Um Ahmed explains how she helped her son deal with diabetes and boost his confidence.
"Diabetes is when the pancreas cannot produce the insulin that the body needs,” explains 10-year-old Ahmed Al-Mansoori, who faces the condition with confidence and a positive attitude.
Since he was five, Ahmed has been living with Type 1 Diabetes. His journey from the point where he was diagnosed has been full of difficult moments, but also beautiful ones, and has shaped him to be the knowledgeable, positive, and ambitious child that he is today.
As his mother Um Ahmed says, with a loving smile and a proud glance at her son: “Ahmed has become a different person – full of confidence and vitality."
Diabetes is a highly prevalent disease worldwide. According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), there are currently 387 million people living with diabetes, and this will exceed 593 million by 2035. These statistics are not merely numbers; they are an indication of just how many people across the world have to adopt a new lifestyle and a coping process because of diabetes.
Ahmed’s mother believes that diabetes is not a disease, but a way of living. "Diabetes is about exercise, educating yourself, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle,” she says. “These day-to-day habits are essential to healthy people as well, not only those living with diabetes."
The journey of living with diabetes, according to Um Ahmed, has been a difficult one, especially during the early stages of discovery. "Diabetes has certainly affected the lifestyle of Ahmed, as well as his father and siblings. When we found out he had diabetes, I was four months pregnant with my next child, and the news came as a huge shock to me.
“Thankfully, we discovered that Ahmed had diabetes from an early stage. We noticed that he used the bathroom constantly and drank a lot of water. I did not think anything of it at the time, because the weather was hot and everyone was drinking a lot of water. But to make sure he was OK, we took him to the hospital for the recommended tests and examination.
“When the test results came out, we found out that Ahmed has Type 1 diabetes. The first needle prick and the first insulin injection were very painful moments for me. I felt that the world around me had collapsed
What helped me to accept the reality was when I connected with mothers whose children also suffer from diabetes.
“When you see a baby crying because they fell and injured their hand, you are very worried. But what is even more difficult is when parents use a needle to get a drop of blood from their child. We had to test Ahmed’s blood glucose levels every hour. We also used to sleep with the lights on to make sure nothing bad happened to him, like going into a diabetic coma.”
Ahmed’s mother sought help from other women who were in the same situation as her. “What helped me to accept the reality was when I connected with mothers whose children also suffer from diabetes. In fact, speaking with them has impacted my life in a very positive way.
“Some mothers talked about the many success stories of their children; for example, they said their children are college graduates and have completed higher education levels in various disciplines. This reassured me that diabetics are able to cope with their illness and that the world was OK”
Although Ahmed’s diabetes has affected the lives of his whole family, his education and receiving the right support has helped him cope with the disease, and it has simply become part of his life. Ask him about school, and he will talk about it as any child would, saying: "Mathematics is my favorite subject, and I love playing sports, especially swimming."
It was very important for me to educate him to have enough awareness about his disease, which enabled him to become independent.
He often goes to Aspire Zone to walk and swim, and, according to his mother, exercise is an integral part of his daily routine. She has been keen to teach him about diabetes from a young age to make sure he can be self-reliant and control his diet.
“At first, I used measurement cups and scales when I was still learning about food measurements,” she explains. “I made sure I involved Ahmed in this by asking him 'Is that enough?' so that he does not feel different from his siblings. I would also ask him, ‘how many grams of carbohydrates should we put here? Is that enough?’. It was very important for me to educate him to have enough awareness about his disease, which enabled him to become independent.”
I learned a lot of skills during the camp, such as how to use the insulin pump myself, how to act when I feel dizzy, and other basic skills in my daily life.
Ahmed’s mother says her son has also benefited through attending Al Bawasil Camp, a children’s diabetes awareness camp organized by Qatar Diabetes Association, a member of Qatar Foundation. Ahmed has been taking part in the camp since 2017, and it has contributed to enhancing his self-confidence and knowledge.
“I learned a lot of skills during the camp, such as how to use the insulin pump myself, how to act when I feel dizzy, and other basic skills in my daily life,” said Ahmed.
And Um Ahmed says: "The camp teaches children how to measure their blood glucose level and how to use the pump. It also teaches them the importance of eating healthy food and exercise, and other precautions that they must take in case of hypoglycemia; for example, when a child feels dizzy, they should measure their blood glucose and their parents immediately, or teacher if this happened at school."
Recently, Ahmed gave a presentation on diabetes to younger students at school, where he explained how to use the insulin pump, and the treatment he uses every day and at every meal. Ahmed’s positive attitude has inspired and reassured his mother and his whole family.
Um Ahmed offered a piece of advice to other mothers who have discovered that their child has diabetes, saying: “I would like to tell them that this is not the end of the world.
“Connect with other women who also have children living with diabetes to benefit from their experience. Give your child enough love and attention. Teach them how to cope with diabetes and how to accept it as part of their lives. And finally, give them the necessary confidence for them to become successful and impactful members of society, and to have big dreams for the future.”