Befriending Diabetes

Senior woman and granddaughter (13-15) in kitchen with drinks
Senior woman and granddaughter (13-15) in kitchen with drinks

Mrs Sarla Aggarwal shares her story of diagnosis of her Diabetes to reshaping her life with the chronic condition.

Name: Mrs Sarla Aggarwal

Age: 54 years

Profession: Homemaker

The journey so far

I have been living with Diabetes for 13 years now. I underwent a hysterectomy in 2004 and after one year, I was diagnosed with Diabetes. My diagnosis had made me sad and dejected. It came as a shock to my family. We were utterly clueless with regards to this new onset and didn't know how to tackle this condition. I have two children – a daughter and a son and both of them were out of home for studies at that time. It was only me and my husband when I was told I'm a diabetic.

My diagnosis of Diabetes had a deep impact on me. We started consulting a doctor and he immediately started my medication, diet and exercise routine. For the next few years I was on a stable dose of anti-diabetic drugs but then my health started deteriorating. We consulted several doctors then. Despite regular walking for 40-50 minutes, on-time medications and normal home-cooked food, my blood sugar levels were consistently high. My HbA1c level was 9 per cent. I had also developed hypothyroidism at this time.

Impact on lifestyle

I have a family history of Diabetes. My mother had Diabetes and had developed kidney problems due to Diabetes in her later life. All of my brothers have Diabetes. One of my brothers had developed liver complications due to Diabetes and unfortunately, we lost him to liver disease. All this had strengthened my determination to maintain my blood sugar levels to avoid further complications.

My doctor had prescribed three doses of rapid-acting mealtime insulin before the meals and one dose of long-acting insulin before bedtime. I had to face many problems with insulin such as carrying it every time we go out of the home, maintaining it at a cold temperature outside and frequent pricks in a day. Even after two years of medication, my HbA1c levels remained high at 9.2 per cent. All of my other tests – kidney function, liver function, serum albumin and fundus tests – were normal but my lipid profile was high.

My doctor further increased the dosage of both mealtime and long-acting insulin. My blood sugar levels had come down a little but I started having hypoglycaemia often. This was more challenging as I used to faint anywhere and my family would have to rush to check my blood sugar levels and make me drink sugary liquids. The doctor adjusted my insulin dose but again my blood sugar levels spiked and also I would feel hypoglycaemic. My health started deteriorating further.

By 2014, I had consulted many diabetologists but everyone kept increasing my insulin dosage. It started to show ill-effects on my health. I was really tense and was getting sleep deprived. I had also developed gastrointestinal problems, headache, numbness and tingling in my hands. My ECG had also shown some minor changes.

My friends and family

By now, my daughter had completed her fellowship in Diabetes and she started looking into my health requirements. We started by getting all my blood tests re-done such as fasting and postprandial blood sugar levels, HbA1c levels, liver and kidney function tests, serum albumin tests, lipid profile, thyroid test, c-peptide levels, echo stress test and fundus for the eyes. My blood sugar level was 9.2 per cent and my lipid profile and liver function test were abnormal.

My diet and exercise

I was put on a strict diet control – eating healthy and low glycaemic foods every two hours. My calorie intake was restricted to 1400 calories a day. I was motivated to walk for around half an hour and do cycling at home for 20-30 minutes. My prescription was revised and my insulin dosage was lowered to long-acting basal insulin at bedtime. I was also prescribed medication for sleep, high cholesterol levels, anti-platelets and a low dose of aspirin.

Within six months of the change in my routine, my blood sugar levels reduced significantly. My current HbA1c levels are at 8 per cent and I feel better about myself. I regularly discuss with my friends and relatives with regards to managing blood sugar levels through diet, exercise and medication. I continue my diet and exercise schedule and I try to maintain my blood sugar levels.

A word of advice

There are four pillars of Diabetes management – regular blood sugar monitoring, compliance with medication, a balanced diet and regular exercise. Rest your Diabetes management on these four pillars and it becomes easy to live with Diabetes. Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels and good compliance with medicines is very important to live a healthy life with Diabetes. Along with that, regular consultations with a doctor, timely reporting and discussing with your close ones about your condition can not only help prevent complications but can also help educate yourself and others.

Diabetes Health Magazine