Life throws curve balls at you and the sooner you fight back and face the odds the better
How long have you been living with diabetes?
I have been living with type 1 diabetes for almost 2 years.
How were you diagnosed?
I was living a normal healthy life until I started noticeably losing weight. At first I didn't pay much attention, but the real struggle began when I gradually developed persistent stomach issues and felt lethargic all the time. Within three months, I had lost around 15 kilos. I was treated for indigestion and infection, despite having all the common warning signs of diabetes. After eight months, I got my blood glucose checked after feeling very drowsy at work and being unable to concentrate. The result was high and I had the lab do another test to confirm. This revealed that I was in ketoacidosis and on the verge of going into a coma. I was taken to the emergency room and subsequently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
Did your diagnosis come as a surprise to you?
It was a huge shock. I could not believe it as there was no history of the condition in my family.
How did your diagnosis affect your family or loved ones?
It came as a huge shock to my family, particularly my mother. She took great care of me and helped me during my hardest highs and lowest lows. She helped me accept diabetes as a phase of life and a condition, not a disease.
What are the most important things that have supported your diabetes care?
My mother has been my biggest support. When I was in the emergency room, I looked at other patients who were unconscious and summoned the courage to not give in. I realised that I had to cope with my condition at any cost in order to survive. "Meethi Zindagi," a non-profit that raises diabetes awareness and supports people with diabetes, came into my life at the right time. It changed my whole perspective. I gradually started coming to terms with reality by taking my physical and mental health seriously. Thanks to them and my strong spiritual beliefs, I felt motivated to keep going. I took my insulin on time, kept a strict check on carb intake and monitored my blood glucose levels religiously.
What has living with diabetes taught you the most?
Diabetes has made me accept reality and given me confidence. Life throws curve balls at you and the sooner you fight back and face the odds the better. I feel strong enough to live with my condition and have become increasingly disciplined to eat properly and stay healthy.
What has been your lowest point with diabetes?
The days following my diagnosis were the lowest. People made me feel like an outcast and took pity on me.
Have you ever experienced issues accessing diabetes medicines, supplies and care?
Yes, the medicines are costly and the increasing prices sometimes make it difficult, particularly to access advanced devices like CGMs and pumps.
What would you like to see change in diabetes over the next 100 years?
I would like to see better awareness of type 1 diabetes, access to free insulin for the disadvantaged and advanced devices like CGMs and pumps accessible to all people with type 1 diabetes.
What do you think needs to change to improve the lives of people living with diabetes in your country?
Insulin is like oxygen to me and for everyone with type 1 diabetes. Thousands die because they can't afford it or it’s unavailable. Some even die undiagnosed. Insulin should be available to all who need it, free or at an affordable price. There should also be more awareness campaigns and activities to inform the public about diabetes.
What does the centenary of insulin mean to you?
The discovery of insulin was "the light at the end of tunnel". Millions of lives have been saved and transformed but there's still a lot more to be done. Thanks to insulin, type 1 diabetes is no longer a death sentence as it used to be, but it remains inaccessible to many.