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My husband was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in his early forties, some four years before I met him. Unfortunately, my knowledge of the disease was extremely limited, as I knew very little other than listening to the scare mongering stories that would occasionally dominate the news. My knowledge went only as far as being aware that the pancreas of a type 1 diabetic produces no insulin and the pancreas of a type 2 diabetic does not produce enough insulin. Whilst my husband attempted to educate me he is somewhat backwards in coming forwards in relation to his diabetes, so it was necessary for me to find a book so that I could fully understand the disease. The book I decided upon is published in association with The British Medical Association and is named Understanding Diabetes and this review discusses my thoughts.
The book, which is slightly smaller than A5 size consists of 180 pages, which are of a high quality paper with a good sized font and easy to read text. I like the fact that the soft cover is protected with a sturdy transparent sleeve, particularly as this is a book that I will regularly use for reference purposes. The book has been broken down into fifteen chapters with the introduction spanning over twelve pages where we learn about the disease, such as the history, the discovery of insulin, the different types of diabetes and the symptoms. The colourful drawings, which accompany some of the text assisted me greatly in gaining a better understanding of the effect that insulin has on a healthy person. Whilst the book has been published in association with the BMA and written by a Professor of Clinical Medicine, it is not written in an academic style and offers easy, interesting and educational reading.
The book goes on to discuss the initial diagnosis followed by diet, which for type 2 diabetics is often sufficient to control the disease. As my husband's diabetes is type 1 his disease is controlled by carefully calculating units of insulin in relation to the grams of carbohydrates that he consumes. The book clearly explains the effects carbohydrates have on the body and discusses those that are slow-releasing, which assist greatly in stabilising and maintaining blood sugar levels and we are provided with details of slow-releasing carbohydrates. Consequently, a well balanced diet is an important element for diabetics and is an area that I initially found quite difficult. However, the book provided me with a wealth of valuable knowledge where I learned which foods help to maintain blood sugar levels.
I found the chapter on medication extremely interesting as it raised my awareness of the two different types of insulin that my husband is prescribed; one of which is fast-acting for use throughout the day and the other slow-acting, which he injects just before bedtime. This section of the book explains how different types of insulin react with the body and the possible side effects. The chapter on checking glucose levels was of real interest to me, particularly as my husband has on two occasions suffered with ketoacidosis, which is when the blood sugar levels are too high and he has subsequently collapsed and ended up in hospital. I have learned how to check my husband's blood sugar levels and when we are out together I carry around a glucagon pen, so that I can quickly inject him before summoning emergency assistance.
Whilst I will frequently practice with checking my husband's blood sugar levels and subsequently, inject insulin into his stomach, I found the book extremely helpful as it informed me of the correct ways to carry out these tasks. At the end of each chapter is a useful "key points" section, which highlights the most important points discussed. The book discusses each and every aspect of diabetes such as hypoglycaemic attacks, which is when the blood sugar levels drop too low and is something that my husband often suffers during the hot weather. Further chapters of the book discuss diabetes in children, pregnancy, exercise and caring for the body, such as regular checks on the feet and eyes.
The Questions and Answers section is particularly useful as I had so many questions with the most concerning being that of my husband's eyesight, but I learned that if the condition is carefully managed the chances of any issues are slim. However, my husband is frequently slack with managing his condition and this is one of the reasons why I needed to fully educate myself with the disease as he regularly needs prompting from me! The list of useful addresses was of great benefit to us, as we obtained details from a company so that we could order an SOS Talisman bracelet for my husband, which discretely contains details of all of his medication.
The index towards the end of the book enables quick and easy reference with every issue related to diabetes being listed. The final section of the book contains several blank pages for notes although this is not a section we have ever used as we do not wish to spoil the book. I cannot recommend this book highly enough for those people who are living with someone with diabetes or for someone who has recently been diagnosed. It offers a rich source of information in an uncomplicated way and has most certainly given me a full understanding of the disease and how to help my husband. I cannot admit that I don't worry about my husband's condition, particularly as there are a number of extremely nasty side effects such as his heart and nerve endings being affected due to his GP's initial failure to diagnose the disease and I often wonder what the future holds. However, with my newly gained knowledge I can ensure that he is taking all of the necessary precautions and managing the disease to the best of his ability.
I purchased my copy from Boots where they offer a host of the same range books on a variety of health topics. I have checked on Amazon to obtain a current price and at the time of writing you can purchase Understanding Diabetes for £3.69 inclusive of postage and packing, which is a 20% discount on its usual price of £4.75.
Written by Professor Rudy Bilous
Published by Family Doctor Publications Ltd in association with The British Medical Association
ISBN - 1-903474-36-1
I hope you found my review useful and thanks for reading.