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YOUNG, DIABETIC AND FAB!

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Did you know that November 14th is World Diabetes day? This date has become all too familiar to Lorna Wanjiru Chege. At the tender age of 14 she was diagnosed with diabetes. Now aged 28, Lorna says she is at peace and glad to finally have a hold on her illness. But the journey certainly has not been easy. She shares her story below.

“I remember as a teenager I couldn’t eat or drink what my peers were having as it would make me sick. I suffered through a lot of stigma as my age mates couldn’t understand how food could make me sick. As a teenager, all you want to do is to fit in. You don’t want people to see you stick a needle or eat something different from the others. There is this impression that you are obese and unhealthy - and that’s what has led to you getting diabetes. It didn’t help that I was a bit big at the time. I really used to hate my body because I was bigger than most of my friends. So having diabetes didn’t make me feel any better from how I looked and felt.

I only discovered I was diabetic because my mother was told to check all her children since my dad was diabetic. We are five and I am the fifth born. I was an obese child who didn’t eat very well so it’s possible that the symptoms would have slowly crept up on me from childhood and into my teen years.

I remember the early days of my diagnosis were followed by a lot of tears. I hated needles. And a lot of those were being stuck through me. I am just so thankful my mother was right there by my side during such times, because I honestly thought my life was over and I was not very far off from death.

The day I was diagnosed I felt like the most obese teenager. It got worse when some kids would make fun of me because of my size. Coming to terms with my illness was difficult. I was young, I was in denial and I didn’t want to stand out.

Having diabetes as a child took away my self-confidence, and it often left me feeling depressed and least motivated to take care of myself. As a result, I suffered the effects of not taking care of myself and suffered from severe weakness, sudden weight loss, lack of concentration, a weak bladder, blurred vision plus excessive thirst and urination. Sometimes the weak bladder was embarrassing because I didn't always make it to the bathroom on time. 

 In University, I struggled with poor eyesight because I had cataracts in both my eyes and it did not help my transition into adulthood. But I eventually got them both removed at 19 years old.

Diabetes is misunderstood by many people. Some believe it’s for old people or that if you are skinny you can’t get diabetes. For those who have diabetes, there is the misconception that once you lose all the weight you don’t need to take care of the diabetic symptoms anymore. And that if you take sugar alternatives they won’t help with your diabetes. There is also the belief that if you have diabetes you inevitably will get something amputated or go blind or if you have diabetes your children will get diabetes or you can’t have children! The misconceptions are many….

 

One day I made up my mind that I was going to embrace my illness, make the best of my life and make a difference by not only creating awareness about the disease, but also bring people like me together. I started “Young Diabetics Bond “online support group and this entirely changed my perspective because there was a time I thought I was the only one going through this.

Acceptance is very important when it comes to managing diabetes. You just want to feel good about yourself again. The feeling of weakness and always feeling tired is indescribable. There is a picture in most doctors’ offices of a man who has lost a limb, gone blind and had kidney failure due to diabetes. That picture is very scary because those are all things that can happen over time if it is mismanaged.

Being in denial is definitely part of the process before you get to acceptance. You need a good support system and a positive attitude to know that even when you fail every so often; it will lead to greater success.

Where I stand now, I am happy and I really love my body. No, I am not thin but I love the things I can do now. I love how I look and feel and I am able to confidently look at myself in the mirror and be proud of what I see.

My mission with my platform” Young Diabetics Bond?” is to provide a space for those with diabetes to get information, encouragement and support and live a quality life. It is also a space for those who have loved ones with the illness to also get support. I spread the message that people of all ages can have diabetes. It's not a "rich man's" disease or an "old peoples" disease; it's a condition that thankfully can be managed. At 28, I can tell you that I feel younger now more than I did when I was a teenager!

With Young Diabetics Bond, just being able to reach out to people and having them know they are not in this alone makes a world of a difference. The fact that you can prevent people from suffering the effects of diabetes because you talked about your experience is amazing.

Awareness is so important because in this day of age, we live such sedentary lives. People are always in front of a computer screen or a phone and forget to live their lives and that’s what this experience has taught me, to entirely live my life- to have fun, to be thankful and be patient. I love to kickbox, work out, swim and be as active as possible and make every effort to live a healthy life. I am patient enough now to know that small changes today translate to a better life in future.

 Such small things are things we may take for granted. If people only knew how being active reduces your stress levels and gives you joy. We wouldn’t sit around and wait to fall sick or to start doing something because the doctor ordered.

The Young Diabetics Bond is like family and a major support system for those afflicted. We even have people giving away their own medication to help others.

We have also had face to face meet ups and gotten to know more about each other and discussed what more we can do as a group. People have made friends in this group. It has helped with references too because medication and the instruments needed for checking blood glucose levels are quite costly. We help each other find the most affordable options and hope the prices can still be brought down further. The group has really been a source of hope to people of all ages, just when you think your situation is the worst you interact with others who have for example gotten a leg amputated and yet they haven’t given up on themselves.

For those living with diabetes, my encouragement is” let’s do this”! Having the disease is not the end of the world. I am grateful that diabetes is a condition that you can actually do something about with a positive attitude.

I keep telling my peers that it’s just like anyone who purposes to live a healthy and active life, but now for diabetics like us, we don’t have an option we must make every effort to live an active and healthy life.

There is too much to be experienced in life to let diabetes or anything else stop you! Live, Love and always be thankful.

If you want to join Young Diabetics Bond, find us on Facebook and I will add you onto the group. We also have a WhatsApp group that you can direct message me with your number and I will add you.

 Feel free to connect with me for more information:

Contact us today! so we can connect you with mums (women) in the most experiential and engaging way!..both online on our website and page, and offline-through events.

Info@supamamas.co.ke
+254 708 115 132
Darosa Plaza, Karen Road Office No.10