We review a good number of books here at the ‘Mine, but it’s not often that I’ve found myself reviewing a book with chapters written by so many people I’m lucky enough to know!
That was what made reading My Sweet Life: Successful Men with Diabetes all the more surprising for me.
Before I opened the pages to start reading, I wasn’t expecting much more than an obligatory book review: a handful of fellow guys with diabetes, sharing their stories, that are probably all the same anyway, right? I expected that I’ve pretty much heard most of these stories before, so this wasn’t going to rise to any special level of interest…
But boy, was I wrong!
What I found was an array of emotions jumping out at me as I read through the pages of these fellow men with diabetes — men who haven’t let diabetes run their lives or dictate what they can or can’t do. My reactions ran the gammut from laughs and smiles, to intrigue and curiosity, tears, rage, and heart-melting tenderness. In short, what I found in this 259-page anthology of essays pulled together by Dr. Beverly S. Adler, PhD, CDE, was an emotional experience — I’d even say an empowering one.
You may remember Beverly’s first book of this sort that came out a year ago, the female-focused My Sweet Life: Successful Women with Diabetes. (Our editor AmyT has a chapter in that one.) In this next edition of the series, every detail starting with the creative cover art makes you want to dive in (more on the cover art shortly).
Right away, Beverly hits at a point I’ve thought myself at times: “While women with diabetes have a website devoted to our sisterhood, there is no comparable website devoted to the brotherhood of men with diabetes. This book is the first of its type: stories of triumph for men with diabetes, written by those successful men with diabetes.” So true that there isn’t as much out there devoted specifically to men with diabetes.
Some well-known names from the Diabetes Community are featured in the book, like D-bloggers George “The Ninjabetic” Simmons and Scott Johnson; athletes like Charlie Kimball and Tony Cervati; medical pros like CDE Gary Scheiner; and dLife TV personalities like Benno Schmidt and Jim Turner. Each has contributed an autobiographical essay on how they’ve managed to succeeded in life, either because of or in spite of their diabetes. They vary in age and type of diabetes, and they all share their personal stories about their D-diagnosis and how diabetes has shaped their lives.
One of my favorites is from Marc Blatstein, who is a karate-tournament winner that’s been living with type 1 for more than a half century and just became a certified health coach earlier this year. I loved his stories about his mom going out to buy a “diabetic pound cake” for him right after his diagnosis in 1960, and then a box of “diabetic chocolates” — both of which turned him off of those food choices permanently… Hah!
History fascinates me, and so I loved reading about R. Keith Campbell, who’s been living with type 1 for more than 60 years and was a founding member of the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE). His chapter examines his thoughts on some of the biggest advances in diabetes care through the decades, and particularly interesting to me was how Keith actually had to check into the hospital to start using a “continuous infusion insulin pump” on Feb. 1, 1979 — the very day that I was born! How cool is that little historical coincidence?!
With my background as a legal reporter, I found it fascinating to read the stories of some fellow PWDs who are attorneys and have done legal work that includes winning cases in some of the highest courts in the U.S.! Some of it’s been connected to diabetes, like PWD John W. Griffin in Texas who got a federal judge to overturn a blanket ban on UPS drivers with diabetes, and also waged a seven-year legal battle to allow PWDs to serve as police officers. Even Jay Hewitt, most known as a type 1 record-setting Ironman athlete, is also a practicing attorney in South Carolina. He does that alongside running his Finish Line Vision business as a motivational speaker.
And a story that hit home particularly was Scott Johnson’s, about his experience of going low and the paramedics being called in a scary situation for him and his wife… a “low point” that started him on the path of writing about diabetes and connecting with fellow PWDs!
The foreword by TCOYD founder and fellow PWD Dr. Steven Edelman pretty much sums it up: “This book will inspire you, and your loved ones, to embrace diabetes. The book’s message, by way of example, is not to let diabetes slow you down, but rather make it a positive force in your life.” He mentions that after his own diagnosis at age 15 in 1970, he wishes he would’ve had role models like the men in this book.
I couldn’t agree more.
As far as the unique cover art, Beverly says she carried over the theme from the women’s book, which has “curvy” trees on the cover that embody women’s curves, while the path is a metaphor for the journey that we travel as PWDs. For the men’s book, she used a different artist to draw the cover, with a similar theme, except that the color scheme and the trees are more “masculine.” The river is also a metaphor for the journey we take, with many twists and turns in life.
Beverly says some of the men included were recommended by contacts, and she found many others via the Internet. She says 25 stories was an arbitrary number to include; she had approached many more men about being included, but they declined for various personal reasons. Her goal was to include a diversity of men — geographically, and by age, careers, and diabetes experiences. To be included, she says all the men had to believe that “diabetes is a blessing in disguise” and share that philosophy in their chapter.
Mission accomplished, I’d say. All of the chapters had an empowerment message and were inspiring, without being repetitive. I enjoyed reading all of them.
This isn’t the last chapter in Beverly’s book career, she says. She wants to help share more diabetes success stories, and says her next book will likely be “Successful Youth with Diabetes.” She’s accepting recommendations for nominees now!
In the meantime, you can check out this men’s version by snagging a copy for $24.95 at Amazon.com.
Or, you can leave a comment below for a chance to win a free copy for yourself or someone else this holiday season!
The DMBooks Giveaway
We remain committed to sharing our book finds with you, our Dear Readers! Please follow the instructions below for your chance to win a free copy of My Sweet Life. Entering our 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 comment (beginning, end, in parenthesis, in bold, whatever). That will let us know that you would like to be entered in the giveaway. You can still leave a comment without entering, but if you want to be considered to win the book, please remember to include “DMBooks.”
2. You have until Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, at noon PST to enter. A valid email address is required to win.
3. The winner will be chosen using Random.org.
The contest is open all. Good luck!
UPDATE: Congrats to D-Mom Kris Burkhar, who Random.org chose as our winner for the book giveaway!