I was 15 years when the doctor diagnosed me as having diabetes, now I am 23 years old. I can’t believe it but I have been living with diabetes for the past 8 years. Pardon me guys, Emmanuel K is my name and a Ghanaian from Tarkwa in the Western Region currently residing in the capital city of Accra.
As I indicated it started 8 years ago when I would urinate a lot within few minute especially at night. My mum has diabetes noticed that and suspected it. One day she followed me to the bathroom and became scared when her suspicion was confirmed by the presence of ant in the water closet after I had urinated many times. She then insisted I go for a medical check up to clear her suspicions which I did. I was scared and went to the hospital the next morning. At the hospital I was asked to go for a laboratory test FBS [fasting blood sugar]. My blood glucose level was 21mmol/l confirmed my mother’s worst fears then I was told I had diabetes.
Being that young ie 15 years, the doctor in charge told me it might just be a temporal problem e.g. acute pancreatitis, so I should try dietary management to help reduce the levels of blood sugar after initial stabilization, so I was asked to see a dietician.
Dietary management wasn’t helping because my glucose level kept rising which led to my admission at the hospital. It was there I was told to use insulin and have been using it since.
In senior high school, at the boarding house, I had very little idea on how to store my insulin, so I would go to school without it and opted for dietary management which unfortunately didn’t help much. Because I was urinating a lot especially during examination when I had to sit down for more than an hour. I was once called to the teachers’ staffroom on suspicion of exams malpractices as I was going to the bathroom every 15 minutes). I told no one about my diabetes. I was so reserved and felt sad because of diabetes and especially when my friends would come together to have a “bowl of rich gari soakings (dry grated cassava with milk, sugar, chocolate powder and water) with “hy3mema” biscuit which was my favourite. I had to opt for a sugar free ‘
version of the gari soakings and since I did not want anyone to know it was sugar free, I did not share the food. So my friends thought that I was selfish and did not want to share my food. I could not explain myself to them since I had decided to keep it as a secret.
During my first semester at the university, I had friends and roommates who were literally scared of me because, they saw me injecting insulin and assumed it was some kind of hard drug. At times they would come along with other friends just to show them I took hard drug. I still did not tell them that I had diabetes, however they got used to me injecting routinely but still had same idea. My friends and I adopted a habit of cooking and eating together at a scheduled time suitable for me but however sometimes when they went out and came back late would have to eat without them so that my blood sugar does not go too low. It continued for some time so they got angry and that’s when I explained everything to them. I had to then tell them that I am living with diabetes. I am glad I told them finally, because if I forget to take my insulin they became my reminder.
I was introduced to Diabetes Youth Care by a very good doctor friend of mine Dr. Emily earlier this year (2014) and I am so happy I joined this group. I have been given a lot of education and support and this has created the opportunity for me to meet a lot of people and make a lot of friends who are caring, friendly, understand what I go through daily and always there for me. I can now come out and say in public that I have diabetes and I am living well with it. Diabetes is not going to limit me in any ways of my achieving a lifelong dream of becoming an engineer.
I will urge everyone especially young ones like me, living with diabetes to be bold and informed, to tell and educated friends and family about diabetes. The problem is not with US but our PANCREAS.
The future is bright for us living with diabetes in Ghana. Thanks to Diabetes Youth Care.