"I know about needles," writes Andie Dominick in this beautifully rendered memoir about growing up with juvenile diabetes. As a little girl, these needles belong to Andie's older sister, Denise, a diabetic since the age of two. Andie worships her older sister -- wants to look like her, act like her, be her. Unfortunately, when she is nine years old, part of her wish comes true. Denise helps diagnose Andie with juvenile diabetes, and from then on the needles belong to her.
Here Andie recounts her transformation from a free-spirited kid who enjoyed giving shots to her stuffed animals with her sister's castaway needles to a lifelong patient who must learn to inject herself twice a day. Immediately, she is thrust into a lifestyle more typical of a senior citizen than a fourth grader: a routine that involves not just denial of the simplest of childhood pleasures, candy, but also rigorous self-care and frequent hospital visits.
Andie's very special relationship with Denise is cemented by a dangerous disease, but in the end, they take diverging paths in coping with it. When she is twenty-one, Andie returns to the house she shares with her sister and finds Denise's lifeless body. Though ever watchful of Andie, Denise had abused her own body with neglect and with drugs. Destroyed by the death of her hero and best friend and facing potential blindness from the diabetes, Andie now understands the full consequences of her disease: a lower life expectancy, greater reliance on an often hostile medical establishment, the serious dangers posed by childbearing, and acute loneliness.
With elegance and honesty, Andie describes the bone-chilling procedures she endures to save her eyesight and tells how she found the courage to embrace love and hope in the face of fear, and to live with a disease that has taken so much from her.
Beautifully written, revelatory, and profoundly affecting, Needles is destined to find a place alongside Autobiograpby of a Face as a classic account of a young life transformed by illness.