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Book Review: Beating The Odds, 64 Years of Diabetes Health



Two years ago I began looking online for the first time for diabetes community support.  This is because two years ago I was pregnant and extremely scared that it wouldn’t go well.  Two years ago, this month, I had just learned I’d be having twins and to be honest, I feared the worst.  So I began searching online for some hope.  I was hoping to find stories of type 1 diabetic women who had given birth to twins but I didn’t find a single one. 

Eventually I started posting questions on a diabetes forum and to my surprise a handful of type 1 diabetics were quickly answering my questions and cheering me on at the same time.  Then I saw a long post up about a man who had type 1 diabetes for 64 years.  I was shocked and immediately had to investigate!  Who was this man and how did he do it?  Oh and how was he doing now?

I read about his story and told myself, “I’m going to be ok”.  I continued to worry but, I worked hard to manage my blood sugar levels during my pregnancy and all ended delightfully well for me and my twins.

Recently, I got a comment on one of my posts and I immediately recognized the name, it was that man whose story had given me so much hope!  Richard A. Vaughn.

Turns out he just published a book called Beating The Odds, 64 Years of Diabetes Health.  I bought it and read it and here is my honest review for your consideration:

I grew up and still live in the same small city in Virginia.  The same one Richard Vaughn was born and raised in.  So the first thing that struck me was a sense of awe about how small this world is.  I mean I was born in South America!  Anyway, not having any past here in the US, I loved hearing about how Richard’s family lived.  It was so interesting to read about the work his parents did and the way he grew up on a farm.

Richard begins by telling us about his early years.  He was diagnosed in what some would call the dark ages of diabetes.  He took insulin from pigs and cows which had only been available for 22 years before he needed it.  He used those glass syringes that look monstrous next to today’s syringes.  His urine was checked once a day for the presence of sugar.  Still, he was a “happy and carefree kid”.  Amazing.

Something especially powerful I found throughout the book is an emphasis on family.  By reading this book one gets the strong impression that Richard Vaughn is an easygoing, kind, hardworking, and patient person.  When you read about how he describes his parents, it’s clear how he came to be this way.  I was extremely touched by the way Richard talks about his family.  The word “cherish” comes to mind. 

Richard gives many accounts about his years in school and college.  Frankly, my mouth dropped to the floor as I discovered all he had to go through.  I didn’t finish college because my blood sugars were usually high.  So were Richard’s and he did it.  He did it without glucose tablets or a glucose meter.  He did it without an insulin pump or professors that had ever heard about diabetes.  I feel like I’ve been challenged to do better.  And that is a good thing.

One major thing this book did for me was to make me realize how grateful I should be.  There are pages full of details about how a type 1 diabetic’s life used to look like.  Then Richard goes into how he manages his blood sugars today and the space in between-the difference, is something to behold.  We’ve come a very long way in a short time.  I can’t imagine what it was like for Richard to wear a CGMS for the first time.  Can you imagine going from one vague urine test a day to eventually, a CGMS?  I wonder if I would feel bitterness and anger.  Not Richard.  He doesn’t carry bitterness or resentment or anger around.  Instead, he is grateful for the life he has had and is still having, despite type 1 diabetes.  He has had it now for 65 years!  During all this time he has suffered only minor complications.  He doesn’t brag about this one bit, either. 

There are chapters in the book which have to do with diabetes causes, statistics, and other related matter that are so insightful and interesting, I’m going to be thinking and researching on them for a long time. 

I found this book a wonderful balance between heartfelt personal accounts and detailed diabetes accounts.  This book is written with humor and a solid, humble character.  I wonder if part of what has kept Richard Vaughn so healthy is his positive attitude and outlook on life? 

There is so much to gain from this book.  You might not imagine, but this book would be a wonderful Christmas gift for someone with diabetes.  It won’t depress them, on the contrary, it will inspire them to work hard for their health and be grateful for the technological advances we’ve made.  I would have really loved this book as a teenager.  Even though you might think a teenager wouldn’t get into a book written by someone so much older than them, the truth is, a teenager with type 1 diabetes just might not be telling you how worried about their future they are.  Trust me, they’re worried.  I believe hope is the greatest motivator so I highly recommend this book to any diabetic.

Thank you Richard, for taking the time to tell your wonderful story and for the hope your story has given me and countless others.

You can get this great book at Amazon, just click on the link:

 Beating the Odds, 64 Years of Diabetes Health.