cover image Cheating Destiny: Living with Diabetes, America's Biggest Epidemic

Cheating Destiny: Living with Diabetes, America's Biggest Epidemic

James S. Hirsch, . . Houghton Mifflin, $25 (307pp) ISBN 978-0-618-51461-8

Hirsch, a type 1 diabetic, agonized when his three-year-old son began exhibiting the symptoms of diabetes. More, he was prompted to take a look at diabetes and how it is treated in this country and the possibility of finding a cure for this ravaging disease. What he finds isn't always encouraging. Skillfully combining journalistic expertise with his personal story, Hirsch, a former reporter for the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal (Hurricane: Riot and Remembrance ) asks the editor of a hugely popular Web site about the quality of care for diabetes in this country. The response: "It stinks." Hirsch details the physical complications that arise for insulin-dependent type 1 diabetics and health insurers' reluctance to fully reimburse relatively low-cost education for diabetics, resulting in their need for high-cost diagnostic testing and hospital care. Some of Hirsch's reporting uncovers a common blame-the-patient attitude in doctors. The author also covers the controversial studies of Denise Faustman, whose groundbreaking research has produced promising results in mice, and the stem-cell research of Douglas Melton. Overall, this is an informative and moving analysis of a disease with a death rate that, high as it is, the author says is underreported. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Nov. 8)