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Mrs. Pure Energy

Posted on December 20, 2017 | No Comments on Mrs. Pure Energy

She used to dislike Yoko Ono. She was one of the many who thought that the Japanese girl was not good enough for the British pop star John Lennon. When she married one of the biggest names in the music industry, she realized how Yoko felt. She got exposed to the life of a pop star – constant media attention, fans who wanted a piece of her husband and who were not eager to share their idol with her. Such is the life of Angeli, wife of Gary Valenciano. For more than two decades, Angeli has taken care of Gary personally and professionally and it sure looks like she is doing a very, very good job.

Wife of a star, wife of a diabetic
Aside from planning her husband’s career path (being Gary’s manager), Angeli’s more important job is to help him manage his condition. Gary suffers from Type 1 diabetes, a condition where the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is the hormone that allows glucose or sugar to enter body cells. He has had the disease for 27 years, having been diagnosed with diabetes when he was 14 years old.

“I started losing a lot of weight at the time when we left for the States,” says Gary. Apparently puzzled why he was losing weight, he went to the doctor and found out that his sugar level was 346. A week after that visit, he returned to the clinic and was told that his glucose level rose to 720. “That was the official day when it was determined what I would be for the rest of my life,” he says. His numerous fans have seen Gary do his patented dance moves but it is only Angeli who is privy to what Gary goes through because of the disease. “Sometimes he is just crying at night while eating his glucose gel. Sometimes he is just not like himself, bumping into walls and acting like a retardate,” she shares.

Living and surviving the attacks
Angeli was already pregnant with their first child when she first experienced Gary having a hypoglycemic (low blood sugar level) attack. She woke up to find her husband having a seizure. “It was scary,” she recalls. I was shocked because I thought he was dead. I nursed my grandmother who was also diabetic but she was never like that.” That scary event happened again last June, when Gary had a show in Pasadena, California. After a grueling schedule, Gary’s blood sugar dropped to 24. Angeli has a vivid recollection of that day. “I was jet-lagging and fell asleep at our hotel room. I woke up and immediately I knew he was having an attack.”

Gary was already unconscious. With efficiency born out of experience, Angeli rushed to revive him. “I got a glucose gel and applied it to his mouth. Then he started to have a seizure. That was the time I texted for prayer support from the Philippines and asked his road manager, Vina Pareja to call 911.” By the time they got Gary to the hotel lobby, 911 was already there. After asking Angeli about his medical history and medication, they revived him. After that near-death experience, Angeli insisted that Gary have an insulin pump. “I have heard about the insulin pump but thought that it was just another thing, another mechanism,” says Gary.

An insulin pump is a small mechanical device, a little larger than a pager that is worn outside the body, often on a belt or in a pocket. It delivers fast-acting insulin into the body via an infusion set – a thin plastic tube ending in a small, flexible plastic tube or a very thin needle. It is computer-driven and delivers fastacting insulin in precise amounts at preprogrammed times. “The machine tells you how much insulin you need to take based on your glucose level before you eat and the carbohydrate content of the food you will be eating. Basically, it takes care of the amount of insulin needed by the Type 1 diabetic,” explains Gary. “It’s not a perfect machine but it’s the closest thing to perfection that you can get.”

On knowing what to do and how to do it
Listening to what Angeli has gone through every time her husband experienced an attack, one couldn’t help but admire the courage and efficiency of this woman. After all, not all-wives would respond the way she did if they found their husband unconscious and having seizures. “Yes, it takes an amount of courage. He is a special person and I fight for his life all the time,” she says. And part of Angeli’s plan for battle is arming herself with information about diabetes.

After the first time she witnessed Gary’s attack, she got hold of medical books and read about the disease. She found out what can cause a hypoglycemic attack, what supplements a diabetic person can take, what he should and should not eat, what regular tests Gary should undergo and all the other minute details which will help them both manage the disease better.

“If you have a sick person in the house, healing begins with knowledge,” she advises. “Information is vital and with the internet, you can learn so much. Because of that (knowledge of the disease), I knew what to do. And I think that was what helped save his life many times.” Aside from knowing the medical aspect of the disease, research also taught her how to deal with Gary psychologically. “Whatever Gary eats, we also eat so that he doesn’t feel deprived,” she says. Angeli also learned to adjust to her husband’s mood swings, knowing that these come with the disease. “Partners need to understand that tempers are sometimes uncontrolled. They cannot blame the person because it is a manifestation of the disease.”

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