El ABC para aprender a quererte teniendo diabetes

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Translation:  “The ABCs of Loving Yourself with Diabetes.” This Spring my ABC book came out in Spanish due to the unprecedented hard work of its two translators: Georgina Baez-Sommer (pictured here) and Amparo Fernandez. How lucky was I to have two translators from the United Nations! In truth, I’m not that special but beside being a dedicated professional, Georgina also happens to be my neighbor’s mother. 

I decided there isn’t enough literature to help Spanish speaking people with diabetes, the Hispanic population being one of the highest risk groups, so voila, a coaching book in Spanish. 

“The ABCs of Loving Yourself with Diabetes” guides readers to use more positive emotions both in life and in living with diabetes, for one enhances the other. For instance, if you appreciate all that you do have in your life – friends, family, work, a hobby you love, you experience life as a happier place. Being happier makes managing diabetes a little easier. If you forgive your mistakes with diabetes and see them as learning opportunities, you build a databank of diabetes knowledge and more resources to do better next time. If you’re struggling with something in your care and can look back to when you’ve managed difficult times before and bring those same qualities and skills to managing your diabetes, you will do better.

Among the emotions you’ll learn to augment are courage, confidence, joy, awe and pride. You deserve to be proud just because living with diabetes is an ongoing job. Pride in a job well done is a powerful source of energy and healing. In truth, all we have power over living with diabetes is how we live with it: graciously, responsibly, lovingly and kindly or angrily, guiltily, sadly, beating ourselves up and everyone around us.

Anyway, just wanted to remind you The ABCs is available in Spanish and share these lovely pictures. Now it’s up to you to do the rest. 


Knowledge is powerful medicine

Expected release, July 2009


It just amazes me. This very afternoon, not three hours and 46 minutes ago I turned in my manuscript for the book I’ve been writing this year–and it’s already posted on Amazon! Did you miss that? Already posted on Amazon–with a publication date of July, 2009. What can I say. Sometimes the world goes just a bit too fast for me.

I finished my book this afternoon writing a Postscript at the very end that I could only write after reading through the 300 pages I’ve scribed with a clear, objective and fresh editor’s eye. I’ll share part of it with you here:

“As I look back over writing this book: talking with top diabetes experts, conducting my research and having so many fellow patients share with me their personal story, I have learned two things. The first is that having correct information and practical knowledge is a prerequisite for living a healthy life with diabetes. The second is that you have to believe it’s worth the effort to take good care of yourself, and your diabetes, to have that life: one that’s not only healthy, but happy, productive, fluid and fulfilling. 

While it takes a bit of work, when you become the “expert” on your life, and your diabetes, you win the prize—the ability to live a more simple and ordinary life, just like anyone else.”

That is the prize, I have realized, to live a simple life and enjoy all its pleasures without always feeling like you’re carrying a monkey on your back. 

So, look for 50 Diabetes Myths That Can Ruin Your Life: And the 50 Diabetes Truths That Can Save It next summer. I do believe it will be a break away hit, maybe not a summer beach read, but surely one of the best books out there to separate fact from fiction and appeal to your curiosity. And besides, it’s chock full of stories from fellow patients, including me. 

The ABCs Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes Does Its Work

‘A’ is for Appreciating All the Special Things You Are and Have


 Last Saturday at the American Diabetes Association’s Expo in the Jacob Javitz Center here in New York City I stood beside Kevin, the CEO of Eat Right America, at their booth. Kevin had been given a copy of my book, The ABCs Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes, by someone who may do some publicity for the book next year as there are some tie-ins with Eat Right America. 

Eat Right America offers a nutrient-dense diet created by Dr. Joel Fuhrman and if Oprah ever gets a hold of him, he may be her next Dr. Oz.  The diet has great impact for living with diabetes: it emphasizes making most of your diet vegetables, beans and legumes with some fruits, whole grains, and lesser amounts of lean meats, low-fat dairy and healthy fats. As a result, people lose weight, blood sugars go down and related conditions improve or disappear. My book brings to the party the ability to grab a healthy handle on your emotions to weather the daily trials of diabetes; it helps you rev up your emotional strength, stamina and resilience which leads to better management and a happier, more productive life. The first thing Kevin told me upon meeting me was that he’d  given away his copy of my book to a neighbor whose daughter just got type 1 diabetes at age 10. He told me how grateful the woman was and how good it made him feel watching her thumb through the book. She was like a camel who’d been dying of thirst and led to water he said.

Later at the Expo I ran into Ralph, a sales rep from Sanofi-Aventis, manufacturer of Lantus and Apidra insulins, who has attended several of my Sanofi-sponsored A1c Champion presentations in Brooklyn. Since I still had a few of my books in hand I gave him one with the directive, “Ralph, see what you can do to get Sanofi to buy my books and distribute them to patients. It wouldn’t hurt either to get medical staff to read them.” I chuckled and Ralph said he would do his best.

Ralph called me this morning and said he gave my book away at the Expo. Two give-aways in one day! A woman came up to him and began looking at the book and was so taken with it he felt compelled to give it to her. Funny, as he was apologizing I thought, how great. Now someone who can use my book actually has it in her hands, and he got to witness a demonstration of the book’s ability to touch and move people. As a writer you so rarely get to know whether anything you do really impacts people, to learn that it does is its own reward.

What actually prompts this story is it follows a phone call I received just the other day from Nico, a sales rep from Edgepark, a medical supplies company–they supply meters, test strips, syringes and lancets. I’d met Nico at the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) conference in August and asked whether Edgepark covered lancet discs for the Pelikan Sun lancing device. Along with updating me whether Edgepark covers the discs (not yet as my health insurer, Empire, is reviewing the device) he asked if I was acting as a diabetes resource in the community as he often encounters medical professionals who might have need of me, particularly to talk to patients about the emotional aspect of managing diabetes, and, what made him think to ask was shortly after meeting me a woman came up to him at the AADE conference with my book in her hands.  

So no matter how this book gets around, the mere fact that it does, is a gift–not just to those whose hands it falls into (or so I hope)–but to me. Like the camel I’m still drinking it in.

Be your own Valentine, you deserve to love yourself


Last night I celebrated Valentine’s Day with 26 women and sent my husband away for two hours. I was the guest speaker, as the author of my new book,The ABCs Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes,at a Divabetic support group meeting. Max Szadek, showman extraordinare and founder ofDivabetics, the group that’s quickly growing from a grass roots movement to a national phenomena, chided me that the evening was my book launch. Looking around the somewhat disheveled room at the McBurney YMCA I chided back, “So where’s the champagne?” But it was my launch. I was launching my philosophy about viewing our diabetes differently, positively, to a real-live group of people with diabetes.

Divabetic, in its support group meetings, and now its national Divabetic “Makeover Your Diabetes”events sponsored by Novo Nordisk, brings diabetes education and empowerment to women, attracting them through things that make women feel good about themselves like make-up and hair styling, pedicures and tea tastings, with diabetes educators and coaches at the ready to answer their questions. You may think it crazy, but it gets women out, talking about their diabetes and smiling. Of course I took empowerment on a slightly different trajectory last night – we were going within.  

The ABCs Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes is about using your positive emotions to create a healthier and happier life. It’s pretty simple, really, if you focus on what you want and “rev up” your self-love, joy, courage and confidence, you’ll take the actions that will bring what you want into being, including greater health and happiness. Having greater health and happiness, you’ll perform your diabetes management tasks more easily, more regularly and more competently and confidently, with appreciation for how livable diabetes is, rather than being overwhelmed by anger and resentment.

Conversely, traditional diabetes strategies try to motivate better management through negative emotions – we are meant to fear complications and feel guilty when our management is not very responsible. Focusing on the negative, however, does not create sustainable positive actions. It doesn’t make you feel very good either. So I’m saying focus on what you love – about yourself, about your life, be grateful for the things you have and the people you care about, appreciate your courage and all you do living with diabetes, see yourself as a “warrior” not a “worrier” and be kind, patient and forgiving with yourself when you’re not on your game. Know you’ll do better tomorrow. Here’s something else, if you look, you can also find deeper meaning and purpose in your life through diabetes, and life can turn out to be even more rewarding, fuller, richer, healthier and happier than it was before you got diabetes. Don’t get me wrong – I didn’t say I’d ask to have diabetes, I’m just saying since we’ve got it, better to find something good about it and get on with life.

Sound crazy? I wondered before I presented this idea to my 26 Valentinas last night. In Divabetic tradition, we began by passing a pink boa around the circle and each person gets to glam a little while introducing herself. I asked everyone to say their name, how long they’ve had diabetes, something they love about themselves and one positive thing diabetes has given them.

Half the women said, “appreciation or humility.” One woman having trouble seeing, as her eyes are faltering now from her diabetes, said she has so much more compassion for people who have no sight or have a disability. Another said humility knowing she could have something much worse than diabetes. Women who got diabetes young said it helped them learn to be strong and responsible.  Many women said diabetes has helped them eat healthier or get regular exercise, and they were grateful for that. Some talked about the friendships they’d formed from the group. Many said they are helping family members with diabetes, which makes them feel worthy and valuable. Others said it just makes them more aware of life and not to take things for granted. It has heightened their senses.

I was surprised how easily most of the women reported something positive they’ve gained from diabetes. A few were stumped to come up with something, but no one was argumentative or thought I was full of sh_t – something I had wondered about before I began.

Then I read aloud the text from the letter A in my book, A is for Appreciating All the Special Things You Are and Have. The group was quiet for a moment after I finished reading and then they applauded and murmured heart-felt messages of solidarity. Then I read my personal message from the book, “To My Fellow Travelers” and several women, including me, were brimming with tears. A diabetes educator seated to my right and a health coach seated to my left both told me how wonderful, delightful and right-on the book is and how this message needs to get out there. A diabetes nurse came up to me at the end of the meeting asking if I will come and speak to her diabetes class about this.

For decades many pharmas have been selling their products through fear, entrenched in the belief that that’s the best way to get patients motivated to take care of themselves, and use their meters and meds. Much of the medical profession has also been under the delusion that fear and guilt is motivational. How long have we heard, “You have to take care of your diabetes or you’ll lose a leg, go blind, have a heart attack!” But this focus on doom and gloom many doctors and pharmas have used has not inspired better management, we know that statistically, but it has increased denial and depression among the diabetic population. 

Now instead, imagine the approach to diabetes management was to have you focus on a picture of the life you want to live and believe you could have it. Imagine hearing that you should treat yourself with kindness and forgiveness when you have an off day, and that you are strong and capable enough to do better as you learn and practice. Imagine that you are encouraged to live the biggest life you can dream, that you deserve it and that you can have it with proper care. Wouldn’t you move heaven and earth to stay healthy?! You bet you would! 

The belief that patients can live a happy and healthy life is far more motivating and would sell far more meters and meds than the fear of complications, because we’d do everything to bring our desired life into creation. Moving toward what you want has proven to yield more success and be more empowering than avoiding what you don’t want. Excited, hopeful patients would actually use their meters and meds. Hmmm..that means companies would be selling more meters and meds. Sounds like a win/win to me. You can see a modified version of this attitude is actually being adopted by Bayer and Novo Nordisk. Bayer’s latest round of TV commercials has a more upbeat tone. Novo Nordisk, the world leader in diabetes care, launched an initiative in 2005 called, “changing diabetes,” where they’re bringing together innovators in diabetes education, treatment, reimbursement and policy to shift attitudes and change the way patients and health care professionals think about diabetes. Hallelujah! A beginning.

It’s time to take that message to every medical professional’s office and every patient: focus on the best vision of your life, energize your positive emotions and you will create more health and happiness – and better diabetes management. Why? Simple, you will see better management as the foundation that supports that fantastic life. And here’s a second message: Sometimes diabetes is a pain in the neck, frustrating as heck and you wish you didn’t have it. I know. But here’s what’s also true, if you really look, you can likely find something positive you’ve gotten from diabetes. The two are not mutually exclusive. Both can co-exist. So doesn’t it make sense to find something positive about having diabetes since it’s not going away anytime soon?

I have also never forgotten what the actor Jim Carrey did when he first got to Hollywood. He drove up into the Hollywood Hills and looked out over the blazing lights of Hollywood and visualized a check made out to him for $20,000,000 for making a movie. Ten years later it happened. I believe last night was a mini demonstration of what’s to come. And it will start where diabetes lives, in us, not in the white coated offices or pristine HQ campuses. So business and healthcare think the way they think, but on the ground, those of us living with diabetes are ready for change. Hmm… sounds like my political stump speech.

Last night, on Valentine’s Day, I celebrated loving yourself with 26 women. It was one of the best Valentine’s Day presents I’ve ever been given. Thank you Max.

My book featured on DiabetesMine

UnknownDiabetes can be a blessing in disguise – it’s how you see it

If you haven’t noticed, although I imagine that would be hard given I think I’ve plastered the news all over my site, I’ve published a book – The ABCs Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes

Today my book is featured in an article titled “A Shot of Joy” on DiabetesMine, an award-winning diabetes blog written by very smart, very informed Amy Tenderich, who’s also a type 1 and self-admitted cynic. Here’s a tiny snippet:

After just a few pages, I knew I would read this book cover to cover and cherish it for many evenings to come.  What a wonderful little ode to self-acceptance and motivation.  Like a skilled quilter, Riva has somehow managed to patch together poetry, self-help, and diabetes advice into an irresistible pattern.

My recommendation?  Take a little quiet time, on an off-day. Curl up on yourcouch, with some of your favorite soothing music, and read this book from A to Z.  It won’t take you much more than an hour, and if you’re not 100% the cynic, you’ll find yourself (not cured by any means, but) refreshed and smiling.”

When cynics can be won over, it makes me all the prouder. Thank you Amy.  

Note – The ABCs Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes is intended for all ages: seniors, boomers, teens, tweens and in-between. Available at Amazon.

One more note – The book is priced at $19.95 because a significant portion of the purchase price is being donated to diabetes research.