I walked into Hindu Mandal Hospital with the curiosity of a cat. Did I have diabetes? The doctor who had seen me some time previously had in the end given me reference to another doctor for confirmation if I had the illness.
That was where I was going now. Behind the curiosity in me there was also the fear of doom. I know the illness of diabetes very well. It is a killer. The worse thing about it is that before it kills you, it wrecks your body horribly.
I was soon to learn that it was also the cause of a couple of other diseases, which ruin your body horribly and indeed were what actually caused the victim’s death. I did not want to be so horribly wrecked before I die, a pathetic wreck.
The doctor had suspected I possibly had type 2 diabetes. It is a disease which befalls people who eat more, but do little. Still, the bottom line is lack of insulin to change that food into energy.
It is found in adults, but today even children, shockingly, have it. That could not be my case! I told myself. Did they mean to say that I was a lazy bone? But I was not! I do a considerable amount of physical exercise.
I considered that physical activity enough shield against diabetes. The curiosity I had when I went to the hospital started earlier. It drove me to seek help in some medical books including the Internet.
The suspect culprit was the kind of diabetes they call Type 2, otherwise known as Life Style diabetes. “Diabetes education helps you take ownership of diabetes,” explains Jane Leksan, RN, BSN, a certified diabetes educator at the Cleveland Clinic.
Leksan adds, “It provides you with the tools and information that empowers you to be proactive in your care. If you don’t know what’s expected, or the diabetes management guidelines, you won’t understand the treatment you’re receiving.”
The bottom line is knowledge about what you should eat. My life style could not therefore be suspect. I may be stout, but I am not fat and my weight cannot as a result be a health risk to me. Moreover, as a matter of routine, I eat no more than groundnuts between meals.
I had learned that a meal composed of whole grain flour was not only more nutritious, but is a good guard against getting diabetes as well.
Consequently therefore, I made it a matter of routine to avoid all types of food with high concentration of sugar, food made from polished flour and consumed mostly whole grain food stuff, one of which was brown bread.
Still, the fact that I had become a potential victim of the killer disease, meant I had possibly blundered somewhere. The big question I was now left with was, ‘Where and when had that blunder occurred?’
Perhaps my visit to the next doctor I understood was called Sister Maria, could provide some of these dodgy answers if not all. Sister Maria was in the prime of her womanhood – was between 35 and 45 by my guess.
Sr Maria had with her an assistant, a girl who, but for her hospital greenish gown, could be mistaken for her daughter. “Yes, what can I do for you?” she said to me in a polite, professional tone.
I presented to her the little note the doctor had given me. “We need your file to endorse therein what we have done,” she said. “Go down to the first floor and bring it. Leave this note here with me.”
I walked down to the first floor to fetch the file and was presently back. The younger lady medic began the session. Her questions were mostly designed in manner to tell them what I did and ate daily. The younger medic did her job well, I should admit.
However, it all did not stop me from feeling like some criminal suspect trying to prove his innocence. I told her I ate vegetables mostly with an occasional dish of meat. Pork was my favourable dish whenever I could afford it.
Another favourable meal was fish, that of lung fish or kamongo, being the darling one. I loved ram, its tail mostly on account of its white fat as another dish after my own heart.
Nothing so satisfied me as mlonge vegetable. Mlonge are the leaves of a tree called moringa oleifera, I said. I also consumed as many fruits as my money could allow me – orange, pawpaw, pineapples, apples, guavas, you mention it.
I told the doctor more. My breakfast was composed of brown bread mostly with egg whenever our domestic finance allowed. Brown bread washed down with Indonesia Edmark Cappuccino drink was also my mid-day meal.
Having revealed to them my daily diet Sr Maria took over, if you may, the grilling. “From what you have said, it appears you are doing fine,” she said. However, there were still some things I needed to understand.
“You said you are a journalist, but I do not understand where you got this idea of eating things like mlonge,” she said. Until then, she said, there still was no cure for diabetes.
Moreover, there was no food item which specifically caused diabetes, nor was there another food item which could fend off the illness. “It is your whole diet that matters,” she said.
“Even the brown bread has to be eaten responsively. It works well if other food items you eat are healthy. “Mind you! Diabetes is a serious health problem. If you don’t handle your diet responsibly you could get diabetes, and if you have it, but don’t mind your diet, it could get worse and wreck your body.
“You may end up with a blood pressure, blindness and lose your teeth, kidney failure and heart disease. A woman may get a vaginal infection. A man may also lose his male potency.”
What the senior medic said last shocked me. I did not want to remain just some human flesh in a pair of trousers. I must be a man totally to live the life Almighty God created me to live; to make the other gender happy. Sr Maria then gave me a lengthy lecture about what and how to eat.
Both types of diabetes greatly increase a person’s risk for a range of serious complications. Although monitoring and managing the disease can prevent complications, diabetes remains the leading cause of blindness and kidney failure, a medical report says.
It also continues to be a critical risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and foot or leg amputations. Good Lord! Likely, the malady that threatened to wreck my life and rob me of the matrimonial joy, was reversible.
It was the Type Two Diabetes in its infancy, as it were, and can be prevented or delayed with maintenance of a healthy weight, eating sensibly and exercising regularly.
“You can also have prediabetes. This means that your blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes,” says a medical report. Having pre-diabetes puts you at a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
That is why regular check up is important. The big message is that diabetes is a silent killer.