It has been quite awhile since I have done a book review, and coincidentally I just finished reading a book worthy of discussion. This review will be started and completed in one post, unlike my 7 post drag-on session from last February about Michael Pollen's Food Rules. I felt a need to draw attention to so many points in his book because I so badly needed to hear them over and over again. While our eating habits as of late have not matched the glorious whole food, in season meals of this past summer, the information has stuck with me and the desire to adhere to healthier eating is still very strong.

Now my focus has switched from following Food Rules to counting carbohydrates. Pre-packaged foods have slowly made their way back into my fridge and pantry, much to my chagrin. Some days our meals are chock full of preservatives and unpronounceable ingredients, but at least I know the carb count and can properly bolus insulin for Ellie. In the big picture, this time of adjusting to T1 diabetes is short. I still hold dear my vision of eating straight from the garden, homemade bread fresh from the oven and a pantry full of ingredients, not pre-made food items. ::sigh:: I'll get back there again; someday.

Now, back to today's book review, which has nothing to do with food and everything to do with learning about diabetes. I discovered this book while researching T1, and immediately placed a purchase request for my local library.. Last week I was notified the book was in and it was already on hold, waiting for me to come and pick it up. I Love my local library!!!!!

Breakthrough - Elizabeth Hughes, the Discovery of Insulin, and the Making of a Medical Miracle by Thea Cooper and Arthur Ainsberg

The description of the book: (from macmillan site)

It is 1919 and Elizabeth Hughes, the eleven-year-old daughter of America's most-distinguished jurist and politician, Charles Evans Hughes, has been diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. It is essentially a death sentence. The only accepted form of treatment – starvation – whittles her down to forty-five pounds skin and bones. Miles away, Canadian researchers Frederick Banting and Charles Best manage to identify and purify insulin from animal pancreases – a miracle soon marred by scientific jealousy, intense business competition and fistfights. In a race against time and a ravaging disease, Elizabeth becomes one of the first diabetics to receive insulin injections – all while its discoverers and a little known pharmaceutical company struggle to make it available to the rest of the world.

Relive the heartwarming true story of the discovery of insulin as it’s never been told before. Written with authentic detail and suspense, and featuring walk-ons by William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, and Eli Lilly himself, among many others.

The book was good. Not the easiest 'read' for me, as I love a well written story and this was much more along the lines of historical reporting. I do, however, want to share some things I found particularly moving and interesting. Don't worry, I won't spoil the ending.

PROLOGUE: page 1

"In 1918 an eleven-year-old girl stands in the kitchen of her family's elegant townhouse gulping water from a glass with such ferocity that it runs down the sides of her face. It is her sixth glass."

::Thud:: (the sound of heart dropping down to my toes) At this point, only 38 words into the book, I wondered how far I would get. Tears were streaming down my face as I pictured Ellie standing in front of my clutching 2 water bottles just 3 months ago.

PROLOGUE: page 2

"Aretaeus of Cappadocia, a celebrated Greek physician, (circa second century A.D.) coined the term "diabetes" after the Greek word for "sieve" because the symptomatic incessant thirst and urination made the body act as a sieve."

Spot on definition if you ask me.

CHAPTER 23: page 156

"Her diet (Elizabeth Hughes - prior to insulin) was 45g of protein, 56 grams of fat, 12 grams carbohydrates, for a total of 750 calories for four days of the week, and then two days before her fast day the carbohydrates were reduced to 10 grams."

This was based on a 2200 calorie a day comparison! If the family and patient were willing to extend the life expectancy of a newly diagnosed individual (11 months w/ no treatment) they were to follow a strict diet developed by a Dr. Frederick M. Allen, also known as the 'starvation diet.' The book notes that Elizabeth Hughes was 5'1" and ~45lbs just before the first dose of insulin became available to her.

CHAPTER 28: page 198

"Is that insulin" she whispered.
"Yes," he whispered back. He swabbed her thigh with alcohol.
She watched him fill the syringe.
Just before he injected her he asked, "Will you promise me one thing, Miss Elizabeth Hughes? Will you promise me that if you get well - when you get well - will you grow up to be whoever and whatever you want to be and you won't let anyone persuade you to do or be something or someone else?"

I love this Dr. Frederick Bantang. Not just for his discovery, but for what he knew it would do.

CHAPTER 31: page 235

A Dr. Joslin describing witnessing the post insulin resurrection of starved children in terms of what he called the "Banting Chapter" of the Bible (Ezekiel 37), which reads:

The hand of the Lord was upon me and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones and He said to me, "Prophesy to these bones and say to them, 'Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! I will make flesh come upon you and put breath in you, and you will come to life.'" So I prophesied as I was commanded and the bones came together but there was no breath in them. Then He said to me, "Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, 'Come from the four winds, O breath, that they may live.'" So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered then; they came to life and stood up on their feet.

How can I comment on this other than to whisper a prayer of thanks for His perfect words.

If you love to read history books, place this one as your 'next to read.' Because of the genre I wouldn't have given this book a second glance had it not been for the subject matter. Anything I can do to better understand how to help treat Ellie and keep her healthy is a 'must read' for me, though.

I would love to discuss this further with any D-mom's out there if you have read this book!!!!! just leave me a comment and maybe we can have an email exchange or discussion.


Tiggeriffic said...

Have missed seeing your blog.. I have not read this book, but I'm going to know.. I'll call the library and see if they have it..or order it or get in line and wait to read it...
You are such a good mom.. Diabetes has come along way since my dad had it in the 50's..
ta ta for now from Iowa

Unknown said...

Sounds good. Have you read Cheating Destiny? A VERY GOOD READ...lots of info... much of what you discussed here AND a lot on the socioeconomic differences of the "diabetes haves" vs. the "have nots" AND there is a lot of type 2 stuff in there AND stuff on the politicing that goes on in the RACE for the CURE.

Anyway...sorry for my ramble...I am excited to check this one out. This is a subject I never tire of. EVER.

Anonymous said...

Have you read "Bittersweet: Diabetes, Insulin and the Transformation of Illness" by (Dr) Chris Feudtner (2003). The physician/author used the records of the Joslin Clinic to write this book. Then, there is "The Discovery of Insulin" by Dr Michael Bliss, historian at the University of Toronto. And, of course, "Needles: A Memoir of Growing up With Diabetes" by Andie Dominick. "Needles" will particularly show you how far we have come in the treatment of Type 1.

Deanna said...

I have not read this book, but I will be reading it now after reading your review. :)

Leigh said...

I have been meaning to comment FOREVER! When Ellie paid it forward... cried like a darn baby in the middle of the car dealership while getting an oil change. Really? Crying in the middle of the Toyota place? And oh my, that was the funniest post EVER! And I can't wait to read that book too! So... those were my comments I have been meaning to make and then I was going to answer yours. :) No, but that is a very good idea and I am off to a good start! I actually just emailed Hallie and Laura and begged to order them and tried to send them money for them because Emma and I love us some Cinderella and we loved Sweet Pea's shirts and then Aiden thought he looked like Super Nate so we loved his shirt too. :) But maybe we do need to start a colletion. If I do, I will be hitting you up, so get ready! ;)

Tracy1918 said...

I've never heard of this book, but it sounds great! I'm a big reader,so I know I'll be getting an Amazon gift card for Christmas.

Putting this on my wish list!!

Oh, and thank you for all your sweet encouragement on my blog...

You always make me smile!!