Article published in the Lynn Daily Item
The Item Live
SEPTEMBER 12, 2006

Marblehead pair write book to help families deal
with Juvenile Diabetes

MARBLEHEAD- A Marblehead mother and daughter have written a book that will lend emotional support to the families of children with diabetes.

And they need it. "When our 7-old son, Danny, developed juvenile diabetes, the diagnosis came as a severe shock," writes Laura Plunkett, coauthor of "The Challenge of Childhood Diabetes."

"One day my husband and I had two active, healthy children; the next, we were faced with the fact that our youngest child had a chronic and life-threatening illness.

"We were stunned by the enormous impact
that diabetes had upon our family."

We were stunned by the enormous impact that diabetes had upon our family. I had an especially difficult time because I felt both very responsible and completely unprepared. I cried in the supermarket during my first post-diagnosis shopping trip. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were filled with stress."


To help others weather such shocking new circumstances, Laura and her extended family share their three-year journey from crisis to confidence with humor and warmth. An intimate look at issues of nutrition, exercise, sibling rivalry, medical care, and holistic medicine, her book is the friend, coach, and consultant that the family of every newly-diagnosed child will turn to on a daily basis.

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Due Sept. 13 as a trade paperback, "The Challenge of Childhood Diabetes" has already been described as "must reading for families with a diabetic child" by Dr. Richard K. Bernstein, the author of "Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution," and a gem that "will most assuredly help patients, their family members and their friends as they meet . the compelling emotional issues largely ignored in the doctor's office" by Will Cross, the first person with Type 1 diabetes to summit Mt. Everest.

Diabetes has been called "one of the biggest health catastrophes the world has ever seen" by Dr. Martin Silink, president-elect of the International Diabetes Federation. During the last two decades, the number of people with diabetes has climbed from 30 million to 230 million, claiming millions of lives. Each year in the U.S. more than 13,000 young people are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. IDF's 2003 report shows that 2 percent of the world's children suffer from Type 1, with 65,000 newly diagnosed cases per year.

Laura Plunkett is a psychotherapist with a private practice in Marblehead, and for the last five years she has been the mother of a boy diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, struggling to manage her anxiety over wildly fluctuating blood sugar numbers, to transform her reluctant family's diet, and to educate friends and teachers.

She eventually found unique ways to help her son Danny, who has attained near-normal blood sugar counts for the past two years, and a new and comfortable sense of normal.

"Repeatedly, we struggled against the belief that limiting your child's food choices can cause eating disorders," says Plunkett. "All I know is that it hasn't happened in our family. I have seen that our family's present whole food diet has a huge effect on blood sugars and on our family's feelings of well-being. Although the transition was tough, once we were all eating a more complex- and reduced carbohydrate diet, we felt better. Both my children are maintaining healthy weights and seem to be relatively unconcerned about body image. The results for Danny are a stronger immune system, fewer mood swings, an enhanced sense of well-being, more energy, and smaller blood sugar fluctuations."

Written with her mother, Linda Weltner, former "Ever So Humble" columnist for The Boston Globe, the book includes a Survival Guide for those seeking support and a new emotional perspective.

Fighting Jevenile Diabetes

The book is a family project. Other contributors include Jack Weltner, Danny's grandfather and a Harvard trained child psychiatrist, Brian Plunkett, Danny's father and a partner in the Boston law firm of Bartlett, Hackett, Feinberg, Jessie Plunkett, Danny's sister who is an accomplished public speaker at the age of 15, and Danny himself. The book is available at www.challengeofdiabetes.com/book-purchase.php