This Is for the Connections

It happened: my book, Kitchen Medicine: How I Fed My Daughter out of Failure to Thrive came out on March 15, 2022. After all the years of this story being just pixels on a screen and memories in my heart, I held the hardcover copy in my hands and saw that it was real. It was a strange sensation; I thought I’d feel awe or joy or relief, but I didn’t. I felt a lot like I did after Sammi’s final cardiac surgery: wary. I had stood in the waiting room when the surgeon came in to tell us that Sammi was fine, that the surgery had gone perfectly, that her aorta was now clipped to her ribcage and would never, ever compress her esophagus again. My husband shook his hand, and so did I, and the surgeon moved on to his next case while my husband and I held each other. I felt him crying, but my eyes were dry.

They’d given us “good news” before, I’d thought. Let’s just see if this sticks.

All these years later, holding the book I’d written to tell the story, I felt a similar guardedness. I’d done all the things you’re supposed to do to publish a nonfiction book in a crowded marketplace: I’d written for progressively more prestigious magazines and newspapers, built a platform, engaged with other journalists and caregivers of children with eosinophilic esophagitis and congenital heart diseases on social media, got an agent, got a publishing deal, wrote and rewrote, and now, here it was, in my hands, the product of all of it. All I’d ever wanted was to share our story and get it in front of the people who needed it most. And now, the question remained:

Would anyone find it?

The work of writing a book is vastly, wildly, ragingly different from the work of promoting a book. It seems like the universe is asking me how badly I really want this book to reach its intended audience. Do I want it badly enough to prostrate myself in front of the altars of self-promotion? Do I want it badly enough to push and push for the attention it needs to make it past the crowded marketplace of ideas and soundbites and other stories?

I do. And also, that’s really hard for me.

In the month of March, I had essays published in three different publications; I interviewed for five podcasts and two feature stories; and I had two book launch events, one virtual and one in-person (at my beloved Brothers K Coffeehouse, where the book opens). I spent hours promoting the book on social media and in phone calls to bookstores. Dear universe, is it enough yet?

And then, on March 18, an article I wrote for Huffington Post came out, and I got my answer.

My Daughter Was Misdiagnosed, And I Could Have Sued. Here’s What I Did Instead.

This article is the attention-grabbing, sensational version of what happened to us, and it did exactly what I set out to do: it grabbed the attention of parents and caregivers of children who they feared were misdiagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis. As emails came in, over and over, from these curious, hopeful people, I found myself in tears. I answered each message carefully, sharing our story and cautioning each one that I thought our experience was probably exceedingly rare — but not impossible. The correspondence that followed was full of heart and gratitude on both sides. It was exactly why I wrote Kitchen Medicine — to connect us. To make us all feel less alone.

And now? It will get quieter, no doubt. I have a few more interviews scheduled, another article or two that will come out in the next few months. And I’ll keep paying attention to stories about relationships between doctors and their colleagues, doctors and patients, doctors and caregivers, and caregivers and the people they love. I’ll keep sharing the things I’ve discovered I love about what we learned, including the delicious food I’ve come to treasure (the best place for you to see that is on my Instagram account).

I’ll keep writing about this, but also about other things, as the happy ending of Kitchen Medicine leaves my whole family free to move forward, a freedom I will not — I cannot — take for granted.

A little footnote: if you’ve read Kitchen Medicine and enjoyed it, could you leave me a review? The more reviews a book has, the more likely it is that the algorithms that online bookstores use will display that book to potential readers. Your review does not have to be long or clever. “I really appreciated this book” is enough. You can leave a review on, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads, all of them or one of them, whichever you like. Thank you! 

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One thought on “This Is for the Connections

  1. You are living’ the memoirists’ dream, Debi–validation that your words make a difference.

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