Book signing for John Robert Wiltgen’s ‘The Candy in My Pocket’ set for June 21-22

Author and internationally acclaimed, award-winning residential designer John Robert Wiltgen will be signing his memoir “The Candy in My Pocket” at noon Friday, June 21, at Barbara’s Bookstore in Macy’s State Street at 111 N. State St. on the lower level.

Wiltgen will also be at Barbara’s Bookstore in the Yorktown Center, 203 Yorktown Center in Lombard, on Saturday, June 22, at 2 p.m. where in addition to autographing his book he will discuss his life with diabetes and design.

Barbara’s Bookstore has earned a reputation in Chicago for high-quality inventory and informed service. The stores were twice named by the Chicago Tribune as one of the 100 best things about the city. Newcity Magazine recognized Barbara’s author event schedule as the best in Chicago.

“Imagine becoming legally blind while working at becoming a renowned architectural designer,” Wiltgen said. “You have an 18.4% mortgage on a building you’ve just started renovating; rent is due for your office; and employees must be paid. What would you do?”

“Or picture yourself with kidney disease which ultimately requires a transplant. Then at the age of 30, you are diagnosed with heart disease requiring two medicated stents. How would you cope? And, what if you fought cellulitis and osteomyelitis with IV antibiotics for 20 years but finally had to have your leg amputated? Might you have the energy needed to keep on fighting?”

These are just several of the amazing questions resolved in ‘The Candy in My Pocket,’ John Robert Wiltgen’s absorbing memoir. He battled many debilitating complications of Type 1 diabetes while creating a prestigious design firm with projects across America, Canada, Mexico — even Africa.

With unwavering honesty, Wiltgen chronicles the immense challenges he faced in his relentless struggle against this silent killer while determined to preserve his identity and keep close those he held dear. This captivating narrative reveals Wiltgen’s relentless pursuit of a life of purpose while remaining optimistic amid overwhelming adversity.

According to Navid Ziran, an orthopedic trauma surgery specialist, “I perform many amputations due to diabetic foot infections, and I am very familiar with the effects of diabetes on mental and physical quality of life and overall longevity,” he said.

“For instance, the overall five-year mortality rate after an amputation is 62%,” Ziran said. “Wiltgen, who has suffered from insulin-dependent diabetes since the age of eight, has defied the odds for survival.”

“Other individuals would have died a long time ago, Wiltgen not only survived but developed into a world-renown interior designer and he sought joy and established solid friendships along the way,” he said.

“He is a quintessential example of how the human spirit can not only adapt/overcome but also flourish and succeed despite overwhelming odds. Truly, his life story embraces ‘ad astra per aspera’ — a crooked path leads to the stars,” Ziran said.

“I would say that regarding survivability and inner strength, Wiltgen represents the end of the bell curve for not only diabetic patients but for all humans,” he concluded.

Though Wiltgen’s life involves countless tragedies, it also includes exciting personal and professional adventures as well as celebrity cameos including Jane Seymour, Timothy Hutton, Angelina Jolie, Sean and Robin Wright Penn, Steve Harvey, John Cusack, the president of Nigeria, and Jesus.

Dr. James Paparello, professor of medicine-nephrology and high blood pressure at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine made this comment about Wiltgen’s book, “As a nephrologist, I found ‘The Candy in My Pocket’ particularly inspiring as it shows that people with kidney disease can still live a full life. Mr. Wiltgen shares how he dealt with his diagnosis, the transplant, and life afterwards — a life more interesting and authentic than reality TV shows. He also exemplifies the health benefits of a good sense of humor.”

Cynthia Rowley, global fashion designer raised in Barrington, commented, “I laughed out loud at every story. John’s triumph over medical adversity is enormously uplifting. He chooses joy, happiness, and unwavering positivity in his quest to live life on his own terms. I have never met a person with more energy and pathological optimism.”

The Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, President of Nigeria wrote “ … John is a highly respected professional of international repute. I trust his judgment and expertise on this project …” This project was the design, from the ground up, of a 40,000-square-foot residence on Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria.

“The Candy in My Pocket” is timely with the current explosion of diabetes in America and around the world.

A portion of the profits realized from the sale of this book will be donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

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