From poisoning to diabetes, to a healthy life
My name is Zahida Jutt, and I’m 30 years old.
My life used to be happy and enjoyable. I was a very healthy and active person.
But it’s the law of nature that unexpected things happen, and I am an example of that law.
The cause of my diabetes
When I was 20, I finished college and returned home. At home, I ate a lunch which I later learned was full of lizard poison.
I was in an awful condition and went to the hospital as soon as possible.
It took 3 months of treatment to recover from the poison. Unfortunately, it had several side effects, and diabetes was one of them.
Receiving my diabetes diagnosis
Four months after I had recovered from the lizard poison, I went to see my doctor. He examined me and told me my body isn’t making insulin – I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
This came as a big shock.
My parents aren’t diabetic. In fact, no one in my family tree has ever been diagnosed with diabetes. I’m the only person in the entire history of my family to suffer from it.
It was a strange sensation. I wanted to get rid of this disease but knew it was not in my hands.
The symptoms of my diabetes
I wanted to fight this disease and stay the best version of myself. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way.
Whenever I drank water I felt the need for the washroom, and urination was very painful.
I started to feel tired all day.
I constantly felt stressed and fought with everyone around me.
At the time of my diagnosis, my sugar level was 535 (much too high). Other times it would plummet to an extremely low level and I’d start shivering. Sometimes I needed high doses of insulin, and other times I barely needed any.
Going down the wrong path
Because I wanted to recover as soon as possible, I went down the wrong path.
Society told me if I visited healers and religious figures, they could rid me of my diabetes.
I didn’t listen to my doctor.
I didn’t take my diabetes seriously, drank unhealthy drinks and didn’t listen to my body.
These actions led to serious complications, which I didn’t realise because I wasn’t having regular check-ups with my doctor.
The infection of my kidneys
Three years after my diabetes diagnosis, I went to see my doctor again.
He again warned me that I had type 2 diabetes and that it could cause serious health issues. He also told me that my kidneys were badly infected because of my diabetes and because I drank a lot of acidic drinks.
He advised me that if I wanted to recover I had to eat only healthy food and drinks (free from acidity-causing agents).
I followed his advice, but I still wasn’t recovering. My stress built up, and I prayed to God for my quick recovery.
Planning my diet
I started to record my daily sugar level and log what I ate every day.
At first, I found even this simple practice difficult. Most of the time my sugar levels were high, which caused me stress, so I didn’t want to log them.
One of my friends gave me colourful charts and advised me to decorate them and fix them to my walls – One chart for my daily diet, one for a daily walk and exercise, and one for my blood sugar levels, along with the daily dose of insulin I was taking.
This helped a lot. I bought my own glucose meter (having daily check-ups from my doctor was very expensive), and every morning, afternoon and night I tested my blood sugar level. I recorded the details on my charts in different colours and could see my progress fighting my disease and kidney infection.
I started drinking plenty of water and ate dry fruit and vegetables every day, especially cucumber salads. Cucumber juice also helped give relief from painful urination.
Once a week I visited my doctor and brought along pictures of my diet, exercise and blood sugar charts. They could see I was taking my disease seriously and really appreciated it.
Things were going well for me, and my kidney infection was healing.
I started to record daily comments on my progress, which I found interesting and motivational.
After a year of using my charts, I identified that my being overweight might be part of the reason I struggled to recover from my infection and diabetes. So I started exercising more to lower my body weight. I began swimming and saw good results.
I realised that when I kept myself healthy and followed a vegetarian lifestyle, my sugar levels lowered and became stable. And when my sugar levels were stable I felt like I was back in control and could enjoy my life.
To fully release my stress and improve my happiness, I also picked different areas in the north and went on tours with my friends.
The societal impacts and struggles I face with diabetes
Fighting my diabetes, I ran into a lot of hurdles.
My father died when I was very young and I was brought up by my mother. I have two brothers but they live apart from us with their families. This left me as the sole support for my mother. Supporting both her and myself is often challenging.
Diabetes treatment is expensive. You need not only insulin (the basic diabetes treatment) but also a solid strategy to manage stress.
Making a living in societies on the Asian continent is not easy. To support my mother and face my societal difficulties, I dressed as a boy. I joined the traffic police and taught computing in schools, working day and night to overcome my financial burdens.
Sometimes, when my sugar level is very high (~540), I start shouting at the people around me. I lose control of my temper and myself. This kind of behaviour is very harmful to my social life.
But I work hard and I’m not afraid of the problems ahead of me.
My biggest challenge is handling my stress, though I’m trying my best to relax my mind and stay calm. I’m also working to strengthen my social relationships and further recover my diabetes.
I’m still recovering, but I’ve balanced my sugar levels and become a healthier person.
And importantly, I’ve learned that no one in this world is perfect. Everyone is struggling in his or her life.
I’m challenged by my diabetes, my social life, and my financial burdens. But I’m doing the best I can, and I’m getting better.
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