Yerachmiel Altman is a longtime type 1 living just southwest of Boston, who was diagnosed at a young age more than 55 years ago. He's been an early adopter of new diabetes technologies over the years -- employing MDI back before that was common, an insulin pump in the early 80s, and a CGM (continuous glucose monitor) in the late 90s.
In fact, Yerachmiel was an early inventor in the diabetes gadget world (long before #WeAreNotWaiting or data-sharing were a thing), and he tells us that due to a nickel allergy, he developed his own homemade infusion set out of Teflon! He was able to do this based on his professional expertise in chemical and computing engineering, working on software, graphics and database systems as well as personally and professionally tinkering with pumps and CGMs while working for Minimed and then Medtronic for several years.
So he might be last person you'd expect to be writing children's books about happy-go-lucky animals. But surprise! Wanting to help spread information about the D-tech he’s been using for decades, this engineer is trying his hand at writing children’s books on diabetes.
“I felt that the books (currently) available did not outline the changes, hardware and life the newly diagnosed child would face,” Yerachmiel tells us. “My real dream would be to do a series of these books – one for each season, and one for each major activity or challenge a child with diabetes might have. I’m thinking summer camp, school, parties (maybe a friend’s birthday party), family trips, and doctor appointments. I would be open to other ideas as well."
With Israeli heritage and an education in Halakhah (Jewish law), Yerachmiel is currently a Senior Design Engineer at a company called Software Be We, where he designs everything from data management systems to corporate websites. He has a fascination with games and how they can help people learn and cope, even creating a fun teaching board game called Insulinopoly that's getting great feedback.
Today, we're excited to share a bit about his first two kids’ books: The Moose with the Pump and I Can Help Take Care of Me. Both were released in paperback and e-book formats in 2016. We're also thrilled to be offering a FREE copy of each paperback book to a lucky winner who comments below. More on that later, but first let’s take a look at this pair of fun titles…
A Poetic Giraffe with Diabetes
The first book, called “I Can Help Take Care of Me" is a lengthy one for kids at 56 pages. It's meant to be a “poetic introduction” for children to diabetes. Even as grownups, we found it an enjoyable read with Yerachmiel tapping into his inner child and channeling that voice through a Giraffe, who was diagnosed with T1D “a long time ago” at age 2.
It’s a pretty straightforward guide that walks a CWD (and parents, too) through the various aspects of diabetes that might be relevant soon after diagnosis – from the basics of type 1 and management, to A1C tests, to tech tools ranging from glucose meters, insulin pumps and CGMs. It also delves into doctor visits from a child's perspective, as well as those feelings we all know when our BGs go low or high. However, Yerachmiel points out that this guide doesn’t include info on insulin dosing, carb counting or other specific medical issues, since those should be handled by the family’s medical team.
Mainly, it’s aimed at showing the child that a diabetes diagnosis isn’t the end of the world, and there’s a whole bunch that goes into taking care of it, but that one can live happily and successfully. While it does seem a bit of a long read -- aimed at an audience with a short attention span -- the book certainly captures all the basics you’d expect to find in a teaching tool like this.
Yerachmiel says this is actually the second edition of his book, as the first was more of a prototype that was less organized and cohesive. But after seeing the reaction to it out in the field, he went back to the drawing board and divided the book into topic sections, clarified some parts and added in fun pictures of stuffed animals that he took himself.
You can find this book on Amazon in both paperback form for $14.99 and on Kindle downloadable e-format for $6.
A Moose in the Winter… with a Pump
Late last year, Yerachmiel released his second book that's a more typical kids book, with a narrative story.
With the title “The Moose with the Pump,” this 26-pager is also written in poetic form to tell the story of a little (blue moose) boy with T1D who’s at home on a snowy day with his sister, but can’t go outdoors to play with friends because there's so much snow outside.
That is, until a mysterious adult Moose With a Pump appears, sharing his story about living with T1D for many years using an insulin pump and CGM; he explains that it's OK to go outside and play as long as you're safe.
Yerachmiel describes this book as "Dr. Suess style," and through that format outlines many D-management issues from a child’s POV – the cautions needed for hypoglycemia, having supplies handy in case of an emergency, making sure parents and friends are aware of what can happen, and of course the fun you can still have even with diabetes on board. Sprinkled throughout, you can find cartoon-style images of the Dexcom receiver, Tandem insulin pump and glucose meters.
Seriously, the posed-toy photos and sing-songy poem style made me smile till my cheeks hurt... especially when the little boy and his sister are talking D-management with the visiting Moose, who even took the initiative to shovel and snow-blow the "white stuff" outdoors.
In the end, thanks to the Moose's advice (Ask the Moose?), the siblings have their fears allayed and ask their mom if they can go outside to play; they even help the Moose clean up the sidewalks (Spoiler Alert: She says yes, because You CAN Do This!).
What a fun read this one was, and we definitely recommend it for the diabetes bookshelf at home, in a doctor’s office or in schools -- wherever D-kids can be found.
You can find this one on Amazon too, for $11.99 in paperback and $4.99 in Kindle e-book format.
With that, we’re excited to offer the following book giveaway…
A DMBooks Giveaway
Yerachmiel has generously offered one free copy of each of his kids books as prizes to our loyal readers! Here's how to enter:
Just leave a comment below, and be sure to include the codeword "DMBooks" somewhere in your comment so we know you're in it to win it.
Since our comment system requires log-in, you may also email us your entry directly at email@example.com, using the subject line "Kids Books."
You have until Friday, Feb. 17, 2016, at 9pm PST to enter.
Please be sure to keep tabs on your Facebook messages or emails, as that's our only way to contact winners.
This contest is now closed. Congrats to reader-commenter Maria C, who Random.org selected as winner of this giveaway!