THE SUGARLESS PLUM
A Ballerina's Triumph Over Diabetes
BY ZIPPORA KARZ
It started as the perfect story. Zippora Karz was a member of the famed New York City Ballet by the age of eighteen. By twenty she was starring as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, dancing roles created by Jerome Robbins, and traveling the world. It was the stuff dreams are made of until, at age twenty-one, Karz became exhausted, dizzy and excessively thirsty. Heavy pancake makeup covered the sores under her arms that would not heal, but she neglected to go to the doctor. When she finally did, she was diagnosed with diabetes, and learned that if she continued to ignore her symptoms, she risked heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and amputation of her toes, feet and legs. She struggled to get the correct diagnosis and treatment, first thinking she had Type-2 diabetes, when in fact she had Type 1, juvenile diabetes. Once placed on an insulin regimen to regulate her blood sugar, she would inject herself with unsafe doses before going on stage in misguided attempts to obtain peak performance. The potentially fatal result of Karz's self-experimentation became all too real when she nearly lost consciousness. Her weight dropped and she became dangerously ill.
Balancing ballet and her blood sugar would be a long and difficult struggle forKarz, but eventually she learned to value her body and work with it, rather than rage at its limitations. In The Sugarless Plum, Karz shares her journey from denial, shame and miseducation about her illness to how she led an active, balanced and satisfying life as an insulin-dependent diabetic and soloist with one of the world's most famous ballet companies. Through her fascinating story, those struggling with diabetes and other serious illnesses can find encouragement and inspiration as well as practical advice on achieving physical and emotional wellness.
After sixteen years with the New York City Ballet, Karz retired and took her passion and skills into a whole new arena as a diabetes educator and advocate, where today she inspires people to not just manage their illness, but to thrive and fulfill their passions. The Sugarless Plum takes readers deep into the heart and soul of a young dancer, and is a remarkable testament to determination and perseverance.
Zippora Karz, author of The Sugarless Plum:A Ballerina's Triumph Over Diabetes, danced with the New York City Ballet from 1983 through 1999. She now serves as a teacher and répetitéur for the George Balanchine Trust, rehearsing and staging Balanchine's choreography for a host of international dance companies. She is also a diabetes spokesperson and educator who regularly addresses major diabetes conferences and organizations worldwide. She lives in Los Angeles, California.
Karz writes about the physical battle a ballet dancer experiences as the norm: the calluses and blisters, bent or dislocated toes, and from sore feet to even broken bones. The daily routine of hours of workouts and practice at the ballet barre only to race to exhale with relief at seeing your name posted on the bulletin board as one who got a part, or to square your shoulders and lift your quivering chin and walk away with dignity after yet another rejection.
The story Zippora tells is filled with honesty as she describes her world as really compared to that of a competitive athlete. She started out in the lower ranks and worked her way up through schooling and then the ballet companies. She talks about her ambitions in her life both in her dance and her personal life. She goes on to describe the rigorous life she was living and feeling surely that her exhaustion and other symptoms she began to experience were a result of her work ethic. However, Karz eventually goes on after much pain and suffering, trial and error, to find that she has Type 2 Diabetes.
Thinking naturally that this will end her career--her life, she pushes on and changes her diet and keep on her medication that is prescribed. She is well aware of what can happen if she does not. All this only to eventually find that she has Type 1 Diabetes instead, and that it would surely mean insulin injections for life. Now she feels her body has betrayed her for sure. Karz is emotionally and physically drained even as she continues to dance to the delight of the audiences on stage only to collapse and be exhausted off stage. What she once thrilled at, the leaps and turns, are now sheer agony but she won't let it show.
This is a beautifully written, honest story of a ballerina, the Sugarplum Fairy star, but it isn't a magical fairy tale ending. Rather it is a motivational and courageous tale of a woman who decides that this is her life and she will deal with it with grace and tenacity and not let it put an end to her dream.
It is here where we see the strength of this woman who is a third generation dancer and not one to give up. Her story is truly inspirational and can be a motivator to others with not only Diabetes, but facing other life challenges. Zippora writes how she managed her condition and was still able to have a brilliant career. You see photographs of her at work and even with her mother and grandmother--the three generations of ballet. She shares her personal and professional life as well as a source of reference materials near the end that can be helpful to anyone facing this condition. She has become an advocate and spokeswoman for diabetes and has made that her goal. This is not a woman to pity, this is a survivor who has written a book to inspire and show how life may change the part in which you are cast, but you can still dance to your own tune.
THANKS TO CAITLIN AND MY PALS
AT FSB ASSOCIATES, I HAVE TWO COPIES
OF THIS WONDERFUL BOOK TO GIVE AWAY!
--U.S. RESIDENTS ONLY
--NO P. O. BOXES, PLEASE
--EMAIL MUST BE IN YOUR COMMENT!!
--EACH ENTRY MUST BE A SEPARATE COMMENT
TO COUNT OR ELSE IT COUNTS AS ONE
+1 MORE ENTRY: GO TO ZIPPORA KARZ WEBSITE AND READ HER BIO SECTION AND COMMENT ON SOMETHING YOU FOUND THAT ISN'T DISCUSSED IN THIS POST.
+1 MORE ENTRY: GO BACK TO THE CHRIS DREAMS BIG POST AND IF YOU HAVEN'T READ IT, YOU MIGHT WANT TO SINCE HE IS AN ATHLETE WITH DIABETES AND HIS BOOK IS ONE OF THE THREE YOU CAN WIN IN THE "BINGLE BELLS BUNDLE #1 OF KIDS BOOKS" THAT ENDS NOVEMBER 16. COME BACK AND TELL ME IF YOU READ ABOUT HIS COURAGEOUS EXPERIENCE WITH DIABETES AND ONE THING YOU LEARNED FROM THAT POST.
PLEASE DON'T FORGET THAT NOVEMBER IS NATIONAL DIABETES MONTH!
6 PM, EST, NOVEMBER 30