We're always impressed by people who just won't let diabetes stand in their way.
One of the best examples of that is Nicole Johnson, a fellow type 1 who achieved the dream of becoming Miss America in 1999, and also became a journalist, despite being told at diagnosis that none of that was possible. I was pleased and privileged to see her at the recent JDRF conference in the Detroit area in early May, and to hear her story, which includes amazing feats of diabetes advocacy in recent years. This is actually a key week for Nicole and her Students With Diabetes organization, as it hosts an annual conference in Florida on June 6.
All of that gives Nicole the street cred to offer our D-Community a book specific to young adults who are in the midst of, or and just graduating from college. And honestly, it's another book that I so wish would have been around when I was that age!
The book is called Young Adult Type 1 Diabetes Realities. Just released on May 20, it delves into pretty much every topic you might want to know about as a young PWD in those teenage and 20-something years, including transitioning out of pediatrics adult care; taking more responsibility for your own illness; keeping friends and family in the loop; the ups and downs of college life; alcohol and drugs; intimacy and relationships; jobs; and even getting involved in advocacy.
This isn't Nicole's first foray into being an author. She released an autobiography in 2001 and she's been involved in contributing to a number of other diabetes books through the years. But in her new 124-pager, Nicole has compiled personal stories of a myriad of people who've "been there and done that" -- all accompanied by her personal narration and perspectives on each of the topics. Perhaps most importantly, the book includes a handy list of practical tips and tricks that young adults can apply in real life, such as how to handle the stress of school or tricks they can use in searching for a new adult endo after switching from the pediatric world.
Her main goal: To let readers know they aren't alone in this young-adult-with-D struggle, that others are going through the same type of issues, and there is help at hand.
The book starts out with a pretty cool Q&A in which a handful of D-peeps share their thoughts on life with diabetes and who they look up to, and then it delves into the specific topics mentioned above, chapter by chapter. There are few contributions from doctors too, in which more "official" and nuanced medical information is offered about what young adults are experiencing during these times of life. But that's a small part of the book, as it mainly focuses on the patient-written, real-life aspects of diabetes.
In fact, that is what stood out to me most about this book: the very frank and real conversation on important issues -- like how to find insurance, what to think about when going off to live on your own, and dealing with the daily routines of college. Nicole even throws in some recipes for quick and easy healthy eats for young adults to make!
And the section on illegal substances includes stories from anonymous PWDs who share their own experiences with drugs like marijuana. Of course, there's a disclaimer that these drugs are illegal in most places within the U.S. I very much like the fact that this book is in the business of recognizing the reality, however, that PWDs might face these issues even if they are not legal and not commonly-discussed topics with medical professionals.
As mentioned, I sure do wish this book had been around when I was graduating from high school and going off to college! I'm still often amazed that I managed to survive those college days -- and regret how little attention I paid to my D-management back then. There have been consequences... Luckily, things have changed a great deal in the 15+ years since my own college days began, with insulin pumps and CGMs now being mainstream tools. (CGMs didn't even exist in those days, of course!) I truly believe that if I'd have had access to a book like this back then, maybe I would've been more motivated and willing to embrace my diabetes management much more than I did.
So clearly, IMHO this is the kind of book that we need in this D-Community -- one that's real and practical and not just pre-screened and pre-approved patter by the medical community on selected topics. I'm also a fan of the other teen-focused book by Moira McCarthy that focuses on much of the same age-group issues, but that one is of course written from the D-Mom perspective, and therefore may not be as helpful for the teen or college-bound student who's looking for info they can relate to.
In short, I am so glad Nicole wrote this book! It's a great complement to the work that her Students With Diabetes organization does, along with the great and growing group College Diabetes Network. Excellent resources for the next generations of PWDs, for sure!
Nicole's book is available on Amazon in paperback form for $9.89.
A DMBooks Giveaway
Interested in winning a signed copy of Nicole Johnson's new book, "Young Adult Type 1 Diabetes Realities"? Here's your chance! Entering this giveaway is as easy as leaving a comment:
1. Post your comment below and include the codeword "DMBooks" somewhere in the the text to let us know that you'd like to be entered in the giveaway.
2. You have until Friday, June 6, 2014, at 5 pm PST to enter. A valid email address is required to win.
3. The winner will be chosen using Random.org.
Good luck to all!
** This contest is now closed for submissions. Congrats to D-Mom Julie Gould, who is the winner and will receive a copy of Nicole's new book!