Eighteen-year-old, Sikelewa Duba, candidly shares the complications she has endured with her struggle of controlling her diabetes.
Sikelewa Duba (18) lives in Port Elizabeth. She has Type 1 diabetes and is part of DSA Port Elizabeth Young Guns.
Growing up I was a healthy child. Then, in February 2015, when I was 13, I lost weight. My mom was concerned as I was a chubby baby. I also started urinating a lot, especially during the night. My mother took me to the doctor. I still remember my first reading; it was 26,6. The doctor told us that I have diabetes and I was admitted to hospital.
I did not know what to expect at the time, but I just did not want to die. I remember not wanting anything to do with needles. Not knowing that they were going to be part of my daily routine, forever. The doctor explained everything about my condition to me thoroughly and a dietitian provided me with a meal plan to follow.
Not getting the most effective medication has been the biggest challenge as my medical aid only covers certain insulins and has limited doctors’ visits. Thus, being the reason why I am a patient at a public clinic. Ultimately, this means that I must work twice as hard to keep my glucose within range.
For the first two years, it was all smooth sailing in terms of range (4-8). Later, I noticed that my injection site was swelling up. So, I thought that the solution was to inject only twice a day, not four times a day. I wasn’t aware that I should change my injection sites.
At first, I feared skipping a dose. But, as time passed by it was easier not to inject. Little did I know that this would take a huge toll on me later.
In March 2018, the aftermath of my actions began to unveil. I suddenly felt tired and one day on my way to school, I experienced breathing difficulties.
At school, they called an ambulance and I was rushed to hospital where they told me that I had diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). This was due to me skipping injections which caused uncontrolled diabetes. This was an eye-opener; I could have ended up in a coma.
So, I started working towards who I was before. Someone who managed and took ownership of her diabetes. I stopped skipping injections and starting alternating my injection sites. I also learnt how to adjust my insulin dose, based on my readings. Whenever I felt something was wrong, I tested my glucose and adjusted my insulin dose.
Surgical removal of a boil
In May 2018, I developed a boil on my left buttock. One night the pain was so unbearable that the doctor saw it fit to be removed. This meant that I had to be operated on. I was really scared, but all went well. The doctor explained that the boil was also a result of uncontrolled diabetes.
Since then I have had another boil in my right buttock. Though, this one didn’t need to be surgically removed.
The most recent challenge I faced was not being able to see clearly after lockdown stage 3. I always wore glasses but noticed that my eye sight had become worse. I was referred to an eye specialist and after running a few tests, he concluded that I had cataracts.
As soon as I heard that, I knew it was because of my uncontrolled diabetes. The only solution was to have cataract removal surgery. I wanted to have the surgery as soon as possible because I could not see in class, especially the board. So, on 14th July, my left eye was operated on. Then on 28th July, my right eye was done. The results are amazing that I don’t even wearmy glasses anymore.
Search for a better insulin
My doctor is concerned about my glucose levels and all the complications I have experienced. He is currently researching the different types of insulin that my medical aid will cover and be picked up from a pharmacy. In the meantime, I am monitoring my glucose levels as best as I can.
My journey so far has been tiring but I have learnt a lot as well. The challenges I have faced so far are extremely worrying. They have made me realise that having uncontrolled glucose levels can, and will have, dire consequences in the long run.
I have endured much and there is still much to go through. So, to all Type1’s out there I would like to say: please aim for progress, not perfection. It is always better to start gradually and measure progress using small steps, and avoid taking on too much yourself. Reach out for help.