I Befriended Diabetes

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.

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 4th International Diabetes Summit 2020 by organising a fun 3 Km run for people living with Diabetes, caregivers and doctors.

Initially, I hid my diagnosis from colleagues and friends. But after 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 I 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, omelettes, 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.

I use Libre Pro flash glucose monitoring system and Miao Miao2. This converts the Libre Pro into a continuous monitoring system and I receive my blood sugar readings every 5 minutes on my phone. CGMS has helped me realise which foods spike my blood sugar levels and which ones to avoid and how to bolus for certain foods. Reports on Blue Circle Diabetes App help me analyse and share these reports with a doctor as well.

My advice

One of the main things I have realised 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 & Multispeciality 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.

5 points to explain LADA

1.       LADA stands for Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adulthood. LADA is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks and kills off insulin-producing cells. LADA is a form of Type 1 Diabetes that develops later into adulthood.

2.       LADA tends to develop more slowly than Type 1 Diabetes in childhood and, because LADA can sometimes appear similar to Type 2 Diabetes, doctors may mistakenly diagnose LADA as Type 2 Diabetes.

3.       The first symptoms of LADA include feeling tired all the time or regularly tired after meals, foggy-headedness and experiencing hunger soon after meals. As LADA develops, a person's ability to produce insulin will gradually decrease and this may lead to symptoms like a hard to quench thirst, needing to frequently urinate, blurred vision and tingling nerves.

4.       Often LADA will be initially diagnosed as Diabetes by way of the usual diagnosis procedures. Determining the presence of LADA is achieved by examining the presence of elevated levels of pancreatic autoantibodies amongst patients who have recently been diagnosed with Diabetes but do not require insulin. A GAD Antibody test can measure the presence of these autoantibodies.

5.       Because LADA develops slowly, someone with LADA may be able to produce enough of own insulin to keep sugar levels under control without needing insulin for many months or sometimes even years after the initial diagnosis of Diabetes. Insulin can be used to treat LADA, as can metformin and thiazolidinediones.

Diabetes Health Magazine