Name: Mouparna Srimani Age: 37 years
Occupation: Lead Business Analyst, HSBC
The Journey so far
I have been working in the software industry for the last 14 years. Besides work, reading History and learning to play the piano predominantly help to feed my curiosity about the world.
My daily routine involved the usual rigmarole of getting up early in the morning to go to the gym, shooting off to work and coming back home late evening. Like most people in an urban city, I had a busy, active life, and I thrived in it in a certain way. On weekends, I would usually be engrossed in some hobby that interested me at the time, apart from some relaxed cooking. In retrospect, however, I did not pay much attention to what I ate and honestly believed that since I was exercising and was not putting on any unhealthy weight, I had nothing to worry about. Looks can indeed be deceiving!
I was diagnosed in June 2018, at 34 years of age. In 2018, I randomly decided to go for a complete health check-up. The notion had cropped up in earlier years but I usually dismissed the idea. It must have been a kind of divine intervention that I got
diagnosed before any major trouble showed up. There were no symptoms that were jarringly evident, except that I lost about
1-2 kg of weight. But it was nothing extraordinary.
At the time of diagnosis, my HbA 1c was 12.5! I did not have the faintest idea about what was transpiring within my own body, and that was scary. Several tests and missteps later, it turned out to be LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults).
At first, my family and I were quite stunned. Generally speaking, I am quite a disciplined person and this diagnosis was totally unexpected. There was no history of Diabetes within the family to really speak of. So it was a mix of being unaware and overwhelmed. I went through a lot of denial and anger. Gradually, of course, given it was an autoimmune condition, we realised
where this was stemming from and we went on to unlearn and learn a great many
things about managing the condition.
My current lifestyle
There were no real restrictions on any activity after my diagnosis but I am far more mindful about my workout sessions than I used to be. I make sure that my sugar levels are optimum for exercise and choose the workout intensity
accordingly. Generally speaking, anaerobic exercise like weight training raises blood sugar levels, so it is important to keep an eye on the numbers before, during and post workout. What works for me is a mix of aerobic and anaerobic exercise forms.
The foremost thing is that there is a calculator constantly running at the back of my mind, a ticking meter, trying
to attain and maintain that elusive balance of food and insulin intake, whether I am awake or dozing off. I look at every food item as a
carb-protein-fat quotient. I think this is something many of my friends with Diabetes will vouch for! It has in fact become a habit of sorts, at home and also if I venture to eat out. I wouldn't say it affects my lifestyle in a negative way but this relentless number game can be tiring at times.
What I miss
I miss the abundance of cooked potatoes in my life prior to my Diabetes diagnosis! It is funny but I really love potatoes and miss them. I would also list ice cream, but we do have some sugar-free alternatives in that.
However what I do genuinely miss on some days is a good night's rest, a sound sleep without having to check 3 a.m. blood sugar levels. It is indeed a privilege to sleep without a care, now that I think of it. On most nights it is well-managed but sometimes when hypoglycaemia strikes, it does take a toll.
I believe it is important to discuss this. The more we share, the more things become simpler for us through the perspectives our friends offer on acceptance of life
situations. Sometimes, it brings out a thread of its own life experiences and
though our circumstances may be different, it often enhances our understanding. Also, even today there are many misconceptions around this condition and the more we talk with our friends and family, the more we spread awareness. These conversations are extremely important in that context.
You are not alone
I do not need any particular coaxing at this stage to go through the triad of diet, exercise and medication, so I can manage on my own. Of course, my family does take a lot of care to avoid high carb food while cooking. However, one must not undermine the importance of community. It teaches us a lot of empathy as well as courage. In that sense, I am grateful to my friends at Blue
Circle Diabetes Foundation for sharing their knowledge with me when I was struggling to make sense of my situation. Through their workshops many finer aspects came to light, which helped me to take charge and handle things better. I am particularly fond of the peer support Buddy Project, of which I am a part, in which people living with Diabetes and caregivers form a team and provide free counselling services through the Blue Circle Diabetes app.
Additionally, over the last three years I have come across numerous little children with Type 1 Diabetes bravely going through their situation. So, while I do not quite look for help in managing Diabetes on a day-to-day level, at the macrocosmic level, peer support is what keeps us ticking when sometimes it feels as though the centre cannot hold.
My fitness routine
One thing I have realised over the years is that we need to strike a balance between structured routine and essential rest. Earlier I was a little fanatic about exercise, even when my hours of sleep were compromised. It was definitely the wrong way to approach exercise. What makes exercise effective is the phase of proper rest; they go seamlessly hand in hand. So, I do not shy away from tinkering with my exercise schedule to clock appropriate
hours of sleep. Less sleep equals more stress on the body, more stress leads to lesser glycaemic control.
My diet is relatively simple. I try to stick with tried and tested foods and quantities. Of course, it still differs on a daily basis and one has to make those decisions. With enough practice, it has now become second nature.
I have tried to make my meal plan versatile yet repeatable. Pre-workout meal comprises some mixed nuts, usually walnuts and almonds. For breakfast I eat a slice of bread, preferably multigrain, and 2-3 eggs, cooked in different way. A couple of hours later, I eat a fruit. The choice of fruit is as varied as my blood sugar levels!
I plan my lunch and dinner such that they are a balanced mix of carbs, protein and fibre. My staple is a small portion of dal and rice, a bowl of vegetable curry, salad and a portion of meat or fish. The trick is to alter the portions or swap out the carbs for lower carb options on a bad day. It really is that simple, though it may seem daunting at first.
Nothing can really replace a glucose meter when it comes to testing my blood sugar levels. I also frequently use CGMS (Freestyle Libre Pro) to mark the trends; it makes my food choices so much simpler! It also helps to keep an eye on my sugar levels during exercise. Another useful thing is that the Libre Pro syncs with the Blue Circle Diabetes app, and through the app, it also becomes possible for my family to follow how my sugar levels are trending currently.
The greatest lesson Diabetes has taught me is the essence of self love. Often, unless we are faced with a health ordeal, we take our well-being for granted. Some of us tend to proffer kindness and understanding to everyone, except to their own selves. Post my diagnosis I have truly come home to myself. I am grateful for that realisation, and that itself is inspiration enough to keep striving to make the essential choices for a healthy life. There is a lot to learn and witness in this magnificent yet terrifying world.
Without life, there is nothing. It is true that this life may seem like a lot of work sometimes, but that feeling makes barely a dent on the will to help those who are witnessing tough times in very many ways.