After a year of being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, Luleka Mzuzu managed to stop taking insulin and only takes oral tablets. She is now focused on educating and helping her community.
Luleka Mzuzu (39) lives in Kayamandi, Western Cape with her husband and three children.
Exhaustion leads to diagnosis
For two weeks Luleka felt exhausted and was forever thirsty. “I never thought to go to the doctor or check my glucose levels as I thought it was just work related and being tired from commuting to and from work. When the mother of three finally went to the doctor in September 2015, her blood glucose reading was 28 and she was immediately sent to ICU. She was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. “I was immediately put on insulin (insulin glulisine and insulin glargine).”
Luleka was determined to educate herself and take control of her health. She changed her diet and started exercising. “This was a very long and hard journey with many obstacles,” she says.
However, her dedication paid off; in early 2017 Luleka’s treatment changed drastically. She only had to take metformin (oral tablet) once a day.
Ikhaya Diabetes Support Group
When Luleka was diagnosed, she wanted and needed support and diabetes education and she says it was hard to get it. “I had to google and use a private doctor to get info. But most people in our community can’t access Google or make use of private doctors and dietitians due to affordability. So, I thought of starting a group to educate, support and help other community members to manage their diabetes.”
At this time, Luleka contacted DSA and started a relationship with Margot McCumisky, National Manager of DSA. “I signed up to become a DSA member and would ask advice from Margot on how to run my support group. She assisted with literature and guided me on all the steps,” Luleka explains.
The group started informally in 2017, but in 2019 Luleka registered it as a NGO. Due to the restrictions in 2019 the group couldn’t meet. However, they still supported each other via WhatsApp.
“Together with Stellenbosch Municipality Community Development Department, we had Wellness Days, where we had different themes: How to keep moving (exercise routines), How to be financial savvy and What is diabetes and how to manage it.
Luleka believes that more diabetes education is needed in the public sector and dedicated public facilities for people living with diabetes, such as footcare and wound care clinics are needed.
DSA helps Ikhaya Diabetes Support Group
During COVID many of the members of Ikhaya Diabetes Support Group didn’t receive food parcels from the government. So, Luleka called on Margot from DSA to assist.
Luleka explains, “The food parcels were for the members in the support group. Most of the members are pensioners and don’t have other sources of income. We assisted them as some of them at that time used their money to get medication at the pharmacies as the community clinic was full and high-risk for them to go sit there and wait on their meds.”
Margot managed to get assistance from various churches in Stellenbosch and then dropped them off at Luleka. She then delivered them door to door.
Margot is currently assisting to get a blood glucose testing machine for the group and they continue to work as partners.
Balance is easy
The mother of three says achieving balance is easy. “Everything has its own time. I’m a family orientated person so it’s easy to balance work, family and diabetes, as it is now part of my lifestyle. I deal with it every day.”
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