By now, you are familiar with Dr. Peter Baaro Gathura, Senior Lecturer- University of Nairobi, lead expert in environmental impact assessment, department of Public health, Pharmacology and toxicology. He has talked about his experience with gout on THIS post and has shared his knowledge on meat inspection on THIS post.
Today, he is back and is talking about his experience from diagnosis to managing diabetes. Here is what he had to say;
1. When were you diagnosed with diabetes?
I was diagnosed back in 2012.
2. What were your first warning signs?
There are the three big symptoms of diabetes
Polyuria – the need to urinate frequently
Polydipsia – increased thirst & fluid intake
Polyphagia – increased appetite.
Mine was Polydipsia, I was extremely thirsty. I first felt the need to go to hospital on Dec 12th 2012 when I gulped on a whole 1 liter juice and devoured a whole pineapple by myself and still felt thirsty, that is when I knew something was wrong. I went to the sanatorium at the University where I work and My sugar level was 32 and the normal is usually 5-7. I was put on drip and shoved in an ambulance immediately and rushed to Aga Khan Hospital. I was there for a whole week, they put me on tablets to reduce the sugar levels. It was quite scary.
3.What lifestyle changes did you have to make?
A dietician was immediately sent and I was quickly advised on what to eat. It is then that I realized I was about to become a rabbit according to how much vegetable intake was recommended :-). The good thing is by the time I was diagnosed with diabetes, I had quit drinking alcohol .That played a huge role as well because those two are like water and electricity, they cannot mix
4. Please tell us more about the diet because I believe many need to hear this.
The dietician insisted on half your plate being vegetables,, preferably raw vegetables, a small portion should be good carbs and another small portion should be healthy lean proteins.
5. I can only imagine, how life changing this was?
Absolutely, now I not only have to remember to carry medicine on a daily basis but I have to remember to take the medicines as well. I also had to learn how to measure my sugar levels. You get used to it but the task is quite daunting at first.
6. How are you doing now?
About two weeks ago they discovered that the drugs are not working. The tablets often acts as a catalyst for the pancreas to produce insulin and it can get to a point where the cells reject it. That is where I am now and that is why I have started to inject direct insulin to myself everyday.
I also measure my sugar levels every two hours now to keep track.
7.What symptoms should one look out for?
Forget about symptoms. Did you know that your sugar levels could be skyrocketing or dropping but still going about your business perfectly fine? The thing that everyone should be aware of is annual check ups because the symptoms are not tangible. You will be oblivious of the fact that you really are sick.
8.Any parting shot words?
(i)Sure! I think it is high time as Africans, especially after a certain age, agree to go for annual medical checkups. Like where I come from, if you take yourself to the hospital and you are not sick, we believe it is asking for problems. It is funny and sad because these are simply just myths that should be debunked immediately. It is high time we get rid of this mentality. It is no longer a luxury, it is a must
(ii)Another thing is a plea to the local hospitals that may appear exploitative, I remember going to one local hospital that have a well man clinic program. I was sent back with a 15,000kes bill just for these tests and I was not even sick. I think hospitals overcharge and that is what could be holding people back from going for tests. It is quite unfortunate because not everyone can afford it.
(iii) Finally, people should be very careful about their lifestyle because lifestyle diseases are very real. I urge everyone to be very conscious of whatever they do , whatever you eat and drink etc because it determines your tomorrow. It all trickles down to your life choices.
Thank you to Dr. Peter .B. Baaro for agreeing to share his story in the hopes of bringing more awareness to this disease.
Thank you to everyone who continues to read these posts.
N/B: Please note, I do not encourage self diagnosis and self treatment. By using the word ‘self diagnose’, it is in the hopes of bringing light to symptoms you should look out for before visiting your doctor .