We love sharing our community’s stories of life with diabetes – including how to accept a Type 1 diabetes diagnosis. Here is Mokopane Bohlale’s story.
How long have you been living with diabetes?
I’ve been living with Type 1 diabetes since 2017 – I guess it makes it 6 years this year.
Can you tell us your diabetes diagnosis story?
I went to a winter school camp when I was doing matric. It was a two week winter camp and the first week was okay, I was my usual self. But the second week I just wasn’t eating well and I was always thirsty and urinating a lot . And somehow I ignored all those signs, thinking it was nothing huge.
Two weeks after coming back from camp, I remember waking up in the middle of night, my stomach was painful and I was throwing up so much so my dad rushed me to the hospital. Honestly I don’t even remember how I got there.
So in the morning when I woke up, my doctor said, “Good morning son” and he told me I was diagnosed with diabetes. He explained what it was and how it works and I really thought it was something very small like flu or something. That is until breakfast, when they brought the shots and the needles and the glucometer to check my glucose levels and reality hit me. “I’m sick… and not just small sick but super sick.”
What’s the hardest part about living with diabetes, for you?
Fast forward to three weeks after my discharge from the hospital. My dad took leave from work and helped me to administer the injections and even then I still didn’t believe it was me being that sick. It was not easy because I was preparing for my trial exams and still trying to adjust to this new life that I couldn’t accept.
After a couple of trial and errors and hospital admissions, I accepted that it’s either the needles or something worse, like dying. It took a lot of strength to accept my diagnosis – strength I didn’t even know I had. I went to school and wrote my exams and I came first in my matric class and even to this day I can’t believe I was able to do all that while struggling to find common ground with my condition.
What would you say to someone living with diabetes who is struggling?
I would say to them: learn to know your body and don’t rush it to be better. I would tell them to take pride in their condition because people don’t know how hard it is to just keep everything under control, from your glucose levels right to your emotions.
I would tell them that there’s a whole bunch of people with the same thing and they would love to hear their story and their journey about it. And I would tell them to enjoy it and learn from it because it will teach you so much about yourself and your body if you let it. I would tell them to eat well of course that is the basis of it all
What makes your life sweet?
My family makes it sweet. They don’t know much about my illness, but they try their hardest to understand and try to be there as much as possible. Nothing makes your life “sweeter” than your family having your back – it’s really underrated.
Would you like to share your diabetes story? Please email us!
What to read next?
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Kirsten De Klerk’s adventures with Type 1 diabetes: Kirsten is a Type 1 diabetic, founding member of Bete It and one of the top 20 South African voices for diabetes.
What is behaviour change? Here’s a simple explanation – and why you should care.