By Chris Fleming

Beautiful Letdown headerFor the past four months I have intermittently experienced nausea and stomach pains. Not really understanding from whence these pains arrived, paranoia made me immediately phone my physician in a panic, my mind racing as to what could be the diagnosis … Is it appendicitis? Gall bladder irritation? Tapeworm? After a few doctor visits, I found out that I am, in fact, lactose intolerant.  

For anyone who doesn’t know, lactose intolerance is the inability to metabolize lactose, a sugar found in milk and other dairy products. This is a tragic situation in multiple ways – most importantly, that my bachelor existence is built on three strong pillars:  Febreeze, the George Foreman Grill and Fruit Loops. The aversion to milk has weakened my fortress, for I am accustomed to having cereal for dinner at least two nights a week. Plus, I enjoy a good cheeseburger on Saturdays, and milky smoothies from Smoothie King – especially “The Shredder” (like a steak dinner in a cup).  This disease has ruined the experience. It has ruined my life.

I discussed the situation with others and was informed of a pill that can be taken before eating dairy products, in order to alleviate the pain. There was also silly discussion of overpriced “special” milk, such as Soy or Lactaid. While all of these suggestions are awesome, they depress me. Specialization from the norm reminds me that I am getting older, that my body is breaking down ... that I am mortal.

When we are young, we think nothing can physically affect us in a negative way.  Our young selves might have 14 tequila shots in one night, and wake up the next day feeling fresh as a daisy. Presently, it would take the next four days after a bender just to regulate my heartbeat. Also, at a point in one’s life, it is a rite of passage to eat three whoppers in one sitting. Trying this feat now would correlate into heartburn, night sweats and steady constipation. As my medicine cabinet fills up with pill bottles – from Macinex to Probiotic to fish oil – I once again come to the stark conclusion that my aches and pains are proof of my mortality.

So I started thinking that if I’d known I was going to be lactose intolerant, I would have spent the past year eating as much Cookies ‘n’ Cream from the Pie Kitchen that I could afford. Here is the optimism of the mortality complex:  While I can’t dictate handicaps, I do know one day I will die. Knowing this, and having evidence of a slowly depreciating body, makes one start to value present-day experiences.

Now, without sounding cheesy or reminiscent of the ending of a G.I. Joe cartoon, start appreciating the subtle beauties in life, because you never know when your body will become “universe intolerant,” if that analogy makes any sense.

Chris “Ace Nova” Fleming is a 20-something residing in the Highlands-Douglass neighborhood – a young professional moonlighting as your neighborhood blogger. Check out or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with feedback.