Conquering Diabetes - Behind the Book
 
 



Dr. Anne Peters:


Everyday, all day, I help take care of people with diabetes. These folks come in all shapes and size; colors and ages. I see adorable 12 year old girls, on the verge of becoming young women and yet still with some of the sweet innocence of childhood, struggling to give their 5 daily insulin injections without their mother’s help. I see overweight middle aged men and women who battle daily to control their weight and force themselves to exercise so they won’t end up blind or on dialysis as they saw happen to a much beloved parent. On the same day I may see a diabetes-related double amputee living life in a wheelchair and an 76 year old, diabetic since the 1940’s, who never misses his daily 4 mile walk with his dog. I see the successes and the failures. I know that there are some people I can help and others who are too far gone for me to impact.

It is my mission, my passion in life, to make sure that all cases of prediabetes and diabetes are recognized early, when lives can be saved and to provide high quality preventive health care to all of those who need it. In the year 2000, 1 out of every 3 children born will develop diabetes in their lifetime. This number increases to 1 in 2 if the child is Latino or African American. If diabetes is diagnosed at age 20 (and “adult onset” diabetes is being diagnosed at a younger and younger age) 17 years of life will be lost. 17 years! That’s a lot of time to lose to preventable complications. If diabetes is diagnosed older, say at age 60, 9 years of life will be lost. I believe these lost years of life are preventable if modern principles of preventive health care are applied. And yet in 1999, in America, the country with the most advanced health care technology, less than 5% of individuals with diabetes are being treated appropriately and are reaching the health targets we have set for them.

So do you want to be part of the 5% achieving your health care goals or the 95% who do not? The goal of this book is to help you learn how to become one of the 5%, and to increase the 5% to 50% and even more. I have set up and run diabetes centers in both the richest and poorest parts of Los Angeles. In both areas, with vastly different resources, I am able to help people reach their targets. I feel extraordinarily lucky to be able to be part of the solution, rather than simply complaining about the problem. But there are many people in America who do not have access to such programs, who may be able to learn from my experience and the experience of my patients, to take charge of their own health and reap the same benefits.

The goals of the book are many. The first is to teach you how to recognize diabetes early and ideally how to recognize diabetes before it even starts (during a phase called prediabetes or the metabolic syndrome). If diagnosed early enough many patients can avoid developing diabetes and this book will describe how. The second goal is to teach you how to be a good consumer of health care, how to use the health care system you are a part of to achieve and maintain good health. And finally, the third goal is of education—to teach you about all of the types of diabetes and the treatments available, both from my perspective and the perspective of my patients and to help you figure out how to apply them to your own situation. Each of us must be empowered health care consumers. It is no longer enough to sit back and let your physician tell you what to do. Medicine is changing rapidly, risks and benefits of therapies are real and we much each be informed participants in our health care. To not take that responsibility may mean losing up to 17 years of your life prematurely. But to embrace it means you can prevent diabetes, avoid going blind, never be attached to a dialysis machine, keep all your limbs, foil a heart attack or stroke and maintain an active sex life throughout old age. Those seem like goals worth striving for.

Mark Harmel - Photography

In addition to writing my prediabetes story and being the photographer for the book; I also have the pleasure of being married to Dr. Anne Peters. We met on assignment. I was assigned to take a clinical research photo of her by the UCLA Medical Center marketing department. We continued to meet in the hallways of her medical building while I was there taking photos of other doctors, and she needed some new photos to support her speaking engagements. The friendship grew into a relationship, a wedding performed by Elvis in Las Vegas - and now a book.

My website is at: www.harmelphoto.com

Jim Natal - Editor

Jim Natal worked for 25 years as a creative executive for the NFL, editing trade books, writing features and copy for NFL publications, and working with the league's corporate sponsors on national marketing programs. His publishing experience, his almost three decades of living with type 1 diabetes, and his many years as Dr. Anne Peters Harmel's patient came to bear on Conquering Diabetes. Also a highly-regarded poet, Natal's first full-length collection, In the Bee Trees was a finalist for the 2000 Pen Center Award in poetry. A second collection, Talking Back to the Rocks, was published by Archer Books in 2003. His poetry recently has been published, is forthcoming, or has been reviewed in Runes, Pool, Reed, The Paterson Literary Review, Poetry International, and The Los Angeles Review. His work also appears in the new anthologies Mischief, Caprice and Other Poetic Strategies, Open Windows, Blue Arc, and Ghost of a Chance, and recently was selected as a winner of the postcard poetry contest sponsored by Writers at Work and the City of Los Angeles. Natal curates and co-hosts the long-running Poem.X monthly poetry series in Santa Monica. With his wife, graphic designer and book artist Tania Baban, he founded ConfluX Press in 2004, specializing in handmade books and custom editions. He currently is completing his MFA in Creative Writing Degree at Antioch University Los Angeles.