Who said juvenile diabetics cannot lead successful lives? Doctors, engineers, architects, cricketers, singers, homemakers, parents, travelers, cyclists…the list goes on… Read the success stories of juvenile diabetics within JDF as well as juvenile diabetic celebrities over the world.
I was in standard 10, a very studious and sincere student. I remember reading a chapter on diabetes then. While reading the chapter, I realized I was experiencing the same symptoms as written in that chapter on juvenile diabetes. I thought that “I too had diabetes.” I also read about its treatment, which is insulin injections as well as diet management, among other things. After getting my tests reports, my family doctor broke the news out to my parents that I have diabetes. My parents were in dilemma n wondered how they should tell that to their daughter. But I was very sure that I had been diagnosed with diabetes, and I had prepared myself mentally for it. I told my parents that I already knew about it and what I should do to manage it, which surprised everyone! I even gave the first insulin injection to myself! (Although as a child I was very afraid of them!).
When I was diagnosed, for some reason, not once did I feel “why me?” The only thing I hated when hospitalized was when dieticians at the hospital would stick a strict diet chart next to my table. Of course, these diet charts did not include any of my favorites or any fancy foods. What also bothered me was the thought of eating “on time.” I found the idea of timely meals absurd, because people eat when they are hungry or when they feel like it, and not the time and food prescribed by a dietician. Eventually, I held on to this notion and I would disobey my parents on this topic, thereby never eating on time. I would always demand for food that was not “on the list” and would blackmail my parents by taking injections but refusing to eat after that. So my helpless parents would bring me to eat whatever type of food I demanded! Clearly, my HbA1c levels skyrocketed and remained there for quite some time.
All this changed when I joined JDF! I met so many children my age, and I found the doctors very supportive. Some people suggested my mother to consult the dietician at JDF, Mrs. Ruby. Naturally, thinking of the boring diet charts, I was hesitant to visit a dietician.
But something unexpected happened when I visited Ruby Di. She was smiling and cracking jokes, and she first asked me to make a list of all those food items I liked the most! This made me very happy! Without further ado, I filled up an entire page with the names of all sorts of junk food. The Ruby Di said, “You can have all the items that u have written here.” I joyously looked at my mother. Ruby Di then explained how eating all these foods in proportion and at the right time would not affect my sugar levels.
I was so inspired by her demeanor in dealing with me that I decided to become a dietician like Ruby Di. So, I joined a course on nutrition. Soon, I completed my masters in nutrition. Currently, I am working with a nutraceutical company as a senior dietician. I have also begun my private practice. You can say diabetes helped me choose my career for which Ruby Di is my inspiration. I think I am quite successful at what I am doing, and when diabetes is in control (which I am doing since a long time), it can never come in between your dreams and career. I think hard work, positivity, and the desire to excel in whatever field you choose are the only criteria for a successful life.
Flying with Diabetes
It was July 1999 when I got diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes. Up until then, I was a bright school kid, good at studies, and a lover of sports. As with most other Juvenile Diabetics, my life also changed post-diagnosis. And as with most things, changes could make things better or worse. Thankfully for me, diabetes turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Post-diagnosis my family’s awareness & habits got healthier. It took me 1 year to get used to some new activities by sincerely following Dr. Nadeem Rais’ guidance, which improved my health & immunity. And then it was just about getting back to focusing on studies and indulging in sports in between. Studies didn’t let me play much during my college days but I still found some time for my good old bicycle. Participation in the Mumbai marathon and some inspiration from Lance Armstrong (of course 😉 got the bug of long-distance cycling into me. A few years back I saved some of my hard-earned money to gift myself a road bike aka racer. Since then there have been thousands of km and countless rides on the saddle – cyclothons, independence ride, republic day ride, breakfast ride, new year ride, gateway, New Bombay, catch the sun ride, meet my friends ride… the list goes on. Coming across Team Type 1 (a pro-racing team with type1 diabetic riders) inspired me further to get a hybrid bike in Pune, where I now ride 4km to my office. And weekends see me & my friends cycling long distances on the beautiful outskirts of Pune. More than anything, cycling is fun & keeps me fit! Yes, I need to take all precautions to ensure my sugars stay within safe zones for the long distances & duration of the rides. Starting from 10km distances a few years back, I now manage more than 70km rides with ease. I wish to do rides more than 100km, and hopefully, that will be very soon. And well diabetes, yeah it’s still with me as my best friend for 13 years helping me live a healthy life.
Controlled diabetes is like a blessing, while uncontrolled diabetes becomes a curse. So it is WE who decide whether to make Diabetes a blessing us or a curse.
I shall continue to prioritize health, and by God’s will, I shall keep flying with diabetes…