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Poovarasan

Not every family wakes up one fine day to learn that both of their children are having a disease which cannot be cured. However, that’s what exactly happened with the family of the siblings, 18 year old Poovarasi and her younger brother 13 year old Poovarasan.

When both their children started to lose their weight at an accelerated rate inspite of eating up to the last morsel left in the house and fainting often, the uneducated parents residing in a backward village started to suspect that some evil curse had befallen them. After unsuccessful attempts to drive away the curse, they finally consulted a doctor whose diagnosis came as a bolt from the blue.

How much will the treatment cost? And among a thousand other questions, the million rupee question through a hoarse voice and a stream of tears: 'Is there a cure?'

Armed with the local physician's diagnosis they came to the Christian Medical College hospital, Vellore in India and were admitted with DKA. The father who was a mason and mother, a housewife barely able to make both ends meet with their meager source of income had a number of questions that loomed trough their minds. The diagnosis of 'sugar disease' OR ‘Chakkera Viadi’ in children was unknown to them. Is the disease contagious? How long will the children live? Will the girl be able to bear children?

Moreover, their tender minds were not able to comprehend what had happened to them. Telling the growing children to limit their diet to specifics was virtually unheard of for these children. Although the girl had completed her high school and dropped out after that due to financial constraints, the boy was still in school and had concerns as to whether he could continue his education; for the disease had taken its toll on him both mentally and physically due to delay in diagnosis.

Then as time lapsed, they came to terms with the disease and its care. They realized that although there is no guarantee for cure, it could be kept under control and they were overwhelmed with the response to treatment as the symptoms begun to wane. The children were more recently provided with glucometers and strips from the Life for a Child corpus.

They soon excelled in SMBG and their HbA1c dropped to near normal levels in 6 months without nasty hypoglycaemic twists and turns. Both siblings complemented each other in treatment. The boy soon returned to school and the girl has started to learn tailoring to complement the parents’ income. Now nearly a year following the diagnosis, the family has regained some of the original happiness that they had.

Kanmani

14 year old Kanmani, was admitted to a Christian Medical College Vellore hospital’s Intensive Care Unit with vomiting, severe rapid breathing due to acidosis and an altered sensorium. She was diagnosed with DKA, and was barely into her teens where she could not even tell her friends that she was having Type

1 Diabetes Mellitus for the fear that they may desert her. Although she recuperated from the initial catastrophe, her mother who worked as a house maid and her load man father could not afford the treatment that she required as they had two more mouths at home to feed (her younger siblings).

As a result she frequently swayed into extremes of glucose fluctuations which made her giddy and faint. The hostel wardens of her school became wary of her problems and reacted adversely to the situation.

They were not trained to aid in her emergencies and were forced to advise her to leave the hostel and stay at home. The school authorities decided to bar her for one year due to her dropping attendance rates and frequent sick leave. With both her health and educational prospects being bleak the parents began to see the a dark tunnel with out an end.

More recently she has been able to get free insulin, a glucometer and strips. Being a swift learner with regards to the nuances of SMBG and self adjustment of insulin doses, her fluctuations disappeared in a matter of months and her glycaemic control smoothened out. Her frequent fainting became a thing of the past and the family started to take interest in small pleasures. Now she is getting ready to prove her mettle in her academics as her hostel and school have decided to welcome her back to school.