Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Book Review: The Book of Better: life with diabetes can't be perfect....

I received a review copy of the Book of Better by Chuck Eichten, published by Three Rivers Press. I read it in a weekend and it was an easy and interesting read.The illustrations are humorous, the graphic design is offbeat and contemporary. Just the design alone kept me turning pages.

Chuck Eichten is a diabetic, writing from 30 years of experience as with Type 1. He claims to have made many mistakes and wants to share what he has learned with the literate world.  He writes in a light, colloquial style, using words simply and well. Chuck is a creative director at Nike, and has the experience and access to make this book a much more interesting design than most books about health topics.

The overall focus of the book seems to be to encourage those with diabetes to strive for small improvements in their health, and feel good about it. In the process, Eichten, discusses how to deal with frustrations, treatments, and hope for the future of the disease.

I have been diabetic for almost as long as the author, and have come to a similar perspective about striving for the best, while not beating myself up over things I can't control. I was on board with his perspective on that. The first chapter spent quite a bit of time on dealing with that perspective, and I found myself getting antsy to move on with facts or ideas that were new to me. I'm a voracious consumer of factual information about things, so I was anxious to hear some new stuff.

He did get onto some information that I connected with. He discussed how to deal with treatments, food, fitness, family members, the proverbial cure, and even diabetic eating disorders. He is realistic about how difficult the diabetic life can be, but he has a positive approach to dealing with various aspects of it.

My personal response to Chuck's ideas. 
So, the opinion and info that I found most interesting was his emphasis on the importance of the insulin pump for best treatment of diabetes. I was slow on the uptake for getting one, and it has taken me 3-4 years to become a full believer in the device. The summer before last, I even took a break from the pump and did multiple daily injections all summer. I just wanted to get away from it for a while. Sadly, I never got close to the control that I had with the pump, even after 3 months of trying pretty diligently. Now, with my continuous glucose monitoring system, I feel like I am happily dependent on them in my pursuit of best results. I agree (with Chuck), it's the best treatment we have right now. It gives flexibility to make your life better. And..., I definitely agree with him, that the word "pump" is a lousy word for something we might have to love and rely upon.

Another thing that Eichten emphasized in The Book of Better is the need to exercise consistently daily. He doesn't use the word exercise, though... he refers to it as moving. He advocates the need for consistent movement, every day. This is an area that I have found difficult since I started trying to do what's best for me. While I enjoy the reduced need for insulin when I exercise, the consistency is always lacking for me. Also, when I do live more actively, I find that it introduces a new variable for me to keep tabs on. I think this is one of the things that I feel the need to take to heart and add to my daily regimen. If it's daily, it won't be a variable anymore, it will be routine. A BETTER routine...

Toward the end of the book Chuck discussed the future of diabetes treatment and it was was a surprisingly comprehensive summary of the latest developments in a short number of pages. I liked that way he summed it up with graphics and minimal verbiage. I learned about the gradual movement toward a "closed loop" system, starting with an overnight-only system. Also, the development of insulin that only works when blood glucose is above the normal range sounds fascinating too.

Overall, I found the Book of Better to be a great book. I'd recommend it to any diabetic or loved ones of diabetics. The slow, therapeutic start eventually paid off with good doses of experience-based fact and opinion throughout. Positivity and hope was a clear thread that pulled the book together. Something we can all use a shot of once in a while.

1 comment:

  1. I like your review and appreciated hearing a guy's take on it. Thanks for commenting on my blog, that has lead to me to discover yours. :)