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Diabetes Times Two in the Family

Whether in politics or the sphere of music and showbiz, there are fathers who somehow bestowed their specific passion or prowess to their daughters. Take the father-daughter tandem of singers Hadji and Rachel Alejandro, politicians Renato and Pia Cayetano, Hollywood film makers Francis Ford and Sofia Coppola, and actors John Voight and daughter Angelina Jolie. In some cases, fathers and daughters share something in common apart from skill and physical resemblance. It could be a particular health condition.

Diabetes, a hereditary disease, is what Edison Rodriguez, 40, uniquely has in common with daughter Angelica, 16. Both were diagnosed with diabetes in the same month and year. But before the diagnosis, the diabetic father observed weight loss and presence of ants in his urine, while the daughter experienced frequent urination and noticed an irregularity in her menstrual cycle.

May 2002, the same month Ed’s father died of diabetes, Angel had a medical checkup at the Makati Medical Center where laboratory tests showed she had type 1 diabetes. The young patient was confined in the hospital for more than a week to lower her blood sugar. At this point, doctors urged Ed to be tested for diabetes too. The older Rodriguez tested positive for type 2 diabetes, a condition similar to that of his two siblings and parents.

Change in lifestyle
Ed, who works for the Makati Fire Department, trimmed down his weight from 220 to 180 lbs. “I used to eat several helpings of rice, but now I only limit it to one cup per meal. I also exercise whenever I can,” he said in Filipino. Ed also follows the doctor’s advice to stay away from fatty foods and alcoholic drinks. “Whenever I drink alcohol, I really feel a piercing sensation in my fingers,” he added.

Angel, on the other hand, was really chubby as a child but has lost weight and watched her diet since the diagnosis. Her father also tries to convince her to exercise and play badminton. A college freshman taking up Hotel and Restaurant Management, Angel always makes sure she brings her insulin and blood sugar monitoring kit to school. Her condition requires twice a day shots of insulin. The diabetic teen is bent on taking care of her health, but sometimes the unexpected still happens. Just recently, Angel was again confined in a hospital because of a swollen wound which took a while to heal. The doctor had to lower her blood sugar and cure the infected area.

While Ed and Angel didn’t have a hard time adapting a healthier lifestyle, they admitted having diabetes is causing financial burden to the family. His diabetes medications, Angel’s insulin and occasional hospitalizations are taking their toll on the family’s budget.

But the two remain positive that God is always in control of their situation. “Kapag binigyan ka ng Diyos ng problema, bibigyan ka rin Niya ng kalunasan (When God gives you a problem, He also provides a solution).”

Case in point: Back in May 2002 at the Makati Medical Center, Ed met a parent of a diabetic who encouraged him to join Diacare Foundation. That was the day he first learned that Angel had diabetes. As if on cue, God also provided an avenue to let them know more about their condition.

Support group
Through Diacare Foundation, both father and daughter learned a lot about diabetes. Ed didn’t need much convincing. Upon discovering such a foundation exists, he attended its seminars and allowed his daughter to join the annual Camp Cope every summer.

“As parent of a diabetic teen, Diacare made me realize the need to accept my child’s condition and all the more, show her my support,” the father said. He explains that some parents are still in denial that their child has diabetes. On the contrary, they should let their child feel more loved and understood. Ed makes it a point to attend seminars that would further increase his knowledge on diabetes. Even at work, the older Rodriguez shares information and advice to his colleagues who also have the disease, jokingly referred to as ‘media’ (may diyabetes).

Joining Diacare also did wonders for Angel. “Camp Cope taught us how to inject on our own and how to take care of ourselves,” she said. With the help of this summer activity, the diabetic teen gained a lot of friends who experience and understand what she is going through. “Camp Cope lets us all feel that being diabetic should not prevent us from enjoying life.”

Having the same condition made Ed and Angel understand each other better and possibly brought them closer. The two even share the same insights in taking care of themselves. The father says: “It’s really up to a diabetic how he would handle his condition. Diet, exercise and medication are important. He (diabetic) should also widen his knowledge of diabetes because it would help him a lot.” The soft-spoken Angel agrees. “You’ll never know when God will take you. You just have to do your best in taking care of your health.”

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