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Living with diabetes

A first person account by ACHAL RANGANATHAN.

TODAY is World Diabetes Day. Ironically it is also my birthday and when I was diagnosed with diabetes a few years back. It started rather innocuously when I went for a routine medical check-up, which included blood and urine tests.

Strict regimen

In my case, due to early detection, my diabetologist was able to follow a holistic approach. He laid down the following regimen for me: Regular monitoring (at six/eight week intervals) of Fasting (FBS) and Post Prandial (PPBS).

In this connection, it is important to note that the range of values varies with age. What is normal for a young person may not be normal for an older person with a heart condition. A single episode of Hypoglycaemias could precipitate a stroke. Also, in the assessment of diabetic control, blood sugar values in isolation are not adequate as these vary from day to day.

Glycosylated Haemoglobin (HbA1c) test gives the average of blood sugar in the last 10 to 12 weeks from a single blood sample, and is a better indication of diabetic control over an extended period. Here again there are normal ranges, and ranges which demonstrate "good control" in a diabetic.

In a urine analysis, sugar is not the only component to be checked. Protein, acetone, albumin, bile salts are also checked once in two months to evaluate kidney functioning.

A complete blood investigation and E.C.G is recommended once every six to eight months to evaluate cholesterol, creatinine, sodium, and potassium to ensure that diabetes has not affected the heart.

An eye examination is called for once a year to ensure that diabetes has not resulted in retinopathy, which could lead to blindness.

Strictly follow the medication of oral hypoglycemic drugs prescribed. A word of caution — self-medication, or increasing the dosage of drugs after feasting on sweets could lead to hypoglycemia!

Diet and exercise

While ensuring that there is no sudden weight loss, daily calorie values prescribed by the dietician should not be exceeded. Avoid sugar, jam, honey, tinned foods, chocolates, soft drinks, beer, sapota (chikku), mangoes, grapes, white bread, cornflakes, tubers, and green bananas. The following are recommended: cucumber, onion, garlic, green vegetables, spinach, and whole wheat bread.

Walk daily for 30 to 40 minutes in pollution-free area.

I am 79 years old and have lived with diabetes for several years now. With early diagnosis, simple life style adjustments, taking regular medication, daily exercise, and monitoring, my quality of life has not diminished in the least over the years.

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