Living with and overcoming diabetes can be a tough challenge. Patients with the condition must not only be on medication for life but also pay attention to diet and other lifestyle issues. The quest to overcome the diabetes challenge, however, often makes some patients seek all sorts of cures for the health condition that can indeed only be managed.
Abdulwahab Dauda, a 76-year-old man that has lived with diabetes for 31 years, said having gone the route of trying to get cured, he will advise diabetes patients to forget using concoctions to treat diabetes. According to him, taking concoctions, urine and other substances to cure diabetes is a waste of time and money. LARA ADEJORO reports:
Mr. Abduwahab Dauda was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in October 1990, at the Nigerian Ports Authority Clinic and he was immediately referred to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Lagos, for further medical treatment.
He has spent over three decades living with the condition.
He vividly recalls the day he got his diagnosis. “Then, it was a urine test they did; the technology has improved,” he said.
Dauda, who was still in active service at the NPA, became overly concerned because he didn’t know what diabetes was. Although he immediately commenced his medical treatment, his desperation for a cure made him take “all manner of concoctions and substances,” including his urine.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar.
Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, the 76-year-old man recalled that his mother had diabetes.
“Some of my mother’s family members had it too. There was nothing like a glucometer then but I was given drugs for free because of the condition of service in NPA.Up till this moment, I still take free drugs.
“Ignorantly, I was using all manner of things because I didn’t understand what diabetes was. Gradually, I began to reduce in stature, size; I was urinating excessively.
“I spent a lot of money just because I was desperately looking for a cure. In fact, at a point, I was taking my urine, just because I didn’t know what diabetes was.
“But all along, I was seriously sick because the environment I was living in wasn’t conducive for me until I relocated. Relocating to where I stay now helped me a lot and from then, my health began to improve.
“When the Diamond Club (Diabetes NPA) was set up in 2003, and I was made the chairman, I began to know about diabetes,” he said.
Gradually, he began to realise that diabetes management is not about taking medicines randomly but actually involving routine monitoring of his blood glucose levels, along with lifestyle changes and diet, to keep his blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight in check.
“I realised that the condition had come to stay and I had to consciously take care of myself. It may be tough at first but it can be done. One can’t keep ignoring the need for exercise, diet, and lifestyle changes,” he said.
He started using his blood sugar tests to learn more about how his body was using the food he ate. He learnt how to continuously ensure his blood sugar is under control.
Knowing the rules<
The 76-year-old man, who has been living with diabetes for 31 years, said, “If you are diabetic, you have to know the rules of the game because you have to make deliberate efforts to take care of yourself. You can’t just take drugs; you have to learn how to take care of yourself because it’s not every time you’ll be calling on doctors. You have to be at the driver’s seat of your life.
“I try to understand my body system, based on my experience.”
He said he tests his blood sugar in the morning before breakfast and drinks warm water. He also checks his blood sugar before he goes to bed.
“I usually tell my people what I want to eat. Sometimes, in the morning, I eat beans or moin-moin, oats, or pap. Sometimes, I eat rice and I make sure I eat something that is not heavy afterward. Sometimes, I eat yam porridge at night. Sometimes I eat amala if I’m going out.
“If my sugar level is not too low, I may go for boiled plantain, and at night, I can eat swallow with vegetables,” he explained.
According to the World Health Organisation, the number of people with diabetes rose from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014 and the prevalence has been rising more rapidly in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income ones.
“Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke, and lower limb amputation.
“Between 2000 and 2016, there was a five percent increase in premature mortality from diabetes.
“In 2019, diabetes was the ninth leading cause of death, with an estimated 1.5 million deaths directly caused by diabetes.
“A healthy diet, regular physical activity, maintaining normal body weight, and avoiding tobacco use are ways to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.
“Diabetes can be treated and its consequences avoided or delayed with diet, physical activity, medication and regular screening and treatment for complications,” WHO noted.
Dauda is now a health educator on diabetes and hypertension. He creates awareness and promotes self-management of diabetes.
He is the Chairman of the Diabetes Association of Nigeria, in the South West region, and Chairman of the association in Lagos State.
He also doesn’t shy away from discussing his condition, hoping that by sharing his experiences, he can help to educate and empower others.
“I’ve been to several seminars and conferences in the country to know more about diabetes just to improve my health. Diabetes is not a death sentence. You have to be determined to live a healthy life; just be focused and be moderate with what you eat.
“Go for your medical check-ups.Make your doctor your best friend. Open up to them so they understand you and know what is best for you to avoid complications.When it is not properly controlled, that’s when there will be complications. Let the people around you know that it is not a death sentence,” he said..
“We need more awareness”<
Dauda calls on the federal and state to make conscious efforts to address the plights of people living with diabetes.
“We want the to give us attention. For instance, HIV patients are placed on free treatment and they can help us with policies that can, at least, reduce the cost of anti-diabetes drugs.
“We have just a few doctors who can treat diabetes and we need more awareness for diabetes, we need more campaigns for diabetes prevention and control,” he stated.
WHO recommends action in areas, including increasing access to insulin; promoting convergence and harmonisation of regulatory requirements for insulin and other medicines and health products for the treatment of diabetes; as well as assessing the feasibility and potential value of establishing a web-based tool to share information relevant to the transparency of markets for diabetes medicines and health products.
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