I’m delighted to announce on World Diabetes Day 2014 that the new paperback edition of my book Coming To Terms With Type 1 Diabetes is now officially launched, following the celebrations at Foyles’ bookshop in Bristol last night.
Around 50 people battled through dreadful weather and traffic into Bristol’s prime shopping quarter, Cabot Circus, to attend the event that I seem to have been planning for weeks!
We welcomed them with a sumptuous array of food, all carefully chosen to echo the international symbol of diabetes – the blue circle. Blueberry muffins and blue iced cupcakes, plus some extraordinary blue corn chips and sky-blue sweets fortified the audience to hear a terrific line-up of guest speakers.
Paul Coker, who has had Type 1 diabetes for 37 years, told us about his recent conquest of Mount Kilimanjaro, demonstrating that having diabetes needn’t stop you doing anything.
Dr Kathleen Gillespie, research scientist from Bristol’s Southmead Hospital, gave a fascinating update on the latest diabetes research programmes in terms that were easy for us all to understand.
Danielle Angell of the JDRF explained how the research can only take place if funds are raised. JDRF is the leading charitable funder of diabetes research, and I am donating all the profits from sales of my book to this important cause.
We were ably assisted by my daughter Laura (11) and three of her friends, who staged a dramatic entry at the end, dressed up in their onesies. This is because on World Diabetes Day, JDRF stages “Type Onesie Day”, encouraging everyone to wear their onesies to work or school to raise awareness and funds.
I don’t yet have many photos available of the evening but will post these up as soon as I have them. I’ll be grateful to receive any photos that anyone took on the night to add to my collection.
Huge thanks to all those who attended on the night. With your support, we are bringing the day when a cure for Type 1 diabetes will be more than just a dream.
HOW TO ORDER YOUR COPY
My new paperback edition of my book is now available to order at £6/8E/$10 from all good book retailers. It is an updated and expanded edition of the ebook that I published for World Diabetes Day 2013, including the new chapter “Diabetes Is Always With Us”. The ebook, updated to match, is also available from Amazon.
(Why my imminent book launch is an embarrassment to my daughter – a post originally written for the November issue of the Tetbury Advertiser)
Mummy, I never gave you my permission to put my picture on the cover of a book!”
So said my daughter Laura when I showed her the proof copy of my latest book, “Coming To Terms With Type 1 Diabetes”, to be launched in paperback this month to mark World Diabetes Day (14 November).
It’s a lovely photo that captured her unawares, looking characteristically dreamy, described by her doting grandpa as “St Laura”.
Now that Laura’s at secondary school, I’m probably on borrowed time for posting her photos online or for writing about her exploits in public. I’d hate to become an embarrassing parent – to which her retort would probably be “too late!”
Justifying the Means
In this case, however, the serious purpose behind the book justifies the use of her photo, with or without her permission: it’s raising awareness of Type 1 Diabetes and raising funds for the search for a cure.
This serious, incurable disease affects both Laura and my husband Gordon. Laura was diagnosed at the age of just three. Her diagnosis hit me like a bereavement, and I went through the classic stages of grief, from initial shock and denial to acceptance.
Determined not to let our family life be dictated by a medical condition, we have learned to move on in positive spirits and live life to the full. I hope that sharing our experience in this book will offer moral support to those in the same situation. It should also help others understand what it’s like to live with Type 1 diabetes, without having to ask potentially embarrassing questions of those who have it.
Profits from sales of the book will be donated to JDRF, the leading charitable funder of Type 1 diabetes research. The more funds raised, the closer we are to a cure – which is nowhere near as close as was misreported in the national press last month. Sigh.
Invitation to the Launch
If you’d like to come to the launch event, join me at Foyles Bookshop, Cabot Circus in Bristol on 13th November from 6-7.30pm for an entertaining evening. Special guests include Paul Coker, who has just climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for JDRF to prove that having Type 1 doesn’t stop you doing anything, and research scientist Dr Kathleen Gillespie, who will be telling us why good cooks make good lab researchers, and vice versa. That could add a whole new twist to the Great British Bake Off.
To help me plan seating and catering, if you’d like to attend, please contact me via the contact form.
“Coming To Terms With Type 1 Diabetes” will also be available to order at bookshops worldwide and from online stores for those who can’t make it to their local bookshop. Please support your local bookshop if you can! The ebook, launched last year, will at the same time be updated to include the revised text plus new material.
(A post written to mark the seventh anniversary of my daughter’s diagnosis with Type 1 Diabetes)
Getting ready to celebrate my daughter Laura’s 11th birthday in 13 days’ time, I can’t help remembering that seven years ago on this day, I was hoping that we’d be out of hospital in time to celebrate her fourth birthday party.
What were we doing in hospital? We’d been urgently despatched by our lovely family doctor, Dr Mather. She’d alerted A&E (aka the Emergency Room) at Bristol Children’s Hospital to expect our arrival.
It was imperative that we were seen straight away to reduce the chance of Laura becoming dangerously ill.
“Are you in a fit state to drive?” Dr Mather asked. “If not, I’ll call an ambulance to blue-light you there.”
With adrenalin surging from the shock of the diagnosis, we were almost in a fit state to fly there, Superman-style, to save our baby.
All Change with Type 1 Diabetes
That was the start of a whole new way of life for us, accommodating the daily need to do things that fly in the face of maternal instinct:
to stick needles in in my child to deliver life-preserving insulin
to prick her fingers, lots of times, every day, to draw blood to test it was neither dangerously high or low
It’s a balancing act, always, 24/7, 365 days of the year. Until a cure is found, there’s never a day off, because if we stopped doing those things, she’d be dead within days. Managing Type 1 diabetes is not for the faint-hearted. But being faint-hearted is not an option.
Seven years feels like it should be a magic number. It’s a special anniversary when people are meant to become suddenly desirous for change or take off in new directions in search of freedom.
There’s no magic here today, except the evidence, as every day, of the wonders of modern medicine and the compassion of our NHS (National Health Service) that supplies us with the resources we need to keep Laura alive.
Another Sea Change
When Laura was diagnosed, we were just getting ready for her to move up from playgroup to school. That’s enough change to challenge any family without the complication of serious illness, but hey, when it’s your kid, you deal with it.
Now she’s poised to move up to secondary school. Next week, as her final fling at the village school, she’ll be doing her SATS exams – the tests that the government imposes on every child in Britain at this stage. The school has been preparing the children for SATS since January, and the stress of SATS is bad enough for children (and parents!) who don’t have special health care needs.
But for Laura, she’ll have the added challenge of taking exams while trying to keep her blood sugar level. Stress can have two effects on a diabetic – it can send them very high or very low. Either state is not ideal for sitting exams – it can make you feel faint, drunk, angry, scared, tearful. Or it might have no effect at all. Trouble is, you don’t know how it will affect you till you’re there.
The supposed treat of a class breakfast in school at the start of each examination day adds further complexity. Moving away from her normal breakfast routine adds risk: if we miscalculate her insulin dose to deal with whatever she chooses there for breakfast, it could scupper her blood sugar for during the exam. But we don’t want to stop her from going to the breakfast, because it’s important for her emotional and psychological well-being not to feel different from her classmates – another potential source of distress.
Fortunately Laura is the most laid-back person I know.
“I’m not worried about SATS,” she assured me yesterday. “I think doing tests is quite fun.”
She’ll be fine, I’m sure. She’s bright, she’s thorough, she has a strong work ethic. She’s not spending the weekend worrying about her SATS – she’s completely absorbed in setting up a Eurovision Song Contest final for her cuddly toys.
Yes, she’s doing fine. But I still wish we could ditch the diabetes, seven years on.
In November, I’ll be launching a paperback of the ebook I published last World Diabetes Day, to raise funds to search for a cure. All proceeds are going to JDRF, the leading charitable funder of Type 1 diabetes research. If you’d like to read the e-book in the meantime, it’s available exclusively via Amazon on Kindle for now, wherever you are in the world. (More info here.) If you’d like to be alerted via email when the paperback is available, please sign up for my mailing list here.
“Some of SilverWood’s many authors have come together to share a variety of articles and items of interest on their blogs for your enjoyment.
“There are some lovely giveaway prizes, and – to stay in keeping with the Spring and rebirth theme at this time of year – some colourful Easter eggs.
“Feel free to collect the eggs, and use them where you like. They were drawn by SilverWood author Peter St John who writes the ‘Gang’ series about a boy who was evacuated to a village near Ipswich during WWII. Meet Peter and his characters on the Blog Hop, along with a host of eggcellent SilverWood authors. 😉
My contribution to the blog hop is a light-hearted very short story that takes as its theme every woman’s love of chocolate. I’ve always loved chocolate, though my relationship with it hasn’t always been easy, especially since my daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 3.
But it is a complete myth that diabetics can’t eat chocolate – they can, they just need to give themselves enough insulin to offset it before they eat it. So if you know a diabetic and are wondering what to give them this Easter, don’t hesitate to give them a chocolate Easter egg – and not “diabetic chocolate” either, an evil concoction made with a sugar substitute that spoils the flavour and has no health benefit compared to normal chocolate. (Yes, there IS a health benefit – to dark chocolate, in moderation, and it’s a useful source of slow-release carbs, which is why Paula Radcliffe eats a couple of squares before running.)
This and other myths surrounding life with Type 1 diabetes will be dispelled in my new book, Coming To Terms With Type 1 Diabetes,which SilverWood will be publishing in paperback form for World Diabetes Day, 14 November 2014. The ebook edition, for which SilverWood provided this beautiful and appropriate cover (the blue circle being the international symbol of diabetes), was published for World Diabetes Day 2013 to raise awareness of the condition and funds for research into a cure. and has gathered many 5* reviews and has been called by a leading GP “one of the best things I’ve ever read about diabetes”. The paperback will have new bonus material added. To keep informed about the book’s progress, and for an invitation to the launch in Foyles’ Bristol Bookshop on Thursday 13th November, please click here to sign up for my mailing list.
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy my chocolate-inspired short story below – and if you like it, please leave a comment. As an incentive, one commenter drawn at random on the day my book is launched will receive a free signed copy of the new paperback – plus a slim bar of chocolate to use as a bookmark!
The Alchemy of Chocolate
If you dip a wafer biscuit into a chocolate fountain enough times, eventually it won’t fit in your mouth. Much the same had happened with Jennifer’s body. It was as if every bar of chocolate that she’d ever eaten had been melted down and painted onto her frame.
Oozing into hidden places, the fat encroached so slowly at first that Jennifer was slow to notice her transformation. Then, one summer’s day while sunbathing on her lawn, she realised that she’d no longer pass the fat test she and her friends had used at school: the ability to lay a ruler flat across her hipbones. (That was the best use they’d found for their geometry sets).
By the time she came to squeeze into an old pair of cords for Bonfire Night, Jennifer observed that where her stomach had once been concave, it now billowed out, like a ship in full sail. No wonder sleeping on her tummy had become uncomfortable.
Trying on a party dress for New Year, she spotted that her waistline only curved inwards when elasticated clothing constrainied her flesh.
By the Spring solstice, the fat had found new places to hide. Her eyelids were thicker, and when inserting an earring, she had to push harder before the post emerged on the other side of the lobe.
Jennifer was glad when spring sunshine came early, because it gave her licence to go bare-legged. Lately, tights had become irksome. Unless she aligned their waistband precisely with that of her knickers, skirt and petticoat, her silhouette resembled the scalloped edge of a doily on a plate of cakes.
At Easter, Jennifer was quick to remove the temptation of her Easter eggs – by eating them. But then, at last, she decided to take action about her surplus fat. Precisely what action, she was not sure. She was unwilling to relinquish chocolate, or indeed any kind of food. Nor did she fancy exercising her way into shape. Poring over a list of how to burn calories, she was horrified by the ridiculous distance she’d have to run to work off a single bar of Dairy Milk. There had to be an easier way. It was just a question of dispersing fat rather than storing it.
Then, lulled to sleep on Midsummer’s Eve by an exceptionally delicious hot chocolate, Jennifer had a remarkable dream. She dreamed of the perfect recipe for weight loss.
Next morning on waking, she knew exactly what to do. She rushed downstairs to her kitchen and assembled in a mixing bowl the ingredients dictated by her dream. Instead of stopping to wonder how this magical formula could require only store-cupboard staples, she got on with beating the mixture, her wooden spoon a biscuit-coloured blur.
Once the batter was blended, she tipped it into a saucepan and set it over a low heat, chanting the mantra that had also come to her in the dream. When the mixture was smooth and warm as the perfect waistline, she decanted it into a jug and popped it in the fridge. She knew instinctively that this was the correct next step.
When she arrived at her office for work, she was so impatient for nightfall – the witching hour, or so her dream had told her – that she could hardly concentrate on her job.
As soon as she arrived home, she slipped on her nightie, took the jug from the fridge and with a medicine spoon measured out the dose prescribed in her dream. She swallowed the quivering spoonful in a rush, before she could change her mind and retired to bed to await the results. The anxious fluttering in her tummy didn’t stop her from tumbling into solid, dreamless sleep.
Waking next morning, she climbed out of bed, slipped off her nightdress and flung it distractedly on the bed. Reaching with her right hand behind the back of her neck, she grasped what the previous night’s dream had told her she would find just above the nubbly bone at the top of her spine: a trapezoidal zip-pull. She grasped the metal.
Bending her head forward to clear her long dark hair out of the way, Jennifer tugged the zip-pull between thumb and forefinger as far as she could. Then she stretched her left hand up behind her back to meet the right one, and continued pulling the zip down, slowly, slowly, till it reached the base of her backbone.
As the zip-pull stopped abruptly at her coccyx, the thick flesh covering Jennifer’s upper back and shoulders started to feel loose. Soon she was easing off the entire outer casing of flesh as instinctively as a snake sheds its skin. Wriggling her hips and thighs to dislodge this pudgy onesie, she sat down on the bed, peeled it off her calves and finally stepped out of it on to the bedside rug.
Only now did she have the courage to glance in the dressing table mirror. There, to her delight, in a flawless casing of fresh skin, was her slender teenage outline. It was like meeting a long-lost, much-missed friend.
Glancing down at the discarded, Jennifer-shaped fat that lay perfectly still on floor, she wondered what on earth to do with it.
But of course! It was recycling day. She could simply put it in the green wheelie bin. After all, it should compost down as readily as bacon rind. Better to throw it in the wheelie bin than put it out in the garden for the birds.
With a new lightness of tread, Jennifer took a few steps around the bedroom. She felt decidedly different. The top of her thighs no longer rubbed together, her arms lay straighter against her sides, and she no longer felt that her stomach had been lagged, like the insulating jacket wrapped round a hot water tank.
Beginning to enjoy the full effect, Jennifer turned this way and that. But it wasn’t the slim reflection in the dressing-table mirror that caused her to smile. It wasn’t the realisation that her low-cost recipe would fetch a fortune on the heaving market for diet products. Nor was it the recognition that she’d achieving every slimmer’s dream of alchemy, turning fat into gold. It was the thought that she could now eat as much chocolate as she liked, without ever having to worry about gaining weight. It was a dream come true.
This story features in “Quick Change”, my first collection of flash fiction, which you can buy from Amazon here: Quick Change.
My post is just one of many interesting articles in the SilverWood Spring Blog Hop. To hop forward to read these, please click on the links below. You’ll also find more colourful Easter eggs to collect and some more giveaway prizes!
Last Thursday I officially launched my new e-book in style. I took to the airwaves of our local BBC radio station for an interview on its popular morning show to tell the world (or at least the county of Gloucestershire) all about Coming To Terms With Type 1 Diabetes: One Family’s Story of Life After Diagnosis.
Still buzzing with the adrenalin triggered by a busy few weeks preparing the e-book, I drove to the station’s Gloucestershire study in glorious late autumn sunshine.
Welcomed with a cup of tea by a helpful, smiling receptionist (what a great job to have, listening to the radio and meeting people all day!), I was soon shown in to the studio where Chris Baxter’s three-hour long programme was already in full swing. (I’d been listening to it in the car on my journey to tune myself in.)
I’d never been interviewed inside a studio before – previously it’s been down the line or as part of an outside broadcast, most recently at the Cheltenham Literature Festival last month. (More about that here.)
In The Hot Seat
After the bright sunshine outside on the noisy London Road, the thickly padded studio was dark and peaceful, womb-like and comforting. A big smile across the desk from presenter Chris Baxter put me immediately at my ease, and we were soon chatting at length about my book.
Chris Baxter is a kind, sympathetic and caring type whose programme is a real community service, reporting on achievements and concerns of local folk and bringing them together for common causes. I was delighted when a listener phoned to join to our discussion.
“I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 68 years ago, and I still do all my own gardening,” she said proudly. “I’m coeliac too, but that’s just another diet to get on with.”
Just what the anxious patient wants to hear, or the anxious parent of a newly-diagnosed child, or indeed the medical professionals whose lives revolve around keeping the chronically ill healthy.
That’s exactly who my e-book is aimed at, so you can imagine my delight when one of the earliest reviewers turned out to be Dr Carol Cooper, the medical journalist, broadcaster, and lecturer to doctors in communication and consultation skills. She summarised the book as follows:
“It’s a lovely uplifting little book, full of insight, wit, and practical know-how. I think it will appeal to anyone with Type 1 Diabetes and their family. Health professionals would also find it useful. The book is beautifully written. A little treasure as well as a ray of hope.”
Over And Out
After the interview was over, the receptionist kindly took a souvenir photo of me looking a bit pleased with myself. Then I stepped out, blinking, into the bright sunshine, only to realise halfway back to my car that I’d left my black beret on the floor of the studio. I retrace my steps to retrieve it. (I think I was stretching the limits of the receptionist’s job description that day.)
Later, the show’s producer kindly emailed me some .mp3 files of the interview, spread across two files because I’d talked too much to fit into one easily emailable package. I have BBC Radio Gloucestershire’s kind permission to share them here with you, for the benefit of my friends who can’t catch the show on BBC iPlayer because they live outside of the UK. I hope you enjoy the interview. I certainly did!
Click here to hear the first part:
Click here to hear the second part:
To my delight and surprise, by the time I got home, my e-book was already in the Amazon bestseller charts in its category, #4 in the “Health and Fitness > Disorders and Diseases” chart! Admittedly, I’ve never had a burning ambition to top that particular chart before, but if it helps raise funds to find a cure for Type 1 Diabetes, that’s fine by me!
To order your copy of my e-book in the UK from Amazon, click this link . In any other country, just enter my name and “Coming To Terms With Type 1 Diabetes”, and it should magically appear. UK price is £1.99, US $2.99, and all profits go to the Type 1 diabetes research charity, JDRF. Thank you for your support.