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The Insulin Express: An Honest, Inspiring, and Entertaining Read

By Jacqueline Anders

CNN correspondent Oren Liebermann on being diagnosed with diabetes in Nepal

An entertaining memoir, The Insulin Express: One Backpack, Five Continents, and the Diabetes Diagnosis that Changed Everything is a great story of determination and positivity following a diabetes diagnosis.

CNN’s Jerusalem correspondent, Oren Liebermann, and his wife knew they wanted to travel but realized they wanted more than a two-week vacation; they wanted to become true travelers. Selling all their belongings and leaving the “real world” behind, they embarked on a yearlong backpacking trip around the world. Liebermann’s sense of humor and adventurous spirit color his account of everywhere the couple visits and everyone they meet, starting in Europe and journeying onward.

Subtle signs of type 1 diabetes begin to emerge as the Liebermanns make their way through Jerusalem and the great city of Petra. Despite the increasing symptoms Liebermann experienced throughout their travels, he remarks that, “the brain is wired for denial”, recounting how he pointed to all the other stressors in the life of a world traveler that could have explained the changes in his body. Liebermann is eventually forced to get medical attention following a hike to Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal, where he learns that he has type 1 diabetes. While many changes followed Liebermann’s diagnosis – chief among them having to frequently check blood sugar and dose insulin – his positive attitude and resolve served him well, allowing diabetes to have minimal impact on his travel plans.

The Insulin Express should be a very welcome read to anyone newly diagnosed with diabetes, highlighting that diabetes does not need to be a limitation. Liebermann put it best: “With experience, discipline and a support network, diabetes should never be a reason to say ‘no’. It's just a matter of figuring out what preparations you need to make to be able to say ‘yes.’” And while it isn’t Diabetes 101 or focused on the how-to’s of diabetes, it is an honest illustration of positivity in the face of a challenging diagnosis. It is a real-life account, complete with the stress and sadness, but also the joys and triumphs that anyone with diabetes can surely relate to. Though diabetes changed his story, Liebermann makes it clear that he is the protagonist of his life, and diabetes is a sidekick along for the adventure.

With Liebermann’s conversational and relatable tone and liberal doses of humor, the book is a speedy read, and we couldn’t help but laugh out loud at many points. As Elizabeth Cohen, CNN senior medical correspondent, put it, “The Insulin Express feels [like] a long overdue chat with a buddy who’s had some pretty amazing adventures… [and who] teaches us all a lot about life and love.”

The book is available in hardcover and electronic versions (about $15).  

[Photo Credit: The Insulin Express]

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