Pic of the day – Inexpressible Joy

The story has a happy ending, and a happy beginning, but a sad middle.

When I was young, very young, my mother and I bonded over tea. It was a sign of not being a baby anymore when I was invited the join the women for a cup of tea. Then mom and I would share a pretty pot of tea, just the two of us. With six kids in the family that was special. My mom would come home from work exhausted, and would trust me (and only me) to make her a cup of tea just the way she liked it — large “Redwood” mug, tea bag dunked exactly 32 times fast, 2 spoons of sugar (slightly rounded), 1/8th cup of milk. When I grew up and came home for a visit, a pot of tea at the kitchen table was how our best visits would start.

Of course, drinking tea became my own self-soothing ritual when things went wrong, when I was working hard, when I was tired, when I was happy, … well, just say I drank a lot of tea. I had a cabinet just for tea things. A dozen beautiful teapots, tea cups, over two dozen varieties of teas and tisanes and herbals. Oolong, Earl Grey, jasmine, Assam …

Years later, mom was already retired, and I started having my own health issues. One of them was inexplicable oral lesions that would come and go. They became worse and worse, my tongue shedding the top layer, nude patches, open bleeding lesions. Sometimes my mouth would fill with blood. No clue why.

I was working for the dental school with some of the best oral diagnosticians in the world. Since the problem kept coming and going, it made it really hard to figure out. But we did figure it out, eventually, at least partly. Thru trial and error, testing and isolating potential triggers, we found the triggers. Tea. Tea?! Oh, noooooo!

At first it was just black teas. Then also green. Then herbals that included rosehips. And herbals with rooibos. It spread to other beverages. Cranberry juice, orange juice. Eventually, all I could drink was decaf coffee, plain water, apple juice, and the rare rootbeer or 7-Up.

That was all just one relatively minor part of a huge constellation of apparently unrelated health issues. I’d be in and out of the hospital. Saw specialists for this and that. Had a couple surgeries. Developed more and more problems. Slowly got worse.

I would still try, every now and then, just to see if the tongue thing had gotten better. Usually, I’d try a cup of tea about twice a year. One cup only. The warning tingling would start after a half dozen sips. I always stopped with one cup.

Now, last year I went gluten free, later getting a celiac diagnosis. After a year of being GF I started vitamin supplementation for MTHFR deficiency (mild). I started to feel better and better. I could do more and more. This morning during church I noticed to my delight that the liver spots on my arms were fading.

I really wanted to celebrate. When I came home from church I was craving a cup of tea. Since a young man from Japan is living with us right now, I made a pot. He chose the variety. Jasmine. Oh, jasmine, how lovely! I made it strong. I drank a cup. It tasted wonderful— light, bready, wholesome. I had a second cup. And started to laugh and laugh. It’s been more than a decade since I could have a second cup of tea!!! I had a third cup and then stopped.

Three hours later my tongue is starting the tingle. So, I still can’t drink it with complete impunity, BUT I can drink tea! Certainly more than twice a year! I cannot express the delight, how utterly grateful I am. I am so happy. You can probably guess what I did next. I had to phone my mom and tell her.