When type 1 journalist Jim Hirsch came out with his book about the business and life-challenges of diabetes, Cheating Destiny, I called it the book I wish I wrote; it moved and entertained me, and it felt like the first-ever book about diabetes that people without the disease could ever truly enjoy reading.

Now comes attorney Amy Ryan's new volume Shot: Staying Alive With Diabetes, which feels like the book that I DID WRITE -- at least in my heart and my head over the last decade. Everything about her story is so familiar, so raw and honest, so true to the REAL experiences of being hit with an intense chronic illness around age 30, and struggling to "remake" your life around it.

It's an intensely personal narrative, from the moment of her diagnosis in 1996 to today, which spares no details on everything from syringe angst to carb-counting inadequacy to sex as a cyborg, dealing with a pump (while peeing), the bumpy road that is a diabetic pregnancy, to other people's insensitivity and frustration without end, to a site infection that also seems incurable. But hey -- don't get me wrong, this book really is a joy to read!

Amy (namesake power!) peppers her personal experiences with fantastic factual explanations of the various aspects of diabetes medical issues and treatments -- all in laymen's terms and super-easy to digest. She also tosses in, at a regular clip, wonderful observations about life in general and universal diabetes truths.

For example:

Innovation 2015

"The greatest and most cruel irony of managing Type 1 diabetes is that insulin, the substance you need to survive -- the only thing on earth that will bring your glucose levels back to the normal range -- can also harm you. The tighter you try to manage your disease... the riskier. And here we find ourselves again in the definition of 'chronic:' insulin therapy is constantly vexing."

And on failure:

"It isn't just that my body fails me -- I fail myself. I fail to control my diabetes in the very tight manner that we, the royal 'we' who have diabetes in this day and age, are told we should be able to do. We have tools to manage our disease far more effectively than would ever have been possible, or even imaginable, 25 years ago. We have portable glucose monitors and continuous monitors. We have long-acting insulin, short-acting insulin, and insulin pumps. We have super fine-tipped syringes, syringe pens... We have, in theory, everything at our disposal that the doctors and medical device companies and pharmaceutical companies tell us should enable us to control our disease. Yet control eludes us. Control eludes me. And when control eludes me, I am a failure."

Thank you, Amy! Educated, articulate DC-lawyer, who isn't afraid to brazenly admit that despite having the best care and the best tools available, managing type 1 diabetes just right is still damn-near impossible.

I can so relate to so many of her sentiments, for example her reaction when a colleague tells Amy happily that her (the coworker's) gestational diabetes has ended:

"'Good for you,' I said, and I meant it. I do not for an instant intend to minimize the stress and fear that a woman who has gestational diabetes must endure. For a woman who has never seen 130 on a glucose meter, the prospect of seeing that number is as disturbing to her as 330 is for me. But it is still hard to hear diabetes referred to in the past tense. It is a blessing for the person whose past it is. It is depressing for the person whose present and future it is."

Amy chronicles the time from her diagnosis, when she is single and just beginning law school, through marrying her boyfriend and taking on two stepsons, sitting for the bar exam, and struggling through a diabetic pregnancy of her own. Mothers-to-be will delight to know that she had a healthy daughter, who remains diabetes-free.

This is hands-down the most "relatable" book about life with diabetes I've ever read. But there were still a few surprises. First, Amy's level of anxiety the first night after she got diagnosed; she literally had a panic attack and had to call the paramedics (!) Her first injection was something like a 10-page drama. And then later, when she starts on the OmniPod, she is equally freaked out and takes an entire week off work to adjust to wearing the pump.

I know everyone is different, but reading this stirred up a lot of conflicting emotions for me: finally, someone who can explain the bewilderment and fear of being handed a life-threatening illness (something every healthcare provider needs to read about!) And at the same time, aversion: who can let themselves get so wound up with self-pity? At the time of my diagnosis, you may recall, I had a 5-year-old, 3-year-old, and 5-month-old baby at home. The diagnosis was all about THEM. Who would look after them? Answer to their calls? Who would be strong and present enough? I didn't have the time or the luxury to fret about needles... Just show me how to use the damn things so I can get out of this sterile, hospital prison and back to my children who need me!

The other thing that surprised me is that despite having great doctors by her own account, when Amy finally works up the nerve to ask her endo about "intimacy" while wearing a pump, he seems blindsided. "It didn't appear that he had ever been asked this question," she writes. "He thought for a moment, and then said 'Well, I guess you could just clip it to the bedsheet.'" WTF?! Really? I guess in those few "trial days" when medical professionals try a pump using saline, he just thought abstinence was in order...

Needless to say, it was several years until Amy considered becoming a pumper, and only then with the tubeless OmniPod. This works well for her, until she gets an extremely nasty site infection that ends up looking like a bullet hole in her leg. Naturally, she didn't recognize and treat the infection early enough because no one had warned her about such things.

Oy! More proof that physicians who treat people with diabetes need to read this book -- to be forced to think about what real life is like with diabetes!

I think Daniel Einhorn, medical director of the Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute, put it best when he said, in his front-cover endorsement: "Everyone who thinks they understand someone with type 1 -- and I include myself and my colleagues -- can benefit from reading this book."

And if you're living with type 1 yourself, I echo author Dan Hurley's comments that after reading this book, Amy Ryan "will be like a new best friend."

If you'd like to get to know her more, check out this recent interview in USA Today.

{Hudson Whitman/Excelsior College Press, January 2013, $11.84 on Amazon.com}

 

The DMBooks Giveaway

Interested in winning your own free copy of SHOT: Staying Alive With Diabetes? 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, Feb. 22, 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, Feb. 25, 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 Paige Joslyn Kuehmeier for being selected by Random.org as the DMBOOKS winner! We'll make sure that book is on the way to you soon!

Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.

Disclaimer

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.