25-year-old Aashna Mansharamani, struck with diabetes from the age of seven, tells us how it steered her life in a new direction.
‘H&N’ reader’s account of living with diabetes
Iwas diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of seven. I was under weight and contrary to popular beliefs, I did not have excessive amounts of sugar and no one in my family had diabetes. Growing up with diabetes in 2000 was interesting as developments had been made in science and medicine, making insulin, syringes and blood testing machines available. Unfortunately, though, the advanced knowledge for the same was not equally available. In the first month of diagnosis, I was told that various food and fruits such as bananas and grapes were not allowed. If the nutrition values for anything could be calculated for, anything is allowed with the correct amount of insulin doses. Back then, diabetes was such a taboo that few people even admitted to having it. This made it particularly harder for a newly diagnosed patient to understand and have adequate information. The more significant issues, though, included the perceptions of others. The
top misconception was the confusion between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Type 1 is juvenile diabetes, diagnosis ranging from birth onwards, and is insulin dependent, a result of the pancreas not functioning. Till date, people constantly ask me if I had a sweet tooth as a child, or advise me to consume bittergourd juice and other herbal concoctions. While the concern is appreciated, one should know that such things cannot possibly replace the function of insulin as a medicine. People tend to make it a bigger deal than it actually is. All it takes is a balanced life with exercise, relatively healthy diet and insulin intake. Two of those factors is advised to everyone anyway. That being said, exercise and physical activities are tricky as they tend to bring the sugar levels down. This naturally became a point of concern to coaches/ sports instructors when I was in school, so much so that I was discouraged from moving up a level in gymnastics. I did not realize it then but the negativity impacted me. 18 years later, after I rebelled my way through, I teach aerial gymnastics, or aerial hoop, to students ranging from the age of 4 to 40 in Mumbai and recently in Delhi as well. Having had to develop that control over food from a young age gave my family the confidence to send me abroad for education where I got my bachelors in architecture and also learnt aerial gymnastics on the weekends. Since ‘World Diabetes Day’ is on November 14th, I’d like to tell people that diabetes is not limiting, embarrassing, or curable (so far at least) but a challenge that helps a person grow and can even be a constant motivator to do more. To all diabetic readers, hang in there, and channel the negativity/ frustration through a passion making it an obsession!
“Diabetes is not limiting, embarrassing, or curable (so far at least) but a challenge that helps a person grow and can even be a constant motivator to do more.”
Teaching aerial gymnastics