Creating Superheroes – by Carrie Hetherington

We first heard from Carrie talking about her first book for children with type 1 diabetes. Now she’s back with a second book and here Carrie gives us a sneak peek with what to expect and how she is giving back to the diabetes community with the proceeds of her book.

I have type 1 diabetes, like many of you reading this article. 

For those of you who don’t, imagine that the inside of your body is variation on a scene from Star Wars: Darth Vader pulls out a lightsaber and destroys all his Storm Troopers – he’s killed his own squad. That’s me! 

My body attacked all its own beta cells – thanks, body! I now have a pretty useless pancreas floating around inside me. My world was turned upside down, but I’ve learned to love living upside down. I’ve had a decade of adventures so far: I’ve travelled the world, made hundreds of broken-pancreas-friends, and the best part is, I’ve published a book. 

The idea was inspired by a meeting with Adejumo Hakeem in 2013 at an International Diabetes Federation conference. We had spoken online as I’d written about type 1 for NGdoc, (Diabetes in Nigeria: Protecting the Future) and I wrote my Masters degree on The Relationship Between Urbanisation and Type 2 Diabetes: a human rights-based approach to health in Nigeria. I knew about the situation and desperately wanted to do something to help. So my book was born: Little Lisette the Diabetic Deep Sea Diver.

I didn’t want to make an instruction manual on how to survive – I wanted children to have a normal book, an adventure where the main character happened to be just like them. Learning was secondary. I wrote about a girl who went to a party under the ocean and had a hypo while she was spending time with her sea creature friends. This was her worst nightmare as she had hidden her diabetes. Eventually she was forced to test mid-karaoke and everyone saw it. Her friends supported her and wanted to know all about her diabetes, explaining that everyone is special in their own way, and, to her surprise, they simply carried on with their amazing party. 

I also tried to make it fun and interactive: children can call out to Little Lisette during the book to remind her to check her blood sugar. The first person we helped with the profits was called Daniel. He was 14 and in hospital with DKA, and his family couldn’t afford to buy insulin, a blood glucose meter, or test strips. We could help, and this made it all worthwhile for us. 

Now it’s time for my second book to be released! It’s about a superhero and diabetes is personified in the form of a mischievous little blue monster. The aim is to help children understand that they are going to be ‘attached’ to this little monster until we can find a way to break the magic glue which is holding them together. Just like the first book, it’s an exciting story; the learning is secondary. The incredible illustrations are by Tim Ingle and the profits will be going to Diabetes and Eating Disorders Awareness (DEDA), an organization created by Lisa Ingle. 

DEDA supports, advocates for, and brings hope to people with eating disorders and diabetes. One in three females with diabetes struggles with an eating disorder at some point in their lives, with potentially devastating consequences such as increased incidences of DKA, accelerated onset of diabetes complications, and at worst, death. DEDA raises awareness amongst the general public and health care providers, and advocates for improved detection and management of the issue. You can find out more at their website, and you can check out the Beta Change Minisode with Georgie Peters, Australian Manager of Diabetes Eating Disorders and Awareness here

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