It's not every day that you pick up a diabetes book with an ice cream cone on the cover — or two, actually! (OK, one is squashed) But the new book by fellow Type 1 D-writer and advocate Riva Greenberg is something different in many ways.
There are numerous books that aim to dispel myths about diabetes, of course. But Riva's "50 Diabetes Myths That Can Ruin Your Life and the 50 Diabetes Truths That Can Save It" stands out, to my mind, as a frank, thorough, and actionable deconstruction of the fifty most prevalent misbeliefs about diabetes — beginning with "eating sweets causes diabetes" and running all the way through to "if I wear an insulin pump, my diabetes is really bad."
You groan. But we all know these are things that far too many people actually believe. Each Myth in this book is first combated with a brief Truth — "Actually, people who wear a pump do not have 'worse' diabetes, and very often they have better controlled blood sugars" — and then delved into with detailed explanations and hands-on tips.
Lest you think the book is useful only for "outsiders" who don't know diabetes, I want to point out that the 48 other myths between the two mentioned contain loads of meaningful info for anyone dealing with any type of diabetes. For example:
Myth # 15) "Diabetes medications make you gain weight." Not necessarily. Actually, some do, some don't, and a newer class of meds even helps you lose weight. She runs through the gammut of oral drugs, insulin, Byetta and Symlin.
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Myth #44) "Teens take better care of themselves when they understand the importance of doing so." Wrong. Understanding doesn't make them more responsible; making them accountable for their behavior does. Riva suggests ways to partner with your teen, be non-judgmental, and still make diabetes care their own business, not yours.
Myth #47) "Once I begin using a bottle of insulin, it has to be refrigerated." Wrong again. Actually an open bottle of insulin can be kept at room temperature for up to (at least?) 28 days.
or finally (a favorite)
Myth #45) "There's nothing good about having diabetes." Not so, Riva says. "I have interviewed more than 120 people with diabetes, and many have told me that diabetes has actually made them healthier." They work harder at their health, and eat quite "mindfully."
This book is not a sticky-sweet (excuse the expression) feel-good credo, either, suggesting that all you need is a positive attitude to make life with diabetes fine and dandy. Riva is certainly upbeat, but she's far too grounded for that. I would suggest that if you get this book, READ THE FORWARD. It explains her epiphany when she first heard the words that "diabetes is not the leading cause of blindness, kidney disease, or losing a limb; poorly controlled diabetes is." The light went on that complications are not necessarily Riva's future, and that trying to be perfect is actually counter-productive.
I guess what I'm saying is that what makes this book special is the passion behind it, born from personal desperation and fear. Riva sought to break through the misinformation that she felt had held her captive all her life. Lucky for us, we too get to benefit from Riva's diabetes learning journey.
[Da Capo Press, July 2009, $10.17 on Amazon.com}