It was 1997, and I was in the Allergist’s office. Our daughter had recently been diagnosed with peanut, tree nut, milk, soy, and egg allergies. She was six months old. The doctor handed me five sheets of mimeographed paper. At the top of each was the title WHAT TO AVOID IF YOU HAVE A SOY ALLERGY, there was one piece of paper for each food group. I walked out of the office with the sheets of paper, and our child, wondering “what now”…
And this is how our journey began.
Susan Weissman, in her book FEEDING EDEN a memoir about her experiences so far with her now nine-year old food-allergic son, Eden, explains through sometimes erthereal prose how her family’s lives were impacted raising a very ill baby. She chronicles the difficult process by which they discovered the root of his illnesses, his road to wellness, what it was like navigating early intervention, and finally what they went through to find medical care providers that fit their beliefs as well as medical needs.
FEEDING EDEN, a memoir, is difficult to read for the most well-adjusted of us who manage our children’s food allergies because of its honesty. On page five I had to put it down for a few days because our stories were so close I found myself re-living the very difficult, painful years of our daughter’s early childhood. I picked it up and continued to read it until the end, finding other places where I found myself in familiar territory. Susan writes of her experience with alternative medicine, which we also tried, but quickly realized with the extent of our IgE mediated allergies, was not a comfortable nor an appropriate fit for us.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wonders why food allergic mommies are so vigilant and why we advocate for our children so vociferously. This book may help to explain to those outside of the food allergic community our deepest fears: that a bite of an allergenic food can result in shutting down of a body’s system and even death (the definition of anaphylaxis).
FEEDING EDEN: The Trials and Triumphs of a Food Allergy Family
by Susan Weissman (www.susanweissman.com)