Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Gluten-Free for 55 Years!

The best part of book signings is gathering people’s stories. As a fiction writer I can’t get enough of it. As a non-fiction writer, it helps me to understand what my readers need to know.

Over the weekend I had a book signing for GLEE! in Bridgton, Maine – about an hour west of Portland. Almost every person who showed up to buy a copy of GLEE! had been newly diagnosed and was feeling overwhelmed. They were pleased to find a simple guide to help them understand the basics.

However, my favorite customer was a woman I’ll call Ida (pictured here), who had first heard of celiac disease 55 years ago when she put her son on a gluten-free diet. It turns out Ida’s husband had been a pediatrician. When their young 2 year-old boy was failing to thrive (as “everything he ate ran thru him”), doctor dad researched all the possibilities. The first thing they tried was a gluten-free diet and, like magic, it all cleared up.

“Of course, back then it was a nightmare trying to figure it all out,” explained Ida. “No one had heard of it. And the diet also included special milk instructions. We had to boil the milk down and add something, can’t remember what it was – and cheese was completely off limits.”

As a mom who struggled to deal with the gluten-free challenge just 3 years ago, my hats off to Ida – who did it completely alone and undoubtedly, against the tide.


Roberta said...

How is the son today?

elizabeth atkinson said...

He was at the book signing with Ida! Now 57, said he had never had gluten in his life and had been very healthy. The younger brother had similar symptoms so he too has always been gluten-free, but Ida and her husband never had GF issues themselves.