“Diabetes Rising” by Dan Hurley

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.

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Scott K. Johnson

Patient voice, speaker, writer, advocate. Living life with diabetes and telling my story. Patient Success Manager, USA for mySugr (All opinions expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent the position of my employer).

Diagnosed in April of 1980, I recognize the incredible mental struggle of living with diabetes. Read more…