Managing Diabetes is a Team Effort

Managing Diabetes is a Team Effort

Ravinder Sus discusses the importance of positive outlook and support system while tackling with Diabetes

Name: Mr Ravinder Sus

Age: 63 Years

Occupation: Retired Bank Personnel

The journey so far

I was diagnosed with Diabetes at the age of 45 years. I was always a sports person and used to play outdoor games before transplant. Once I had a bit of cough and cold so I went to my doctor. I told him that I frequently feel thirsty especially during night-time. He checked my random blood sugar level which was high. Then, I checked my HbA1c, fasting and postprandial blood sugar levels and it was confirmed that I have Diabetes and I was unaware of it. I do not have a family history of Diabetes.

I immediately started with my medication but did not take proper care. It had slowly affected my eyesight and my kidneys were severely hampered. I was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease stage 4. In February 2019, my nephrologist told me that the stage has come when I have to undergo dialysis. I started with my regular dialysis sessions. I was also suggested kidney transplant either from a donor or a family member. That is when my wife stepped in to donate one of her kidneys.

My wife and I, both, did our complete body check-up in which tests like ECG, chest X-ray, ultrasound and blood sugar levels were done. Then the donor organ was checked for its match with the recipient. Both donor and recipient are required to seek the Government's approval prior to the procedure. In my case, my wife and I were asked for our photo identification, Voter ID card and marriage certificate and were interviewed by the officials. Both of our siblings were also interviewed by the approval board of the state government. Then, we fixed a date with our doctor for the surgery and got admitted to the hospital. After six days of observation in the hospital, we both were discharged to go home.

Before my diagnosis, I was actively involved in sports but I was not aware of my condition. My health has drastically changed over the years and I feel much better now. Even after a transplant, I regularly visit my nephrologist and diabetologist, have a thorough discussion with them about my health and follow their prescription. I have complete faith in my doctors and the care plan that has been prepared for me. I stick to my diet plan and medication and avoid self-medication.

After my kidney transplant, I asked both my doctors if I can continue playing table tennis to which they both permitted. I started walking every day and played table tennis for one hour. They also encouraged me to participate in national games for transplant patients. I got formal approval from my doctor and applied for the competition. The championship was held on 30th November which is Indian Organ Donation day. I participated in the table tennis game. Many people of different age groups who underwent some or the other kind of transplant also participated in the event. I was probably one of the oldest participants in the event. I won a silver medal along with a certificate of appreciation.

I became more conscious of Diabetes after my surgery. I regularly consult my diabetologist and Diabetes educator who would counsel me on what to do and what not to do to keep my blood sugar levels under control. Gradually, I got myself acquainted to insulin and now I adjust the dose on my own according to my blood sugar levels. I strictly adhere to my diet chart and follow everything that has been advised by my dietician. After surgery, one should visit his or her diabetologist once a month and take medication as prescribed. I also check my weight every day along with blood sugar levels in the morning.

I have seen tremendous improvement in my health post-surgery since I started taking good care of it. Like all other things, health also requires care and hard work. Regular consultation with your doctor, staying active and taking necessary care can certainly keep a lot of health problems at bay.

My strength

When I first told my family that I have Diabetes, they got panicked and worried about my diagnosis. But family support is crucial for managing any ailment or undergoing any change in life. One should discuss everything about his or her health with their family because they are the first persons associated with them. One should discuss their prescription and doctor's advice with their family members.

My wife has helped me a lot in managing my meals and adhering to my diet and medication regime. She ensures that I take an adequate amount of fruits, vegetables and carbohydrates as per my diet regime. My wife makes sure that all our family members take healthy meals and they support me a lot by adjusting their food choices according to my diet chart. Today if I am alive, it is because of my family.

A good company of friends is important to manage your daily life, especially when you have any health condition. My friends have also been very helpful to me as post-surgery; I had to work out as my doctor suggested me to start moving after surgery. They encouraged me and helped me in staying physically active in the form of walking and playing sports. They would cheer me to increase my duration of physical activity and now I can walk and play table tennis for at least one hour. They would call me every day for exercise and also ask me regularly about my health parameters and how I manage my blood sugar levels. They also encourage me a lot to check my blood sugars every day and follow my diet and exercise regime.

Also, your own attitude towards your health matters. You have to be positive about yourself and should work hard to stay fit. I have seen many famous people like sports players taking insulin shots in the field. That has inspired me to check my blood sugar level regularly, follow my diet and medication regime and continue with my sport. Now I check my blood sugar for 2-3 times a day and carry on with my daily routine.

My current lifestyle

Diabetes management requires a lot of self-discipline. I get up at 5:30 a.m., drink a glass of warm water and do everything as advised by my dietician. I would do warm-up exercises for 10 minutes as advised by my physiotherapist. I play table tennis for one hour in the morning and walk for 4 km in the evening. I check my blood sugar level before every major meal. I have prepared a chart of what foods to eat and what not to eat and I make sure to follow it. Also, I carry glucose tablets with me as prescribed by my diabetologist. Whenever I have a low blood sugar feeling, I check my blood sugar level and take a glucose tablet. I also carry a medical identification card with my name, condition and emergency contact details written on it.

My diet

  • 5:30 a.m. – on getting up – 1 glass of warm water with fennel seeds (saunf), cumin seeds (jeera), ginger and lemon juice

  • 7:00 a.m. – before exercise – 1 fistful of nuts or one boiled egg without yolk

  • 8:30 a.m. – breakfast – 1 cup green tea + two chapattis + one boiled egg

  • 11:00 a.m. – one fruit or one cup curd

  • 1:00 p.m. – lunch – 2 chapattis + one cup dal + one cup vegetable + salad

  • 4:00 p.m. – one cup tea + two biscuits or khakhra or a fruit

  • 8:00 p.m. – dinner – 1 cup daliya (of barley, wheat or jowar) + one cup vegetable + one cup curd + salad

  • 10:00 p.m. – before sleep – 1 glass milk with protein nutritional supplement

Along with a balanced diet, I ensure to drink sufficient water from 5:30 a.m. till 7:00 p.m. I drink at least 4-5 litres of water every day.

My exercise routine

After surgery, I was advised to rehabilitate myself and adjust to move. I started with bending exercises and strengthening exercises in the bed. Once I was back on my feet, I started with stretching exercises and walking. I was restrained from doing heavy and weight lifting exercises. Now I do PT exercises and push-ups. After playing table tennis, I lie down and do some leg exercises as recommended by my physiotherapist. After dialysis and surgery, the muscles become loose so protein intake is equally important.

My advice

Do not get panicked by your diagnosis. It is important to understand and accept that there might have been some lacking in the past that resulted in illness now. But after diagnosis, you should take care of your health. Avoid self-medication and getting influenced by information from unauthentic sources. Be in line with whatever your doctor has prescribed you. Diabetes is not an ailment but a lifestyle disorder which has to be managed with will power. Diabetes should be fought and tackled physically with lifestyle changes. Otherwise, it can affect other organs too. Stay positive towards your goal and do not take any ailment lightly. If you experience excessive hunger or thirst, immediately go to your doctor. Check your blood sugar levels every six months at a physician's office whether you have Diabetes or not. Getting a complete body check-up done once in six months doesn't cost much but may pave the way towards a healthy life.

Good health is an asset. Once you determine that you want to live healthily, you will do everything to manage your health. Change your lifestyle and remain active throughout the day. You have to change your diet, take everything in moderation and leave unhealthy habits. One should not take their health for granted as health is wealth.

When I see people above 60 or 70 years of age who stay healthy whether they have Diabetes or any other condition, I feel encouraged by them and try to understand how they maintain their health. When my doctors said that I can do it, I believed in their words and I kept working on my health. For any ailment you cannot be self-doctor; you have to see a doctor. Trust your doctor's words and follow their advice. They see many people every day and they must have seen people overcoming their disease and leading a happy and healthy life. So, believe in your doctor and keep a positive attitude on your journey to a fitter life.

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