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The First Year

By David Mendosa

Last Update: February 15, 2002

If you weren't confused when your doctor told you that you have type 2 diabetes, you weren't listening. What's not to be confused about when you suddenly hear that your whole life will change? 

Gretchen got her expertise the hard way.

With the wealth of information about diabetes on the Internet, you might expect to find dozens of pages geared to the newly diagnosed. Yet there is little online. Only two sites come to mind. This site has a page entitled "Newly Diagnosed". Another resource is the "Beginner's Guide to Diabetes".

 For the newly diagnosed to get in-depth guidance there is only one place to go. And that place is a book. 

Published just a few months ago but already in its second printing, the book is The First Year-Type 2 Diabetes: an Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed. Its author, Gretchen Becker, brings unique credentials to the task. Not the Gretchen Becker who is a movie actress, this Gretchen got her expertise the hard way after a doctor told her six years ago that she had type 2 diabetes.

Educated as a biologist, Gretchen raises sheep on a Vermont farm but works mostly as a freelance editor of medical books. The First Year is the first book that she wrote herself and is the first of a series of health books written by patient-experts. The series publisher is Marlowe & Company, which is an imprint of the Avalon Publishing Group in New York. 

You can find the book on the Web at the Marlowe & Company site, but it's a bare bones offering. Amazon has a bit more, including several quite positive reader reviews. 

From beginning to end Gretchen's wit and knowledge shine through. She organizes her book in a way that helps you minimize the shock of your diabetes diagnosis, taking you through what you need to know each day of your first week after your diagnosis, each subsequent week of your first month, and then your next 11 months. The first of these installments is a riff on "it's not your fault." The last is a chapter on "Searching the Internet," which I contributed. 

As I wrote in part on the "praise page" at the beginning of the book, "The greatest strength of this book is the wise way in which she deals with the most controversial area of diabetes treatment—what to eat. There is nothing anywhere that comes close to her comprehensive coverage or makes better sense than what you will find here." 

I should disclose here my further connection to this book. In September 2000 Matthew Lore, the editorial director of Marlowe & Company, wrote to ask me about my interest in writing a book for him or recommending someone who was interested. I replied:

Thanks for asking again. I keep telling myself that someday I should write a book, but the real desire and topic hasn't hit me yet. 

I do have one recommendation. Gretchen Becker is very knowledgeable about diabetes (has type 2 herself) and has done a lot of editing of medical books.

You can check out whether my recommendation was a good one by reading Gretchen's book. But she is already writing another book for Marlowe & Company. This one will be about preventing diabetes and should be published this fall. That's proof enough for me that my recommendation worked out well. 

The American Diabetes Association originally published this article on its Web site as one of my “About the Internet” columns.

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