When you get diabetic relatively early in life, you need to be very careful about your life henceforth. The reason being – you have too much time for diabetes-related complications like neuropathy, nephropathy and retinopathy to set in, in-case you have not been able to manage your sugar levels well. For being able to do this effectively, you need to not only be able to control and condition your own self but also those around you. This may seem difficult at first. But when your survival instinct kicks in nothing is impossible. Let me tell you a real story…a story of a type 2 diabetic, who is very kind at heart, finds it difficult to say no to people and hence is today suffering the not-so-pleasant consequences of sustained high blood sugars.

I have known this lady for 5 years. She is 52 years old and has been a diabetic for 20 years. Retinopathy has set in 10 years back. She has never been able to go below an HbA1C of 7 and has been as high as 10 several times. Her eye doctor has warned her about impending blindness and she has already undergone a round of laser correction for her retinopathy.  She has tried practically everything possible to get her blood sugars to non-dangerous levels. Things work fine for a short period of time but fall off-track really soon.

I met her yet again a few days back and she in a very ‘i-have-lost-the battle’ kinda mode announced to me that her blood sugars have gone back to beyond an HbA1C of 10 in 3 months.  I tried to talk to her and understand her reasons. I suspected that a singular event may have influenced her emotionally and must be responsible for this consequence.  But as she kept talking to me I realized that her reasons were not real, they were mere circumstances and situations that were 100% in her control. Here are the things that happened in the last quarter:

  • Diwali
  • Her niece’s wedding
  • Her daughter visited
  • A family member had a restaurant opening
  • There were so many functions in the family
  • People came over to stay
  • She had no time to exercise
  • The weather got colder
  • And to top it all – the omnipresent office stress

World-over and in India, occasions are galore. There is no dearth of situations like, godh bharai, childbirth, child-naming ceremonies, birthdays, weddings and even death. Fortunately or unfortunately food is an integral part of each one of them. And then especially in India we have this multitude of festivals month after month. Each one of them demanding a certain special preparation and cuisine. If nothing else to upset your day, there will be an increment or a promotion party at work. Lame isn’t it?

Where does all this begin or end for a diabetic? According to me diabetics need to adopt and champion this nuanced art of being contextually rude. You have to refuse to be emotionally blackmailed. Of telling those people off who constantly tell you that a small piece of cake or sweet won’t hurt. Trust me it will. No wedding, no childbirth, no Diwali and no promotion will lose it sheen just because you are taking care of yourself and trying to keep those deadly consequences at bay. People may feel bad or hurt initially. It doesn’t matter. It is your presence that matters, not what you eat. They will learn just as we did. As survivors, as warriors it is our sole duty to educate and sensitize our family and friends to our special needs and eventually get them to adhere. Being able to say NO can become your biggest asset as a diabetic.