‘Living with diabetes requires resilience’

RESILIENT … Laina Ankonga has been living with diabetes for 11 years and says her faith keeps her going. Photos: Contributed

Laina Ankonga (27) from Windhoek’s Freedom Land area says she has been battling diabetes for over a decade since her diagnosis in 2013.

She has Type 1 diabetes, a condition she has inherited, as she is the fourth member in her family to be diagnosed with the disease.

“After regularly fainting, medical tests revealed high sugar levels, leading to the discovery of my diabetes diagnosis,” Ankonga says.

She says it’s not easy to battle this condition, since it comes with a lot of challenges – mostly adhering to a strict diet.

Maintaining ideal blood sugar levels necessitates careful consideration of dietary choices and consumption habits.

“I often become aggressive for no reason, which is also part of the symptoms I have experienced throughout the years, making it difficult to manage my temper,” she says.

“I often find myself becoming aggressive without any reason,” Ankonga, who is also the mother of a four-month-old baby, says.

She says affording the food that she is required to eat is another challenge.

“I often find myself back in the hospital due to dietary breaks, because I eat what is available rather than what I am supposed to eat. It’s a costly diet,” she says.

Despite facing moments of weakness due to a lack of support, Ankonga says she feels like giving up sometimes.

She says she remains committed to managing her condition by visiting the doctor twice a month.

“I inject myself five times a day as part of my medication routine. I have learnt to live with diabetes,” she says.

“Diabetes is a silent killer. I advise people to take good care of their health and lead a healthy lifestyle, especially diabetic patients, to avoid further complications that never heal,” she says.

Ankonga urges people to abstain from alcohol, saying there are serious complications associated with the condition, including heart disease, stroke, blindness, limb amputation, kidney, and nervous system disorders.

She says experiencing symptoms such as constant thirst, hunger, weight loss, skin lesions and numbness or tingling in the hands are some signs people should look out for.

Ankonga recalls an incident when she passed out during the night and woke up in hospital the next day.

Diabetes had a negative impact on her school career as she had to be admitted to the hospital every two weeks, causing delays in catching up with her studies, she says.

Ankonga’s cousin Dortea Hamukoto (29) describes her as a resilient person, saying she was discharged from hospital recently after being admitted for four days.

“She is a very strong woman, but she is going through a lot of hardship, since she is not financially stable,” she says.

“She is unemployed, which worsens her situation. I had to assist to stay with her baby. I am also unemployed, although I wish to assist her with buying baby formula since she does not breastfeed any more,” she says.


According to the Mayo Clinic, diabetes mellitus refers to a group of diseases that affect how the body uses blood sugar (glucose).

Glucose is an important source of energy for the cells that make up muscles and tissues.

It’s also the brain’s main source of fuel.

The main cause of diabetes varies according to type, but no matter the type of diabetes one has, it could lead to excess sugar in the blood.

Too much sugar in the blood could lead to serious health problems.

Chronic diabetes conditions include type 1 and 2 diabetes.

Prediabetes happens when blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be called diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes can start at any age, however, often starts during childhood or puberty.

Type 2 diabetes, the more common type, can develop at any age and is more common in people older than 40.

Symptoms of type 1 and 2 diabetes:

Feeling more thirsty than usual.

Urinating often.

Losing weight without trying.

Presence of ketones in the urine. Ketones are a by-product of the breakdown of muscle and fat that happens when insulin is insufficient.

Feeling tired and weak.

Feeling irritable or experiencing other mood changes.

Blurry vision.

Slow-healing sores.

Getting a lot of infections, such as gum and skin infections.

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