If you’re looking for a balanced and unbiased overview on this particular book, you are not likely to find it.
There’s just no way to distance myself from the simple fact that Kerri Sparling isn’t merely a great friend, but someone I’ve had the privilege of reading for several decades now through her blog .
We at the DOC (diabetes online community) know and love her as a eloquent and humorous blogger, one of the first to launch her site at 2005, who was critical in connecting our voices and bringing people together as a community. Of course, apart from her main role as a proud mother to a near 4-year-old, we also know Kerri as a diabetes advocate who travels the world speaking at conferences and events and always being a great voice in our D-Community.
And we can add diabetes novel author to the list!
I’ve heard some say that Balancing Diabetes is basically a book-version of her blog… so naturally I could not wait to get my hands on this brand new 200-page volume, explained this way about the book jacket:
In Balancing Diabetes, diabetes online community writer Kerri Sparling compiles approaches utilized by people with diabetes and their caregivers to deliver that elusive balance in their lives. Whether kid, type 1 or type 2, partner or caregiver, female or male, men and women in the diabetes world will find themselves in this book and be motivated by the commonality of the search for balance.
And the book doesn’t disappoint!
The same as all Kerri’s writing, I found that Balancing Diabetes captured me her words paint a picture, draw you in, make you smile, and do everything good story-telling is assumed to: “Show, do not tell.” You may listen to her voice in the pages (or computer screen) just as if she had been there talking to you in person.
The book delivers on the elongated title reference to “dialog” — because Kerri brings in different voices to not only address the particular subject matter of the chapter available, except for her to actually build from and converse with. Many novels of course comprise vignettes of community voices to help highlight points, but Kerri does this in a way that feels like she’s actually conversing with these voices. In other words, they are not only pop-out boxes of articles which might be easily removed; they are weaved into the story and are just as essential as what Kerri is writing from her own standpoint. Everything feels attached, as the myriad voices mix to tell a persuasive story.
Yes, clearly I am a fan, that went into the reading of this book with a prejudice that I was going to enjoy it. I am a longtime follower of Kerri’s, as she was the first diabetes blogger I’d ever found back in 2005. She’s currently in her 28th year of living with type 1, recognized at age six in 1986, only a couple of years later I was. Her writing spoke to me in the beginning, before I finally connected with others writing about diabetes on the internet (including Amy here at the ‘Mine), and I’ve always appreciated her ability to compose so magically. I compare her to my favourite newspaper columnists and authors who constantly make me thankful to have the privilege of reading them. Actually, she’s such a gifted author, it makes one wonder what took her so long to get around to writing a novel? 😉
Chatting with her on the telephone the other day, Kerri told me that she’d always wanted to write a novel, ever since she was a little woman. Of course, finding a subject was always the question, however, as her diabetes writing and blogging improved, the subject seemed clear. And then she was approached by Spry Publishing about the possibility, and after some initial hesitation, everything just kind of fell in to place.
“My idea was that composing my blog requires a lot of time, and I wondered if there was really something new to say after composing a blog for almost 10 decades,” she said. “But the catalyst was being requested, and with the chance to re-connect with why I’d started writing a blog. To supply those perspectives that others may be looking for, so that they feel less lonely and more permitted. I know something new from this mess everyday, which may be a frequent theme for many people. Plus it connects us.”
And truly, that point about community connections is the most striking element of this novel — the way it uses the D-Community’s collective voice to talk about all of the phases of life with diabetes. In reality, Kerri brought a total of 39 voices together in this novel apart from her own — ranging from fellow bloggers and advocates with type 1 and type 2, parents, spouses, siblings, doctors, old roommates and friends, along with experts such as the ADA’s legal advocacy main and some fellow PWDs that are actually physicians.
Reading it, you really feel as if you’re part of a Diabetes Community dialog between friends.
That is what makes this novel different, to me. The chapters run through all of the familiar D-topics like growing up with diabetes, exercising, sibling relationships, parenting with diabetes, travel and work, friendships and school, going off to college, diabetes advocacy, along with the anxiety of complications. So you may think it’s just another “how-to” book, yet that’s anything but true. The inclusion of so many voices, all tied together by Kerri’s unique writing style, makes this stand out as a grab bag of superbly different perspectives, both positive and negative.
It’s true and real, with the same appeal of sites that serve up the private perspectives on diabetes which many people crave — maybe not the horror stories we all get so often from physicians, mainstream media or even the general public that does not “make it” when it comes to life with diabetes.
From the very first chapter geared toward the newly diagnosed, titled “Making Sense of the New Normal,” it’s clear that Kerri isn’t offering a “how to” guide here and that there’s no “silver bullet” for residing ideally with diabetes.
“Instinctively, you would believe there isn’t a shred of balance to be found in focusing… on a disorder. Shouldn’t a individual living with a chronic illness ignore it at all costs, save for the mandatory medical management required to remain alive? Isn’t focusing on it too much make it overpowering — a controlling variable? What grace and balance can be accomplished from bringing diabetes into the ‘other’ parts of your life — your own hobbies, your job, or even the friendships you devise? You would be surprised. I am constantly surprised,” Kerri writes.
In an early chapter in friendships and diabetes, Kerri recounts a heart-breaking story about how an elementary school classmate left a note in her locker. At first, little Kerri was so excited to receive a note. But we soon learn that the note starts out with “Dear Kerri, The Dirty Diabetic” and goes downhill from there. My jaw fell, reading this, and tears welled up as I shook my head in disbelief about how cruel children can sometimes be on each other.
But out that point, you hear from other friends, college roommates, and individuals in Kerri’s life through the years along with other PWDs in much more positive tones. The entire book is packed with emotion, and it’s an understatement to say I felt a range of them going through the chapters.
Among the most surprising chapters was about parenting with diabetes and preparing for pregnancy, a chapter which I thought would not be the least interesting to me because: A) I am a guy; and B) My wife and I do not yet have children. But aside from sharing her own story, Kerri brings in a number of other female and male voices, including Harry Thompson and Sean Oser who discuss the perspective of preparing for parenthood for a man with type 1. Plus fellow early D-blogger Scott Johnson and others talk about their adventures in navigating the entire “What If” line of thinking in regards to having children, i.e. stressing about a future identification for your kids. I found myself nodding, as well as learning new things about myself and the way I felt about such sensitive issues.
As soon as I attained Kerri’s final chapter, I found myself a little bummed — which the book-reading encounter was coming to a close.
She “Wow’d” me in those last pages, talking about the delicate balance between scare tactics along with a sensible dose of healthy anxiety, and the way individuals play into diabetes control. And she ends with a reassertion which this is a journey, and community perspective and service is one of the most valuable things.
“Twenty seven years with type 1 is a good chunk of time, but I am not done yet,” Kerri writes. “Diabetes is always there, but it’s not me. It is going to never be the core of me. Not if I have it for 100 decades. I stay in pursuit of balance, and constantly moving ahead.”
And so, IMH(DOC)O, Kerri’s book is totally worth a buy.
And today, we proudly offer you a chance to win a cost-free copy of Kerri’s book in paperback…
A DMBooks Giveaway
Interested in winning a signed copy Kerri Sparling’s brand new book, “Balancing Diabetes,” which actually will be officially released in paperback tomorrow (March 4)? Well, here is our chance to award free, Kerri-autographed copies to two lucky winners!
Entering this giveaway is as easy as leaving a comment:
1. Post your comment below and include the codeword “DMBooks” somewhere in the text to let us know that you would love to be entered in the giveaway.
2. You’ve got until Friday, March 7, 2014, at 5 p.m. PST to enter. A valid email address is required to win.
4. The winner will be declared on Facebook and Twitter on Monday, March 10, 2014, so make sure you’re following us! We are going to update this post with the winner’s name after selected.
** UPDATE: 3/8/14 – This really is now closed. Congratulations to PWD Amanda Hinkle and D-Mom Jill Tarabanovic, that Random.org picked since the giveaway winners!
Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For additional information click here.
This content is created a consumer health blog, for Diabetes Mine. The content isn’t medically reviewed and does not stick to Healthline’s editorial instructions. For more information about Healthline’s partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.
Written by on Jun 19, 2017