6 December 2012

Namibia: Living Positively With Diabetes

ANJE Kruger (11) was diagnosed with Type One diabetes when she was six years old and for the past five years she has been measuring her blood sugar levels, injecting insulin and carried on living her life to the fullest.

Just before she was diagnosed she lost a lot of weight and had a constant thirst.

“When we went to town to go shopping she finished a bottle of water from the house to town and asked for another. That was just too much so I took her to the doctor and she was diagnosed,” said her mother, Jeanne-Marie Kruger.

The diagnosis scared her in the beginning as it was new and unknown but today she looks back with a smile.

“I do everything a normal child would do. I go to my friends’ birthday parties and eat what the other children eat, but just smaller portions and I inject accordingly,” said Anje.

“I am still like everyone else, I just have a condition which is manageable.”

Regular exercise and a healthy diet are vital to keep the disease under control and since being diagnosed, Anje has not spent one day in hospital because of diabetes. “You just have to manage it and then it does not affect your life,” she said.

Currently she injects insulin six to eight times a day, but she hopes that her medical aid fund will pay for a pump which injects insulin automatically the whole day through as needed.

“This pump is like a pancreas which is just outside my body,” said Kruger. “It will improve my life so much as I then would not have to inject all the time but it happens automatically.”

Type One diabetes is an auto-immune disease that affects younger people while Type Two diabetes is a lifestyle disease which mainly affects older people.

Kruger goes to the hospital regularly to talk to other children who have been diagnosed with diabetes to show them that one can have a perfectly normal life with the condition.

The newly founded Namibia Diabetes Lifestyle Foundation held their first awareness and fundraising day on World Diabetes Day in November and with the money they collected they are able to pay for the insulin needed by an eight-year-old boy from Rundu and a 16-year-old girl from Kalkrand.

“These are the first children who benefit from the foundation and we hope to raise more money so that we can help more children all over the country,” said Maryke de Vos of the foundation.

Both children received their insulin from the State hospital before, but without proper information or guidance.

“We gave them training and information and we supply them with the newest insulin on the market, which comes in a plastic pen and is more heat resistant than the insulin provided by the hospital which is still injected with a long needle,” said De Vos.

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