Learning how to face a life with diabetes
My name is Sidra. I’m 40 years-old, a high school teacher, and I have a daughter.
And I suffer a lot from diabetes.
I was diagnosed with diabetes unexpectedly, 2 years ago.
No one from my family suffers from diabetes, so this news came as a big shock to me.
I also hadn’t gone to hospital thinking anything was wrong. It was just my habit to check complete health checks every 2 months. But this time, after screening my blood and finishing my health check, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
The impact of my diabetes diagnosis
My diagnosis scared me – Everyone talks about how significant the impact of diabetes is, that it lasts your whole life. Being diagnosed with this disease scared me.
People who were suffering from diabetes then scared me more, by sharing with me details of the different complications I could face, such as heart disease, stomach problems, eyesight issues, and urinary tract and kidney failure.
Only a few people encouraged me, saying that while a diabetes diagnosis is shocking, diabetes can be treated, controlled and managed.
I also struggled with misinformation. A few friends gave me advice and information that seemed accurate, but some of the things I was told by family members and even other diabetics just didn’t sound true.
Challenges, and being labelled as a ‘diabetic’
Once I got over the initial shock of my diagnosis, I decided to push away my fears, anxiety and concern. Instead, I decided to view it as a challenge.
However, I also quickly realised that being a diabetic wasn’t easy.
As a teacher, it’s important to keep your mind active and engaged. But after my diagnosis, I felt tired all the time. I also struggled with hunger and weight loss.
Another big challenge was being labelled as a ‘diabetic’ in my family and social circles. It changed how people saw me and interacted with me.
My work also suffered. Schools are always hectic environments, but my diabetes made it hard for me to control my moods. Sometimes I shouted at students without any reason. To combat my tiredness, I also felt like I needed more free classes. The school principal scolded me about my behaviour with students, and warned me that if I didn’t follow proper classes I’d lose my job.
I was also worried about my diet, because I loved to eat sweets.
Diabetes changed my whole lifestyle.
Stressed, I visited the doctor to try and get some tips and advice. My doctor gave me some general advice, told me that I probably hadn’t inherited diabetes from my family, and said that I needed to take medication for it.
My first complication, a stomach ulcer
I didn’t agree to take medication for my diabetes because I believed that the medicines would have bad side-effects. Instead, I focused my mind on fighting diabetes without any medicine.
But soon, I started to get severe stomach pain – I had a bad stomach ulcer.
I took lots of medicine to cure my stomach ulcer, but after I’d fully recovered I was left with heart and kidney problems.
Even then, I still didn’t agree to take medication for my diabetes. I felt like once I started taking medicine, I’d have to take it until the end of my life – This thought was too depressing, and I couldn’t face it.
My husband eventually changed my mind.
When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, I felt embarrassed and ashamed in front of my family. But my husband gave me his full support. Whenever I forgot to take my stomach medicine, he reminded me. And when I confided in him my fears about the diabetes medicine, he told me “you’re not old yet, you’re still young, and you can manage it if you try,”.
His words convinced me to start taking medicine.
Starting with herbal remedies
The first diabetes medication I tried were herbal remedies and exercise – I believed that herbal remedies wouldn’t have any side-effects.
These medicines acted slowly, but after a month I felt that I was getting better and recovering. My blood glucose level wasn’t fluctuating and my stomach was getting better.
I was also following a strict diet. I ate no spices, ate only simple foods, and every day had an apple and drank a glass of milk.
After 3 months, my health seemed to be normal.
But then I made a big mistake – I stopped taking my herbal remedies.
My stomach had healed by this point, but I became hypoglycemic (low blood sugar). I felt like I’d been sentenced to death.
I went straight to the hospital and saw my doctor. They told me that I needed to monitor my blood glucose level daily, and keep watch so I could avoid another hypoglycemic episode. She advised me not to think about the possible complications of diabetes, and never told me about the risks to my heart and kidneys. Instead, she said to stay in the present, and focus on maintaining a good blood glucose level.
My next complication, a stroke
One night, I woke up to numbness in my body. I couldn’t feel my feet, could tell my whole body was in trouble, and then lost consciousness.
My husband took me to hospital. When I regained consciousness, the doctor told me that I’d been hyperglycemic (high blood sugar). My high blood sugar had caused hormonal changes, and this had led to a stroke.
I was alive, but hospitalised for a very long time. My recovery was very slow, I had trouble sleeping, and my daughter was terribly upset. I was very depressed, but seeing her cry triggered something in me – I knew I had to recover and take my diabetes seriously.
My doctor told me that if I wanted to avoid further strokes, I needed to exercise and take my medicines regularly – I’m following that advice.
Sometimes I still suffer from stomach and hypoglycemia problems, but they’re not as bad as they were before my stroke.
I’ve totally changed my lifestyle, and it’s helped me. My exercise program helps me feel good and refreshed. I’m enjoying the company of my students again, and I feel more supported by my friends and family. Everyone in my social life encourages me to fight against my diabetes. And I’m fully prepared now to take care of myself, and protect my future.
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