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Book Review: Conquering Diabetes &#8211 A Patient-Oriented Approach

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It’s almost impossible to walk into a bookstore or look at a bestseller list these days without seeing some new “miracle cure” health book. Conquering Diabetes by Dr. Ann Peters isn’t in that category. Rather than promise miracle solutions, it offers a practical, patient-oriented approach toward dealing with diabetes.

There’s a potentially large market out there for this type of work. The National Institutes of Health estimates that, as of 2002, 18.2 million people &#8211 6.3 percent of the population &#8211 had diabetes. Significantly, 5.2 million of those were undiagnosed. It’s a condition that becomes more prevalent with age. Less than one percent of Americans under age 20 have diabetes. For people older than 20, 8.7 percent have diabetes. Among those 60 and older, the figure rises to more than 18 percent

Rather than promising some fast and easy solution, Conquering Diabetes takes and advocates a deliberate practice and approach. Recognizing diabetes has no cure (yet, as Peters says), the book focuses on methods to try to conquer in the battle against the condition and avoid or minimize the serious health conditions that can accompany it.

Peters starts with the basics of diabetes and how it is diagnosed and then gradually covers virtually the entire spectrum of the disease. Early on, though, she urges patients to take charge of their health care and assemble a “team” of physicians to assist them in their efforts to conquer the disease and prevent the complications it can cause. She not only urges patients to interview physicians, she believes it crucial for patients to get copies of and be intimately familiar with their health and test records. At bottom, this is an effort to make the patient a partner in treatment rather than a passive participant.

After the basics, Peters takes a closer look at “prediabetes,” the conditions which can greatly increase the chances of developing diabetes. In that respect, Peters even suggests the possibility of using some diabetic medications to attempt to avoid development of the disease. She then explores Type 2 diabetes, more commonly known in the past as adult onset diabetes. Peters looks closely at the various medications available to treat the disease yet does so in a fashion that is not too technical for the average individual. Finally, she looks at Type 1 diabetes, the kind that exists in individuals who no longer produce any insulin, making them dependent upon insulin injections. Once again, the approach is not so technical to overwhelm the reader but, rather, to make them as fully educated as possible.

The book’s structure allows the reader to be somewhat selective in what they read. Yet because there are common threads to the prevention and treatment of each of these conditions, such as diet and exercise, there are chapters discussing each condition that pertain equally as well to the other conditions. Peters addresses the diet and exercise components with the same easy to understand approach she takes in discussing medication. Some may balk at some of the suggestions. For example, Dr. Peters advocates 45 to 60 minutes of exercise a day for five days a week. At the same time, she realizes that can be difficult in modern society. She suggests methods of working toward those goals. And she maintains and reinforces her patient-oriented approach, stressing that the big picture can’t be lost in a day or two of shortcomings. “Give yourself permission to be human,” she writes. “One imperfect day or week of diabetes management won’t cause you permanent harm. But one imperfect year just might.”

While Conquering Diabetes does ulitimately give a few bullet-point suggestions, the real focus is on a comprehensive view and approach toward the subject. Whether patient empowerment and responsibility combined with the use of new drugs and research is a cutting-edge approach may be open for debate. Less open for debate is that the educational content and practical methods in this book make it one that belongs on the bookshelf of anyone who has diabetes, has a family member with that condition or is at risk for developing the disease.

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About Tim Gebhart

Tim Gebhart is a book addict living in Sioux Falls, S.D., where he practices law to provide shelter for his family, books and dogs.