Sometimes delightful, inspiring things come from the most unlikely of sources.
Bob Hawkinson co-owns two landscaping and mulching companies with his brother in Jacksonville, FL. He's had Type 1 diabetes since the age of one, and is now 44 years old. He and his wife Melissa have four children, including one set of twins (ages 17, 15, and 8 - the twins) and also a one-year-old foster daughter. Bob's a busy guy. He also seems like just about the last person on Earth who would have spent the last eight years working on a motivational book called "The Joy of Diabetes." But lucky for us, he did.
I saw that bright green cover on the Internet, and had no idea what to expect from a volume like this, from the founder of TLC - Total Lawn Care, no less. Was it a comic book? Or some kind of glorified "improve yourself" pamphlet? It turned out to be a little bit of both, but with a straight-talkin' narrator who has walked in our shoes, and offers some very pragmatic diabetes management advice.
It's only 95 pages in large, eye-friendly print, so it won't take you but an afternoon to read through. And it's just chock-full of quotable gems, like these:
In the beginning, after being diagnosed, many people are afraid of their own shadow. That's understandable. Once you figure this thing out, you can do and achieve as much as anyone else. You just need to realize your needs and plan for them.
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(He suggests always having Plan A in place — you must always be thinking about where you are right now and where you will be throughout the day — along with a Plan B for backup: a roll of LifeSavers or a Glucagon kit. Plan C is wearing medical ID, and/or simply having someone around you who knows what to do.)
Life is a balance. When you stay in the middle ABE (Bob's nickname for di-ABE-etes) is fine. Get out of balance and he will remind you of his presence...
I try to match insulin to carbohydrates and exercise in an ongoing dance in which I try not to step on my own feet! I do my best to remain aware of where I am, what I am doing, and how I feel. I check on my blood sugar often for confirmation.
Bob mixes motivational stories about his own adventures cross-country cycling, scuba diving, bungee jumping, and water and snow skiing with practical tips on the duration of insulin action and recording your meal and BG results — all in a way that makes for a quick and fun read.
He even pulls off the chapters on Believing in God, Helping Others, and Abstaining from Alcohol without sounding self-righteous or preachy. Quite a feat. (Not that I'm giving up my wine, mind you)
I'm sure there are other diabetics who achieve more than I have ever dreamed of, he writes. I am also sure there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of diabetics who are steadily declining and losing their health and mobility. It doesn't have to happen to you, and I believe it all starts in your mind. Your mindset and approach are everything.
This little book, with the seemingly contradictory title, turns out to be one of my very favorite books ever written on diabetes. Highly recommended for your older child or teenager with diabetes, too.
[LifeSaver Press, LLC; $14.99 off the book website]