My name is Keegan Hall and I am 24 years old and have Type 1 Diabetes for the past 8 years. I was born on the 16th December 1988. I work for a Healthcare Communications firm in Johannesburg as the Public Relations Assistant and Social Media.
I was diagnosed with diabetes in the May of 2005 when I was drinking and urinating in excessive amount and my mother consulted her friend whose son lives with Diabetes. My mother’s friend said that I should have my blood sugar checked. The result of the sugar test was 29.1 mmol/l and due to the lack of education my family and I had we no idea what 29.1 mmol/l meant. I was the first person in my family to be diagnosed with diabetes, hence the lack of awareness. We soon realized that my condition was serious and needed immediate medical attention. I went to my General practitioner and he started me on a regiment of insulin and made sure I could test my sugar and inject myself. It took 5 and half hours from the time I tested my blood to when I left the hospital. Compared to many people, I had it lucky; I was never admitted into hospital when diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
The greatest challenge for me in living with Diabetes was reaching the acceptance stage. When I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes it seemed easier for me it ignore that fact that I have a life threatening condition that to accept it as that meant injecting myself at least 4 times a day and having to deal with the social stigma that is associated with having Type 1 Diabetes. Due to the attitude my diabetes was not under control, in fact, I lead a life that no one should lead never mind a person living with Type 1 Diabetes. My entire perception of diabetes changed when I attended a Diabetes camp in Botswana that I assisted with and met a 7 year old boy, who not only had type 1 diabetes but down syndrome, that is when it hit me – who am I to complain about having a disease that I can control and live a long and healthy life when there are people out there who do not have that luxury – from that day on my outlook on my Diabetes changed to – “Diabetes in a disease that can kill but rather make it the condition you control for the rest of your life”
I have always believed that the youth are the future but as youth it is not something that we are entitled to we need to work for our future – that is what the Young Leaders in Diabetes Programme has offered me my platform to work for my future.
As the current President-Elect for the Young Leaders in Diabetes Programme I believe in developing a strong and stable foundation for this programme for the people and young people living with diabetes to stand on. We as YLD need this foundation, not only to do our work within the YLD but also in our regions, countries and member associations as it provides us with a network and support system that will enable us to achieve our goals and objectives both, personally and professionally.
Within South Africa my main goal within my member association will be to change the perception of the youth and to show that there is a place for us in the future and current development of plans.
As a young leader I would like to be a voice for those people living with diabetes in my country who do not feel like they have that voice. Through being this voice to change the perception that the community at large have regarding people with diabetes, that they are less preoductive and are a burden on any society and be make those living with diabetes that they need to change their perception of diabetes so that the rest of the community can to.
I want to spread the message of – “it is not Die-betes but Live-abetes”
My YLD project was to develop a youth arm of the Diabetes Association in South Africa and to give the youth a voice at a level in the association that will make a difference. I have recently began a blog called <a href="diabetesunites.wordpress.com">Not Diabetes BUT Liv-abetes</a> where I share my thoughts and ideas for a better world for those living with Diabetes. Last year for World Diabetes Day 2012, in collaboration with my current employer, Oz Healthcrae Communication, developed a public service announcement in support of the WDD message “Protect our Future”
I believe in the power of social media and the internet so I will be developing an impact filled video, not going to give too much away but what this space and my blog for more news and developments on my World Diabetes Day 2013 project
Thanks for reading!