616: Feeding Eden by Susan Weissman

by Gerard

616.975: Weissman, Susan. Feeding Eden: The Trials and Triumphs of a Food Allergy Family. New York: Sterling, 2012. 199 pp. ISBN 978-1-4027-8122-3.

Applied science, or as we call it, technology, falls into the 600s. When you apply scientific knowledge to human health, you end up with a field called medicine, and books on medicine go into the 610s. Books on particular diseases and illness families fall into 616. Diseases of the immune system, and more specifically, food allergies fall into 616.975.

Susan Weissman’s Feeding Eden is about how she dealt with her second child’s severe compound allergy condition. Eden, after suffering bout after bout of allergic reflux for the first six months of his life and unrelenting eczema, is diagnosed with allergies to milk, soy, nuts, fish, shellfish, eggs, and certain fruits. Later, on top of all that, he is diagnosed with asthma. All this made for a very complicated life for the Weissmans. Their first child, Dayna, is fortunately allergy-free.

Weissman’s emotional and medical struggles with Eden’s sensitivities lead her to doctor after doctor, including regular pediatricians, pediatric gastroenterologists, osteopathic practitioners, occupational and nutritional therapists, and even a psychologist (for herself). She blends her travels among medical offices with vignettes of day-to-day life, and paints a mildly painful picture of how everyday choices become a matter of survival. Her writing is raw and empowering, and makes me feel overwhelming grateful for not having an allergy of my own to have to deal with. At times, I was left wondering just how exactly she could afford all of this care and special food, but that isn’t really the point of the story.

Since this was an Advance Reading Copy, I’ll sidestep the almost constant typographical mishaps (I hope they catch them all by the publication date). It’s a short book, and most people should be able to breeze through it in a day. For those reading this for tips on how deal with your own allergic children, the appendix is chock-full of handy reference books, organizations, associations, and support groups to consult. Weissman has really done her homework.