Written by Rafia Asim
This is what an average science book or even an MBBS student will tell you about Diabetes:
Diabetes is a condition in which the body either does not produce enough, or does not properly respond to, insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas. Insulin enables cells to absorb glucose in order to turn it into energy. In diabetes, the body either fails to properly respond to its own insulin, does not make enough insulin, or both. This causes glucose to accumulate in the blood, often leading to various complications.
There are mainly two types of Diabetes; Type 1 Results from the body’s failure to produce insulin. Presently almost all persons with type 1 diabetes must take insulin injections. Type 2 Results from Insulin resistance, a condition in which cells fail to use insulin properly, sometimes combined with relative insulin deficiency.
What follows is my personal account of living with type 1 diabetes:
14Th November was World Diabetes day, and there were numerous articles in the news as well as seminars and awareness programs on the radio. As I sat there in the car with my friend, on my way back home from college, I laughed to myself as a commercial about diabetes played on the radio.
“Around 3.2 million deaths every year are attributable to complications of diabetes; six deaths every minute. People with diabetes may encounter complications such as Neuropathy (nerve disease), Retinopathy (eye disease), Arteriosclerosis (vessel disease), Nephropathy (kidney disease), Ketoacidosis etc etc”
I asked myself ‘Do they realize people who actually have diabetes hear these commercials as well?’ Why does it always have to be about death and complications and me losing my foot or my eye or my kidneys? If you are one of the many people who have actually started to believe that once you have diabetes your life is over, think again.
I was 11 years old when I got diabetes. The doctors had to put me on insulin injections immediately. Today, nine years later, I still inject insulin in my body four times a day. I must admit, I was a trypanophobic all my life and suddenly I had to insert needles in my own body. The mere idea of needles pricking your flesh makes your spine quiver and yet, unbelievably, I have grown used to it.
Half of the people I know strongly feel that injections are the worst thing about diabetes. The other half very strongly believes that not being able to eat chocolate has got to be the worst thing in the entire universe. I have even received comments like ‘I would have shot myself in the face had someone asked me to stay away from chocolate all my life.’ Honestly though, I do not miss sweet food that much. Even if I try some now, it does not taste the same. However, my mother and even my friend’s mother are sweet enough to make sugar free dishes for me to enjoy.
If you want my honest opinion, I say neither the injections, nor the diet restrictions are the worst things about diabetes. The worst thing is gaining weight. I, being a teenager, felt this my entire diabetic life. I kept gaining weight, even though I refrained from sweets and oily food. Weight gain often results from diabetes and is even harder to conquer than the normal weight gain. A diabetic patient can not chose his/her own diet and start following it. There are so many other things to worry about, like controlling your sugar levels and getting regular check ups, that dieting remains in the back seat. If one is really motivated, anything is possible, but a diabetic patient requires so much more conviction and strength that it hardly seems fair. We already have strict restrictions on our diet. Cutting them further and further leads to a stage where you either remain alive on leaves and grass or quit all together. Every time I would decide to lose weight by eating less and exercising more, I’d go into hypoglycemia and as a result eat sweets, which would help me gain instead of lose. I usually found myself in a worst position than before, get de-motivated and quit. Needless to say, the cycle continues.
You also need to realize that Diabetes stays with you forever. He is that nosy person in your college you cannot get rid off, no matter what you try. The only way to survive his presence is to say hello nicely and to start walking away. Either the church approves the stem cell research or I’m stuck with this guy forever. I know I can never grow to like him, but he is merging with the surroundings now so that I don’t feel his presence all the time. I just hope someone else kills him for me.
Getting diabetes is not the worst thing in the world. Most of the time, you feel no different from the next person. It is a disease with complications, but one needs to realize that stressing too much over these complications will cause more harm then the complications themselves. If you are a non diabetic, know that diabetes is not contagious and eating my left over food will NOT give you diabetes. If you are a diabetic patient, stop worrying and start living.