Review by Dana Lewis
A review of Nora’s Notes by the DAWN Youth ambassador Dana Lewis
“You just don’t understand!” Every adolescent on the planet can relate to that statement.
One thing is immediately evident. Adults, doctors and others do not really know what it is like to live with diabetes as an adolescent. Where can parents and others go to find a non-medical, young person’s point of view? The answer is Nora’s Notes, an interactive guide written by a seventeen year old. Nora’s Notes is probably the most comprehensive quick introduction to daily life with diabetes. Nora kicks off her Note’s with words so gripping you must, literally, flip the page.
Hi, I’m Nora
Nora’s Notes are written by a teenager with diabetes who understands daily life with the disease. The Notes are genuine, honest, and frank – which is what any young person or those who care for someone with diabetes should understand. Her writing made me stop and recognize some of the challenges about diabetes I may grumble about but can not clearly verbalize.
Filling a void
The Notes made me realize the large amounts of “gray” for a person with diabetes. It’s the most complicated aspect of the disease. The diagnosis is black, your mantra of test, count carbs, give insulin, and repeat is white; everything else is gray and in between. There is no “blame” or “fault” for a high or low blood sugar, but it does need to be dealt with.
This is the point to hammer home. Nora explains the different situations you can face after a new diagnosis: talking to friends and teachers, learning to drive, alcohol and diabetes, and diabetes burnout. She is honest, too. She doesn’t use platitudes because they won’t help you deal daily with diabetes.
The Diabetes Simulation
When learning to “partner with parents,” for example, Nora advises them to try being diabetic themselves for a week or two with the “Diabetes Simulation”. “Your parents should do everything you do: testing and recording their blood sugar, calculating and taking saline injections and so on,” she writes.
The message to everyone is the same: There is no simple solution – diabetes is not a simple disease. Parents should especially acknowledge not only the burdens of diabetes care but also the cycle of burnout that can occur.
Nora says it best in the last chapter of the notes: “I’m not going to lie and say that living with diabetes is easy. It’s not.” Diabetes may kill, but understanding how it affects all parts of your life may prevent it from killing you. Consider the number of seemingly useless facts you learn about your body that will later help you out in a science class.
As Nora writes, diabetes is not a death sentence. It’s just a word.
“Nora’s Notes” is based on the book by Nora Coon “The Diabetes Game” from Rewarding Health. Read about the book “The Diabetes Game” on www.rewardinghealth.net