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Like Father, Like Daughter?

Posted on February 15, 2020 | No Comments on Like Father, Like Daughter?

At the age of 9, Zsa Zsa Bautista played with her friends, joined educational trips, and was active in different inter- and intro-school activities. It was a panorama of happy activities and carefree living typical for any little girl.

Yet, hers was only short-lived. It started with chicken pox.

Going to school with gallons of water and visiting the wash room more frequently than normal, Zsa Zsa admits she did not expect to have diabetes or even thought of it, especially at her juvenile age – until she had chicken pox and was sent to the hospital.

“Pina-doktor ako ng parents ko at nalaman na mataas yung blood sugar ko. Dun nakita yung signs and symptoms ng diabetes,” (My parents brought me to the doctor and they learned that my blood sugar was high. Signs and symptoms of diabetes were noted.) Zsa Zsa shares.

Though it was known in the family that her father’s side had a history of diabetes, “hindi namin in-expect na magkakaroon ang isa sa amin,” (We did not expect that one of us would have diabetes) Zsa Zsa maintains.

Eventually, after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, Zsa Zsa started with her insulin injections and inevitably became thinner and lighter. For a lass, the idea of periodically piercing her skin with a big, pointy needle was rather terrifying than comforting—having diabetes is way different and complex from other usual diseases children acquire. Zsa Zsa admits having diabetes as a third-grader was difficult.

Her family also had a hard time coping with her disease. “Si mommy at kapatid ko yung nag-i-inject sa akin at nahirapan sila kasi nagwawala ako.” (My mommy and siblings were the ones who administered the injections, and they were having a hard time since I was resisting violently).

There were even instances wherein Zsa Zsa forgot and purposely refused to take insulin on time—making her mom, Luz Nina, 55, extra worried.

While her family was there to support her, Zsa Zsa realized there was no way she could avert her condition.

Unhappy childhood?
She dropped from school and stopped for a year. Zsa Zsa says she was emotionally challenged and was caught in the dark, not knowing anything about whatever she needed to learn about her disease. She even shares that she became a bit jealous of her four siblings and wondered why she had to be the one with diabetes. But at the same time, she never wished that it should have been any of her siblings instead of her.

Aside from having her regular check-up, Zsa Zsa at age 10, joined the David’s Club for Type 1 diabetics, Rainbow Camp, and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). This, Zsa Zsa acknowledges, helped her cope with her condition, and finally accept it after understanding what diabetes is all about.

Also, she was able to meet new friends who all the more gave her strength in facing her lifetime disease. Thus, it was not an unhappy childhood after all. She still played, laughed, learned, and made even more friends.

More challenge at work?
Now 25 and working as a diabetes nurse educator for a pharmaceutical company, Zsa Zsa shares she is still challenged by her disease in terms of injecting insulin on time and consistently watching the food she eats. Sometimes, “kailangan kong magpaalam sa tinuturuan ko na mag-insulin lang ako. Napuputol yung discussion (I have to excuse myself from my teaching session so I can have my insulin injections. The discussion is cut abruptly…); but they understand since they come from the same background.”

She adds, “Whenever I can, I bring snacks, sandwiches, and fruits. She admits that it is hard to be in the field, not knowing where she can eat when it is mealtime.

Though a bit stressful, visiting areas in and out of Metro Manila in connection with her job, has proven to be advantageous. Aside from getting medicines at no cost, “I continuously learn more about my condition.” She mentions the adage, ‘learning doesn’t end when the class does’, to stress her point.

But, what causes this vigorous young woman’s life to be more taxing—considering she has type 1 diabetes—is knowing her dad also has diabetes.

It takes two to tango
Two years ago, Zsa Zsa’s dad Raul, 56, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. “Hindi na kami nagulat so diagnosis,” (We were no longer surprised with the diagnosis) says Zsa Zsa. However, it was a bit difficult for the family to take care of their second diabetic patient since Raul, for the first few months, was somewhat in denial.

Luz Nina recalls her husband’s naughtiness when he refused to eat only healthy meals (deducting fatty foods) and take his medicines.

“Sobrang kulit ni Daddy. Lalo na sa pagkain. Pero alam na naman niya kung ano yung tama. Tinutulungan namin siya ni Mama,” (Dad is so naughty. Especially when it comes to the food he eats. But, he now knows what is right. My mom and I help him) Zsa Zsa relates.

Aside from having dietary meals and updated medicine intake, Raul tries to keep a healthy body by riding his tricycle once in a while.

“Nakakatulong yun para hindi lang siya nakahiga sa kama niya o nakatambay dito sa bahay. ‘Yun na rin yung way niya ng pag-exercise,” (It helps to keep him busy with others things, instead of just lying in bed or hanging around the house. It is also his way of exercising), shares Luz Nina.

Now facing diabetes with his father, Zsa Zsa is strongly confident that while she cannot curb her disease, she can control it.

She is still active in diabetes organizations, joins various camps, and is an enthusiastic mountaineer. She believes that maintaining a healthy outlook in life keeps her mind and heart centered on her dreams. Zsa Zsa goes by the saying, “Practice what you preach.”

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