) AND gets the point across. If that doesn’t work always keep a raised eyebrow and a death glare handy.

    • avatar Dararie says:

      I do exactly the same thing. Sarcasm is my friend. Fortunately my family gets it…I’m allergic to fresh fruit, except citrus..and it could kill me…also allergic to artifical sweetners, all of them, same reaction, hives, headache, breathing difficulty and paralysis(worse case), it’s amazing the number of people who don’t believe me and who lecture me on how sugar is bad for me…never had a problem with sugar…..just the artifical crap, including stevia….