AFR

Osarenkhoe Ethel Chima-Nwogwugwu

Mother of five, she experienced gestational diabetes mellitus twice, was later diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and now works as a diabetes advocate.

I am a mother of five daughters. Eighteen years ago, I was pregnant with our second daughter (Osassy). During a routine hospital visit in my second trimester, traces of glucose were detected in my urine. Further investigation confirmed that I had gestational diabetes mellitus (GMD). I did not panic because my doctor had previously made me aware of GDM. At six weeks post-delivery, my glucose level had returned to normal again.

During my next pregnancy, with our third daughter (Ibim), I also showed symptoms of GDM. Once again after the birth, my glucose level seemed to return to normal. Six months post-delivery, I had a vaginal yeast infection, which prompted my doctor to request further blood tests. These revealed that – at 35 years of age – I was now living with type 2 diabetes.

The diagnosis changed my life forever. Diabetes has given me a voice to speak and represent my community. I run a diabetes club, as well as promoting and supporting diabetes awareness through screening. I am an active member of the Blue Circle Voices network, an international diabetes advocate, and a founding member of International Limb Salvage Foundation (USA) and the Diabetes and Limb Salvage Foundation (Nigeria).

In Nigeria, I pay for my healthcare out-of-pocket. Endocrinologists are not available in most hospitals. Sometimes I cannot afford consultations in a private hospital (55–70 USD each time). In my State hospital, there has been no endocrinologist for over seven years. Glucometers and test strips are out of my reach. Buying a vial of insulin used to cost 4.4 USD, but it now costs 12.6 USD. If I cannot get it from a pharmaceutical company representative, I need to travel a long distance to buy it.

I live with overactive bladder and neuropathy due to my lack of proper diabetes education and knowledge after my diagnosis, which affected my early management. Since then, thankfully, my training as a diabetes educator has helped me to improve my management of the condition. Thanks to my diabetes, my entire family has adopted a healthy lifestyle – and is living healthily.

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