I have been living with type-1 diabetes since I was 23. Here’s what it’s like…

Meet Anjana Suresh, a student pursuing her master’s in the Netherlands, who has been living with type-1 Diabetes since her early 20s.
She had to turn her whole life around to manage it and she does a great job at it!
Reader Submission Updated: 13 Oct 2023, 04:45 pm IST
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My name is Anjana Suresh. I’m 26 years old and pursuing my master’s in the Netherlands far away from my home in Pune. I was 23 years old and fresh out of college when I was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes.

This is how I was diagnosed…
My symptoms were sleepiness after meals, frequent headaches, dehydration, and fatigue. Not many people know that type-1 Diabetes doesn’t happen because of an improper lifestyle. It happens due to genetic predisposition, organ damage, and insulin deficiency. 

My pancreas have stopped producing insulin and the deficiency makes my blood sugar levels increase.

Although now I am used to the lifestyle that I’ve had to create after my diagnosis, I struggled quite a bit initially.

I was a regular college student and my life was all about all-nighters, late-night studying, junk food eating, last-minute meals, and sometimes no meals at all. However, I was an active person because I used to love swimming and sports. It was clear that all this had to change after I got diagnosed.

In addition to being introduced to new lifestyle changes, I faced a mental struggle. There were feelings of being burnt out, hopelessness, helplessness, and exhaustion. From being a foodie who loved ice cream and junk food, I was suddenly asked to stop all of it due to my diagnosis.

jackfruit and diabetes
Here is the sweet delicacy ‘jackfruit’, that diabetics and their doctor shall both hastily agree on! Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

My life now…
I have to administer insulin externally through an insulin pump. The pump is directly attached to my body at all times. It is used to pump in the insulin and I can administer the dose according to my requirement.

If I do not do so after every meal that contains carbohydrates or sugar, my body will not be able to process these. I am extremely cautious with the quantity as well as the quality of my food along with general wellness.

In order to administer the required amount of insulin instead of overdoing it, I weigh the rice, carbohydrates, and flour in my food. This complicated process means that I have to be very precise and constantly calculating when it comes to my meals.

The sugar levels in my body vary depending on the time of my meals. Therefore, I am supposed to wait for the sugar levels in the blood to come down in order to eat certain foods.

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Anjana Suresh.

For example, if I eat my lunch at 12 noon, I cannot eat until 3 pm. This is approximately how much time it takes for the sugar levels in the blood to come down to a manageable limit before another meal.

In addition to that, I wait for the sugar levels in my blood to reach a higher level so that it is safe for my body to accommodate exercise. I jog, run, and do a light workout at least two times a week.

Therefore, I have to live a structured life and my schedule is the key to my well being.

This also means that spontaneity is not something that I can afford. I have to pursue a very disciplined life, constantly check my blood sugar levels and my Glucometer is my best friend. Although I haven’t completely stopped eating sugary food, the amount has decreased greatly.

Also, listen:

There are times when I work hard to keep my sugar levels down, but the results don’t reflect that and what follows is a feeling of failure. My supportive friends and family motivated me to go to therapy to deal with things more effectively.

Being a sweetheart without having sweets…
Everybody’s struggle and their coping mechanisms make them who they are. I have made peace with the fact that discipline and structure are my way to having a good life in spite of Diabetes. It’s alright if I don’t have fun because health and the value of time are important to me. Awareness from verified professionals and gaining knowledge is a great way to deal with things. Online support groups and knowing that celebrities like Nick Jonas and Sonam Kapoor go through the same struggle have also motivated me a lot.

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