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My diabetes pain is coming to an end

By Elly Omondi Odhiambo

ANYONE who has met me on occasions when I have talked about diabetes awareness will probably think, jeez, he talks about it like he has been struck by lightning. Surely, he is milking it!
Yes I do talk a lot about diabetes and people respond with utter ignorance.
I remember one of my former jobs which I really hated with a passion because of the tinpot dictatorship of the boss of that particular outfit. Imagine being in a job where you walk in thinking, am I going to die today because the governor thinks your condition is just an addition. I was nearly begging for time-out, to have my four times a day insulin injection. You see, me thinks the invisible disability parameters can be insane if the manager is uncompromising. One doesn’t forget such life and death scenarios. I am penning this for diabetics and those who share their life with them, relatives, friends, work colleagues. I now dare say bye-bye to those weird days.
This is what has happened and I really hope many people who need this get this. Three weeks ago, the hospital saved my body from those regular injections which were mainly on the abdomen. Years ago, I used to inject my upper arms as well but I had to stop because of tennis. I could hardly serve the ball after a few years. Utterly zombified by the years of multiple injections on the same arm that I would want to strike a ball with.
Anyway, I think this year has brought me some tidings because the diabetes care team phoned me after all these years of procrastination and the good news came. You are officially on the insulin pump. That I don’t have to do MDI anymore, something I did since childhood, MDI, Multiple Dose Injections, four a day. From now on I am using this beast of a kit. The insulin pump. Average three injections a week, not the twenty-eight a week that I used to do! Even these three are not MDIs. I put the pump line or tubing to do its work using the remote-controlled handset feeding the insulin into the body via Bluetooth for the whole day. And you tell me we Africans practice black magic. Come of it, this is white magic!
Honestly, this is what Africa should be engrossed in. Making sure the people get what they pay their taxes for. Africa has a serious diabetic problem especially type two. It will reach epidemic levels if not acted upon. I remember the torture my own mother had to go through in the 1980s to ensure that I had enough daily doses of insulin. Actually what she did to save the stock was to get a supplement, that is, bitter herbs from Shangazi Dolly, a radio presenter, community teacher and traditional medicine woman who convinced my mother that those plants would take care of insulin secretion in the body. Not really, it was a waste of money.
The insulin pump in diabetic care is shunned upon by some that it is a lazy option. It does for you what you should do yourself. Yes, it is not cheap but when repeated injections and finger pricking are the order of the day, probably approaching eighty something thousand such procedures on your body so far, then pump is the better option.
Meanwhile, this past weekend there was a Young Leaders Programme media skills training event held in the city centre. The young people were all African, about a dozen of them, boys and girls learning the theory of filmmaking. The young people, aged 13-16 were fascinated by the course which gave them tips about how to pitch film ideas in the future. Belfastwood or if you like, Hollywood ain’t too far off, at least in theory for the youth.

Elly Omondi Odhiambo is a freelance writer based in West Belfast.

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