Ethel Magidela – Eight years living with Type 2 diabetes

Ethel Magidela recalls the day she was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and how far she has come since then.

Ethel Nonkosi Magidela (50) lives in Pretoria, Gauteng. She has three adult children.

One evening in 2014, I was watching a movie and my eyes started getting blurry. I thought perhaps there was something wrong with the picture and decided to move closer to the television but there was no change. At the same time, I became so thirsty like an unusual thirst, with my mouth so dry as if I had run a marathon and needed to drink lots and lots of water. I remember I finished a 2-litre jug of water and could not understand what was happening. Added to that, I started feeling extremely tired so went to bed. In the middle of the night, I went to the bathroom back and forth to urinate.

Having lost my late brother and niece from Type 1 diabetes, I thought to myself those could be the signs, but I was in so much denial and told myself it can’t be, not me. So, I ignored the signs, got up the next morning, got into my car and drove my kids to school thinking everything was going to be fine. Boy, was I wrong!

After dropping my kids at school, I started feeling more fatigued. Around 11am I experienced extreme thirst and hunger. I decided to Google, and the symptoms were exactly spot on. Still refusing to accept it, I got ready to pick up my kids from school and afterwards decided to take a nap but was not able too. Finally, I decided to go see a doctor that same afternoon.

Admitted to hospital

When I got to the doctor and told him what I experienced, he did a blood and urine test, and told me my blood glucose was 28.9 and that I definitely had Type 2 diabetes due to the blood test results.

I was admitted into hospital immediately. In fact, the doctor was even surprised that I was still aware of my surroundings and had to ask me twice if I was aware that I’m in his consultation room because of how high my blood glucose was.

The next day I was discharged the following day with medication (metformin 500mg) and had to embark on this new unknown journey of diabetes. I now needed to change my lifestyle and get used to living with it. I started reading every article about diabetes to know what I’m living with. Knowledge is power.

My medication was only changed once in March 2019; I was put on Glucophage 500mg twice a day with a 1.8mg Victoza insulin injection once a day.

The hardest part

I found the following extremely hard when I was first diagnosed:

  • To learn how and when to prick and test on my own.
  • What would be a high or low number for my blood glucose during testing.
  • How many times to test per day and how to stick to the same testing time.
  • To watch my diet, as to what to eat to avoid hyperglycaemia (high blood glucose) or hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose).

Thankfully today I can say I have my daily routine down and have gained knowledge on the tasks I found hard due to constant education about diabetes.

My advice to fellow people with diabetes

  • First accept the diagnosis. Don’t be in denial, take it as a transition to a living a healthy lifestyle.
  • Get as much as possible knowledge about diabetes, by reading articles.
  • Educate your family and close friends so they understand what you are dealing with daily. In that way you’ll have their support, so you don’t feel alone, because you are never alone.
  • Join support groups both on social media and attend in person in your area

Making the best of it

To me the saying Bloom where you are planted means to take advantage of the opportunities in my life (like starting my own support group for diabetes) and be grateful for my current situation and make the best of it.

Currently, I’m eating healthy as possible and watching my starch intake and have lots of veggies in my diet. Soon I will start with Banting. Unfortunately, I don’t exercise as much as I want to, but I do take long walks thrice a week.

World Diabetes Day

This World Diabetes Day, I plan to participate in a local Diabetes Awareness Walk, light up my home in blue, make my friends and colleagues aware about the importance of World Diabetes Day.