Search This Blog

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Sugar Scars

I flicked onto to ABC3 (yep, a kids channel) the other night to watch a re-run of the season final of Tomorrow When the War Began. I grumbled at the T.V. as the plot deviated further from my beloved books (which I definitely have to read again). I don't like it when things are different from what I know.

'Tomorrow' is one of those series I can read again and again, and imagine differently every time. I loved the movie and 6 years on I'm still more than mildly pissed off that they never made the sequels.  So the TV series starts off, and its so different to the books. Fi couldn't be less of a pretty proper lady and more of a tomboy if she tried. No. And what is with that Robin liking Lee crap? Just Nooooooooooo. The random invading army who seem to be asian/australian/kiwi/I think I saw a few Indians. Where are they even from? All of it is no. Sadly though, this fail of a TV series may be the only way I will see the series completed.

I digress.

I think the point I was going to make before I went off on my ranting tangent was that I really love the survivalist idea behind 'Tomorrow'. How ordinary people would react to situations where all their comforts are taken away and everything in their life is all about survival.

I'm not sure if these sorts of books make everyone else think of how they would react in a similar situation, or if its just me. What I would do to survive, How I'd get food, find shelter, join with other humans, what sort of things I'd scavenge. Which neighbourhood I'd move into and which mansion I would booby trap. How to manage a chronic illness when medical supplies are limited and have ceased to be manufactured.

On one of the Facebook groups for Diabetes, one of the D-mums put up a post on a book she had been given. Sugar Scars by Travis Norwood follows a young woman with T1D in a post-apocalyptic world where a virus kills most of the population (only 1 in 9600 people survive). I'm going to somewhat review it now because I took the time to find it on Amazon, download it to my kindle and read it, so if you don't want to read some extremely vague spoilers that just give you the gist of things, stop reading now.

The book very much centers on the main characters struggles to survive with Type 1 Diabetes. There's not much plot besides her diabetes. It's not a bad thing. Certainly, I think the author, if he didn't have or know someone with T1D, must have done a boat load of research on Type 1 Diabetes.

The plot revolves around the main character, Sugar (we never find out her real name), as she collects insulin, and meets other people around her town in Tallahassee. Sugar finds the insulin around her town, sleeps with someone who can hook her up with electricity so she can run a fridge to keep her insulin cool, and goes about her merry life, essentially retired at 19 years old. (She does not have to forage for food because there are so much supplies available). At some point, it gets pointed out to Sugar from her sugar/electricity-daddy  that her insulin actually expires. It was probably at this point in the book that I started doubting that the author actually had diabetes himself. There is no way that you can be reliant on insulin to live and not know that it expires. We have ALL had that talk from our diabetes doctors about extreme highs caused by cloudy insulin, changing temperatures and the forgotten vials at the back of the fridge. Its just not possible for you to not know that insulin has an expiry date. It's stamped on the damn box and on every vial.

So Sugar learns the shocking truth that she too will expire if she doesn't manage to get some new insulin batches. She goes off on an epic journey to make insulin the old-fashioned way, looking up textbooks, cutting pigs open, getting her chemistry kit out to play with. Along the way she meets a vet who really likes to vet/misses his day-job and has turned into an animal-saving recluse. Somehow or other, I forget how, he ends up getting injured and Sugar has to stitch him up. The stitching up of human flesh is all going swimmingly, until he instructs her to sew through the subcutaneous layer, to which she responds (Wait for it....wait for it....) that she has no idea with a subcutaneous layer is. The only response I had to this was to slam the book shut and whine at one of the poor Diabetes Australia staff who happened to be nearby (I work very close by to Diabetes QLD...lucky for me, unlucky for them). I'm not sure where Sugar was taught to inject if not her subcutaneous layer.

I won't spoil the whole book, because it is worth a read if you are considering destroying the world and need to know how to make your own insulin (there are even some interesting side-plots). Its kind of refreshing to see a plot that isn't about killing zombies (but I do love Zombies) or warring against other humans, but is about surviving a chronic illness, plain and simple. A book relevant to my feelings about Diabetes in real-life, because I've had 'Get New Insulin' written in my diary for a month now and I'm down to my second last vial and I'm starting to wonder if I'll let myself die before I remember to get a new script and stop by the chemist. That fear is real.


  1. Okay I seriously think about what I would do to survive a zombie apocalypse, too! My friends will bring it up and then I'll end up thinking about all of the different ways I would sneak into Animas's headquarters to steal back up sites and insulin from them...

    1. I have never thought about back-up sites before....I dont even know where I would go for those....I dont think we have a factory here. I do have all the closest pharmacies and endocrinologist offices mapped out though...

  2. I have never thought about the appearance of Zombies, I do think a lot about the loss of insulin however. My fear when I was first diagnosed was what happens if insulin no longer available. i guess I am of the age now however that I think if it goes away I would be the first one to go. There is some comfort in that.

    I referred your blog to the TUDiabetes blog page for the week of June 13, 2016.

    1. Every time they talk about war I stress out about insulin not being widely available. I hate being completely reliant on something other than myself to live, probably why I like zombies so much....that side of me that gets to plan how I will find a way to live.