Living with diabetes and a heart problem

minute read
January 8, 2024
An older type 2 diabetic woman with a heart problem, relaxing in her village.
Note: Image for illustration only. It does not show the author of this story. Photo credit - Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz.

My name is Nazish Ali, and I’m 61 years old. I’m from a small village, where life was very simple but demanding.

Hard as the village lifestyle was though, it kept everyone in good health. For many generations, there was no sign of disease in my village (including diabetes).

But that is not my story.

My life up to my diagnosis

When I got married, I left my simple village life behind and moved to a big city. There, Allah blessed me with 6 daughters and then a son – In our society, having a son is a sign of survival for a woman.

However, at 54 I began to suffer from severe fatigue. I felt really, really tired and couldn’t walk for more than 10 minutes. It was like I was carrying a heavy load on my back all the time. Even the simple things I used to do without thinking became super hard for me. And resting didn’t help – I remained just as tired.

After having 7 children, I also struggled with obesity.

Following the advice of my daughters, I visited a doctor. The symptoms were very clear, and a simple blood test confirmed my diagnosis – I had type 2 diabetes.

My blood glucose level was dangerously high, and it sent shockwaves through me and my loved ones.

My doctor’s advice and my 1st treatment plan

My doctor prescribed medication and advised me to change my diet and exercise.

However, instead of relying on modern medications, I decided to trust in the old remedies that have been passed down through the generations. So I moved back to my village for a few days and met with our village herbalist – They prescribed remedies that used local herbs like neem and bitter gourd to control my blood glucose level.

With patience and dedication, I followed my herbal treatment plan. I also picked up my old rural lifestyle and became more physically active. I helped with farming, looked after our animals, and started taking long walks. Being overweight was a big problem and meant I was only able to stay active for a short time. Every 15 minutes I needed to take a break, but I knew being physically active was an important part of managing my condition.

Facing new challenges

Unfortunately, my old-fashioned treatments had their own difficulties.

I had ongoing nerve pain that made every day quite tough. And even a minor cut (something that happens now and then in a village) often ended up seriously infected.

Diabetes made everything, even simple tasks, feel much harder.

My tiny, infected cuts were painful and annoying. I learned how to deal with them, but I had even less energy.

I realised I needed to be more careful with my health. So I started eating more healthily and stuck to my daily routine, no matter how hard it felt.

From bad to worse

Life was hard. But then it got worse – My husband died.

At the time we were living as a joint family. 3 of my daughters were married, and the responsibility of the whole family was on my shoulders – But I couldn’t take it.

It was painful and stressful. I didn’t know how I could perform my duties and arrange expenses for my daughters. And I also couldn’t afford the medicines for my diabetes.

Shortly after this, I was diagnosed with chest pain. So I had to start fighting not just diabetes, but a heart problem as well.

My daughters tried their best to support me, and to find peace I immersed myself in religion and religious activities. This helped me control my stress. My sister-in-law also stepped in and helped with marriage expenses.

I thought myself free from responsibilities, but at the same time, I also felt like I was in between life and death.

Managing diabetes and a heart problem

As I have diabetes and a heart problem, I feel like I’m facing 2 tremendous challenges. And there are times when I experience discomfort in my chest and shortness of breath – It’s a big problem for me.

Managing what I should eat and what I should do to control my glucose level has become very important. I’m also focused on my diet, exercise and medication routine.

On the plus side, by facing my obesity problem, I’m also addressing my diabetes and heart problems at the same time. When I improve one, it affects the others. It’s not always easy, and sometimes it’s out of my control, but I’m taking steps to maintain my health and lead a purposeful life.

Final thoughts

My journey with diabetes has taken incredible determination, and my faith has played a crucial role in helping me cope and fight back stress.

My family’s support through this challenging time has also been invaluable.

My health continues to be at risk from both my heart problem and my diabetes. But managing that risk is a daily commitment and as I continue my journey I’ll adapt to every situation as I need.

Despite the difficulties, I’ve found strength in my spirituality and religious activities. And the sense of purpose that God has given me is a blessing.

Graphic of a female profile picture.
Nazish Ali

Nazish Ali is a single parent from a small village, who faces type 2 diabetes and a heart problem. But she’s determined not to give up, and with help from her family has focused on staying healthy.

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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