Just for fun, I recently requested a review copy of Sue Marshall's new book, "Diabetes: The Essential Guide" out of the UK. I read it on the plane to Boston on my birthday late last month. (Really, is this what I do for fun? Time to get a life?)

I've long been an admirer of Sue, who's had type 1 diabetes for 35 years and had a 20-year career in journalism before she launched Desang, a healthcare information and diabetes "kit bag" company.

diabetes-essential-guide-sue-marshallHer new soft-cover quick guide to diabetes explains all the basics you "Need-2-Know" (name of the book series) with admirable clarity. And brevity. In ten very straightforward chapters of just about 10 pages each, she covers the disease basics (type 1 and 2), blood testing, diet, equipment, pregnancy, complications, and pretty much every type of drug currently on the market for treating D. Each chapter ends with a "Summing Up" list — the essential facts reiterated in bullet list form. Nice.

Based on this clear and useful content, I would definitely recommend this book to loads of folks I know. But do beware the British-isms: blood sugar numbers are listed in the European standard of millimoles per liter (mmols/L). Glucose meters are referred to as "blood test machines," and the author advises you to "look after your insulin" (keep it cool and dry, rather than babysitting it). Apparently having a hypo "is often described as 'being a bit wobbly.'" And there are many puzzling references to the British healthcare system, such as:

"Blood test sensors (also called blood test strips or electrodes) are available on prescription from your GP and are free. You may need to get a Medical Exemption Certificate in order to get your prescriptions for free..."

OMG. Who says we can't still learn a thing or two from the British system?

Some things I learned from this book:

* The monthly magazine of the national advocacy organization Diabetes UK is called "Balance" (somehow a more fitting title than the ADA's "Forecast," don't you think?)

* British PWDs are lucky to have access to an educational program called DAFNE (Dose Adjustment for Normal Eating) — a 5-day seminar that features in-depth carb counting training, among other things.

* The basic unit of exchange over there is 10g carb — versus the 15g-based method I learned here in the US. Personally, I think 10g is a superior starting point for both carb-counting and insulin dosing; it seems more realistic and probably produces better results.


"Your doctor is your partner in your diabetes care. So work on that relationship." Right.

"Remember to replace the sugar sources that you use up. Preparation is all! It's bad enough having a hypo without having a panic attack, too."  Amen to that. I'm constantly forgetting to refill my empty glucose tab tubes. My bad!

"The key point to remember is that diabetes management is a marathon not a sprint."  Amen to that as well, for obvious reasons.

All in all, a quite useful book from Sue, who's also developed some quite useful supply bag designs. If you're willing to venture virtually "over the pond" to order your diabetes literature, click here for info on how to order this book. A good deal (current exchange rate not withstanding).

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