From An Ignorant Kid to a Medical Professional

I spent initial 7 years of my life as the chubbiest and cutest kid of the locality who was fond of stuffing her face with chocolates and snacks. Life seemed pretty great; school, table tennis academy, cartoons, friends and that was it. Although I started getting on and off fever when I was 5, as an early sign of diabetes, which everyone, including the doctors ignored. I became vulnerable to every sort of infections, started getting dark circles under my eyes at such a young age, but life still seemed completely fine, until that day.

On 18th of July, 2007, I woke up as a normal 7 year old kid, went to school as a normal kid. At noon, my parents picked me up from school to take me to the paediatrician for a vaccine shot, where my mother generally mentioned about my frequent urination at night. The doctor immediately tested my glucose levels with a glucometer, which were freaking 450, hence diagnosing me with type 1 diabetes. My parents, who failed to accept the fact that their little girl is suffering from a chronic illness immediately took me to a laboratory to get my blood examined and obviously, the truth didn’t change. We went back home, I couldn’t understand anything that was happening, my mother was crying hysterically, my father on call with every doctor he knew in our town. At 7 in evening, I saw all my relatives gathered in our living room, with faces hung low like someone died. After a while, my father and uncle took me to a physician (our town didn’t have any endocrinologist at that time) where I got my first shot of insulin, which was a plain insulatard. I was never scared of needles and injections, but at that time I didn’t know that I’d have to inject myself multiple times a day for the rest of my life.

The following months passed real quick, starting with DKA, daily hospital visits, my parents getting basic diabetes education, people visiting me. I lost around 9 kgs of weight. It was a tragic time for my family, as my grandma was also suffering from stage 1 breast cancer. But as it is said, there is light at the end of every tunnel. Things started getting better. My parents simplified all of it for me by saying,” our chubby baby got so sweet that she is not allowed to have sweets now”.

 I started going to school after a month or two, but my mother used to pick me up after 2-3 hours. The first day I went to school as a diabetic kid, my class teacher called me and said, “It is okay darling, you just have to cut back the sweets, you will be fine, you are the bravest”. She called my friends and told them about how and why they need to take better care of me as a friend now.

The next couple of years are a blur. All I remember is travelling to different cities every other day to consult a new endocrinologist, switching insulins after every few days. Although I didn’t quite understand my condition at that time, but I knew that sweets are poison to me now. I never remembered any doctor my parents took me to during those days except one, Dr. Naveen Garg.  He had just shifted to our town; I was his first child patient. He was reluctant on managing my levels by dietary changes. More than a doctor, he became family to me. I remember visiting his place and watching cartoons with his son. Although he moved to another city after some time, we still stayed in touch, and he is still family to me.

I never had to care for myself during my childhood years as I knew my parents are here to do that for me. But as I entered the age of maturity, i.e. grade 5 or 6, I started understanding my condition. Instead of taking better care of myself, I entered the phase of denial, I stopped acknowledging my disease, I tried to hide it from people, I became ignorant, never cared about my glucose and A1c levels. And whenever I paid attention to it, it was just to lament and cry about it. My parents still tried their best to take care of me despite of the adamant teenage phase of life which I was in.

Despite of everything, I was always a bright student. Studious enough to always maintain a position amongst the class toppers and hence my mother always dreamed of me becoming a doctor.

Years passed in denial and ignorance, I broke both my foot one after other, qualified NEET (medical entrance test in India), got myself enrolled into a dental college to pursue Bachelor’s in Dental Surgery. But then, I lost both of my grandparents and the trauma got me spiralling downwards. As diabetics are already two times more prone to depression and anxiety as compared to normal people, I started getting anxiety attacks. I got infected with H.Pylori in year 2 of college (2019) and anxiety made my gut worse. My gastrologist put me on anti anxiety medication and gradually took me off it. I got better and was also promoted to year 3 of college.

But then after 3 months of being fine, I got high grade fever in December, 2019. The local physicians thought of it as DKA and treated me for the same. But my condition only worsened, ultimately, one doctor sent me for Widal test, and turned out, I was infected with high grade enteric fever (typhoid fever). The local doctors refused to take me in because of the extent of infection. I travelled 2 hours away in an unconscious like state to seek treatment. And there I met the most amazing, life changing doctor who did everything to make me better, Dr. KVS Hari Kumar. I was hospitalized there for 8 whole days, suffered from pulmonary and abdominal effusion, liver and spleen enlargement, had difficulty in breathing, needed oxygen support.  My mother had lost expectations for me to get better. This is the thing about diabetes, it makes everything worse. The infection worsens the glucose levels and elevated glucose levels worsen the infections. At that time my A1C level was 11.2. My doctor did everything to make me better and by God’s grace he succeeded. I started getting better after 7 days despite of all the complications. It was a traumatic time which somewhere still has an impact over me, my lungs and chest muscles are still weak, I gained a lot of weight post disease due to the heavy antibiotic intake. But that one post disease follow up was life changing for me. All Dr. Kumar said was,’ I really hate it when people like you who are upcoming medical professionals don’t take good care of themselves’.

It was that day after which I actually transformed into a real medical professional, not only did I started taking good care of myself, I now help others with their medical concerns too. I now feel confident with my disease and show it off like a badge. I was shifted to ryzodeg and actrapid for 6 months and now I am trying to do my best with tresiba (degludec) and novorapid (aspart). My latest A1c was 8.0, which isn’t that great, but I will thrive, I will conquer. On 18th of July this year, I celebrated my 13th diaversary, because diabetes doesn’t own me, I own it.

This was my story, from an ignorant child to a medical professional, how an endocrinologist became a god sent angel for me and changed my entire life in a positive way. 

Vanshika Aggarwal
I am a 21-year-old type 1 diabetic from India diagnosed on the 18th of July, 2007 at the age of 7.

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