Interview with Paul Cathcart, Author of 'Persona Non Grata with Diabetes'
A diabetic of 21 years, Paul Cathcart has come to realize that the medical community neglects to connect with patients on a personal level, compromising the level of care all diabetics need and deserve.
Hoping to reach other diabetics and inspire change, Paul decided to write and release a candid account of life with diabetes. The description of his book on Amazon UK summarizes its content:
Growing up, coming to terms with, and living through the complications of diabetes. An understanding of diabetic emotion over life-defining moments. Bridging the gap between professional understanding and who we are.
We had the opportunity to ask Paul a few questions about his book and what the response from readers has been like so far.
First thing's first: What does "Persona non grata with diabetes" mean and why is it the title of your book?
The book is titled in awareness to the sensitivities of living with the condition; the idea is that people who have gone to hell and back with the disease can read it and think, "Hey, that’s me on a bad day, but I’m sure as hell not going to change." The title also kicks back at the absurd, politically correct term, ‘A person with diabetes,’ which seems to me to live in complete denial of diabetic realities – there is a lot of that around.
What inspired you to write the book?
I got a letter one day; in fact, it had been sitting in amongst a pile of white envelopes for some time, bank letters and what have you, and when I finally got around to opening it, it told me I had the first stages of going blind due to complications with diabetes. A white envelope with black text; I couldn’t get over it. I was shaken to the ground, literally. I thought my life had come to an abrupt end and they, the medical professionals, hadn’t even signed the thing or stamped urgent on it. They were just instructing me to come back and see them in a year’s time to track the deterioration to my blood vessels, and in the meantime I was to keep my blood sugar level.
I was beyond angry and beyond rage, and I was so completely broken with guilt because I knew, long-term, I’d done this to myself. But I thought: This can’t only be happening to me. This must be happening to a thousand other diabetics around the world each day, and we are all left screaming in silence. So I decided to write the book and make the world listed to how we feel and who we are. Basically, it was written in anger, until I learned to understand how this disease had been affecting not only me personally but also my relationships around me, and there I found calm.
What does your book offer to its readers?
The work is intended as a companion to life with diabetes; a friend who can talk me through getting over the worst of it – or at least getting on top of it, even if it may already be too late for them.
Hey, that same thing happened to me and look out for this or don’t feel bad about that. I’ve been through this already and it got me too but look on it like this and it's not so bad plus you can avoid it happening again in the future by…" – ‘A book I wish someone had written’
The book is about tearing down boundaries; a no-holds-barred account of living with this very frustrating disease, which impacts the diabetic's life on every level.
How has the feedback from readers been?
When I receive reviews informing me that my work has enabled a lady to better understand her type 1 diabetic child – what the kid is going through with fluctuating blood sugar emotions and what to look out for in their development – it just means the world to me. It has been referred to as ‘Trainspotting on insulin’ and ‘A diabetic dream,’ but also a lot of the feedback comes from people all around the world who are just happy that someone else feels and struggles in the same way.
I have been collecting the reader reviews on my website if you wish to read them.
What have you gained from writing the book?
Above learning who I am, by digging deep into how this disease has shaped my character over the years, I have learned to live some 15 years longer than I would have. And I have learned to write a book, which is awesome! I’ll never make any money from it because how diabetics feel is not considered commercially viable, but I have managed to donate some of the royalties to helping buy a kid a diabetes alert dog and that kind of thing.
An everyday diabetic of 21 years experience, Paul has come to understand his diabetes as a state-of-being rather than its medical definition. His core belief is that only through a rightful understanding can we accept a just responsibility to our shared condition.