Around four and a half years ago I was walking from my home to a nearby Mosque. The distance is about 400 meters and it usually takes me 4 minutes to reach. Mid way through my walk a person from distance emerged from an alley and waved his hand towards me, suggesting a hello gesture. I first had to make sure he was waving at me, and I tried my best to guess who he was because simply, I could not see him very clearly.
I was losing my sight and only figured out he was a close friend of mine when we got really close to each other. Immediately he noticed and asked me what was wrong? I told him that I have no idea but it seems like I was on my way towards blindness.
That was when he asked few more questions and my answers were all yes. Are you thirsty all the time, do you not sleep well at night, have you lost weight very fast, and do you feel that your skin is dry? Finally, he suggested that I should right away check if I was diabetic.
All my life, I never thought that this day would come. I used to fill many applications for Universities, Visas, and surveys moving fast down the checklist that asks about my criminal and physical status, no, no, no, and sign. So I was in denial, or at least I wanted to trick the hospital results and decided to have three bananas on my way to the check up. Little did I know about how much sugar does a banana have.
I was that clueless. I didn’t know the difference between good and bad food. To me, good food was that that tastes good, and bad food, was the broccoli and the likes. Calories, was a word that I only know how it sounds, and nutritional facts written on products were a waste of ink and a marketing stunt. I was good in biology and know what a mitochondria does, but I never paid attention to what food was made from.
The hospital took a blood sample and said they’d call me in a day or two whenever results were ready. Ten minutes later, driving back home, my phone rang and it was the doctor. I checked my pockets perhaps he wanted to inform me that I had forgotten something. So I answered the phone and the first thing he said was: “You need to get here right away, your sugar level is as high as it can go.” But I went back the next day and for the first time in my life, was admitted to the hospital for a week of treatments.
Today, four and a half years later, I’m a very different person. I think of death a lot, and what I want to achieve before. I think of my organs and how easily any of them can stop working at any time. I’m more aware that one day my family and friends would dig a hole for me, put me in, throw sand and rocks over me and walk away. However, believe it or not, I’m a much happier person than I was ever before in my life.
While I strongly believe that it is God that have already chosen that day for me, I also believe that I shouldn’t sit back and not treat myself, strengthen myself, and care about my health and physical wellbeing. When I look at society, I see two types of people, those who want to be carried, and those who are capable of carrying others on their backs. I believe that a society’s issues would end if every person strove to carry others on his back.
To survive, my only solution was to strengthen myself in every way, mentally, physically, and most of all spiritually. When I was diagnosed with diabetes I had only a year left in my studies, so I decided to continue my work towards achieving the degree that I’ve always wanted. Knowing that being physically active helps control sugar level, I decided to join a running club and invested in a home gym as well. Today, I’m the chairman of this club. What completes the triangle of success and happiness is being spiritually knowledgeable and balanced. I’m proud to say that since then, I’m in a much better spiritual position.
But what made me really write these paragraphs is the fact that I have registered in an event that gets me in a ring against diabetes. It will be just me and diabetes, face to face in a ring on December 2nd 2012 at Phuket, Thailand. I have registered to compete in an international sport event named ‘Ironman 70.3’, which consists of 1.9km swim, followed by 90km bicycle ride, followed by 21.1km run. There are around 16 weeks left until I hear the ‘Go’ signal in this grueling six hour triathlon.
For the next 16 weeks, I am dedicating my training and my participation in this event to those who think that diabetes is a sickness that makes you different from other ‘normal’ people. Less than 1% of the world’s population can complete this event, and I am here to show that diabetes should not come between you and your dreams. I have to stay strong for my family, for my kids, for my country and I will never give up.
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