When I got back from my holidays sailing in the Bahamas last month – I was so excited to find a package waiting for me from Erin Spineto – with her fresh off the press book entitled “Islands and Insulin”. She is a Type 1 diabetic – diagnosed at the age of 19 – and what attracted me to her a few years ago – was she is a lover of water like myself and was building a sailboat in her backyard (gotta love a woman who knows how to use gadgets).
I knew that back in February 2011 – when I was just getting off a floating city (cruise ship – in Miami) that she was down in the Florida Keys – sailing a 22’ Catalina sailboat …. all on her own!!! The weather conditions at the time we were on the cruise ship were pretty rough at times due to high winds – so I wondered how she would fair on the sailboat. This book reveals not just that challenge in her life – but also the other challenges she’s faced over the years since her diagnosis.
When it came time for her to finally get her book published (not an easy task) – she had asked for “help” with getting her project off to fruition last summer – without that – it wasn’t going to happen. I was one of many that helped her reach her goal – and her book was finally printed. I had no idea of what she would be writing about (okay – I knew it would involve sailing in some of it) – but other than that – I had no clue what else would be within the pages I was about to explore. In with an open mind I went ...
Her story is similar to some of the adult diabetics I’ve met over the years – where upon diagnosis – you’re basically, if lucky, given a few tips on how to control your blood sugars, shoved vials of insulin, needles, and then pushed out the door to figure it all out on your own. Yikes!!! For some, this is almost a death sentence, if you don’t try to seek out more information. Not so with Erin, with a zest for taking life full on, she managed to not let diabetes defeat her (on (which seems to be a familiar trait among many diabetics). Really, it’s like figuring out a Rubik’s cube in living with our diabetes.
“Never show weakness”
I have to admit, as I started to read her book, I thought she was being pretty harsh about how she felt diabetes was buggering up her life. It then began to dawn on me quickly (lots of discussion around my dinner table), that I’ve had it pretty “easy” accepting diabetes since I was diagnosed much earlier in life. I don’t know life without diabetes – she did (and in a way – I’m abit envious). Seeing her descriptions of how getting this disease after so many years of being non-diabetic – made me realise what it’s really like for those who have lived without a life time of being a diabetic. I then started to look at her story in different eyes and really started to understand where she was coming from when she had to cancel her original plans for sailing in the Keys due to health conditions - “ I will look like a pirate with my new peg leg making a click-clack sound on the deck”. The way she wrote about her fears of diabetic complications is similar to the way I write with a touch of humour, it's the only way I know how to quell my fears of the "what if's" - and her pirate bit just cracked me up.
Even if you are not a sailor, this book will really open your eyes up to what diabetes is all about (Erin and her DH also run marathons – uber athletic or what?). Explore her pages as she goes from a young “I know it all” adult to a Mum coping with the ups/downs of life, trying to take time out for herself and follow her dreams. I’m even passing this book onto my DH to read – so he can understand more of what makes me … ME with diabetes.
NB: You can see the official Islands and Insulin video at this link.