I heard the word "Hemochromatosis" (in South Africa it would be “Haemochromatosis”) for the first time on May 1st, 1975, at the old Johannesburg General Hospital, and knew, at last, what had ailed my husband for nearly eight years. It was a momentous occasion, but unfortunately neither he nor I could remember that word once we got home. It was not in any dictionary, medical or otherwise (I know that because our family doctor presently also found that to be the case) and we were soon to discover that Tom had been especially blessed by being referred to someone who just happened to be an authority on the disorder, and was, furthermore, one of the world's few such experts. Little did I realize then that I would never again be allowed an opportunity to forget that word. Hemochromatosis would take over my life, and even now, as my friend Elaine Murray has written, although I say that I have "let go of Hemochromatosis," it will not let go of me. After so many years, the phone still rings, and desperate people still call or write. The tail still wags the dog.
Iron in Our Food
If I were to be awarded ten bucks for every conference I have attended on the subject of “Iron in Food,” or even given five for each of the protests I have lodged over the years, against “misleading labelling of iron-containing food products,” I could probably buy myself a new car. No matter how eloquently I would try to make the point that there were salt-free products for those who were obliged to limit their intake, and what a blessing sugar-free commodities were to diabetics, I would either be dismissed as a crackpot or shouted down by manufacturers’ reps and others who had a vested interest. Was I not aware of the fact that people were starving in Africa? That iron was added to avoid anaemia around the world? My arguments that I was not talking about Africa and that, in any case, one size did not fit all, fell on deaf ears. It did little good to explain that there were many people, already so overloaded with iron that they could suffer cruelly and even die because of it, who also had to be taken into consideration.
Those were the days before the Internet, long before the existence of Google and other Search engines, and the myriads of references now readily available.