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Allergic To Life: My Battle for Survival, Courage, and Hope Paperback – August 22, 2013
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Treat kept a daily journal of her battle for survival. Because she was going through medical issues, the journal is about doctors, medical test, treatment, and how those close to her reacted. When Treat had to explain to her friends that she could not got out to lunch with them or that their perfume and clothing made her ill, they soon abandoned her. Thank goodness for her family and those who stood by her through such an ordeal and that she found a treatment center and doctors that did not give up on her.
I met Kathryn Chastain Treat online before she finished putting her book together. We often corresponded via email and a couple of time through snail mail. When it came to deciding the cover of her book, she asked my opinion. I was drawn to the photograph of her stuck inside a sterile home looking out and longing to be outside enjoying the sunshine and the flowers.
There were times that Kathryn could venture outside and she did so enjoy being out in the fresh air. She lost her battle with life shortly before Christmas 2014, but not before the book was released.
Anyone suffering with allergies or who has a family member or friend(s) suffering with allergies should read this book in order to help them understand what that person is going through whether is be on a small scale or a large scale of suffering. Doctors and nurses should read this book so that when patients tell them what is happening with their bodies, they will be believed instead of being treated as a hypochondriac and left to suffer on their own. Medical students should read this book so they can learn to look beyond the obvious when treating and/or observing patients. Environmental safety officers should read this book, to learn what things they may think are harmless in a workers environment, could indeed be a culprit in making people ill: the culprit in a chronic illness.
Kathryn would want everyone who has any kind of health issue to never give up: never give up in finding a cure, finding what works to help relieve suffering.
The book is very specific about what Kathryn experienced and what she did to protect herself. She began to write poems to get her emotions in check. I was very interested in the connection of the medical treatments and the non-medical treatments, I believe in energy balancing but it's still a shock (to an old RN) to see a physician doing it.
First I would recommend this book to anyone who may be going through something similar.
Second I would recommend it to medical personnel so they could see into the life of someone who's very ill.
Lastly I would recommend this book to anyone who thinks their life is difficult. Compare with Kathryn's, it's probably a walk in the park.
Sadly Kathryn is no longer with us. I would love her to know the impact her words have made.
Top international reviews
I would have loved to give Kathryn a 5 star review but, mostly because this is irredeemably a medical memoir first and foremost, it's a 4 star, but a well-deserved one. It's a hard book to read, but I knew it would be and really I'm very glad she wrote it because it certainly got across how isolating and debilitating an allergy-related condition can be, especially when you end up, as Kathryn did, reacting adversely to nearly everything we come into contact with in modern daily life. She kept a diary and that comes across very clearly and depressingly, as she relates going from doctor to doctor for assessments for her workers compensation and litigation suit against her former employers, when they blithely discount, or just plain ignore clinical evidence from her own medical advisors, or, even worse, totally misunderstand her conditions and need to have a 'safe' environment for examinations. It's this litany of ignorance and prejudice, amounting to malpractice in some instances, that is the 'drag factor' for getting truly immersed in Kathryn's ordeal in getting recognition and restitution for the terrible position her illnesses placed her in. The diary approach to the writing is only useful so far, because you don't always get the emotional pull, except when Kathryn does dwell more on her own personal reactions, and in her poetry that underscores her deep depression and desperation to find some relief, as her life is peeled away from her and she becomes more and more isolated from everyone, even to some extent her daughters. Luckily her husband was and remained a tower of strength to the end, although it must have been difficult for both him and Kathryn at times as money became tight and the reaction began to keep them apart.
Those personal little vignettes that delve into her mental and emotional suffering aren't there enough at times to help lift the dispassionate narration that come across more strongly and frequently, so this a book that matters very much, but rarely shines, for good reason of course, but it kept me from 'loving' this book.
What does get through however is Kathryn's courage and determination to survive, even when she's almost out of hope, which in itself is inspirational, as is her ability to think of others even when she's almost at the end of her strength. It's this quality that has earned the affection and respect of fellow sufferers and writers the length and breadth of the US and beyond, so in the end this book is an important one and deserves to be persevered with, because there are lessons for everyone in it, even if you've never had a day's illness in your life. A book to be proud of certainly and like I said earlier, I'm so glad that Kathryn was able to write it because it has already, and will continue to, help a lot of people.
The multiple allergies she suffers from at their worst debilitated her to the extent where loved ones visiting her house had to cover themselves in special suits so that any moulds or chemicals on their clothing did not provoke a potentially life-threatening reaction in Kathryn. She had to live apart from her husband in a specially chemical –free house, and undergo hours and hours of energy-sapping testing and medical procedures. Family life suffered, although Kathryn’s husband Rick has obviously been a tower of strength and support for her.
Kathryn’s indomitable will to live and to eventually recover from her allergies stands her in good stead. She wants so desperately to be ‘normal’ again and to have a proper family life. Some of the pages are quite heart-breaking to read.
I take my hat off to this lady; what an amazing woman! Kathryn; I wish you health and happiness, and a long life free of suffering. You deserve it.