14 November 2011
By Shweta Dandekar
When Sanjay Kataria was diagnosed with diabetes 14 years ago, his world came literally crashing down.
Kataria suffered from severe mental trauma as he imagined himself living his life dependent on medicines, constant visit to clinics and a restricted life where he couldn’t even eat without thinking about his illness.
“I thought I couldn’t lead a normal life again. Doctors said I would need to visit the hospital monthly, take pills and change my lifestyle. I was in the prime of my youth and felt helpless,” said the 44–year–old who is now leading a happy life with his family.
What brought about a dramatic change in his attitude was by meeting others like him through a support group — Diabetes Patient Club (DPC).
The club, located in Navi Peth, started in 2002 and has 5,000 members, so far, thus becoming one of the biggest support groups in Pune.
It helps diabetics to manage the disease on their own.
“Until 2002, I wasn’t regular with my medication. Once I joined the group, I became regular with my check–ups. My sugar levels were high earlier and that led to depression and other problems. Once I learned to manage diabetes and found encouragement in peer groups, I became more confident,” he said.
Other than medication, awareness and support is also crucial in treatment and management of diabetes. Apartfrom DPC, the Bhosari–based Gaikwad Diabetes Club also helps patients suffering from the disease.
“Young diabetics face social stigma but support groups provide a sense of togetherness to them, which is what led us to start this club,” said diabetologist Dr Anu Gaikwad.
Both the clubs work in a similar fashion; they conduct social and education programmes for members besides conducting regular blood sugar check–ups and free consultations. The DPC, in particular, has made self–management economical for patients by reducing prices of the expensive tests.
“Since joining the club, I have volunteered for various activities and also given lectures on self–management,” said Ashok Kumbharkar, a 71–year–old member of DPC.
“Not just seminars, even entertainment programmes are conducted for diabetics.”
On the occasion of World Diabetes Day, support groups such as these are organising various programmes such as awareness rallies, free check–ups and consultations.