2020 Global Art Competition

042 Jeff, age 17, Ghana

My life with Diabetes Mellitus

Growing up as a teenager, I have encountered so many situations on numerous occasions in life. Higher percentage of these situations has a positive impact on my life while lower percentage of the situations has cast a negative spell on my life. Moreover, there is one situation which to me is a condition and this condiations to me has been a blessing in disguise.

This condition is as a result of the increase and decrease in blood sugar levels within a period of time. This situation is known as Diabetes Mellitus. So many drastic changes has occurred in my life with this conditions, being of the idea of always injecting insulin, proper diet management, regular exercise and constant effective monitoring of blood sugar levels was not part and parcel of my life.

Living with diabetes has really caused a stir in my life. This can be further explained as, my doctor Dr. Emmanuel Ameyaw initially told me to stay away from all kinds of sugary substances which made it difficult for me at the initial stages. As a young boy of about eleven years and being told to stop taking in sugary drinks, toffees, sweets and a whole lot was shocking news to me. T even lost weight, struggled with the sugar level management and diet management as well. Almost all of my friends asked of what has actually happened to me but due to gross stigmatization on the part of them, I could not utter a word to them. I sometimes feel inferior about the condition diabetes but words of inspiration from loved ones, relatives and my health experts keeps me moving.

I can feel that my level of intelligence has dropped as compared to the time I was not diagnosed as a patient. I was admitted to the hospital for like 5-6 months battling for my life. It was not a nice venture back then, I missed school, friends, teachers, and lessons. This brought my level of intelligence to a point which was not that impressive. To date, I can actually feel that things have really changed in my life.

Looking from the point of being a young healthier boy with no records of any ailment at any hospital in the state and all of a sudden had to resort to injection of insulin day in, day out, sometimes saddens my heart. My mom, for instance, could not believe for the first time that I am now a patient. She even told the doctor that there is no record of this condition (diabetes) in my family so how come such a young boy at this tender age get involved in such a condition.

My major setback as a DM patient which I have overcome with time, is the insulin injection. As type 1 DM patient, from what I was told and what I know, there is an insufficient supply of insulin, a substance which converts the glucose in my blood into useful product for it to be used by my body, is not being produced by my pancreas and as such there is the need to inject insulin say in, day out, in order to have a stable body. Sometimes, I feel reluctant to take in my insulin and the result of this action is uncalled for. It is either I bedwet or have discomfort in my sleep. For instance in school, I face various challenges in where to even store my insulin. I always have to walk about 5 miles to the sickbay to inject day and night. Sometimes too, I eat tasteless foods just because I am a DM patient. I always feel very sad about my condition but what can I do – nothing!

One thing which also affects me is the gross stigmatization of the society. Here in Ghana, diabetes is mostly regarded as a condition which mostly attacks the aged. So whenever there is a case of a young person being diagnosed, the person faces a high risk of stigmatization from the public. Many of them will say hurtful words which will undermine your soul, others too will react as if you were actually responsible for your condition and a whole lot. Actually blaming them would be too harsh as they lack or have no idea about our condition (diabetes).

I sometimes could go on hypoglycemia and it would be like that’s the end of the world to me. In the same instance I could go on hyperglycemia and my body would make me feel as if I am already dead. This condition has really been a blessing in disguise. The blessing aspect has to do with, now I am able to manage myself very well, eat the right way, exercise regularly and the knowledge alone about diabetes has beefed up my intellect.

Organization of seminars, meetings, and workshops keeps me up to date on the recent updates of diabetes and how to go about it. At workshops, words of inspiration and encouragement from health experts, already diagnosed patients and stakeholders always motivate me to keep on striving and battling it out with this condition.

One doctor told us that the fact that we are DM patients does not mean we are not human. We are just as normal as an ordinary human but just that God wants us to be more responsible than we just are and that’s why maybe we find ourselves in this condition. This word of motivation really touched my heart. I have made it a point to draw determination from his words that all hope is not lost. This has really helped me till now 6 years down the line living with diabetes.

One doctor also said, diabetes is never a disease, it’s a condition. And no condition is permanent. So we should not think we can not achieve the best just because we are DM patients but we should keep in mind that a determined mind is never disturbed and no matter the situation and condition at hand, we are still the stars as God said.

These messages keep on ringing in my mind and it is one of the reasons why six years down the lane as a patient, I have forgotten about me even being a DM patient and have lived a normal, comfortable and enjoyable life as never before. Because now, I manage my sugar levels very well, eat the right way, exercise to keep me fit and enjoy the life at hand. Even though diabetes have really affected my life, I have never felt inferior to those who are not in my condition. I am the strongest, healthier and determined teenager now and looking forward to a bright, prosperous and incredible career in the person of a Dentist someday and I am working hard towards it and I know with determination and God on my side, I shall surely become a dentist and a renowned journalist too.