Osarenkhoe Ethel Chima-Nwogwugwu

Mother of five, she experienced gestational diabetes 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  (GDM). I did not panic because my doctor had previously made me aware of GDM. 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 activities. I am an active member of the IDF Blue Circle Voices network, an international diabetes advocate, and a founding member of the 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 an 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 manage my condition better. Thanks to my diabetes, my entire family has adopted a healthy lifestyle – and is living healthily.

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