Posted in Family, Type 1 diabetes, Writing

It’s Official! The New Paperback of My Diabetes Book

Cover front page onlyI’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.

Debbie and Laura Young by the table of cakes!
Ready to welcome our guests (Photo by Danielle Angell)
  • 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.
Debbie at signing table with book buyer
Happily signing books – with Lisa Hirst (Photo by Jacky Taylor)

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.

Posted in Family, Type 1 diabetes

The Seven Year Itch & Type 1 Diabetes

(A post written to mark the seventh anniversary of my daughter’s diagnosis with Type 1 Diabetes)

Debbie and Laura at TIm's house
Laura doesn’t remember being without 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.

Lucky Seven?

Laura and Debbie Young on a hill
With Laura, aged 7

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

Laura and friend at JDRF Youth Ambassador Event
Laura hugs a JDRF mascot for luck

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.

Laid-Back Laura

Laura head and shoulders
Calm as ever

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.

Cover of my new book, "Coming To Terms with Type 1 Diabetes"
Click cover for more info

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.  

 

Posted in Personal life, Self-publishing, Type 1 diabetes, Writing

International Friendships & Chance Meetings Online

FIS logoA post about making new friends and keeping old friends all over the world via the internet

As the former pupil of an international school, one of the reasons I love the internet is that it has enabled us to reconnect, decades later, wherever we now live.

I spent four of my teenage years at Frankfurt International School (FIS), which in those days was attended by children of around 60 nationalities. Not only did I make friends from countries I’d never visited, I even discovered some new countries that I’d never heard of, and some, in those Iron-Curtained days,which didn’t even officially exist. Yes, Estonia, I’m talking about you. Kudos to Paul who in the school yearbook stated his nationality as Estonian, even though I suspect his passport was either American or Russian.You can take the boy out of Estonia, but…

I asserted my own national status equally proudly, retaining my British accent when my few fellow countrymen in the school acquired the American twang dominated the classrooms. All lessons were officially taught in English, apart from French and German.

Opening International Doors

The author graduating from her American-style high school in 1978
As valedictorian at the 1978 FIS graduation ceremony: “And in 30 years time, I’ll come back and tell you how I became a writer”

Despite spending most of my first 14 years in a sheltered London suburbia (Sidcup, to be precise), passing the next four years in an international community made it second nature, once the internet had been invented, for me to make new international friendships online, as well as renewing old connections from my schooldays.

I get a particular thrill when friends from different parts of my past hook up with each other online, such as a Becky, former neighbour befriending Janet, a past Californian classmate, and Katherine, a Sidcup schoolmate meeting – yes, meeting in real life – Jacky, a newer friend from recent years. They’d got into conversation while replying to my Facebook posts and something just clicked between them, if you’ll excuse the IT pun.

I now look out for and encourage such connections, loving the feeling that the internet is turning the world into a village. As an optimist, I prefer that rosy view to the more cynical notion that the internet’s turning global citizens into international spies. (Don’t get me started about Google Earth…)

Publishing Connections

Glu logo

Decades after leaving school, my career and family developments have caused me to join many new networks. Occasionally these also spark serendipitous connections. Just lately, in my role of commissioning editor of The Alliance of Independent Authors’ blog, I was pleased to receive a request from Christine Frost, a self-published author who’d written a blog post for me about the Boston Book Festival. She now invited me to write for the website of a US-based online community called GLU aimed at those affected by Type 1 diabetes.

Cover of "Coming To Terms With Type 1 Diabte
Now out in ebook – paperback to be published later this year

I’d had no idea that Christine had any interest in diabetes, but she’d noticed my ebook, Coming To Terms With Type 1 Diabetes. Long story short: the result was the publication earlier this week of my article on Glu’s website. Being a British writer, I was very pleased to have this opportunity to reach a largely US audience, and also to find out about this interesting diabetes-related website that otherwise might have passed me by. Thank you, Christine, for this opportunity – another fine example of serendipitous connections on the internet!

Global Presence

My friend Norio in front of Mount Fuji with my book
Our man in Japan, near Mount Fuji

For any author, getting your books into foreign parts is always a thrill, and I couldn’t close this article without thanking Norio, a former classmate and good friend from my FIS days, for taking my first book on his travels, like some kind of global ambassador. Thank you, Norio – old friends are pure gold!

  • Who have you connected with from your past on the internet?
  • What’s the most obscure place the internet has helped you reach?
  • Do tell, I’d love to know!

 

 

 

Posted in Type 1 diabetes

New Diabetes E-Book Takes To The Airwaves

Cover of my new book, "Coming To Terms with Type 1 Diabetes"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

Debbie Young at BBC Radio Glos studio
Photo credit: BBC Radio Glos receptionist!

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.

Posted in Family, Self-publishing, Type 1 diabetes, Writing

Sneak Preview of My Next Book – A Charity Fundraiser for Diabetes Research

Cover of my new book, "Coming To Terms with Type 1 Diabetes"
This beautiful book cover design has been generously donated by the assisted publishing service SilverWood Books. Blue is the international colour for diabetes, and the circle is the symbol of World Diabetes Day.

A week today, on World Diabetes Day 2013, I’ll be launching my latest book, a short e-book about how Type 1 Diabetes has affected my family. Its prime purpose is to raise funds for the search for a cure, via Type 1 Diabetes charity JDRF

As close friends, family and regular readers of this blog will know, my husband and our ten-year-old daughter Laura both have Type 1 Diabetes, a serious incurable condition that requires careful management every day to guard against unacceptable short-term and long-term health risks.

The book started out as a series of occasional blog posts here, addressing different aspects of living with Type 1 Diabetes. It brings together all of these posts in one place, plus extra material written especially for the book.

One of the new additions is an excellent Foreword, kindly provided by the broadcaster Justin Webb, who co-presents BBC Radio 4’s influential Today programme, and who also has a child with Type 1 Diabetes.

English: BBC Television presenter Justin Webb
BBC Radio 4 presenter Justin Webb has written the Foreword (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is an extract:

“For families around Britain and around the world – today and tomorrow and for every day until a cure is found – a diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes is a life-altering, life-worsening piece of news…

“For parents, for the children themselves, all is changed. Some cope badly and suffer the awful consequences of complications and added misery. But some people have within them … the strength to fight back…

“This book has been written by someone who is ready and willing and able to fight back, and I commend her for it.

“Debbie Young has written a moving and personal testimony. I hope it inspires people to support the work of JDRF. And to salute the pioneers who first helped Type 1 Diabetics to stay alive, and nowadays helps them to live increasingly normal lives. This is a story that begins with harsh reality but encompasses success as well. It is a story of hope and progress, and one day it must end, in triumph.”

The funds raised by this short e-book will help bring that triumph closer.

Publication Details

SilverWood Books logo
SilverWood Books logo

The e-book will be available exclusively from Amazon from 14th November. The retail price will be £1.99 in the UK, and the equivalent in all Amazon territories around the world. All profits from every copy sold will go to JDRF, the international charity for Type 1 Diabetes.

The profit will be around 70% of the retail price. because the book has cost nothing but time to produce. Justin Webb and my author and publisher friends have given their services free of charge. Special thanks to SilverWood Books for their beautiful cover design, to novelist Joanne Phillips and poet Shirley Wright for proofreading, and to many other friends for reading the draft copy in advance of publication.

I will also be very grateful to anyone who is willing to post a book review on Amazon, because the more reviews a book has, the more visible it becomes on Amazon, thus increasing sales opportunities.

As the book is relatively short – around 8,000 words – there are currently no plans for a print version, but next year I’m hoping to publish an anthology of essays by other writers whose lives have been affected by Type 1 Diabetes, and I may incorporate this first book as a part of that project. Anyone who would be interested in contributing a piece to the 2014 book is warmly invited to register their interest via the contact form on this website.