- Akshay J Ganesh
"At 16, if you get to know that you can't have a burger, pizza, Coca Cola, can't party with your friends, at that age you will not accept it. Over all that, you have to take insulin."
Yash Bhale joined IISER Thiruvananthapuram as an IPhD student in 2019. In this conversation, he recounts how he was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes and the different ways in which his life was affected.
Reaching home from a 10th grade school trip, he started showing signs such as increased urination and appetite. He came down with viral fever and his appetite dramatically reduced. On January 2nd, 2013, he fell unconscious in his house, mouth foaming, and his parents rushed him to the hospital. The doctor couldn't understand why the foaming but put Yash on a Dextrose Normal Saline (DNS) drip since he hadn't eaten anything in a long time. His blood sugar test results came back, showing 750mg/dL (Normal human levels 80-120mg/dL). "It was very scary. Doctors were also scared. They removed the DNS and put normal saline." The next day with his blood glucose still at 400mg/dL, the doctors started administering insulin. Yash was diagnosed with Type I diabetes (T1-D): a relatively rare form of diabetes with an early onset and no lifestyle connotations.
As much as the condition, the social isolation that came with it was taking a toll on his mental health. "In 11th grade, I was crying everyday because some days my friends would call for a small party [...] but I was given a long list of things I couldn't eat." He talks about 'Diabetes Burnout', a common feeling among those with this condition where they stop taking care of themselves as he says, "you are just mentally done with this thing. You'll say things like "No, I don't want to take insulin, I don't care how much food I eat, I'll eat whatever I like.” He also recalls getting hurtful comments from classmates such as “taking drugs” and “Insulin Bhale”, making him hesitant to share his condition with the school. He is quick to point out that it was a mistake to do so, as no one would be able to help in an emergency.
After completing his BSc, he came to IISER; first time staying away from home, not knowing the language or anyone there.