Born in San Fernando, 30-year-old Kareena Farfan is a Type 1 Diabetic (juvenile diabetes). She had this type of diabetes since the age of six – that’s the majority of her life. In spite of this, Kareen lives a full life as a lover of fashion, makeup and meeting new people. Her love for fashion is expressed through her business, Eastern Avenue The Celebrity Store, where she sells women’s clothing and accessories. As an entrepreneur and marketing manager, Kareena is also the holder of a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing, has a diploma in Spanish and is about to complete a two-year course in Entrepreneurship, all with the hopes of becoming an influential Caribbean woman in business and law.
With November being Diabetes Awareness Month, the WE Mag team took some time to chat with Kareena about her life with Diabetes. Here’s what she shared with the WE Mag team in an interview:
What has been the hardest for you and your family- emotionally and/or financially?
At the time of my diagnosis a medical official speculated that I would not live past the age of 16 without becoming seriously ill. I was initially placed on Humulin N and R and was prone to hypoglycaemic episodes (low blood sugar). Hypoglycaemic episodes were so severe that my family lived in constant fear that I would be hurt. Our faith in God kept us.
After a long battle with control, a friend recommended Doctor Claude Khan, a diabetologist. I began using insulin Solostar pens Lanthus (basal insulin) and Apidra (fast acting insulin) which transformed my life. Although the costs (of the various medications) were greater, it was worth it. It meant less hypos, better technology, more control, freedom and peace of mind for my family and me.
What treatment do you use for your diabetes?
I use a basal insulin lantus (basal insulin) and Apidra (fast acting insulin). I eat proportionally and keep active. I also test my blood sugar daily.
What would you like a non-diabetic to know about having diabetes?
Having diabetes does not mean you cannot have something sweet, rather, it should be eaten in small portions.
Not all types of Diabetes are caused by lifestyle. Type 1 Diabetes is not lifestyle while Type 2 Diabetes is more likely to be. Gestational diabetes occurs in pregnancy.
What would you tell someone who has just been diagnosed with diabetes?
Laugh and live, you can live a normal life. Take your medication as prescribed as it replaces the insulin that the body cannot produce or use naturally. Not because you feel good does it mean you can stop taking insulin or medication. Stay in touch with your medical practitioner and support services. Test your blood sugar, as this is the only way to assess your blood sugar – you cannot assess it based on the way you feel. Do not buy into the myths about the disease as this can lead to ad hoc care practices which can later lead to nerve damage. Watch your portions of food and if you cannot go the gym, keep moving. Always have something sweet to snack on, in case of hypoglycaemic episodes.
Do you have one additional point you would like to make?
Life is about change and to succeed we must accept and make the necessary adjustments. With the right support systems through family and/or friends and faith in God, you can balance your personal life, health and career. You are in control of the care of your body. If you were not diabetic would you eat well, exercise or believe in God? What is the difference? Rise to the challenge, your life depends on it.