If you’re the type of person who likes ‘hacks’ or simple-to-follow advice, then Bright Spots And Landmines will be a book you’ll enjoy and find useful. However if you’re after a deep dive into the science behind type 1 diabetes then you’ll be better off elsewhere.
Diabetes For Dummies is that deep dive.
About The Authors
Alan Rubin is an American doctor specialising in diabetes. Sarah Jarvis is a British GP, who has worked as a medical reporter for The One Show. Anybody familiar with the For Dummies series of books will recognise the writing style used – a reference book written in a non-intimidating manner. A few cartoons to make you cringe and occasional so-bad-its-good jokes are thrown in for good measure.
The authors stress the need to look after yourself, and they don’t shy away from spelling out just how bad your life can get if you don’t. However, they do manage to get the balance just right. They are quite clear in their conviction that if you look after yourself, then the complications diabetes can inflict upon you do not have to be a given. Diabetes For Dummies also points out that you can enjoy yourself from time to time, I can’t imagine the authors haranguing strangers on Twitter if they eat a slice of bread for example.
The book is split into 5 main parts:
- Dealing With The Onset of Diabetes
- How Diabetes Affects Your Body
- Managing Diabetes
- Special Considerations
- The Part Of Tens (3 ‘Top 10’ list chapters)
There is a lot of information in this book. A light read it is not. However, it is easier to navigate than solely Googling your way around the subject. After all, sometimes you just don’t know what you need to know. Diabetes For Dummies provides a comprehensive overview of diabetes. It does this without painting an unjustly positive or negative picture of the condition.
Diabetes can mess you up. Do not read part 2 of this book – ‘How Diabetes Affects Your Body’ – unless you are in a good place mentally. It is important to know just how many things can go wrong if you do not take care of diabetes. Diabetes complications sound like a personal hell that I certainly will do my upmost to avoid. But if you are feeling depressed, struggling to cope or in a state of mind where you think ‘whats the point?’ then its all a bit too much to read for now.
Its natural for a diagnosis to hit hard. The book gives the stages that you may go through when diagnosed, and the first two are very familiar to me. Denial – ‘I must have type 2, I haven’t lived that well and I’m too old to have type 1’. Anger – ‘Why me? 6 days before my son arrived? I haven’t got time to deal with this crap.’ After all, post-diagnosis is a stage of mourning. Mourning for the loss of your previous easy non-diabetic life. And that’s okay. Its okay to mourn for a while.
Its good to talk. We suffer from depression at 2 to 4 times the rate of the rest of the population, and anxiety at a rate 3 to 5 times higher. If you feel angry, down, lost or indifferent at any point then please talk to your loved ones. Even a medical professional if it feels serious. Worrying about your blood sugar being in a healthy range 24/7, while trying to live up to your responsibilities in every other aspect of your life is hard. It takes its toll and you need help sometimes.
Exercising with insulin on board can be a good thing. I’d still recommend trying to exercise without insulin on board when starting out. But, this book makes a good case for exercising after meals – avoiding post-meal highs. When I have a blood sugar above an 8 it tends to be in the evening. Going for a run nearly always lowers my blood sugars, leaving me with a healthy bed-time blood sugar level. It seems obvious now I write it, but I hadn’t considered it before reading Diabetes For Dummies .
Its important to look after your feet. Since diagnosis I’ve had a vague idea that I need to be careful with my feet, but haven’t done much about it. The book goes into detail as to why we need to, and provides some good advice on what exactly to do. I’ll definitely make it a goal to start looking after them.
Help your family and friends to help you. Give them the information needed to be able to help. There is a chapter in the book called ‘Diabetes Is Your Show’. The morale of the chapter is that you are the ‘star’ of the ‘show’, and diabetes is your responsibility. It has several metaphors for your ‘cast’. On your family and friends, Diabetes For Dummies says,
They’re your audience, your prompt and, in case of emergency, your understudy. Never forget that they can’t perform their roles unless they, too, know their lines.
There is a lot to learn about diabetes. You may be the kind of person who is more than happy to Google everything. I like having a book though. Its laid out in chapters and sections. 2 doctor authors tell me everything they think I should know. The size of the book is quite re-assuring. Yes, I don’t know everything about my condition. But there’s an awful lot to learn.
If you’re after a reference book on diabetes, written in an accessible manner then you can’t really go wrong with Diabetes For Dummies. Its a handy guide to have to keep dipping back into. Its large, but not so large that it ever feels too intimidating to pick up and read.
The book can be purchased on Amazon via this non-affiliate link.