Chuck Eichten was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at age 13, while on a family vacation in beautiful San Diego, California. His mother suspected that her son's constant peeing and drinking, drinking and peeing that summer was peculiar. But the Eichtens didn't get a lot of vacations, and some one of the then five kids was almost always sick with something, so she figured Chuck would be fine, or at least survive, until they got home.
That vacation ended in the hospital, and so began a lifelong jousting with diabetes.
Chuck was born in Rochester, Minnesota, the second of six kids. Those Midwestern roots embedded some life maxims that although not always accurate, sometimes proved helpful, namely, "Nothing is so bad that you can't live with it." And related, "Hard work is the answer."
Not long after, the family moved to California, a dream-like state for Midwesterners, but by the 1970s, a land trending rapidly towards over-indulgence.
Chuck graduated from the University of Santa Clara with a degree in business, clearly a triumph of practicality over truth. He wasn't a businessman. With business job prospects limited by his talent and interest, he went back, happily, to get a BA in Design and Illustration at San Jose State University.
In the years after college, journalism was still a refuge for designers and drawers attracted to storytelling, if not terrific future employment opportunities. Chuck partnered with reporters at The San Jose Mercury News and The Seattle Times.
Meanwhile, through hard work and lots of idiot mistakes, Chuck was constantly learning about diabetes. The combination paid off. Even after 30+ years of Type I, Chuck has never had an A1c (the blood test that looks at long-term blood sugar averages) over 6.5, with zero eye, kidney, cardiac or any of the other typical long-term diabetes health issues.
In 1996, Chuck moved to Portland, Oregon, to take a design job at Nike. Then, as now, the company was revered in the visual communications world for the premium it placed on connecting with people through innovative design. While at Nike Chuck collaborated with a multitude of supremely talented athletes, marketers, writers, thinkers, architects, and designers of all backgrounds. Among varied responsibilities, he designed apparel for Olympic athletes, created product packaging and retail environments, partnered to help launch the Nike Foundation, and helped gather and tell the Nike Archives stories.
Designing for Nike has taught Chuck a lot about communicating. It taught him that all of us want to be inspired. That we want to have an honest conversation. And we want to be able to laugh. Even at ourselves. That we want the truth. And we want to make it BETTER. He thinks all of that applies to our diabetes too.
"The Book of Better" is Chuck's description, in words and pictures, of all the idiot things, and the occasional smart thing, that he did along the way to making his diabetes Better.
Chuck is currently the Creative Director of DNA, the Department of Nike Archives. He lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife Michelle and three kids, Matthew, Eiley and Violet, all of whom are smarter than their dad.