Those of us living with diabetes carry a lot of baggage. And no, that doesn't just mean the various cases and pouches we need to haul our myriad D-supplies all over the place!

Any PWD (person with diabetes) knows the daily challenges we endure, involving both literal and physical "bags" we need to carry along the way.

That is the exact focus of a new book just released by Naomi Kingery, a fellow diabetes advocate and type 1 PWD, titled, "Sugar Free Journey - My Decade with Type 1 Diabetes." This is the fourth and final book in a series Naomi's written over the past five years about her first decade of living with diabetes.

Naomi is a fellow D-Blogger over at Diabetic Diva and I've been reading her writings online for a few years now, but we didn't have the chance to connect in real life until about a year ago -- and it was an absolute thrill and honor! She totally rocks, and I'm happy to have her in our D-Corner advocating and sharing her story, along with her new gig as social community manager with Medtronic Diabetes' public relations department in Northridge, CA, taking care of the company's diabetes blog, The Loop (Congrats!). Not to mention her studies at California State University in Northridge where she's majoring in kinesiology (the study of movement).

But the part of Naomi's life I was honestly least familiar with was her book authoring, as I hadn't read her first three books (even though they've been on my "to read" list for a loooong time!) So, I was excited to finally get a crack at experiencing her book-writing skills firsthand.

News nuggets from around the diabetes community

American Diabetes Association Names New CEO
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Daytona Win for Racecar Driver with Diabetes!
Type 1 driver Ryan Reed wins first NASCAR series race at Daytona on Feb. 21.

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This one is different, she tells me. While the first two were aimed at teens with diabetes (as she wrote Sugar Free Me in 2008 and Sugar Free Teens in 2009 when she was a teen herself). The third one, Sugar Free Support in 2011, was focused on those supporting us PWDs. But this newest book aims at a broader audience of folks who may be at different points in their journey with diabetes.

"I am most proud of this one because I feel it captures where I have come from and where I hope to one day be, in a way that I wasn't able to do in the previous books since I still had so much to learn," she tells us. "My 10th year was special as it was the first period of time that I forced myself to stop and 'smell the roses' and take a step back from all of the emotions and baggage to be able to thoroughly assess my journey with diabetes."

Unpacking that baggage is exactly what her latest 108-page book is about, complete with 10 chapters appropriately and cleverly titled with bag-related names like the "Fragile Suitcase," "Overweight Duffel Bag," "Tattered Trunk," "Bag I can't Carry on My Own," and "Upgraded Luggage Set"! Each one is meant to explore a specific emotion or experience as the reader moves through the pages. The book also has a forward from the respected Dr. Francine Kaufman, a Medtronic colleague of Naomi's who serves as the company's chief medical officer and VP of global medical, clinical and health affairs, and a handful of additional pages that include some personal notes of thanks to people in her D-world, plus a citations page.

Mostly autobiographical like her earlier books, Naomi shares her personal experiences with diabetes: from diagnosis at age 12, her family life and growing up in both India (where she was born) and the U.S., and many phases during her first decade of diabetes. She also mixes in some fill-in-the-blank questions and worksheet-style bits to help readers apply what she's written to their own lives, along with some brief stories from others in the D-Community such as PWDs Manny Hernandez of the Diabetes Hands Foundation and Cherise Shockley of the Diabetes Community Advocacy Foundation.

Her book delves into her journey not only with diabetes, but how some of those scary uncertain times right after her diagnosis led her to turn to her faith for support and comfort, as a way to overcome the hopelessness that diabetes seemed to present.

A favorite chapter of mine is "Suitcase on the Carousel" -- just think about it and you can likely picture the diabetes imagery! Naomi observes that diabetes doesn't necessarily change, it just goes around and around in a circle and sometimes you're focused on the bags themselves, while at other times your focus is on something else. This chapter made me smirk and nod, all together.

In the chapter called "The Cosmetic Case," Naomi writes about something many of us PWDs feel at times — maybe women more than men, and possibly teens more than any other age, but we've all likely felt at one point or another: "More than anything, I didn't want people to look at me or treat me differently because of my health." She writes about trying to cover up those moments when not feeling well or being as well controlled as she'd like, and again I felt myself nodding in agreement at the notion that trying to look fine even when you aren't feeling well ends up only harming yourself.

Just as you'd expect in a book focused so much on diabetes and suitcases and traveling on this journey, there are some great airport and TSA references! But they're not digs. In fact, Naomi uses them to illustrate the metaphor of needing support while carrying bags through airport security checkpoints, and she tosses some well-deserved recognition toward the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) that has helped her "carry this weight" through the years.

Not all chapters rely on cute luggage references to make happy points, however. In one of the final chapters, Naomi tackles the tough issue of "The Lost Suitcase" which is about losing something because of diabetes. She tells the sad story of how the death of 13-year-old Jesse Alswager in 2010 impacted her own life and our D-Community.

She writes, "His life story has had a profound impact on me, and I wish to convey my condolences to those who loved him. But I know they have been able to see so many lives changed through this tragedy. The reality is that everyone's bags are different. We all have unique pit stops on our trips, varied bumps in the road, and an array of circumstances only we endure. Jesse's bag is now replaced with a blue candle and a legacy of strength in struggle and passion in adversity."

Naomi ends that chapter by asking readers to ponder what they might have packed into a lost bag (life, relationships, dreams) and how we should be aware of not letting those things slip away...

But even with that heart-tugging chapter, Naomi ends her final chapter with what I found to be an inspiring note of encouragement, telling readers to go live their life to the fullest and not be "defined, labeled or taken over by this disease." Then, she wraps it up with a note to all of us, newly-diagnosed or longtime PWDs, saying no matter how devastated or scared we might feel at first or what roadblocks we may hit at a certain stages, there's always an opportunity for a new beginning or fresh lease on life.

I couldn't agree more, Naomi. That's where I am, now close to my third decade of living with type 1, and in need of some fresh energy to get me back on track. And your book reminds me that the time to find that energy is now. So, thank you!

While Naomi says nothing's left unsaid (or unwritten) in this Sugar Free series, she plans to continue documenting her new D-adventures on her blog. She'll be graduating from Cal State Northridge next spring with a degree in kinesiology and, of course, she's planning to do whatever she can to continue "giving hope to people with diabetes."

Personally, I think Naomi is doing just that and I so appreciate her sharing her story while helping others see hope in their own. All during reading this book, I felt myself nodding and beginning to think more deeply about the emotions and experiences we all share. Some brought smiles and also tears. In summary, my heart got a workout in reading this book, that's for sure.

{Xulon Press, Jan. 31, 2013, available on Amazon for $11.89 in paperback and $6.99 on Kindle}

 

The DMBooks Giveaway

Interested in winning your own free copy of Naomi's latest book: Sugar Free Journey? Entering the giveaway is as easy as leaving a comment.

Here's what to do:

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, March 1, 2013, at 5 p.m. PST to enter. A valid email address is required to win.

3. The winner will be chosen using Random.org.

4. The winner will be announced on Facebook and Twitter on Monday, March 4, 2013, so make sure you're following us! We'll update this blog post with the winner's name once chosen.

The contest is open to all. Good luck!

UPDATE: This contest is now closed. Congrats to Nikki Brickman, who Random.org chose as our winner!

By the way, Random.org chose our winner of last week's giveaway as Paige Joslyn Kuehmeier! Congrats, Paige! We'll make sure that book is on its way to you soon!

 
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This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.