About 70 million Indians suffer from diabetes, a disease that has dire health repercussions unless treated on time. Read what it’s like to be a 29 year old diabetic, on the occasion of World Diabetes Day 2017.  

I was in Spain studying when I fell ill. At first, I thought I had food poisoning. I was not hungry, but thirsty instead. I was drinking lots of sugary drinks, peeing more than usual. Also, my skin was yellowish and I had lost a lot of weight.  I was shocked when my medical tests revealed I had diabetes!

Because I wasn’t aware of the symptoms for diabetes, I had a hard time adjusting to my diagnosis. But life goes on, and today I feel the only way to be happy, is to accept my problem, and work towards a better tomorrow.

Medical Support

My diagnosis was made while I was in Spain. The doctors were nice and patient, and gave me books to read and an iPad full of information.

I had a diabetic educator who worked with me to design my meals, explained carb-counting, insulin calculations, taught me correct ways of administering the insulin, managing my disease in scenarios otherwise not known to me.

I was in hospital for one week, until my condition stabilized. I learned to watch my sugar level, and manage it effectively.

Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes

Diabetes results when the blood glucose levels are too high. There are two main types of diabetes, known as “Type 1 Diabetes” and “Type 2 Diabetes.”  These two kinds are generally considered to be different conditions, and we need to understand why. In Type 1, the pancreas doesn’t produce insulin, so insulin has to be taken to compensate.

I have Type 1 Diabetes. Typically, this occurs in kids and young people, and is also known as juvenile diabetes, or early onset diabetes. Only 10% of all cases of diabetes fall into this category.

The second kind, Type 2, is what 90% of all cases of diabetes worldwide suffer from. This type can be settled with medication, diet control and regular exercise.

Hand holds glucometer for measuring glucose level. Vegetables in background. Diabetic diet and diabetes concept.

Insulin is essential for me

I need to take insulin daily, to stay well. Since I was born with a weak pancreas that doesn’t produce its own insulin, I have to make up for the lack.On a normal day, I have to take 4 maybe 5 insulin shots.

Now, I tell myself that this is no different from pills people pop for other ailments like thyroid, cancer, BP, depression, and so on.

My nutritional guide Avni Kaul has also helped me learn to eat properly, in order to keep my blood sugar steady.  Let’s face it, absolutely any ailment today has a cure.

Adjusting to my unique needs

Today, I have adjusted to my condition. I have my set of meds, and I am living a perfectly happy, healthy, normal life. I swim, I hike, I drive, I play baddy, I travel, I cook, I eat, I write, I own a business and am extremely social.

Occasionally, I even eat desserts and drink some times, because every other 29 year old is doing it.

Of course there are days I wake up crying about my condition, and wonder WHY ME?

But no one has answers to these questions, it’s like any other hurdle in life, you have to deal with it with a positive mindset.

Nutritionist Tips for those with Type 1 Diabetes

#1 Though Type 1 diabetes can be controlled by insulin, it is not curable.

“This is not like type 2 diabetes, which is caused by poor dietary habits,” says consultant nutritionist Avni Kaul.

#2 Dietary modification is required.

“Your diet must be based on the number of units of insulin you are on. Every diabetic needs to learn about Carbohydrate Counting, to control their sugar highs and lows,” says Avni.

#3 You must know how to treat hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

Eating foods that help stabilize your blood sugar, is important. “In addition, you must take your vitamins and exercise daily,” says Avni.