Diabetes is often referred to as one of the silent killers of people around the world and that is also true in Belize. There are many advocates for awareness and one of the strongest is the Diabetes Association of Belize. While many people are silent about being affected by it, some realize there is a need to educate and let people know that by practicing healthy habits, they can live a normal and healthy lifestyle. The latest advocate has been a Permanent Representative of Belize to the Organization of American States, served as Ambassador and also appointed to ministerial ranks as well as serving as a senator.Love News Spoke to Lisa Shoman, an attorney by profession about living with diabetes.
Lisa Shoman: Diabetics don’t look like me do they; I mean beside that you are really obese or you are a childhood diabetic that needs insulin or whatever. Well i found out that I was a Diabetic because I started to have certain symptoms and among them is that frankly my urine was smelling a bit sweet and that is actually a classic symptom going all the way back to the Greeks. This is how they used to diagnose adult onset Diabetes that you take a Urine Sample put it out and if ants came to it you were diabetic. Sure enough I was diabetic and funnily enough I was feeling pretty good because I was losing weight. Yea i was thirsty but I thought I am doing a bit more physical activities so maybe that’s why. Until I really couldn’t ignore it any longer and I decided I am going to test. When I tested i am very ashamed to tell you that the evening before I went to test and go see a doctor I had chicken and waffles for supper and so of course by the next day I’m testing my blood sugar level is at something at like 256 which is if you are a diabetic pretty serious. In fact my doctor said look if you were in the states they’d probably put you in the hospital hook you up to an IV and you wouldn’t be allowed to leave until your blood sugar level had fallen to a much lower level. Now I am on regimen that I eat much better than I ever have, I eat healthier. I take care of myself and I try to ensure that my blood sugar level is below 120 but to do that you have to be massively disciplined because people are not aware that sugar exists in so many forms and so people would say okay so you can’t eat sweets. It’s well beyond that; I can’t eat white bread, I can’t eat white rice, I can’t eat cake, I can’t eat doughnuts or I can but then I am going to watch my blood sugar level spike. The same with a beer; the same with a glass of wine so everything is a trade off and it is really a carbohydrate watch as much as a watch over sugar or what people traditionally think about as sugar so being aware, being self aware I think is probably the first thing.
Jose Sanchez: So how long now have you been aware?
Lisa Shoman: About three years if I am honest with myself. About three years. How long have I been taking care of myself; about a year and a half and believe it or not one of the first really simple things that I did was to cut out all sodas; ALL!. I meant at that time even diet sodas because I felt it was a gateway so all sodas. But then people don’t focus because for instance you can’t have a glass of orange juice. Orange juice is just as bad, some fruit juices have as much sugar if not more than sodas so it’s sometimes small steps you have to take and a real lifestyle change. In some weird kind of way I am grateful to have been diabetic because it forces me to take better care of myself.
One of the side effects of Diabetes is the possibility of kidney failure. In July, Minister of Health Pablo Marin said that the Government was spending two million dollars a year for 30 patients to get dialysis at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH). The KHMH is charging 600 dollars per session for dialysis while other institutions charge less than half that amount and others cost 220 dollars including medication. Shoman spoke about that and the fact that Taiwan had sponsored a two point two million US dollar project called the “Renal Failure Prevention Project” in May of 2016. Two years later there has been no information released on the findings.
Lisa Shoman: If it is cheaper for us to outsource all or most dialysis then maybe that’s what we need to be looking at but you can’t tell me that you can only treat thirty people because it cost you so much when we know there is somewhere else that can charge two hundred twenty and if they can take the load or increase their capacity to take the load then you can treat three four times that many people because there is a big difference between treating 30 people and treating 120 Belizeans and to be able to stay alive. People with end stage renal failure, that means that at least 80% of your capacity of your kidney has collapsed. In some cases you will never get it back and in most cases you will never get it back. You will be on dialysis for the rest of your life. Dialysis treatment; our government owes it to all of us; two things: tell us what are the results of that Renal Failure study funded by Taiwan at the tune of a million dollars and tell us what the two million dollars is being used for. Exactly account for it as to what it is being used for and then the final thing would be; ensure that as many Belizeans as possible are being taken care of because patients are being told you can’t get on the waiting list until somebody dies and that is probably the harshest thing you can tell another human being especially when they cant afford the treatment; Its rough.