Thursday, 8 June 2017

Ramadhan & Diabetes | I Don't Fast!

It's not always that I talk about something so personal, but I thought maybe it was time to share this with you.  Recently, I've been feeling a little bad when people ask me questions like 'How's your Ramadhan going?' or 'Hope your Ramadhan is going well'.  I don't fast because I can't.  So when someone asks me that, I feel awful.  Even though I'll say it's going well, deep down I know they're actually referring to the fasting part of Ramadhan and since I don't keep any, my Ramadhan isn't the same as everyone elses.


Some people may say that I'm lucky because I can eat.  And yes, it's true that I can eat whatever I like, whenever I like.   Because I'm diabetic!  But I'm not lucky, just because I can eat.  Honestly, I would love to be able to make my Ramadhan the same as everyone elses.  It would be awesome to feel the hunger you feel during the day and look forward to Iftar like you do.

When I was younger, it was cool to be able to eat whilst everyone else couldn't.  I didn't have to wait for another hour or just five more minutes.  I could just eat! And it felt great.  I was a kid and obviously didn't realise the virtues of fasting and benefits etc.  I can tell you that I've never been able to keep fasts for the whole month of Ramadhan.  Ever!  It's one thing I'll never be able to tick off the list of things I'd love to do in my life.

Now though, it's a completely different story.  It's not cool anymore.  Growing up when the fasts were  shorter I tried to keep some.  I tried so hard to prove to myself that I could do it.  I'm Insulin dependant so I have to take injections, and if you know anything about diabetes then you'll know what I'm trying to say.

I'm not going to go into too much detail but I'll give you the basics.  Since my body doesn't make any insulin there's nothing there to regulate my blood sugar levels.  So that's where my injections come in.  When I take one I have to eat to stop my blood levels dropping too low.  Even though I could eat as much as I could at sehri, because I'm not eating for the rest of the day and the insulin is still working, along with me being active, this can make my sugar drop.  If it continues to drop then I have to eat something sweet to bring it back up before I go into a coma.

If I don't take my insulin (which I can't ever do) then my sugar levels would increase.  This can make me very ill.

So back to when the fasts were shorter.  The first one went well.  I managed to keep it without my sugar levels dropping but I had to be very careful during the time I was fasting.  I didn't want my sugar to drop otherwise I'd have to break my fast so even when I would pray Salaah, I would pray sitting down.  Standing up and sitting down was using up too much of my energy.  Even walking up and down the stairs.  I had to take it easy to be able to stay without food until 4pm.  And I did it!  My first fast and it felt great and so I thought brilliant, I can keep another one.

But the next day, it wasn't the same.  I did the same as I did the day before at Sehri.  But we all know, no two days are the same.  Especially for me they aren't.  There was half an hour left to open the fast and I started to feel like my sugar was dropping.  So I sat in one place and didn't move because I just didn't want to break it.  I thought it would work but of course it didn't.  I hadn't eaten all day and my sugar continued to drop.  Anyone else would have been able to hang in there for another 5 more minutes but unfortunately, in my case that wasn't to be.  Just 5 minutes before Iftar, I had no choice but to break my fast.  I was so close to the finish line.

It was the toughest decision I had to make.  My head was telling me to break my fast but my heart just didn't want to.  I had to make the right decisions for my health at the time and I had no other choice.  I just couldn't wait any more and it's not that I was hungry.  My diabetes had taken over and there was nothing I could do, expect to have something sweet to bring it up as soon as possible, before I went into a hypo.  I felt like such a failure.

That's when we knew that I would never be able to keep fasts again.  I was told I couldn't put my life in danger and even though it's ok for me to not observe any fast, I still do feel like a big part is missing for me every time Ramadhan comes around.

It's hardest when it's the start of Ramadhan and everyone is talking about the first fast and how hard it was or how easy it felt.  It's amazing listening to everyone share their experiences, the only thing is I can't join in because I don't know how it feels.  I know that the fasts are long but I don't know what it feels like to go without food or water for 18 hours.  I can't even imagine how it feels.

If you want to know what it feels like being me, imagine it being that time of the month, but for the whole month!  Every.  Single.  Year!

Yeah.  

Don't get me wrong though, I'm not mad, I just would like to be a part of Ramadhan like you are and get the rewards too.  At the end of the day my diabetes is from the Almighty and so how can I be sad with something that He gave to me?  I'm sure there's some rewards for me too.

I've grown up with diabetes pretty much all my life so I don't know life without it.  I live my life to the fullest and do everything anyone without diabetes would do.  It really doesn't stop me.  But like most things there are just some things I don't have control over and I guess that's ok.  We can't have it all!

During Ramadhan I try and do as much as I can for those who are fasting around me.  It's the least I can do.  I mean, I do try to help out with Iftar and taste the food for my mum.  Someone's gotta make sure the seasonings right.  You guys have been fasting all day, I have to make sure you eat good.

Funny thing is, I'll be eating the hot samosas, cheeseballs and trying out the pastry from the neighbours,  then half an hour before Iftar, I won't eat a thing.   I'll sit down waiting for the time as if I've been fasting all day.  I'll even ask 'Is it time yet?'.  Maybe it's just a natural thing to do.  You wouldn't know it that a few minutes ago I was at an 'all you can eat' buffet all by myself! lol.

Jokes aside though,  just remember you are the lucky one.  You get to fast and gain all that reward.  Here I am, telling you, that next time you feel like it's too much, or you wish you didn't have to fast so you could eat that samosa hot out the frying pan, just think of what you'd be missing out on.  Yup, that samosa just isn't worth it.




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