Seventeen year-old Thabani Ncube,diagnosed with diabetes at the age of eight, is one of the first patients set to benefit from the opening of the room.
‘I had serious problems last year with my girlfriend when I told her that I am living with diabetes and I inject myself with insulin three times a day. She cried and we broke up. She broke my heart’, says Thabani, clearly still sad.
‘Some people think you inflict pain on yourself by injecting yourself. She could not stand seeing me inject myself. She couldn’t even face me. She felt sorry for me’, he says.
It is stories like Thabani’s that led to the creation of this new room at the tertiary hospital.
‘The ‘Diabetes Conversations Room’, is really about setting up an environment where we can take patients who haven’t always come from a good environment ‘ a supportive environment. It provides us with a better facility in which to build diabetes knowledge’, explains Endocrinologist, Dr Raymond Segal.
‘They (patients) will learn how to ask different questions and you can discuss different aspects of diabetes care’, he adds.
Nurse and Diabetes Educator, Michael Brown argues that globally, diabetes has been a ‘neglected epidemic’.
‘The resources are not being thrown at the management of this condition’, he says.
Outlining the need for intense patient training in diabetes he says that: ‘You need extensive education for patients to understand what the management of risk is. There is a huge healthcare burden that is attributed to diabetes and it’s not being managed’.
If untreated or not treated well, diabetes can lead to death, but Dr Segal says it’s a long and unpleasant process.
‘The complications of having high blood sugar levels are the damage to the vessels in your body and those little blood vessels go to your eyes, your kidneys, your nerves and also affect the blood supply to other major organs like the heart’, warns Dr Segal.
Diabetes is a condition, where sugar is not used correctly to provide energy for living and growing. The person develops diabetes when their body does not produce a hormone called insulin. The hormone is produced by the pancreas and regulates sugar levels in the blood.