I have previously talked about the book ‘Bright Spots & Landmines’. (See the posts ‘A Fever Strikes‘ and ‘Woah, We’re Half Way There‘ ). In this post I review the book, and discuss some key ideas that have helped me immeasurably since being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes nearly 8 months ago (April 2018).
About The Author
Adam Brown is the Senior Editor at diaTribe. diaTribe is an online publication that provides information for people with diabetes. A look at the website shows that he writes a lot of material for it. He is not a medical professional. However he has lived with type 1 diabetes for 16 years. Also he has obviously done a lot of research/self-testing around diabetes given his role at diaTribe.
Bright Spots and Landmines is broken down into 4 sections;
The book follows a relatively simple format. Each section contains:
- Bright Spots – Things that Adam has found help him manage his diabetes.
- Landmines – Things that Adam has found cause him to lose good control of his diabetes.
Of course this isn’t such a surprise from a book called Bright Spots and Landmines! Its a refreshing format though, its easily digestible and it makes the book easy to dip into after a first read.
Essentially we are looking at a How To book. Adam’s personal story is woven into the narrative, which hammers home the point that this is a fellow type 1 discussing what works for him, not a doctor telling you what you should and shouldn’t do. 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.
Key Lessons From Bright Spots And Landmines
Thanks to reading this book I have:
Questioned whether I should eat ‘treats’ to deal with hypoglycemia. Adam is against this, stating that he does not want to ‘reward’ himself for reaching a state he does not want to be in (hypo). I pondered it, and have decided that I am happy to use sweets that I enjoy anyway. While I can see his point, I am glad I have thought about this in detail. It has made me determined not to over-treat a hypo after all.
Considered the short term benefits of in-range blood sugars. Its so easy to get caught up in the long term dangers of not managing your type 1 diabetes that you can forget the day to day benefits of staying in range. Feeling happier, stronger and having one less thing to worry about are all great things. Of course not going blind or losing my feet is a motivator, but its not always easy to buy fully into something to avoid a possible issue decades from now.
Removed emotion (mostly) from taking blood sugar readings. I’m sure we’ve all seen readings of below 4 and above 8 and taken it as a sign that we are ‘failing’ at diabetes management. I was constantly getting angry at myself for an out of range reading. The sooner you can tell yourself that all it a blood sugar reading is solely a note to do nothing (if in range) or do something (if not) the better.
Practised Gratitude. I don’t know about anyone else… but I was not feeling grateful when I got diagnosed with a life-long condition. After diagnosis I was very down for several months. Making a conscious effort to remind myself of all the great things in my life has really helped, and made me ‘me’ again.
Stored hypo treatments everywhere. As Adam points out, setting up your environment to help you succeed is much more likely to work than relying on your memory. Thanks to Bright spots and Landmines I now have dextro tablets, and fruit pastels in my coat and jacket pockets, the rucksack I take to work and all over the house. Its now a rare day I find myself without hypo treatments.
Walked an awful lot. Walking after meals is a great way to look after those blood sugars. Also, it gives me a bit of me time, or the chance to take my son out in his stroller (which he loves). A win all round.
Used alarms on my phone for all sorts of tasks. Before reading the book I had no idea that you could put a note on an alarm. Now I have an alarm for all sorts of diabetes/non-diabetes related regular. This includes one for taking the bins out each week, one to remind myself about my basal insulin injection each night and one to remind myself of what I’m grateful for (honestly the improvement in my mental health since doing this has been unbelievable).
Now this is just a list of the main things that have helped me. There is a lot more in this book, and I’m sure there will be at least one tip that will help anyone with type 1 diabetes (after consulting medical advice before make any lifestyle changes of course!)
I think everyone who has type 1 diabetes should download this book. Above all it is available for free (or pay what you like) directly on diaTribe. I made the mistake of buying it from Amazon UK. The main reason this is a mistake is because there is a mmol/l version on diaTribe. This will make for much easier reading than the mg/dl version I have! Also, the proceeds from the book go to diaTribe. Therefore it makes sense not to give Amazon a cut. (Of course being able to use your Kindle/Kindle app may be a deal-breaker for you)
Adam talks about Bright Spots for the upcoming festivities in the article ‘Holiday Bright Spots: Food, Stress, Exercise, and Sleep Tips for Diabetes‘ . The links required to get the book are at the end of the article.
Disclaimer – It is essential that you do not take on board any advice given on this website without first seeking the advice of a medical professional. Any descriptions of different ways in which I manage my type 1 diabetes on this website, including in the comments, are given in good faith, and are shared merely as suggestions which should be ran past a doctor or diabetes specialist nurse.