April 8, 2015

Ten Things You Need to Know About Living with Diabetes

book cover                                     


One of the most overlooked aspects of chronic disease is inherent in the description: chronic.  Those of us affected by a chronic disease are faced with the challenge of living a life where disease affects many aspects of life outside the doctor’s office.  Dr. Karin Hehenberger exquisitely addresses many of the aspects of life affected by diabetes in her book “Ten Things You Need to Know About Living With Diabetes.”

From the opening chapter on the initial diagnosis of diabetes, Dr. Hehenberger taps into the memories that most diabetes patients have experienced.  Prior to diagnosis, many of us felt on top of the world, then with diagnosis immediately becoming extremely vulnerable.  As a national class tennis player, Dr. Hehenberger’s athletic career and lifestyle was immediately called into question following her diagnosis.  As an athlete myself, I felt instantly transported back 10 years to wondering too if I would ever be allowed to play again.  Many times throughout the book, diabetics (and those closely affected) will likely find themselves realizing how eerily similar their experiences are, and that these experiences have been happening to people in similar positions around the world.

Throughout the book, Dr. Hehenberger often refers to the notion of the “young and invincible.”  As a man in his 20’s, I found these points hit closest to home.  It’s hard for any diabetic; child, teenager, or young adult, to actively be aware of his or her own mortality.  The truth of the situation however, is the choices we make now, set us up for either success or failure in life moving forward, and the most important aspect of our lives, is our health.  This collection of tips sets the reader up for more than just his or her immediate situation but also gives foresight into decades into the future.  I feel significantly better prepared to make the right choices of which will prepare me for a healthier and more fulfilling life ahead.

At about 60 pages in length, Dr. Hehenberger manages to provide an educational summary on the biomedical systems of diabetes while also performing the rare feat of addressing the social relationships that are so significantly affected by a chronic condition.  While this piece could have easily been composed absent of any personality, Dr. Hehenberger bravely invites the reader into her own relationship with diabetes by providing intimate anecdotes most diabetics will find to be strongly relatable.

In my own quotation for which I am grateful to have had included in this book, I mention the quite literal highs and lows associated with diabetes.  I believe wholeheartedly in the notion that those of us who have suffered through the challenges of this disease have a responsibility to ease the circumstances for others. There are plenty of mistakes and missteps to be made when I attempt to manually control processes the body was intended to control on it’s own. But in the process of failing, we actually develop information useful for other diabetics to help better understand themselves.  Dr. Hehenberger mentions the terrifying statistic that by 2030, 550 Million people are estimated to have diabetes, and 183 Million are estimated to be completely unaware of their prognosis.  The burden of these health outcomes will leave up to 250 billion dollars in costs.  This is why what we write, discuss, and meet about is important.  Following the advice and information in this book, the reader gains a comprehensive understanding of both the obvious and nuanced aspects of living with a chronic disease. Ignorance to how diabetes may affect exercise, living conditions, or travel, is to be expected in a world of limited information. This book succeeds in vanquishing said ignorance, tied neatly in a reading session that should take no longer than an hour.

Overall, from the account of someone very much affected by the disease, “Ten Things You Need to Know About Living With Diabetes” provides a very genuine and relevant experience for readers.  I would strongly recommend this work for anyone closely affected by diabetes, whether they consider themselves and expert or novice on the subject.

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