Book Review: Until There Is a Cure: The Latest and Greatest in Diabetes Self-Care
Gary Scheiner, MS, CDE, knows diabetes.
He is a Certified Diabetes Educator, the author of the best-selling book Think Like a Pancreas, and the founder of Integrated Diabetes Services, an educator-based practice devoted to helping people manage their insulin-dependent diabetes. He's also lived with type 1 diabetes for more than 25 years.
So Scheiner is an obvious choice to write the new book Until There Is a Cure: The Latest and Greatest in Diabetes Self-Care, a relatively short tome published by Spry Publishing. Scheiner offers explanations and updates about new innovations in the condition's management, food, medications and blood glucose monitoring, as well as ideas for avoiding or slowing complications, and more. He also provides resources such as websites, blogs, and other programs that can offer financial and emotional support for those living with diabetes.
Why Scheiner wrote the book
Scheiner's reasoning for writing the book makes sense. When he was first diagnosed in 1985, he was told that a cure was just around the corner -- perhaps five or ten years away. (I was told the same thing when I was diagnosed in 1977.) While there is still no cure today, a few decades later, Scheiner says that managing one's diabetes to be the healthiest possible is the goal, not waiting for a day when a cure eventually comes along. "Although there is some very promising research taking place, I'm not one to put my eggs in that basket," Scheiner writes. "My personal goal, and what I emphasize to my patients, is to take the best possible care of their diabetes here and now. When a cure does finally come along -- and it will -- I want to be in the best of health and have no regrets about the effort I put in."
To take the best care of yourself and your diabetes, Scheiner notes it's often helpful and recommended to use the latest technologies, medications and research for diabetes management. "Trying to manage your diabetes using age-old equipment and methodology can be equally ineffective and frustrating," he writes, comparable to using a dial-up modem to try to watch a streaming video on the Internet. The fact that Scheiner lives, works and essentially breathes diabetes means he is tuned in to changes that could affect a person with diabetes. For those new to the disease, the book works as a general primer to understanding the complexities of how insulin production (or replacement), other medications, food, exercise and emotions could all affect your life. These effects can be both short term, with hypoglycemic reactions, and long term, as in potential health complications such as kidney, eye and heart damage, among others.
It offers useful insights
But for the person who is already familiar with diabetes, the book offers nuggets of detail in the form of Trend boxes. Scattered throughout several chapters, they present tidbits such as "Many health professionals now recommend continuous glucose monitoring for the majority of their insulin-using patients," and "Increasingly, software programs for diabetes devices are moving toward web-based platforms. This allows users to download at home and share their data with health-care providers."
The book also goes beyond the basics. Scheiner explores possible trends and proposes that, for people with type 2 diabetes, certain oral medications such as metformin and combination medications could be growing in popularity because they may be viewed as more effective, while other drugs such as pancreatic stimulators (sulfonylureas and meglitinides), insulin sensitizers (thiazolidinediones), and digestion blockers (alpha-glucosidase inhibitors) may be less popular for assorted reasons.
Ultimately, Scheiner suggests having the right mental approach and living your diabetes life one day at a time. "We can't be overly perfectionistic when it comes to blood sugar control," he writes. "Set short-term, measurable, realistic goals, and don't lose sight of the big picture."
The only drawback of writing a book subtitled "The Latest and Greatest in Diabetes Self-Care" is that the print edition becomes dated the moment it is published. While the copyright is 2013, the Resources section at the book's end includes a blog that has been dark for several months and lists an inaccurate URL, though the blog's author redirects visitors to an updated Web address. I noticed a few minor proofreading misses, for example, one blog's description ends mid-sentence as "Hannah's dorky life with diabetes at".
These are minor quibbles for a book that could educate and inform many readers, inspiring them to lead a well-managed life with diabetes and take advantage of up-to-date research and innovations.