The Girl’s Guide to Diabetes by Sysy Morales
Aside from great advice on many aspects of life with diabetes, this book is often a compilation of different voices, gathered and arranged by Amy, into topics such as Eating and Motherhood and Exercise. The result, I found, was a chicken soup for the diabetic woman’s soul. Amy talks a lot about her own experience with type 1 diabetes all throughout the book and adds the separate perspectives of many other women with diabetes from all walks of life.
I was particularly surprised by how emotional I became while reading this book. I wasn’t expecting this at all. This book portrays the honest and open feelings and thoughts of women struggling with diabetes and since I’m struggling with diabetes, I couldn’t help but relate and find comfort in the fact that I certainly am not alone…..
Almost 11 percent (12.6 million) of women age 20 or older have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. The disease poses special challenges for women in large part because of hormonal changes that affect blood sugars. Mercer, diagnosed at 14 with type 1 diabetes, has used her experience, as well as interviews with medical professionals and other women living with the disease, to compile this volume. Imparting critical information for diabetic women in pursuit of a healthy and fulfilling life, Mercer covers a range of topics, including finding the right medical team, gaining control through information and communication, managing adolescence, diet, and exercise. Special attention is given to eating disorders and body image; dating, sex, and marriage; pregnancy and motherhood; and telling others about one’s condition. VERDICT An excellent resource for those seeking information about the impact of diabetes on women’s lives; the many personal stories lend warmth and accessibility.—J.M.S.
Diabetes Mine Book Review:
It’s always refreshing to read educational books about diabetes that are written by people with diabetes. Somehow, the combination of thoroughly researched information coupled with a realistic perspective is key in making diabetes education tolerable. And we can’t think of a better researched guide to the nuanced life of a woman with diabetes than Amy Stockwell Mercer’s new book The Smart Woman’s Guide to Diabetes — which we previewed in Amy’s guest post here at the ‘Mine not long ago. Now we’ve had a chance to look the book over ourselves…
With 25 years of diabetes life experience herself, Amy has penned a comprehensive guide to the various unique aspects of living with diabetes as a woman. She touches on everything from dealing with emotions at diagnosis, to eating and exercise, to dating, sex and motherhood. Amy included personal stories from over 20 women with diabetes, including our own Amy Tenderich. But it’s not just a compilation of personal anecdotes. The author also includes Q&As with endocrinologist Dr. Liz Stephens, a type 1 PWD herself and Dr. Sheri Colberg, exercise expert and type 1 PWD, plus expert advice from many other professionals, including Dr. Lois Jovanovic (on pregnancy) and Dr. Ann Goebl-Fabbri(on eating disorders).
The anecdotes from all the women are really heartfelt, and I appreciate the honesty these women bring to the table. The chapters on diet and body image are quite insightful, because so many women naturally have a challenging relationship with food and their own bodies, and diabetes makes it all doubly difficult.
As an actual guidebook on managing the illness, some chapters don’t go into as much detail as a woman might need (for instance, a woman planning a pregnancy would probably want to pick up a copy of Cheryl Alkon’s Balancing Pregnancy with Pre-existing Diabetes). But the chapter on diagnosis is something I can see a lot of newly diagnosed adults really benefiting from, with an emphasis on the fact that the emotions we women feel are perfectly normal and that you are not alone.
One of my favorite lines from the book is from Charla, who was diagnosed with type 1 as a teen and suffered with an eating disorder as she got older. She writes, “I’m still a stubborn person and I still fight, but now it’s fighting to take care of myself to win against diabetes. All the energy I used to put into hating my diabetes, now I use to take care of myself. My life has changed enormously.”
And along the same lines, type 1 PWD Rachel Garlinghouse reflected on how her diabetes affects her ability to be a mother, which as a newly married woman is something I’m currently thinking about myself. She says: “I know that if I do not put my health first, everyone in my family will suffer. Diabetes or not, how I treat myself is likely how my daughters will learn to treat themselves.”
In other words, the book is full of really simple but powerful sentiments that any woman with diabetes will appreciate!
I also think this book would be an excellent gift to any type 3s in your life. Whether it’s your husband, a new guy in your life, or maybe your parents if you were diagnosed as an adult. The Smart Woman’s Guide to Diabetes highlights all of the challenges of diabetes and shows great examples of strong women who have overcome the obstacles…..
Last week I was shopping for new running shoes and brought home a pair that markets itself as, “made for a woman’s foot.” How smart, I thought. After all, men and women are built differently and move differently, so it makes sense I’ll be more comfortable and perform better in a shoe made for women. Amy Stockwell Mercer employs the same wisdom in her new book, “The Smart Woman’s Guide to Diabetes.” Amy’s exhaustive guide covers the issues a woman with diabetes faces, including issues of self-image, body image, identity, and self-esteem through puberty, adolescence, menstruation, dating, dieting, pregnancy, motherhood, work, travel and growing old.
Amy’s voice acts as the book’s rudder. She introduces each chapter with her own story -Amy got type 1 diabetes twenty-five years ago at the age of fourteen and is now a wife, mother of three boys, athlete and writer – and accompanying facts. A host of women with type 1 and type 2 diabetes share pieces of their stories, how they felt or dealt with their issues, from heart-wrenching difficulties with food to questions over child-bearing and child-rearing. Female medical professionals provide tips and recommendations. What shines through the book is the honesty with which the women share their successes and struggles……
This is not a very large book, but I was surprised how complete and comprehensive it is. It is very nicely organized, allowing a lot of important information to be packed into a nice portable book. It gets right to the meat of the matter while still being a good read.
The book covers personal issues such as dating, sex, marriage, motherhood and body image. It even covers subjects such as travel, work, and school. Again, we get the information from someone sharing their own experiences with us making it more personal and relatable.
When you visit your doctor, you usually get one-size-fits-all information. In addition, your physician does not have the time to give very much practical life or coping advice. It is up to you to do additional research and find information for your own unique situation. I always encourage friends with diabetes to start on a journey of self-education via books, magazines, internet searches and peer support groups.
Often gender-specific information is limited in texts or restricted to a small blurb. Because of this, some information often comes as a surprise to women who have had diabetes for a while. For example, did you know your menstrual periods are affected by diabetes and vice versa? Do you know how birth control pills can affect you? This is very handy and important information, but unfortunately much of it is not well-known. Obviously, there is enough gender-specific information to, well, fill a book and the author has done an excellent job of this.
Another impressive feat is that usually dry factual medical information and statistics seem more interesting as they are interspersed within the context of the personal experiences of the author and others. It feels as if you are chatting with a group of friends who truly understand what it is like to live as a woman with diabetes and it does not get boring or become a chore to read…..
I just read The Smart Woman’s Guide to Diabetes, by TuDiabetes member Amy Stockwell Mercer. How wonderful to have folks in our community who devote themselves whole-heartedly to helping others with diabetes!
The 200+-page long book is largely a compendium of quotes from women who have diabetes and/or who provide health services to people with diabetes. As such, it presents a wide variety of experiences, viewpoints and approaches to diabetes management. This is the greatest strength of this book, making it of most use to recently diagnosed women (whatever stage of life they may be) who are trying to navigate unfamiliar thoughts, feelings and concerns about themselves, their health and their safety.
Well worth a look, especially if you’re new to diabetes!