Diabetes is not an “en vogue” disease.

“Diabetes is not an “en vogue” disease.

It is not the kind of disease that gets a huge product campaign like breast cancer, nor is it portrayed as tragic and other worldly diseases like the AIDS epidemic in Africa. The public perception of diabetes is the polar opposite of the causes the media likes to promote. Instead of being seen as victims of illness, those millions living with diabetes are often seen as being lazy and unwilling to control their disease with a “simple” diet and exercise regimen. Paul Cathcart’s memoir stands to change that.

In writing “Persona Non Grata with Diabetes,” Cathcart opens the door a crack to shed some light on what it means to live with the disease. Beginning in the present, Cathcart starts at the end of his story, after years of testing, quick fixes, health scares, and doctor’s visits failed to manage his illness. But more than managing his illness, Cathcart seeks to the make others understand what it means to live with diabetes and see that it is a “state-of-being” as much as it is a physical problem, something those of us not conflicted with the illness fail to see.

With a quick wit and a sharp tongue, Cathcart weaves in and out of time to create a portrait of a young man trying to make it through life with the threat of his poor health looming in the background. He describes his childhood in Glasgow, Scotland growing up in a working class family with a single mom, who creates the picture that diabetes can and does happen to “normal,” everyday people. People that you went to school with, the first boy you kissed, or that friend with the great taste in music. The author has such a clear ear for dialogue and language that the reader can almost hear the words coming off of the page particularly when he describes his condition as “dying faster than I’m living.”

Throughout the memoir, Cathcart italicizes food items and restaurants such as “Rolo Ice Cream” and “Starbucks,” a technique used to signal the reader of how pervasive and accessible junk food is in Western culture. Seeing so many italicized words on the page is a frequent reminder to the reader of how hard it must be to be constantly reminded of everything you aren’t supposed to have as a healthy, fit person. For those of us not living with diabetes, it’s easy to take indulging in junk food for granted but it’s not life and death serious as it can be for a diabetic.

With the descriptions of his health scares and their adverse affect on his life, it would be easy to take Cathcart’s memoir as a sob story. But in-between the all too real descriptions of his illness, Cathcart keeps his humor and welcomes readers, both diabetic and non-diabetic, with the understanding that you don’t have to face life’s struggles alone. This book makes for an especially good read for those struggling with the sickness but it also serves as a good educational piece for those without.”

Tiffany Ezuma, Pacific Book Review, 27 November 2013

Diabetes: What If?

We bleed through this disease in more ways than one, but what if? And I’m not proposing some miracle cure, some hogwash alternative remedy beyond the honest diet and exercise. What I am proposing is purely theoretical – a fantasy or nightmare – what would you give up to stop the bleeding? Could you lose time to make time? And this is where it gets rather outlandish; her is the proposal; one year only (12 months, 365 non leap days) in a medically induced coma; where you lay there, sugar levels constantly monitored; fed and medicated through a drip; nothing fancy, nothing technical, just lots and lots of sleep to be caught up as you lay there oblivious to the world and your family pop in to visit – even the press have popped in to take a few snaps, you are flavour of the month.

It’s nice not to worry about money isn’t it? Your better half holds your hand, every day, playing the songs you love and whispering how they love you. Phoebe has had a baby! Your cousin Joey turned 21 today; he will be in a prison cell before he makes 22. Aunt Monica had a heart bypass; uncle Chandler, he’s got that angina.

Orderlies’ stretch and work your muscles; your colostomy bag is pure as the driven snow. That job you hated, they got taken over, under new management, said they had to let you go. Something in your contract: seems your days off in absenteeism have made your productivity terminally ill.

And your eyes are healing nicely. Your Dr. said you couldn’t do it but you did; all those little vessels retracting and BMI back to perfect. Twinkle toes the Nurses’ call you, but no one is around to hear them. Your life partner, the one you love, the one you drove crazy with the fluctuating blood sugar emotions, now makes your best friend very happy. It was hard to look at you, watch you sleeping; they had to take comfort in someone.

Hey, uncle Chandler and his angina. I’m sorry. What? We are forgetting, you didn’t even know he was ill when you went under.

Well that’s you then, time to get up, wakey-wakey-eggs-and-bacey, an ice cube in your mouth and peace of mind. A healing rest untouched by stress in a tidy, empty room.

And on a good day, diabetes is not such a bad disease to have.

By Paul Cathcart, Author of, ‘Persona Non Grata with Diabetes.’

www.pngwd.com

Click here to purchase “Persona Non Grata with Diabetes” on Amazon (US).

Click here to purchase “Persona Non Grata with Diabetes” on Amazon (UK).