Some of the “Straight Talk” in a book about living with diabetes comes from an Algonquin man.
Jay Mahoney’s story is featured in a new book aimed at those who’ve been diagnosed with diabetes or affected by the disease.
Mahoney has lived with Type 1 diabetes for 55 years. Typically diagnosed in children, Type 1 is lifelong and results when the body does not produce insulin.
As written in “No Sugar Added – Straight Talk from Those Living with Diabetes,” Mahoney learned he had the disease after he passed out on the kitchen floor at age 6.
Back then, the technology and treatments weren’t as advanced as they are today, he said. His family, including six siblings, made many sacrifices.
His mother, a nurse, modified the entire family’s diet.
“It was tough,” he remembered.
Artificial sweeteners were very limited, as well as “diet” and “sugar-free” products at that time.
“So as a kid at birthday parties and such, you just simply abstained,” he said. “Now it’s much easier. The technology is better. Our knowledge about food is such that we can kind of mimic a normal person’s eating habits.”
Still, Mahoney has had off days and scares, and he knows what it’s like to first hear the diagnosis. He was asked to be part of the book after being involved with a support group and volunteer efforts for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
He sends email responses to questions asked of the association by those who’ve been newly diagnosed.
“It is a life-altering occurrence when you do find that out, so I take a lot of time and effort and detail in my responses,” he said. “I think there’s a real need out there for someone to basically meet with newly diagnosed diabetics or with the parents of young children and to inspire them or take care of their fears.”
The book can help do that, as well, especially if it’s placed in doctors’ offices, hospitals and such, he said.
“They can read stories that are hopeful or inspiring to them,” said Mahoney, who works two jobs, including as a performing musician and singer at Potbelly Sandwich Shop in Algonquin.
He said he’s eager to offer advice such as this, and he’s thrilled to be part of the book.
“I sensed it as an accomplishment, and so it was inspiring,” he said. “There aren’t many of me out there in terms of the length of time [living with the disease].”