Getting a Life with Diabetes in OrderMonday, February 10, 2014
Susan Weiner, CDE, and Leslie Josel have collaborated on a book titled, The Complete Diabetes Organizer, which helps people with diabetes get their lives in order by offering specific, goal-oriented guidance in hopes of alleviating stress and living more fully with the disease.
By: John Parkinson, Clinical Content Coordinator, DiabetesCare.net
Susan Weiner was watching a TV show which showed a personal acquaintance of hers, Leslie Josel, working her organizing magic on a show about hoarders. (Hoarders are people who have developed a fear of throwing anything out, and in turn, keep everything.) Josel, who is a Certified Professional Organizer, helped these people overcome their fears and organize their homes.
Weiner, a registered dietitian, nutritionist, and diabetes educator with over 20 years of clinical experience, had an inspiration while watching the show. Why not write a book for people with diabetes to help them organize their lives?
This is where the idea for her book, The Complete Diabetes Organizer: Your Guide to a Less Stressful and More Manageable Diabetes Life, which she co-wrote with Josel came from.
Weiner knows people are often overwhelmed when first diagnosed with diabetes. Weiner sees the newly diagnosed getting hit with an avalanche of news that requires immediate lifestyle changes.
Weiner believes people being diagnosed encounter a two-part problem: where do they go for lifestyle advice and how do they keep everything together? The first issue, as Weiner sees it, is that people with diabetes don’t receive specific lifestyle guidance management. They often get general advice from their providers, who say things like, “you need to eat better, or you need to exercise.” And in these situations, they are not being sent down a path that includes a game plan or personal goals—both of which can begin to turn peoples’ lives around in a direction that will help them to thrive.
With the second issue, these people are being asked to make changes that not only include their diet, exercise, and taking medicine, but deal with unforeseen things like insurance paperwork. They include these various components, yet there is not one place to gather all this information and keep it altogether. Weiner says that with her diabetes background and Josel’s know-how in organization, here was an opportunity for them to bring both components together.
This book provides a step-by-step guide to organizing everything from a person’s kitchen, to their daily routine, to their medical paperwork. Weiner points out this book can be helpful to both diabetes beginners and veterans of the disease. For the latter, the book could be for those who either have not been diligent in their care or are feeling burnout and want to find a new approach to their management.
The book is not only a resource to open and read cover-to-cover but something readers can go back to over and over again, especially in looking at their goals or what they have laid out as their plan to achieve their goals.
DiabetesCare.net spoke to Weiner about how this book can help people with diabetes get organized as well as play an important role in setting up disease management goals.
DiabetesCare.net: Why the decision to write The Complete Diabetes Organizer?
Weiner: When I consult with patients, I see a common theme where they are overwhelmed and bombarded with information, particularly if they have just come from seeing their healthcare provider. The provider might say, ‘you have diabetes, so you have to eat well and take your medicine.’ The person who gets diagnosed may just want to pull the covers over their heads. They realize they need to organize their supplies and meds, prepare their meals, and do many other things, but there was no book out there of how to pull all these things together.
DiabetesCare.net: In the book you talk about goal setting. Can you explain why you decided to include this?
Weiner: When a person is first diagnosed with diabetes, whether it is a young child or older person, the goals are often dictated to the individual by their provider, parents, or spouse. However, what the person diagnosed with diabetes really needs is to develop his or her own goals and keep track of them so that he or she can feel more motivated.
I have my patients set their own goals so they are more meaningful. In the book, we have a few systems in place that will help somebody with goals, rather than offering general guidance like you should eat better or exercise.
I believe doing baby steps is important and can help accomplish goals.
DiabetesCare.net: You use very specific organizational tips and strategies in each of the chapters. Is this a case of specificity is best instead of laying our general organizational tips?
Weiner: I think diabetes and peoples’ lives are complicated enough, so we wanted to make this system of specific tips and strategies as a how to and very easy to follow. We wanted to make it specific so that people would say, ‘that makes sense; I can do that.’ For example, we have a section giving specific directions on how to organize the pantry and refrigerator.
What was great with writing with my co-author, Leslie, was I knew nothing of the organizing world and she knew nothing about the diabetes world. By bringing these things together and seeing what works with human behavior, it was really interesting for the both of us.
Co-authors of the The Complete Diabetes Organizer, Leslie Josel (left) and Susan Weiner (right).
DiabetesCare.net: Can you talk about how an organized person with diabetes can make their numbers better and their disease management easier?
Weiner: We all live busy lives, and although diabetes does not define a person, it does go with a person 24/7—whether you are at school, work, or vacation. From my practice in seeing people and in writing the book, I find in organizing our supplies and becoming more organized in your kitchen, for example, you now can find the pots and pans, and know what’s in the pantry and fridge. That way, at least you now have a chance to cook a healthy meal at home.
If I lay out my clothes, and I organize my morning routine the night before, I now have time to exercise and test my blood sugar in the morning. I don’t have any excuses not to. The result is that the more you become organized, the easier your diabetes is to manage. And this can translate to better outcomes.
DiabetesCare.net: Why the decision to include insights from various people with diabetes?
Weiner: The voices lent by these people are that they can talk about the trials and tribulations of the disease as well as providing tips to better diabetes management. And this is done on a level that the newly diagnosed or diabetes veterans really get.
The contributors to the book all spoke from a genuine and realistic place to help other people in the diabetes community. The most challenging chapter that Leslie and I wrote was the one on the children for the proactive parent. I made sure to have both Jeff Hitchcock [creator and editor of Children with Diabetes], and Tom Karlya [writer of the Diabetes Dad blog, and vice president of the Diabetes Research Institute] contribute to that chapter, because they have children with type 1 and are involved in the type 1 community.
DiabetesCare.net: For caregivers with a newly diagnosed family member, what are the most important things caregivers should know about diabetes and organization?
Weiner: I think it’s really supportive to be in this process together as a family. It can be in the form of eating or food shopping together, or not sabotaging things by bringing in foods that might not be healthy. If the person with diabetes has a goal to go to the gym, family members can buddy up and go together.
Be supportive and not judgmental of the person who has diabetes. You don’t have to be the diabetes police. If you do sit in judgment of someone with diabetes, you won’t see behavior changes. Being supportive and trying to understand some of their decisions is vital.
DiabetesCare.net: Who are the people that are best suited for The Complete Diabetes Organizer, and what do you hope they get out of the book?
Weiner: I think people who are newly diagnosed, caregivers, or anybody who has had the disease for a long-time and is overwhelmed and burnt out from it and wants to make some positive changes can benefit from this book.
In speaking to people who have read the book and have had diabetes for a while, some of them were skeptical and felt like they wouldn’t get anything out of it. And many say the opposite is true.
The benefits of getting a person with diabetes organized can also influence other people who live in the same house. When we talk about organizing the kitchen, for example, you may only have one person in a family with diabetes, but if you set it up so that everyone is eating in a similar way, then everyone is eating healthy.
For anyone interested in finding out more about the book or purchasing it, go here.