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The Educator and His Diabetes

Jerwin Aguiba was a remarkable student. He finished fifth in his high school class (a class comprising almost 2,000 students). A math wizard, he was admitted to the country’s premier university to major in chemical engineering. He topped the board exam for chemical engineers after graduation, and, as was quite common for bright students, the university offered Jerwin a teaching post, which he more than willingly accepted.

Years passed, students came and went, and Jerwin was busy building a name for himself in academe. Although he dismissed gaining weight as a normal part of getting old,he knew that some “symptoms” that he decided to see an endocrinologist. He was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus not long after.

“I felt I wasn’t ready,” Jerwin shares. “I’m young, I don’t smoke, and only occasionally drink. I was in denial —I felt that I couldn’t be suffering from diabetes.”

But he also knew that diabetes isn’t the end of everything. “But I assured myself that if I followed everything that my doctor told me, I’ll be alright. It’s sort of a validation that I could get well, even if it’s a hollow one.”

His wife, Sheryl, was of great help. She effectively planned the family’s diet to accommodate Jerwin’s condition. “I think my husband’s diabetes is a blessing in disguise,” says Sheryl. “Because of diabetes, I became more aware of healthy diet. Even our son now refrains from chips, sweets, and soft drinks,” she proudly adds.

“I came across an article that found that men with diabetes do well in managing their condition than their female counterparts, mainly because their wives take a significant role in their husbands’ health,” says Jerwin. “I’m fortunate that my wife is doing the same.”

However, he also assured to assume the same commitment to his wife’s health and well-being should a need for him to step up arises.

But it cannot be denied that diabetes took a toll on Jerwin’s health. “There are many things, especially food, that I used to enjoy that I can no longer have,” he shares. “My job was also affected because I get tired rather easily.”

But the upside of being a teacher with diabetes, according to Jerwin, is that he also has the important task of educating his students about maintaining good health. “Before, I never cared about what my students did, what they ate, and whether they led healthy lifestyles. Now that I’ve become more aware, I make sure that I also teach them about diabetes and how to prevent it,” he shares.

And his pursuit to learn more about his condition, Jerwin came across Dr. Elliot P Joslin and his work. “Dr. Joslin was indeed right when he said ‘the diabetic who knows the most about his disease lives the longest,'” Jerwin shares. He adds that that should be the thrust of every person who wishes to educate people about diabetes, that we should give people a clearer understanding of diabetes so that they can better cope with the demands of the disease.

For those who have just been diagnosed with diabetes mellitus, Jerwin offers some advice.

Take a deep breath. “Diabetes management is a life-long journey, and there is no better way to deal with this condition than to prepare your mind to what’s in store for you.

Laughing. Learning to laugh, even in the direst of situations, can help, according to Jerwin. It’s true that positive thoughts can have positive effects to the body.

Follow your doctor’s advice. “I’m very afraid of complications-that’s why I follow my doctor’s advice to the letter,” says Jerwin. “I know that my doctor knows what’s best for me.”

Stay Positive. “I always tell these to myself: I con follow my dreams and passions. Diabetes is scary, but I can manage it. I am not alone. I hove the support of my family and friends,” shares Jerwin.

I am more than just diabetes. “My condition doesn’t define me. It’s just a small port of me.”

Jerwin is now living with diabetes for 4 years now. And the condition has already become a part of him. “I now look at my condition as a companion; something that I must learn to be with and accept.” And learn he did.

“Learning and teaching ore what I do best,” he shares. “And I learned that diabetes is not the end of everything. On the contrary, it’s just the beginning of another journey towards better health—and educating as many people as I can along the way.”

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