Category Archives: Books

Diabetes Scholars Cookbook…Like Pinterest that you can hold in your hands!

The other day when I went to my mail box I almost screamed with glee.  Inside was a parcel from a lady I know, Mary Podjasek.  Mary happens to run a charity that I love–The Diabetes Scholars Foundation.  A parcel from her meant that my new cookbook had arrived!???????????????????????????????

I know you are thinking, “I don’t need a cookbook. I use Pinterest and get great recipes instantly without a tonne of books laying around my house.” I have to admit that when my friend Jane said that she wanted to do this and she was going to have a real, hold in your hands book, I was kind of thinking the same way.  I love Pinterest.  It makes my life so much easier. I have a zillion recipes pinned to try one day. I also have a cupboard full of recipes and recipe books that I always go back to.  Perhaps Jane was on to something and she was!

I bought my cookbook because it was a great price (only $20 and that included shipping to Canada!) and because it supported a cause that I love–Children with Diabetes’ scholarship funds. ???????????????????????????????

In 2015, there are many supports out there for families of children living with diabetes.  Every house has internet access.  Every child now receives a Bag of Hope either in the hospital or soon after going home.  In 2000, that was not the case.  When my son was diagnosed, I was given the phone number of a lady who would later become a good friend.  We were both fumbling, trying to deal with toddlers with diabetes.  There were few other supports.

Within a year after diagnosis, my mom convinced me to get this thing called the internet for my home computer.  My computer would dial a local number and I would be connected with the world–my phone line would be tied up during that time, but I could connect with my family all over the world.

What I didn’t realize was that the sound of clicks, rings, and whirls would also connect me to a new family–a family of people who were also living with diabetes.  I would be connected with people who had children the same age as mine with diabetes, older children with diabetes, and people who had diabetes themselves.  I would be accepted and welcomed into a family that would always be there for me through diabetes issues and even much more private ones.  They would be there with cyber hugs and real hugs when we would meet.  They would be available at all hours to talk and share.

???????????????????????????????Today, times are a little different.  The internet has evolved.  We now connect on Facebook, through emails or even the occasional text. The bond and the appreciation has not changed at all however.  I look forward to conferences when I get to see many of them.  I continue to plan to one day get back to Florida in July of some year to be able to sit around the hotel and chat with many more of this family that I don’t see often enough.

???????????????????????????????In the meantime however, I can now peruse through this cookbook and see many familiar names. I can sample recipes that I have drooled over in online photos.  With each page, I see love and compassion.  The layout of the cookbook takes me back to many of my favorite old cookbooks and I know without a doubt that this will become one of my new favorites!

If you haven’t ordered your cookbook, I would encourage you to head over to the Diabetes Scholars website and get one before they are sold out. There was only a limited number printed.  The goal is to be able to send three families to the Friends for Life conference in Florida and it only costs you $20!

That is one of my recipes in the bottom left 🙂

Thank you so much to Jane, Kara, Stacey, Mary and all of the others who contributed and put this book together. Thank you for bring a little piece of my diabetes family into my kitchen!

 

Too Sweet…Book Review

The ask to read the book “Too Sweet” came from someone that I had never heard of before. It was self-published with a title that made me nervous. Too Sweet? Was this going to be a book to toss in the “maybe one day if I am so bored that its read book or the encyclopedia” pile? I really wasn’t sure until I opened the first few pages.

I was instantly greeted with light and humorous prose. After a wonderful welcome to a disorder that “is part of your life forever”, I was reminded that a laughter and a positive attitude are key to making life with diabetes more manageable. I was instantly sucked in and eagerly looked forward to seeing what the rest of the book had in store for me.

As a parent of a child with diabetes, I cannot read a book about diabetes and “know” what the person with diabetes really feels.  I can know the pain and broad range of emotions that a parent goes through but its not my disease and I am always interested in tips for parents or what other parents have experienced.  Too Sweet is written by Laura Kronen who tells us that she was not diagnosed with type 1 diabetes until she was in university.  She states her parents had a much more difficult time accepting the diagnosis than she did. They felt guilty and she felt it was okay to play on this guilt now and then. I literally laughed out loud when I read that Laura felt that her diabetes was her parents’ fault because they supplied her with faulty DNA! She felt that making them feel guilty now and then keeps things “balanced and gives her added attention when she feels particularly needy”.

This blunt, funny dialog  continues throughout the book. Whether she is discussing how finger pricks have destroyed her finger prints and makes her perfect criminal if her book sales fail or the aggravation that comes with the dreaded wasted test strip, you read and learn with a smile on your face.

Laura gives those of us who don’t live with diabetes a good idea of how lows feel by giving them great names like the surprise low, the cranky low, the full but still have to eat low and many more. She also offers some very real advise on everything from pumps (which are not for everyone and she will tell you why) to the glycemic index to alcohol consumption.  She also offers us a glib reminder of how insanely costly dealing with type 1 diabetes can be in a section called  “I need more supplies. Do I have enough money in my checking account to cover them today?”

Too Sweet also provides some great advice on how to handle the emotional side of diabetes. From getting rid of negative friends to learning from your mistakes, Laura makes you laugh as well as makes you think.

I opened this book not expecting much so it didn’t take a lot to exceed my expectations but it did and then some.  As I read each page, I was drawn in deeper and deeper. I appreciated the author’s attitude and ability to make me laugh.  If you want to learn a bit more about living with diabetes and you want a relatively light way to do it, then I would definitely suggest picking up Too Sweet and giving it a read today. too sweet

Dealing With Diabetes Burnout….A book review

Ginger Vieira recently released her third book called Dealing with Diabetes Burnout,  How to Recharge and Get Back on Track When You Feel Frustrated and Overwhelmed by Diabetes. I was once again lucky enough to be given a copy of the book to read. As I prepared to write my overview of the book, I  took a glance at how many pages of interest I had marked off. A lot! That means that this was a wonderful book with many excellent points for me to share!

I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I began reading this book.  What would I learn? Would much of it apply to me? Who would this book fit? Well, I learned quite a bit. I gained a new perspective and I can think of quite a few people who this book would help.  Most importantly however, it is a great hands on resource for people who live with diabetes–Type 1 or Type 2.

This book doesn’t just give you a bunch of information and feel good stories.  It is filled with exercises and activities that Ginger challenges you to do to help you deal with your own diabetes burnout.  She doesn’t chastise you for the fact that “I haven’t checked my blood sugar in three weeks (ehh…months)” –a fabulous title of one of the chapters of the book.  Instead she reminds you that you are being asked to manage something that your body is supposed to do on its own based on a variety of other physiological and hormonal processes. (page 21).  She tells  you to look at all of the great things that you are doing and praise yourself for the one thing you are getting right. “developing the ability to step back and see what wasn’t working–rather than blaming yourself–is the trick to creating a new plan that will lead you to your goal.” (Page 33)

This theme is further emphasized by all of the great chapter titles like “I want to be perfect by tomorrow (or I’m giving up!) where Ginger notes that some times are not ideal for change. She suggests that you create your own personalized “pick up plan” to help you refocus in times of stress.

Ginger offers tips on how to handle support from well-meaning people who really don’t get it as well as how to best make use of people who do get it and do want to help.  She shows you how to use technology to make your life a bit easier as well as great real life tips for those of us who would just like to live a healthier lifestyle but find ourselves giving up too soon.

Being a parent of a child with diabetes, as I began to read this book I felt horrible.  I was a failure.  I was the parent who struggled to understand how you could “forget” to do something that you have done all of your life.  Did I push too hard?  Should I have been calmer when his doctor praised him for testing more than once per day and I was looking to see 8-12 readings per day? I was sure that I had totally ruined my son’s childhood.

Thankfully I got some reprieve from my incredible guilt when I moved into the chapter called “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”.  Here Ginger talks about raising a child with diabetes and how truly difficult it is to do. She highlights many of the fears that we have.  The torture we go through when our child is low and disoriented or the failure we feel when they are high and we are positive that we alone are responsible for the kidney damage they may one day have. She offers more wisdom and options to dealing with our children and how to get through to our teens. I was left knowing that I hadn’t scared my child completely…well at least not in that realm.

Nearing the end of the book, I came across one of the very best quotes I have ever read on the issue of diabetes care and one that should be framed and read by everyone dealing with this disease (especially us guilt laden parents)….

“Doing the best any of us can do in life with diabetes does not have to mean perfect blood sugars all the time. Sometimes our best is awesome and sometimes it’s not quite so awesome but it’s still our best in that moment.  And that’s okay.  It has to be, because “perfection” is a crazy expectation.” 

Dealing with Diabetes Burnout is a fabulous resource. If I had one criticism of the book it would be having too many personal stories illustrating various points in the book. Reading through page after page of examples of other people’s burnout was taxing on my incredibly shrinking attention span. That said however, I have no clue as to how I would have cut back on some of the submissions that were used.  They were often very powerful stories that needed to be shared.

Who should read this book? Anyone living with diabetes because as Ginger Vieira notes, at one point you will go through some form of burnout.  To a lesser degree, parents of children of diabetes (no matter what age your “child” may be).  This book will give you insight into the emotions that your child may be dealing with and will also give you a few tips to help you in your own life as well.

diabetes burnout book

Balancing Diabetes…A Book Review

A number of months ago, I was honored when the folks at Spry Publishing contacted me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing an advanced copy of Kerri Sparling’s new book, Balancing Diabetes. I have enjoyed Kerri’s blog but I honestly wondered about a book that suggested that you could find some balance in a life with diabetes.  What pat formula would she suggest?

Any fears or concerns that I had were quickly pushed aside as I began to devour this book. As with any book that I read and am going to review, I bookmark passages and pages with little notes of why this sentence or paragraph moved me.  In looking back at Kerri’s book, I literally have over 50 different sections marked off for mention! This has to be a great book…and it is.

As  a mother of a child with diabetes, I was also worried that I would be reading this book from the outside. Kerri is a person with diabetes and this book would be all about her right? Wrong. By page 9 Kerri’s mother shares her feelings and I could hear myself in her words “…I didn’t know what we were getting into. I just thought, Okay let’s go deal with this, whatever this is.”  Kerri’s mom goes on to say that she handled what she was given but did not want any more.  She would learn in stages because the get everything at once would be overwhelming. I felt the same way when my son was diagnosed.  I was on overload and autopilot for months. Slowly I would add knowledge and information when I could handle it…this was how we, as parents, found balance with diabetes.

This book brought out many emotions.  Reading about the burden of being shown and repeatedly told about your own mortality at such a young age made me wonder how my son feels? Is he still an immortal teen or does he have Kerri’s “heightened awareness of how vulnerable” her health was? Either way, does he also know, that I share Kerri’s mother’s feelings when Kerri told her that she didn’t care if she was high and her mother responded “For now, I’ll care enough for both of us.”  Yes, I cried reading this.

But like the title, this book has balance.  While there are many very serious conversations, humor creates a fabulous balance and brings a different kind of tears…the ones you get from laughing! Kerri’s wonderful sense of humor shines through in this book.  The topic of sex is never an easy one but Kerri takes you past the embarrassment and makes you laugh with her candor.  She shares the story of her first serious low  with her husband. It took place after they had made love and her husband lays claim  to responsibility for it happening!

Besides the amazing humor and the walk through Kerri’s life, she brings in the experiences of many other people who live with diabetes to provide some fabulous tips for living a full life with diabetes.  They  takes us through diagnosis, the trials of teens, life as a young adult, dating, marriage and even pregnancy.  Kerri talks about the sense of helplessness that diabetes can create at times–for the person with diabetes, their partner, and even for the parents.  Sean Oser provides insight on dealing with blood sugar readings, “There are no good or bad blood sugars; every result is just a number, and it tells us what to do next.” This is a motto that I have tried to instill in my own son for years.

Balancing Diabetes looks at pump starts, travel and advocacy.  Each topic is looked at both from Kerri’s perspective as well as that of  many other people in the diabetes community.

The most poignant section in the book for me, was when I saw a person state that they do NOT believe that you can find a balance when living with diabetes.  What? But the title of the book says that you will.  How could this happen? How could someone state that balance cannot be achieved? Well, that is the beauty of this book! It does not show one size fits all, pat answers. This book shows you real life. It shows real pain and real accomplishments. It emphasizes that diabetes really is a “your diabetes may vary” kind of disease.  How wonderful!

This book is a fabulous balance of perspectives and stories.  It does not tell you one way to “do it right and achieve balance”, it shows you a variety of approaches to a variety of topics and what works for different people.  The best thing is that it also tells you that you never fail. If you have been really bad about taking responsibility for your diabetes care, cut yourself some slack and make a change now.  It’s not too late. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes related complications, don’t beat yourself up. It’s not your fault.  Brush yourself off and move forward. You have got this handled. You are amazing!

Balancing Diabetes is a wonderfully written book filled with a balance of real life events that show that we are not alone–whether we live with diabetes, are parents of a child with diabetes, or just love a person with diabetes. Now hurry up and order your copy because I noticed that Amazon Canada was almost out already!

balancing2

 

Raising Teens with Diabetes…a Book Review

“Raising Teens with Diabetes. A survival guide for parents” by Moira McCarthy arrived at just the right time for me. I had heard that she was writing a book and it had been published. Thanks to the interwoven world of Facebook, I had seen her posts in groups that I belonged to as well as comments from mutual friends. I was therefore really excited when the folks at Spry Publishing asked me if I would like to read an advance copy of the book.  My son with diabetes is just a few months shy of 16.  We are knee-deep into the teen years and tips for handling drinking, driving, and letting go are definitely all things that I welcome with open arms!

Each chapter of this book opens with Moira’s own personal stories.  In chapter one she gets us started by introducing us to the world of “Hurricane Hormone” and advises us of the horror ride that both parents and teens are about to embark on.

Moira’s daughter was young when she was diagnosed with diabetes, so much of the book looks at burnout of both parent and teen after years of dealing with this disease.  As a parent of a child diagnosed at two, this was definitely a welcomed perspective.  She does not exclude those diagnosed at a later age though or even those who were diagnosed in their teen years or later. Chapter three is dedicated to those children struggling with their adolescence as well as a new diagnosis.  Short asides, from people like Moira’s own daughter as well as well-known bloggers and the JDRF’s own Aaron Kowalski give a wide perspective on this topic.

“Raising Teens with Diabetes” looks at family dynamics, the role of siblings, and the role of friendships–old and new with some great tips and pitfalls that many parents fall into. Moira warns of making your child’s friends the “diabetes police” and suggests ways to use friendships to help your child without going overboard.  She further touches on the more quiet or shy teen and how to ensure that they tell their friends at least the basics in diabetes management and care.

As the book nears the halfway point, you are now beginning to learn how to set the stage for adulthood.  Moira looks at school and letting go–allowing your child to be more responsible for their care in a safe setting, setting limits and having consequences that fit the action.  She talks about the rules for driving and how vital it is to stick to them.  Since my son will be legally able to begin this process in a matter of months, I read keenly wondering if we can both stick to these guidelines and knowing how important they truly are.

This book even talks about sex! I instantly was hooked when Moira’s first suggestion when handling dating and then sex was “…go on every single date with them, forever and ever…and this will not be a worry.”  I loved it! My sons would definitely not agree however.

By Chapter 10, we are faced with another teen challenge–Drinking! It terrifies me.  My son is very private. He does not talk about diabetes.  He does not hide his testing or bolusing but he does not advertise it or talk about it either.  A few of his closest friends know about it.  His best friend has a good idea of what to do but who will help him when he and his friends decide to drink?

This book offers a great chance to talk to your teen about these subjects as you read.  I would often bring up topics as they were covered.  “Did you know…” or “Wow! This book says…” were great conversation starters. We were even able to talk about erectile dysfunction! In the early chapters, Moira’s warns that teen males exposed to tv commercials may quietly be concerned about this complication. My son shook his head and swore this was not something that he had remotely considered or knew about.  One problem overcome already!

Drug use was something that I had somehow not considered until it was brought up in the book. It is something that I have thought of and talked to my oldest son about but drugs and diabetes? It was not a topic I had ever considered…how naive was that! I was therefore really grateful to have the topic mentioned.  In modern society, it is definitely something that needs to be discussed and prepared for as much as all of the other topics.

I also had my eyes opened to a new view with the section on rebellion. Moira writes about the first time her daughter lied to her about a bg level and how things spiralled out of control until she ended up in ICU.  Her daughter said she got a test of “the drug she’s struggled with for years.  That drug is called freedom.  That day,(when she lied about a reading) she realized that I trusted her so much, she could pretty much do or not do whatever she wanted.  The idea of not checking was so delicious, she still says today she thinks she must know what drug addicts feel like when they try to detox.  She skipped testing more and more…And she told me after she landed in the ICU and almost died, as sick as it made her feel physically, the emotional high of DENYING diabetes any power in her life…made that horrid feeling all worth the while.”  Even rereading this passage still makes me want to cry.  I “get it”. It hurts me but I “get it”.  I understand a bit more why my son “forgets” when he goes away from me. It’s not just about feeling so great that you forget you need to bolus/test, it’s about denying diabetes.  I wish that they could.

I appreciated Moira’s honesty when she noted that she had once thought that her daughter would never rebel.  That that sort of thing was something that happened to “other families”.  I have always known that this could happen to us.  I have also looked on to some of my friends and wondered, “how did they get such perfect kids? They never seemed to have any issues.”  I have also watched some parents struggle to do everything that they could with non-compliant teens and somehow manage to come out into adulthood with amazing young people.  I know that “this too shall pass” and “Raising Teens with Diabetes”  gives some wonderful tips on how to handle the rough ride until it does.

If you have a teen with diabetes this book is for you.  If you have a child who will grow up to be a teen with diabetes, keep this book around for later years. It will come in handy! Thank you Moira for giving new things to think about and a wonderful tool to refer back to.

teens with diabetes

Life is Short Laundry is Eternal: Book Review

laundry book
Note all of my bookmarks…a sign of a good read!

This book is NOTHING like what I expected. What did I expect? I don’t know but I should have been warned of a few things before starting.

First I should have been warned NOT to read this book in public.  There are too many times that Scott’s writing evokes either tears or laughter or both.  This can be embarrassing and hard to explain when reading in public places. Second, I should have been warned that this dichotomy of emotions would start within the first 20 pages and continue for the entire book!

Because this book came in a package with a diabetes how-to book, I very much expected a book about diabetes.  I was wrong.  Diabetes is huge because his daughter has diabetes but diabetes is secondary to the book’s wisdom and insight.  I quickly went from…what sort of diabetes peeps should read this? To…my cousin and her husband should read this because they live this same life and I bet they can relate! To…my sons should read this. To…everyone should read this.

No this isn’t a life altering book with new and shocking revelations. Its a simple book about love presented in an honest and touching way.  Scott writes about his mother’s support, his love for his siblings, the relationship with his wife, and of course the developing relationship with his children from a unique perspective–that of a stay at home dad. In this day and age, stay at home moms can be the brunt of ridicule   What do they really do anyway besides watch afternoon television?  The stereotype for a stay at home dad is a thousand times worse. Scott breaks through all of those barriers and shows how important the roles of parents are–whether they are the ones working in the home or the ones considered the wage earners.  He shows the incredible value of both partners and how vital it is that they work to compliment each other.

As I have written before, I can judge how good a book is by how many pieces of paper are torn and left as bookmarks to refer back to or how many pages are now marked with highlighter.  This book sees a lot of both.

Scott’s reaction to an examination of his wife during their first prenatal visit upon finding out they were expecting their first child is both honest and hilarious…”I remember looking at Kelly and thinking, Fuck, getting her pregnant is ruining all of the fun that boobs bring to my life!” and he manages to keep this tone up for the entire book. We empathize when he drops his son or loses him in a store. We take to heart the amazing advice he provides on page 81 to “keep moving forward, ask for help when you need it, never give up, and scream at the top of your lungs once in a while, things should turn out fine almost every time. Maybe not as you pictured…but pretty damn good.”

My biggest mistake when reading this book was when I took it to my doctor’s office to read before my appointment. I was at the point when Scott and Kelly’s daughter Arden was diagnosed with diabetes. I always have a hard time with diagnosis stories.  The fact that this little girl was diagnosed at 2 years old, the same age as my own son was, should have told me to keep the book in my purse and NOT read it in public but I didn’t heed the warning signs. Instead, I fought back the tears and pretended that I was there because of a cold.  So much of what he wrote could have been written by me.

“She was only two. Do little kids get sick like this when they’re two?” was so similar to the feelings that I had when my son was diagnosed. It couldn’t be that serious–could it? He was so small. Scott talks about feelings of “dread, anger, shame, and more pressure to be perfect than I had ever experienced” and I knew exactly where he was coming from.

Reading, “I wish that I could tell you that it only took a few days, weeks, or months to shake the feeling that type 1 diabetes brought to me, but in all honesty, it was much longer.  I didn’t begin to feel normal again for two years, and the interim was overflowing with new, frightening and potentially defeating daily situations.” Fit perfectly with the advice I had recently given people at a webinar.

Is this the book to read if you want to learn how to cope with life with diabetes? Perhaps it isn’t.  Diabetes is not the focus of this book, living life is! Scott’s open and frank discussion about life, love and making the most of every memory is advice of value to all of us.  This book should be read by everyone who loves to laugh and values their family. His unique perspective and wonderful humor made this book a pure pleasure to read and a book that must be shared with everyone in your life–young or older.

Until There is a Cure–A Book Review

A few months ago I was asked to read and give my opinion on Gary Scheiner’s latest book.  I have listened to Gary speak at Children with Diabetes Conferences. I have spoken to him on  number of occasions.  I have heard the praises of his book “Think Like A Pancreas” and continue to swear that I will read it soon, so I was really excited to get the chance to read Until There is a Cure. I had no idea of what I should expect of the book. I wasn’t sure who the target audience was and wondered who would benefit the most from its wisdom? I began the book eager to see what I would learn. I love to read. I love to learn.  I love to find new ways to make my son’s life easier and more complete.  Its not surprising then that by the end of chapter one I had many passages highlighted and marked to come back to later.

cure bookIn the first chapter Gary aptly points out that it is unrealistic to expect your doctor or nurse to be the expert in your diabetes care. It is your job to do so.  It is your job to learn and become educated. Until There is a Cure allows you to do just that. Gary wisely warns that you must strike a balance in your diabetes care and tells the reader…”If you put more time and energy into taking care of your diabetes than you put into your family, work, or social life, something needs to change.”

 

By the second chapter, we get a lesson in Diabetes 101.  While most of it was review for those of us who have been playing this game for too many years already, there was still information to learn and understand. Information on dietary supplements, exercise, stress and depression help to make a demanding condition more understandable.

As the book moved on to discuss insulin and delivery, I was very intrigued.  It was great to see the “Trend” boxes with short tips and bits of information. The box which highlighted my own personal belief that “The type of pump should be chosen by the person who will be using it, not his or her physician.” made my day.  This was also a great section for those living with Type 1 as well as Type 2.  In reading it, I realized quickly what type of therapy I would want if myself or a loved one were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

By chapter four we are over halfway through the book and get some great tips on the many glucometers available as well as some information on various Continuous Glucose Monitors.  I was a bit surprised when I read that “meters themselves cost about the same as they did 20 years ago, and test strip costs have actually increased.”  I see that meter pricing has not really changed although personally, we have been given a large number of monitors because of the large number of test strips that we use on a monthly basis.  Again personally, I have seen a slight decrease in test strips.  Perhaps this is a geographical difference and the drop is not overly significant but test strips which consistently cost at least $1 per strip, now cost me around 80 cents. Not a huge savings but I will take what I can!

The second to last chapter of this book deals with a subject that none of us want to look at.  It is a chapter that those of us who have been in this game for a double digit number of years fear.  This is the chapter on complications, but Gary doesn’t dwell on the negative.  This chapter is titled “Advances in Fighting Complications”  and addresses how we can be proactive in our care.  Instead of leaving you with a feeling of inevitable despair  there is hope offered here.

As I finished the book, I was exhausted to think of how complicated dealing with diabetes was.  The reader is taken on a journey through the glycemic index, graphs on glucometers, insulins, vitamins, exercise, Alzheimer disease, depression,  Diabulimia CGM technology, how to fight complications and finally where to find support .  Despite the daunting content, the book was surprisingly light and easy to read. It is a great resource for the newly diagnosed Type 1 or Type 2 person living with diabetes.  It also provides some great information for veterans and those who are diabetes information junkies.