South Asian background and diabetes: Soma's story
Soma Biswas, 48, from Middlesex, was diagnosed with diabetes when she was pregnant with her son. She also has high blood pressure, an irregular heart rate and high cholesterol.
“There is a very strong history of heart disease and stroke in my family. I was first diagnosed with diabetes when I was pregnant with my son in 2005, but the day he was born, doctors said my blood sugar was back to normal and that my GP should follow up within two years.
“This didn’t happen. In late 2012, I started sweating profusely at night and using the toilet a lot. I was always thirsty, couldn’t control my hunger and started to have dizzy spells. The GP thought it might be early menopause, but blood tests showed my blood sugar was very high. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes – I felt very sad.”
“I try to live well and control the condition. I want to be healthy and live long for my son. I try my best to do exercises, and I take my medications on time and control the food I eat. I’m really a very happy person. I tell myself that today is a beautiful day and I love to spend time with my son. The reason I need to feel better every day is because of him. He’s very clever – he’s been there a few times when my blood sugar is very low and called for help. I worry that my health can affect him too.
I’ve reduced my weight and I do a lot of walking. I encourage my son to have a healthy diet with lots of fruit and salads.
“I take a lot of medications every day, including a statin [to reduce cholesterol and heart attack risk] and an ACE inhibitor [for blood pressure]. I’ve reduced my weight and I do a lot of walking. I encourage my son to have a healthy diet with lots of fruit and salads. He tells me he will study very hard, but he’ll also look after his body because one day he might be a Bollywood actor!
“I talk a lot in my temple and my local community about healthy living. I use the BHF booklet Healthy living, healthy heart. I find it very useful. A lot of families use a lot of oil, sugar and salt in their cooking and I try directing them to services that can help them make changes.