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!
Friday, March 7, 2014
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Saturday, March 1, 2014
This month marks fourteen years living with diabetes. They were not easy years. They still are not easy. Each year has its own challenges--sometimes it seems like each day has its challenges! I have had some amazing supports throughout the years however. I found a family online, some of whom I have met in person and some I still hope to meet one day. They have helped to keep me going--offering support, words of encouragement and the occasional kick in the bum to send me in the right direction.
I thought it would be a great time for me to share with you a few of the tips and tricks that have kept me marginally sane and allowed me to get up each day.
1. It's okay to cry. We all have our moments. We can't carry the full burden of worry and care. It's okay to breakdown now and then. Do it in the shower where you can scream at the top of your lungs. Allow your child to scream too. When you are both exhausted, hold onto each other and look at how best to move forward together.
2. Find people of a similar nature. Meet people online or in your community who get it. Seek them out, ask them how they handle things and simply enjoy being around other people who get it. Allow your children to spend time with these people as well so that they understand that they are no alone.
3. Take a day off. As a parent, take time for you. Leave your children with you someone you trust and focus on you for a few hours or an entire weekend. It will be hard at first. Diabetes will be in every other thought. Push it further away until you can slowly feel the weight on your shoulders lift just a little. Feel the tightness in your chest relax just a bit and breathe. Give your child with diabetes a day off as well. Test for them, bolus or inject for them, and count their carbs. Let them just be for a day. They get burdened as well. Let them have that small break without nagging or worry.
4. It is okay to punish your child for not doing diabetes related chores. This one was huge for me. As a parent, we carry some guilt when our children are diagnosed. We are to protect our children and somehow we failed and they ended up with diabetes. No this isn't logical but being a parent isn't always about logic. This is just how we feel. This feeling makes it very difficult to lump testing their blood glucose levels into the same realm as making their beds. It isn't but it is in the same realm as having a bath and brushing their teeth!
Diabetes sucks. We all agree but this is the hand that we are dealt. Testing bg levels and somehow injecting insulin into their bodies is not negotiable...to a point. As parents we may have to come down in our expectations of how often our child will test and we have to remember that occasionally they will be feeling so "normal" that they may forget to bolus. It is important that we find a balance between our ideals and what is safe. We then have to remember that we can say "Since you did not test at least once when you were out with your friends last night then you will not be allowed to go out with them tonight."
5. It really isn't our disease. If we are not the ones living with diabetes, it is not our disease. Even if you do live with diabetes and your child has diabetes, it is still their disease. That is an incredibly hard concept to deal with! We want to take this burden from them. We want them to do it our way because we have been learning for years and we know best...but none of that will happen. We will hope that most of what we have told them will sink in. We pray that we will be that little voice in the back of their head when they are about to do something stupid. We standby ready to pick them up and help them when they stumble along the way, but we somehow have to let them find their way.
For me, the last point is the hardest. I do not want my children to have to learn the hard way. I don't want them to stumble. I want to protect them at all costs...but I can't. I have to let them fly. I have to be confident in all that I taught them. I prepared them to be on their own. They are smart. They are good children. They are a reflection of us.