Diabetes nuh sweet - 51-year-old Glenna Falconer-Doyley is a born survivor
Life comes at you fast. At age six, a naive little girl at the time walking to school was hit by a car, hospitalised and later lost her left leg. Today, 51-year-old Glenna Falconer-Doyley lives to tell the story of surviving unfortunate situations in her life - the latest diabetes and hypertension.
Sixteen years ago, 2001 to be exact, Glenna recalls experiencing some uncomfortable feeling from rashes on her body that caused her to itch and scratch.
Curious to find out the cause of these sudden rashes, she went to the hospital, where they did a series of tests. But for something that seemed so mild, Glenna had expected the results to show that she was having an allergic reaction to something she ate. That was far from what she was told.
The results showed that Glenna, a mother of three at the time, was now a diabetic.
Glenna was now part of statistics which, up to 2009, showed that there were 92,860 men and 132,469 women, aged 25 years and over, who had diabetes. The data also ranked diabetes as the leading cause of death for women under 70 years old.
The following year, Glenna got pregnant with her fourth child. Being diagnosed with diabetes just under a year, the doctors gave her shocking news.
"They said it was like 50-50 chance during my pregnancy where the baby could have died or be disabled," Glenna revealed.
She also recalls being told by members of her community that if she got a cut or bruise, she could lose her right leg or another limb.
With a safe delivery and trying to deal with being diabetic, life had something else to throw Glenna's way. Four years later, she was diagnosed with hypertension.
"It was a scary feeling. I used to love a lot of things like mango, breadfruit, and ground provision. Then I started to fret because I was wondering what am I going to eat? How am I going to cope with it and the loss of my leg?" Glenna said.
After constantly visiting the doctor at the local hospital in St Thomas and getting counselling, she realised that it wasn't as scary as she originally thought. It would, however, require some major change in her life, especially her diet.
CHANGE OF HABITS
"Before I changed my eating habit, I ate just about every and anything. But, gradually, I was called to a class at the Princess Margaret Hospital, where I did a six-month course, where I was taught to change my eating habits, my diet and to exercise," Glenna revealed.
Now her sugar and salt intake is minimal.
She made reference to having something as simple as tea where she would use only a small amount of sugar, or most days she would have it without sugar.
She also said there's a difference in her portion size now. Before, she ate three big portions, but now her intake includes six servings, spread across the day but in smaller portions.
"Life is twofold. You might be up now and you think that you're healthy and all is well but being a diabetic, it's really scary. It puts you in a position that sometimes you go out and you see things like cake and you would like to indulge but you can't, so I would advise individuals out there to monitor their eating," Glenna said.
Limited in the kind of physical activities she can partake in because of being amputated, Glenna said that has not stopped her from finding different ways to do so. She keeps active by doing house chores - washing and sweeping the yard - and walking to and from church.
To date, more than 220,000 Jamaicans between 15 and 74 years old have diabetes. This translates to 13.6 per cent of the population. About 53,706 Jamaicans do not know they have diabetes.