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Needles by Andie Dominick
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Needles

by Andie Dominick

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This book is exactly what it says it is which is a memoir of growing up with diabetes and is not a memoir in general of Andie Dominick's sister's life, but only where diabetes has touched it. This could have made for a very depressing and disjointed book but the writing is so spot-on - detail where you want it, brevity where an episode is necessarily included but is not interesting in itself.

It's educational too. I had thought that type 1 diabetes was a matter of insulin injections and balancing the diet. I hadn't really thought it was a tremendously serious systemic disease that needs attention throughout the day, everyday, and will impact just about every aspect of life. I hadn't thought that without constant care it could lead to major disabilities and premature death. It is to the credit of people with diabetes that they don't foist all that on us and let people happily think they are just like normal but have carry sugar cubes and stick a needle into themselves a couple of times a day.

I have a niece who was diagnosed with diabetes when she was 9. Rather than let her eat special meals, the whole family went on a diabetes-approved diet, essentially whole foods and they all took plenty of exercise and kept regular getting-up and going-to-sleep hours. You might think that this would result in them all being healthier, but no. The mother became a paranoid schizophrenic and the elder sister died of cancer, leaving a little boy who turned four the week after his mother's desk. I don't know what happened to the father... he left. But Jessamine, who is a most responsible social worker now, is in excellent health apart from the diabetes, although she never dared risk having a child.

My niece's happy story isn't everyone's experience of this dread disease and the book is a memoir not fiction so it doesn't end 'happy ever after' and it left me feeling quite bereft, lonely and hopeless.

I would recommend this book to people who like reading memoirs generally and especially if they like medical stories. No need to have any connection to diabetes to enjoy this beautifully-written book.

Read in 2009, skimmed through and reviewed in 2012. ( )
  Petra.Xs | Apr 2, 2013 |
Beautifully-written, compelling look at growing up diabetic. Andie faces various medical travails: her initial diagnosis, a hemorrhaging eye, and tubal ligation (the threat of pregnancy proving too great a risk). The most heart-felt moments, however, are not health-related; rather, the death of her sister and her marriage. A somewhat casual approach to an abortion and admitted cocaine abuse (esp by the sister) may make the book unsuitable for some young readers. Otherwise, a moving tribute to familial, romantic and even self-love. ( )
  mjspear | Apr 9, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0684856549, Paperback)

As the title suggests, the author is graphically frank about the medical necessities of living with juvenile-onset diabetes, and squeamish readers may find her memoir harrowing. In its essence, however, this is a story of emotional growth and healing. Diagnosed at 9 by her older sister Denise, who is herself a diabetic, Andie Dominick spends her adolescence rebelling against her condition: "dieting" by skipping shots, undergoing a dangerous abortion at 17. When, at 21, Andie discovers 33-year-old Denise dead in the house they share, she begins to reexamine the reckless lifestyle that killed her sister and threatens her as well. The discovery three years later that she has diabetic retinopathy, which could lead to blindness, helps Dominick realize she cannot follow her sister's path: "Denise always told me having the disease didn't have to change my life. But now it has ... because I am finally facing who I am." Love and eventually marriage continue Dominick's process of self-knowledge and acceptance, though there is no facile happy ending. (She has a tubal ligation rather than risk passing diabetes to another generation.) Dominick's deliberately plain prose and gritty candor render her struggle accessible and real. --Wendy Smith

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:29:48 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The story of one family's experience coping with juvenile diabetes. Andie recounts her transformation from a happy, free-spirited kid to a lifelong patient who learns at age 9 to inject herself twice a day with insulin. Young adult.

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