My Gray Friend

By Zohal Hasin

Fifteen years ago, when I was only five, I was thrust into a new, unfamiliar world where everyone seemed to be sad and crying. I had to stay there for the rest of my life. This deeply unpleasant world was called illness and it made me scared and stressed. Then I found a friend called Diabetes. Diabetes was unfamiliar and weird. We weren’t very good with each other, but we promised to stay together until the end. Although, now that I think about it, I didn’t really have a choice.

Diabetes treated me as if I wasn’t important. It made me stay awake all night with thirst and the urge to urinate. It made my kidneys hurt badly and made me sweat with fever. It made me nauseous and lose weight until I lost all faith in the world. Nobody knew about my new friend, not even my family. My father brought me bottles of juice because I couldn’t drink water, unaware that juice is very bad for diabetes.

Diabetes didn’t leave me alone until we had a long discussion together.

“Diabetes! If you are my friend, why do you make me feel miserable?”
“I will become your friend when you start taking good care of me.”
“But I don’t know how…”
“It’s not hard. Don’t eat sweet things, or anything with glucose.”
“You’re kidding with me! I love sweets! How can expect me to stop eating them?”
“Do you know what they do to me?” said Diabetes. “How much pain do I have to tolerate because of you? How can you say that you want to be my friend!”
“People say that if you don’t take care of your diabetes, you will get wounds on your legs, like the ones I have, and that they grow and grow until the leg has to be amputated. Is that true?
“That will only happen if you don’t take good care of me. But you don’t have to worry, just be kind to me.”
“I still fear you. Sometimes I think, why me? Why did you choose me?”

I ran out of the room, my eyes filled with tears, and walked till morning. I wanted use my legs as long as I still could. Then Diabetes came. He tried to calm me down but I was too upset. “Go away,” I shouted. “I don’t want to see you again, ever!”

Diabetes went crazy and made me to go into coma. Two nights later, I woke up in the hospital with my mother crying beside me. My father was speaking to the doctor. The doctor confirmed that my nervous friend was diabetes. I was afraid and didn’t want to be friends with it.

Then I saw the girl next to my bed, Mina. She had diabetes as well, but they lived peacefully together. “How did you do it,” I asked. “How did you become good friends?”
“I learned to love it,” she said. “I take good care of it.”

We spent days and nights together but still we had our problems. I loved sweets, for example, but Diabetes hated them. Diabetes loved to exercise, but I didn’t.

When I was fourteen, I was not doing well mentally. Diabetes and I were fighting almost every day, and I was really tired. I wanted Diabetes out of my body. Then it said, “I’ll never go away.”

I was faced with so many serious problems because of our disagreements. I was in hospitals every day, and I hated it. My skin was always dark and painful from insulin injections. I was trying to hide it from everyone, but it was trying to reveal itself every time.

Once, when I was in fifth grade, I didn’t inject insulin for two days. On the third day, I cried in front of everyone because I had to go to the toilet so badly, but the teacher didn’t let me, until I said I have diabetes. Everyone thought I had an infectious illness. Nobody wanted to sit next to me, eat food with me or play with me.

I felt ashamed and humiliated. Every time my diabetes got worse, my classmates repeated their nonsense acts, and every time I asked myself, why me? Why I should have such a bad friend, why can’t it be kind to me? Until the day I understood why it chose me to be friends with.

There was a kid called Lale, she had diabetes too and was about to die.

I will always remember one cold, long night. It was 2 am and my blood pressure dropped because I forgot my insulin injection. My mother tried waking me up, but I wasn’t there. My brother took me to hospital, doctors injected me many kinds of injections and solutions. After a while I woke up and there was a nice girl next to me who went to toilet almost all night. In the morning I asked her about her sickness. “Kidney failure,” she said. It was a dangerous and almost untreatable sickness in my region because she needed a new kidney. She was hopeless like me. I felt myself close to her. I asked her name, it was Lale, such a beautiful name, like herself. That was the beginning of our friendship. Lale was getting worse every day and doctors were unable to do anything for her.

First, we made jokes about diabetes, but one day Lale was completely helpless, and I tried to explain diabetes to her in another way. Together we listed the do’s and don’ts of diabetes and started follow them.

Slowly, everything became normal. Everyone was asking if Lale is doing well? How could Lale, who had no hope, be living happy? We both, no not both, but us four were living happily. In fact, I didn’t make Lale become better, but she made me realize I had to change my behavior towards diabetes as well.

Our problems may seem difficult, but they teach us things we were previously didn’t understand. Lale helped me understand my friend, Diabetes, better. Diabetes made me love myself more. Maybe I got diabetes to help others understand it better?

I’m nineteen now and Diabetes and I are close. We still have our problems, but we’re working on it. In the end, I’m happy that diabetes chose me as a friend. Thanks, my friend.

For seventeen years, I have been trying to solve a puzzle: why is diabetes a big deficiency in my society, and why someone who is diabetic should be deprived of opportunities in life, why should people with diabetes be ridiculed?

I always wanted travel to see diabetes is treated in different countries, but this is still a dream unfortunately. I think people abroad see diabetes in a different way. They face diabetes as a lifetime friend and learn how to enjoy life with it. I know there will come a day when no one shuts themselves in a dark room because of diabetes.

I trust my friend Diabetes. Together we want to tell the world that it’s doesn’t matter if your friend is pretty or ugly, kind or angry, rich or poor. We should learn to respect each other’s desires and accept each other as we are, with all our good and bad, and in time, we will all bloom together. Like me and my friend Diabetes…

21 July, 2023