Diabetes and omnipresence are synonyms now. The numbers that we encounter every day are disillusioning and worrying to say the least.

In my initial days of such encounters I always met diabetics who would always crib and cry about their condition. There was no thought of looking at it as a given and then trying to work around it for best optimal results.

The following story is an exception. A story of realization. A story of a diabetic mother-in-law who finally decided to take diabetes head on. The narration below is by her daughter-in-law and hence in first person.
Read on…

These are stories of people from all walks of life. Each one is there to inspire us, to highlight to us the different aspects of living with diabetes, or simply to show us that – whatever your situation – you are not alone.

Allow me to share the story of my mother-in-law who has been a diabetic since a while now.
When was the first time she was diagnosed with diabetes? More than 8 years for sure. Her symptoms then were very clear and classic. Excessive thirst, persistent hunger and most of all the never ending urinary tract infection – UTI. And there were drastic fluctuations in her blood sugar level.

How did she react to her diagnosis? She didn’t take it as seriously as she should have. She took the medicine her health care provider prescribed, but didn’t commit to eating healthy, being active and stress free like she needed to. She kept telling herself that “everything is good in moderation”, which was just an excuse to keep eating whatever she wanted to. (Many people do that, I know a few in my own family who are still ignorant, sad! )

Then what made her decide to get real about her diabetes? About a year ago a close relative of ours passed away due to complications arising out of type 2 diabetes. Not to forget he was on dialysis, thrice a week. That was really tough, especially knowing that if he had taken better care of himself he might still be here. Sadly, he just didn’t know how to take control of his diabetes. However, that did not change the game for her. It wasn’t yet her wake up call. Things were still the same, food habits and binge eating continued and the UTI kept coming and going.

When finally one day she fell very sick for a whole month with every day bringing to her a new pain point in her body. Pain, numbness in her feet, vision issues, dizziness, lack of bodily balance, sugar levels fluctuations and high BP. She ended up having the whole range of complications.

She was not up to her usual self and that got her extremely worried and disturbed. High levels of lethargy and illness demotivated her further and started hurting her emotionally. That’s when she decided to take things in her own hands, get her health back on track and get serious about it. Finally, she said yes to a doctor visit.

So then, what about medications and their role? Someone recommended to us a highly qualified and extremely established endocrinologist.  And why not, we wanted to go to the best. No compromises here! We took an appointment and visited him. At first, everything seemed fine. The usual checks and insulin points were given (she was already on insulin before meeting him). However gradually, after a few visits, she started feeling worse than before, she felt awful and unheard and her doctor would not bother to understand her nor her body. He kept increasing her insulin points on every visit and giving her high doses of medicines (absolutely unnecessary for her) and charged us a heavy fee on each visit.

Her confidence levels dropped further and she kept worrying that if she visited him again he would increase her insulin points. She was adamant about not wanting to visit him. At that point we found her illogical and stubborn.We thought she just didn’t want to take it seriously.

Unfortunately we were wrong. It took us a while (a month or two) to understand that her treatment was not proper. She needed X and Y was given. Given how the condition progresses, no matter how well you eat or be active one still needs help from medication to keep the blood sugar in range. BUT beyond that YOU NEED A DOCTOR WHO CAN GUIDE YOU CORRECTLY. As someone who would take time out to hear your concerns and boost your morale, instead of doing exactly the opposite.
Lesson learnt: – Big Doctor, Bigger Jhol!

What was our next step? Obviously, we had to change the doctor on an urgent basis. It was like starting all over again. But this time we got lucky and managed to get a sensible, non commercial and value-for-patients doctor. He changed her entire perspective towards diabetes management and she felt better. Of course, it will all take time to get everything to “just fine”. But at least we see the positive signs.

What lifestyle changes did she make? Well, we do see her eating rationally and healthier than before. (All the unlearning and undoing will take some time). Breads have been replaced by rotis and fruits are now being eaten early. Walks are regular and sugar intake in terms of sweets, biscuits etc have come down. It’s surely a good start for a person who loves to eat. Still a long long way to go.

One thing I would say is to DO NOT WAIT. Get going immediately. You are either managing your diabetes or it’s hurting you. That’s just how this condition works! Find your motivation and run with it. Be sensible in choosing your doctor. The best need not be the best for you. Don’t go by the herd instinct. Use your brains and don’t fall prey to their money making business. It’s about your own health.  Changing what you eat, being active and taking insulin look very daunting at the beginning, but give it a shot! Pun intended:)

What I’ve learnt is, there is no secret to managing diabetes. It just takes commitment and resolve every day.

Kinjal Zaveri Dhanda