How I managed my diabetes while struggling financially

minute read
March 27, 2023
A type 1 diabetic reviewing her finances.
Note: Image for illustration only. It does not show the author of this story. Photo credit - Anna Tarazevich

I was diagnosed with diabetes during a period of financial hardship.

It began when I lost my job due to the economic downturn. I’d been working as a high school teacher for a private school and was left with no income.

I searched for jobs in my field, but competition was fierce, and the few jobs available only paid minimum wage.

My financial situation was not ideal, and my stress levels were high.

During this time, I started experiencing elevated symptoms of diabetes – I was constantly thirsty, urinating frequently, and had a low attention span.

I knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t afford to go to the doctor, so didn’t know what.

Then one day, I collapsed at home and was rushed to the emergency room. I was diagnosed with diabetes and told my blood sugar levels were dangerously high. The doctor said if I hadn’t come in when I did, I could have slipped into a diabetic coma.

My diabetes diagnosis was terrifying, but it was also a wake-up call – I knew I needed to take control of my health and find a way to manage my diabetes, despite my financial challenges.

I resumed my job search, and my father supported me until I landed a job with an American IT firm.

Taking control

My first step was to educate myself about diabetes. I read everything I could find online, checked out books from the library, and talked to other diabetics managing the condition. I learned about the importance of monitoring my blood sugar levels, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly.

My next step was to find affordable healthcare. I applied for insurance which covered my medical expenses, including regular check-ups, medications, and diabetes supplies like test strips and insulin. I also found a local clinic that offered free classes on diabetes management, which helped me learn more about my condition and how to manage it.

Despite these measures, managing diabetes while financially struggling was still a challenge. Healthy food options were expensive, and I had to make do with what I could afford. I learned to cook nutritious meals on a tight budget, using fresh fruit and vegetables whenever I could find them available wholesale and buying staple foods (like rice and beans) in bulk.

I also had to prioritise my spending – Diabetes supplies were a top priority, along with my medications and doctor visits. I had to cut back on non-essential items like eating out and buying luxury items.

And I discovered that the stress of financial insecurity could also impact my blood sugar levels. To combat this, I learned to manage stress through deep breathing exercises and practising mindfulness. Gyms were also a luxury at that point, so I found ways to stay active without them, like going for walks in my neighbourhood and doing yoga at home.

Reaching my goals

Managing diabetes while struggling financially wasn’t easy, but it was possible. It just took a lot of hard work and determination.

4 years have passed since my diagnosis, and while my financial situation still isn’t carefree, I’m managing my diabetes as best I can and have managed my expenses throughout. I’ve progressed in my career and am earning more money than before. I still have to be mindful of my spending and prioritise my health, but I’m grateful for the progress I’ve made.

Living with diabetes has taught me many things. It’s taught me the importance of taking care of my health, being resilient in the face of adversity, and leaning on my family when I need them. It’s also taught me to appreciate the good things in life, like my health, family, and friends.

My biggest lesson from diabetes is that your health is your greatest treasure. No amount of money can replace good health, and you need to value and protect yours above all else.

Managing diabetes while struggling financially has been a difficult journey, but it’s also been a transformative one. It’s made me resilient, resourceful, and compassionate toward others who are also struggling. And it’s given me a new perspective on life and a greater appreciation for what truly matters.

If there’s anyone out there that’s managing diabetes while struggling financially, know that you’re not alone. There’s help available through community resources, healthcare programs, and support groups. You’re stronger than you know, and you have the power to take control of your health and your life.

Profile photo of Hira Tayyab, a type 1 diabetic.
Hira Tayyab

Hira Tayyab is a 28 year old diabetic who was diagnosed at the start of her career and forced to manage her condition with limited financial resources. Her career is now progressing, and her hands-on ability to tackle her condition during the financially tough early years have made her a more resilient and powerful person.

Editor's note: The opinions and experiences reflected in stories from the diabetic community belong to the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of InDiabetes.

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