I befriended Diabetes

Rohan Arora was diagnosed with LADA - a form of Type 1 Diabetes. He has not only taken control of his well-being but continues to dedicate time and energy to help others with Diabetes through the Blue Circle Diabetes Foundation
I befriended Diabetes

Name: Rohan Arora Age: 32 years

Occupation: Researcher and Designer

A little bit about me

Along with being a Researcher and Designer by profession,  I am also the chapter lead for Pune at NGO Blue Circle Diabetes Foundation.  I participate  and conduct workshops  on the Blue Circle workshop  platform.

 My diagnosis and its impact

I was diagnosed at the age of 22, as having Type 2 Diabetes initially. I had consulted a general practitioner for fungal infection. The doctor referred  me to an Endocrinologist, who after a fasting blood test,  diagnosed

me as having Type 2 Diabetes. But 5 years later, I was re-diagnosed with LADA. Initially, I was completely shocked. My family was worried  about the diagnosis at such an early age. They worried  about the future as to how it would affect my life.

 Learning to cope

I took oral medicines. I thought I just have to take a pill before food and that it wasn't a big deal. I did not monitor my blood sugar levels often. As a result, the doctor kept on increasing the metformin  dosage. I did not have any knowledge  about diet and nutrition. I was unaware of what foods to consume. I had no motivation  to check my blood sugar levels frequently.

Eventually, as our knowledge increased, my family and I opted for more healthy food options and included walking and exercise in daily life. Life came to a full circle when we, at Blue Circle Diabetes Foundation, collaborated with Chellaram Hospital -Diabetes Care & Multispeciality for their 411t International Diabetes Summit 2020 by organizing a fun 3 Km run for people living with Diabetes, caregivers and doctors.

Initially, I hid my diagnosis from colleagues and friends. But aft.er meeting fellow diabetics from Blue Circle Diabetes Foundation,  I was able  to  communicate and share my diagnosis with  others. I also

wrote poetry in Hindi on Blue Circle Diabetes Blog, expressing my initial discomfort and how l overcame it.

My diet and fitness regime

I follow Bernstein Low carb diet which helps me keep my blood sugar levels in range. My breakfast  includes eggs  and tomato.  For dinner, I eat chicken with vegetables  and salad. In the evening,  I eat eggs and cucumber or paneer. For dinner, I have green leafy vegetables,  omelets,  chicken

or paneer. I avoid eating grains and rice. When I travel, I carry an egg boiler which can  make  quick eggs anytime.

I walk 10,000 steps every day. I cycle for 30 minutes and do some weight training as well.

 Tech for Diabetes

I use the Blue circle Diabetes app which is available on Play Store and iOS. This app has been  made by people with Diabetes for people with  Diabetes. I was also the beta tester involved in the development of this app. This app allows me to add followers who can track my blood sugar levels in real-time. So, my family knows and can also see if my blood sugars go very low or very high. I carry my insulin in a Frio pouch, which keeps it cold and is very convenient to carry.

 My advice

One of the main things I have realized is that Diabetes is not just  a physical  condition. The impact on the mental  health of people living with Diabetes and their caregivers is often ignored. To tackle this problem,  which was especially aggravated during the lockdown,  our core team at Blue Circle Diabetes Foundation  came up with the idea of starting a Diabetes and mental health psychosocial  helpline. We called this the 'Blue Circle Buddy Project', which is an app-based, peer support helpline run by trained volunteers.

Our volunteers with lived experience of Type  1, Type 2 and as caregivers were then trained by Dr Unnikrishnan A.G., Endocrinologist  and CEO, Chellaram Hospital - Diabetes Care & Multispecialty and the team at Centre for Mental Health, Law and Policy and Indian Law School, Pune.

I would like people to seek not just medical help for Diabetes but also seek help for mental health as well, as and when the need arises. All one has to do is open the Blue Circle Diabetes app, go to the Buddy Project option, select a buddy of one's choice (our buddies speak in 9 different languages) and then schedule a call through the app. This is just our way of giving back to the Diabetes community that we inhabit. Never forget, we are all in this together.

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