Living with diabetes: Conversation with Eyad.

UAE banker and business owner Eyad Dahir shares his experience of living with type 1 diabetes for the past 28 years.

Thank you Eyad for the opportunity to have this conversation with you. Please tell us something about how and when you were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

It was in 1993 when I was 17 years old. Back then I needed to go to the bathroom a lot, I was always drinking water, and in general just not feeling good. I went to see a doctor for something else and I told him how weak I feel. So he checked my blood glucose and found that it was 509 mg/dL, which is very high – about six times higher than a healthy level. I’ve been using insulin daily since then.

You’ve been living with type 1 diabetes for 28 years now – what kind of changes have you seen in terms of diabetes awareness and knowledge sharing?

Back when I was first diagnosed there was not much knowledge in the community about diabetes, and of course no social media for sharing information. Myself and the people in my life only started learning about diabetes because it affects me. Things are very different today though and people in the UAE are now quite aware about diabetes.

It’s important for our friends and family to know what to do if someone using insulin has a hypoglycemic episode, especially if that person goes into a diabetic coma.

Have you had any such serious episodes yourself?

I’ve only had a really bad hypo once. It was around 2010 when I had influenza.

I was first sitting outside with my wife in the evening, and then went to bed early before her. When she came in from outside a while later, she noticed that I was sweating a lot. She tried to wake me but I would not move – I could only open my eyes. When she tried to give me juice to raise my blood glucose, I kept closing my mouth.

At that point she called the emergency services and some paramedics arrived who gave me a glucagon injection to rapidly raise my blood glucose. They then took me to the hospital for a full check-up and I was released later that same evening.

The UAE authorities provide a lot of support for people with diabetes, right?

Yes. Everything is free – all insulin, the equipment you need, and regular health checks. I see my endocrinologist at least once per month, but usually about every two weeks. During these visits I pick up replenishments of whatever equipment I need, although during the pandemic we’ve been receiving packages at home instead.

What can you tell us about your approach towards diet, fasting and exercise?

I eat a little of everything and use short acting insulin to offset the carbs as necessary. I’m not that good at counting carbs, but I do my best!

Upon the advice of my doctor, I do not fast. I’ve tried to do it before, but my blood sugar goes too high and then too low. It’s just not good for me.

For exercise, I try to walk about four kilometres each day. Sometimes I do more, but like everyone else I often struggle to find the time for exercise. Life is busy when you have family, work and diabetes to take care of!

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