I first heard of Dan Hurley and his book, “Diabetes Rising“, over at Amy’s site (Diabetes Mine).

She did a two part interview about a year ago (Part 1, Part 2), and there was something about what Dan said that pulled at my emotions.

He says about his approach to the book:

… Even with this best medical advice, I feel that
the ‘just try harder’ approach is not going to work for a lot of people.
If you’re very educated, motivated, and have a good attitude, you can
kind of stumble your way through it. But obviously tons and tons of
people don’t have all those attributes… something else is needed to help
them.

How many times have you felt you needed to “just try harder?”  Or worse yet, been told you “just need to try harder?”  I feel that way almost all the time!  Yet I’m always mentally exhausted from it all.  Try harder?

After Amy’s interviews the book fell off my radar.  The book wasn’t available for order at that time, and my attention span just didn’t last.

While down in Florida for the Roche Summit and CWD Friends For Life Conference, Lili and her husband told me they bought a copy of his book at his booth.  I said “wait – you mean he’s HERE?” and made a dash for the booth.  It was weird for me to say “Hi Dan, Uh… I’m a big fan, but haven’t actually read your book yet…”

I told him that I had seen the interviews on Amy’s site and they had really piqued my interest.  He was extremely pleasant.  We chatted for a minute, he signed my book, then I grabbed a picture with him.

"Dan Hurley - Diabetes Rising"

I wasn’t sure I’d like the book.  I figured with a name like “Diabetes Rising” it would be all about type 2 diabetes and the panic the world is in.  That wasn’t the case at all.  There was a lot about both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.  Dan is a very scholarly looking fellow, complete with a bow-tie and all, which set me up to expect a very dry and technical book.  When I got to the title of the first chapter, “Pissing Evil”, I smirked a bit and had a feeling that I would enjoy Dan’s style.

There were a couple of paragraphs that just shouted to my soul, and I
asked Dan for permission to quote them here.

The Computer Cure – The Quest for an Artificial Pancreas
In Chapter 10, Dan covers some information about his experiences being connected to an artificial pancreas for a day.  He’s talking with Marc Breton, PhD, the systems engineer who was designing the software to control the artificial pancreas.  Dan asked Marc “why, from his perspective as a programmer, is controlling blood sugar so maddeningly complicated even though it involves just two variables, insulin and sugar level?”  Marc came up with an almost perfect metaphor to explain it (italics mine):

The glucose you measure with a continuous monitor was accurate fifteen minutes ago.  The insulin you take does not start acting for twenty minutes, has a peak of action around forty-five minutes, and it continues to act for up to three hours.  So you are acting on out-of-date data, and you’re using a mode of action that will only kick in much later on.  It’s like you’re driving a car down a winding road — but you aren’t able to see that the road turned until you are fifteen yards past it, and turning the wheel will have no effect for two hundred yards more. If you’re driving a car like that, you’d better have a good map.

Two sections later in Chapter 10, Dan is now hooked up to a closed-loop trial system:

At 11:07 P.M., watching Seinfeld, I had a sudden urge to go running down the hall, skipping and yelling, in celebration of not having to worry about my insulin and sugar levels — of being, for one night only, magically freed of my diabetes.  And then I felt myself close to tears, thinking what a pain in the ass, and how phenomenally distracting, it is to be constantly worrying about my goddamn sugars, instead of focusing on my work and my family and my friends and my life.

I found myself near tears just from reading that – but am admittedly a softy when it comes to the emotional prices we all pay living with diabetes.  There was plenty of other great writing before and after chapter 10, of course, but these two quotes really pulled me.

I really enjoyed reading Dan’s book.  His writing style entertained me, and spoke to me beyond the words on the page.  There’s a certain wisdom that comes from living a long time with something like diabetes, and I got a lot of that from everything Dan shared.

  • http://diabetesdaily.com/farrell Bernard Farrell

    Scott, thanks for the great recommendation. I’ll read this one after I finish Will’s book (arrived on Thursday) and another excellent one about the history of diabetes.

  • http://www.candyheartsblog.com/ Wendy

    Awesome review!!!!! Thanks so much!!

  • http://wortheverypenny.blogspot.com Bob Pedersen

    “Just try harder” implies that the core problem is not a disease but a character flaw, which is demeaning cattle effluent.

  • http://www.diabetesmine.com AmyT

    Hi Scott,
    I’m so glad you got to meet Dan! I felt the same way about his words. Who else understands living with this @#$! thing than those of constantly dealing with the pain-in-the-ass of it?
    We PWDs may not agree on approaches to everything, but we share something special that “others” cannot understand.
    Yours ;)
    - Amy

  • http://www.kellywpa.wordpress.com Kelly Booth

    I have heard of this book but really like your write up. I will definitely add it to my must get list. Thanks!

  • http://theconsciousdiabetic.blogspot.com/ Ophir

    Hi Scott,
    I really appreciated your review of the “Diabetes Rising” and especially the last quote on the constant worry of what the blood sugars are doing. I have definitely felt that too as a T1, and it is consoling to share with others.
    As for “just try harder”, argh!!!!! Yeah, whatever. It is so unbelievably damaging to self-esteem to feel that whatever you do, it isn’t enough to get the blood sugars in gear. Let us not forget that most of diabetes is out of our control! Of course, we can eat healthy, exercise, check sugars, and so on. But it’s a lot of hard work to do it all perfectly all the time.
    Thanks for sharing, Scott.

  • Schmancy

    As always an awsome post. I’ve never heard of this book, however will now go to my local bookstore to see if I might be able to get a copy!
    Thanks again Scott!

  • http://textingmypancreas.blogspot.com Kim

    This book’s a new one for me too – thanks for reviewing it! “Just try harder” is one of the most frustrating things to hear – it’s right up there with “Should you be eating that?”.

  • Denny

    Regrettably, Diabetes Rising has still not been published electronically and is not available in a Kindle edition. Living in China, I am waiting for my next business trip to the States before I can read it.

  • http://sugarsick.blogspot.com Kendra

    Just put this book on hold at my local library. Thanks, Scott!
    (That last quote made me cry, too.)

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