Sunday, November 30, 2014

Medical Management of Diabetes Mellitus, edited by Jack L. Leahy, Nathaniel G. Clark, and William T. Cefalu. Marcel Dekker. Inc, 2000

This is a medical textbook, so it’s a lot more technical than diabetes books written for the lay person. It gives the actual mechanism of what happens in diabetes; the types of diabetes, what causes them, the role of diet, exercise, oral medications, insulin, and islet transplants. It deals with the complications of diabetes in detail- eye problems, kidney failure, skin problems, cardiac and vascular issues, foot problems (if you don’t have a strong stomach, skip that chapter- there are some very graphic photos of foot ulcers in it), nerve function, digestive issues, sexual issues, pregnancy and more- since diabetes screws up every part of your body, there is a lot to cover. It doesn’t go deeply into anything but provides basics, but it’s still far more detailed than you’ll find in a book aimed at the non-doctor. The authors do use medical terminology, but what they use is easily looked up on line. Of course, one of the authors states that the average American reads and comprehends only at the fifth grade level, so I guess doctors will be surprised if a lot of us are reading this book! 

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

American Diabetes Association Complete Guide to Diabetes. ADA, 2011

This large (nearly 500 pages) book covers pretty much all aspects of diabetes- diet, insulin, other meds, types of diabetes, complications, mental health, sexual health, and legal issues. It doesn’t cover most of it in great depth- if you’re looking for a deep discussion of diet and carb counting, for instance, you’ll want to seek out a book devoted just to that. But for a newcomer to diabetes, whether the reader is the diabetic or a family member, it’s a great starting place because it has such a wide scope. Not all sections will be pertinent to a reader, since it covers children and adults, hiring discrimination, sports, dealing with school etc but any diabetic will find a lot that does pertain to them. It’s written in a non-textbook style and easy to understand by non-medical personnel. While it didn’t tell me anything really new, I wish it had been available 28 years ago when I developed diabetes! 

The above is an affiliate link. If you click through and buy something, Amazon will give me a few cents. This in no way affected my review. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog, and Other Stories From a Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook, by Bruce D. Perry, MD, Ph D, and Maia Szalavitz. Basic Books, 2006

Author Bruce Perry has a very difficult but very gratifying job. He’s a child psychiatrist who deals with children who have been horribly abused and traumatized at an early stage, helping them become whole and healed. Perry bases his therapy on how the brain develops- at certain ages, different parts of the brain enlarge as a child learns things; things as basic as trusting someone who touches you or learning how to talk. If a child is deprived of soothing touch as a wee baby, they flinch from touch as they grow up. Perry gently and slowly introduces touch and then massage to teach them that it’s okay, and that part of the brain grows, even though it’s well after the time when it should have.

The children in his accounts are all real, albeit with their names changed. They have suffered horrifically as babies and toddlers. Repeated sexual abuse, near total neglect, seeing their mother murdered –and having her throat cut at the same time- are some of the things that had happened to these children. The boy who was raised as a dog was actually one of the luckier ones; he was fed and did have the dogs for companionship, even as he was deprived of human interaction by a guardian who had no idea how to care for a child but did raise dogs. His guardian didn’t beat him or sexually abuse him. But despite the abuse these children went through and the damage it did to their brain development, Perry is able to help them. He’s very patient and never forces anything on the children. They’ve already had too many things forced on them.

The authors present the book in a rather informal manner. Perry explains what the child went through and what it did to their brain, adding neuroscience to psychiatry. Then he explains what he did with each one to get their brain to grow and reduce their deficits. Each story deals with a different part of the brain. Perry’s dedication and humanity shine through. The authors write rather like Oliver Sacks; if you like his books you’ll like this one, too.

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Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and her World, by Alison Weir. Ballantine 2013

Though many people (or at least many Americans) don’t know who Elizabeth of York was, she was an important figure in English history. She was the mother of Henry VIII and grandmother of Queen Elizabeth I. Her marriage to Henry VII, who was the first Tudor ruler and a Lancastrian, ended the Wars of the Roses. Mary, Queen of Scots was also a descendant of hers-her blood, in fact, runs in the veins of today’s British royal family. Her uncle was the infamous Richard III, whose remains were recently found under a parking lot and who probably murdered her brothers, the princes in the tower.

Elizabeth’s life was short- she died at age 37 after giving birth- and for a part of it, there was a lot of uncertainty about what would happen to her. Her father died while her brothers were still boys, setting off a fight for the throne. After her brothers disappeared and were presumed dead, Elizabeth became the rightful heir to the throne, although no one assumed she, a mere woman, could rule. That idea wouldn’t take root until her granddaughter Mary I became queen. She was a prize through which another man could rule the kingdom by marrying her, though. First her uncle Richard III thought about it; after Henry VII killed him at Bosworth, he- who also had a claim to the throne via his own bloodline, albeit not as direct as Elizabeth’s- married her, giving him a firmer grasp on the right to rule. After years of families fighting, peace came to England.

Prolific biographer Alison Weir has created a meticulous biography of this largely unsung queen, going back to many primary sources – the bibliography and notes sections are 75 pages long. Elizabeth emerges as a pious and charitable woman, as proven by palace accountings of what she spent. Despite her marriage being for convenience, it proved to be a loving one. She and Henry loved each other and loved their children. The people of England loved her. But despite this attention to details, Elizabeth never really comes alive in this book. The facts are all there, but the spark isn’t. I don’t expect biography to be like historical fiction, and sometimes people’s lives don’t make a smooth narrative, but I’ve read biographies that were gripping.  It was an interesting book, although slow reading and text book like. 

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I received this book free in return for an unbiased review. 

Neither of these things affected my review. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Memory of Violets, by Hazel Gaynor. HarperCollins 2015

In 1912, Tilly Harper leaves home to become a house mother in a home for former flower and watercress selling girls; the lucky occupants now work in a factory making artificial flowers, which were immensely popular at the time. Both belong to philanthropist Alfred Shaw, who rescues as many of the girls- the poorest of the poor, many of them with physical problems that prevent them from getting better employment- from the streets. When Tilly is putting her things away, she discovers a box with an old journal stored in it, and she reads it over the days as she has time. It’s the story of Florrie Flynn and the younger sister, Rosie, who she lost when Rosie was four years old. Florrie spent her entire short life living and working in the group home, and never gave up looking for her sister. This poignant tale inspires Tilly to try and find Rosie herself, and let her know how much her sister loved her.

It’s a sweet story, and paints a good picture of the lives of the flower girls and poverty in the late Victorian and Edwardian era in London. The flower factory and group homes are based on real ones established by John Groom. Tilly is a nice character with enough of a personal conflict to make her interesting. There is a love interest, but it really doesn’t add much to the story. There are also some amazing coincidences, but they are worked in well enough to be believable. Good story for a rainy or snowy afternoon.

The above is an affiliate link. If you click through and buy something, Amazon will give me a few cents. 

I received this book for free from the Amazon Vine program in return for an unbiased review. 

Neither of these things affected my review.