A practical guide to coping with diabetes

Book: Inspired by her father's case, a Monkton woman seeks to help people from day to day.

August 22, 1999|By Patricia Meisol | Patricia Meisol,Sun Staff

Now, from a typewriter in Monkton, a new book on diabetes. "The Diabetes Problem Solver" by science writer Nancy Touchette is the first guide to deal with both the medical and psychological aspects of the disease.

Touchette, a former chemist, says her book on diabetes was inspired partly by her father, Hermes, a retired engineer, who managed the disease as though it was his second career, but who nonetheless contended with some life-threatening episodes.

She remembers once kissing him goodbye on a train platform in Massachusetts only to feel his cold, clammy skin. She almost didn't join her husband and children already aboard, but he assured her he'd be fine after a drink of orange juice.

She later learned his drive home took five hours instead of 30 minutes because he pulled off the road so many times for a glucose tablet. Once home, he wouldn't let his wife dial 911.

"It made me realize how reluctant people are to call the doctor sometimes," she says.

Her new book is her second for the American Diabetes Association. The first, "The Complete Guide to Diabetes," now in revision, grossed more than $1 million. The second is a sequel, aimed at helping people manage the chronic disease, which affects nearly 16 million Americans.

"What you do every day impacts not only long-term health and longevity but also your immediate health," she says. "It's a life-or-death decision sometimes. I can't imagine another disease in which everything you eat is part of your treatment plan."

Her book is a guide to help diabetics make decisions about when to get care and support when calling a doctor is required. "The Diabetes Problem Solver" is available in bookstores, or by calling 1-800-ADA-ORDER.

Touchette always wanted to be a writer but declared herself a science major for fear she couldn't get a writing job.

She studied cells at the National Institutes of Health after post-doctorate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and Johns Hopkins University, but gave up chemistry for the more flexible career of writing when her children were born.

Now 43, married with three children, Touchette is researching another work, this one a novel involving a murder in Maine. Literary agents already have copies of her children's novel -- based on a real-life grade-school teacher who used to take desserts out of her lunch box.

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