Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Saturday, Apr 23, 2005
Celebrities and diabetes
He was one of the greatest fast bowlers of international cricket who became a sporting icon ever since he entered the cricketing scene as a 17-year-old.
When, in 1997, Pakistan's famous all-rounder Wasim Akram was diagnosed with diabetes, there was considerable anxiety in the cricketing world. People feared that he would retire at the peak of his career.
And Akram's concern was no different. Though down for a while he was not devastated because he knew that he was a very fit person and with no family history of diabetes. But for months he had suspected that something wasn't right - weight loss, weakness, waking to urinate - although he never for a moment suspected diabetes.
The subsequent diagnosis was a big blow to him. Though he would have eventually come to terms with it, it was his wife, Huma, who hastened the process, says Akram_ even she was spooked by his having to take regular insulin shots.
Within three weeks of diagnosis, Akram was back on the field, quickly learning that the best way to manage his condition was through exercise_ something he doesn't intend to drop ever.
That Akram had always been a fit person helped a great deal in bringing his diabetes under control. He also plays golf, which was a big help too. Small wonder then that he was called the 'great survivor'.
The six years he played cricket after being diagnosed a diabetic were some of the best cricketing years of his life. But he had to observe a strict regimen, particularly on match days.
He has gone on record that before batting or fielding, he'd make sure he had taken his insulin shot, and always kept a chocolate at hand, in case his sugar level fell below normal.
While many think that Halle Berry is a diet and fitness freak - she works out daily on a treadmill and does weights, and maintains a strict diet of chicken, fish, vegetables, brown rice and tabbouleh - apart from maintaining her gorgeous figure, there is another serious reason for her rigorous exercise and diet. She was diagnosed a diabetic in 1989.
To maintain her energy levels and prevent complications, she makes it a point to test her blood sugar levels daily and follows a no-sugar diet. "I don't eat carbs a lot mainly because I don't really like them," she was quoted by People magazine.
She was first diagnosed after she collapsed on the sets of a television show she was doing years ago; so her condition couldn't really be hidden. Even though obesity is often a trigger for adult-onset diabetes, she is a good example to show that not everyone develops it from being overweight.
Interestingly, Halle is - convinced that without diabetes she'd never have become an Oscar-winning actress. At a Los Angeles benefit event, she told the star-studded audience, "My teacher told me at the age of 10 that when I grew up, I would be given a gift. It turned out to be diabetes. It gave me the strength and toughness I needed for my life."
Show must go on
Singer Patti LaBelle says she is thankful that she passed out on stage during a concert performance 10 years ago. That dramatic moment resulted in the two-time Grammy-winning diva being diagnosed a diabetic.
The event got LaBelle on track, controlling her blood glucose levels, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
She urges people to see their doctors more often to maintain good health and find out if they are at risk for diabetes or have it already.
"Diabetes doesn't have to be such a bad thing if you control it." But being a diabetic and having a hectic schedule brings about its own set of challenges; the biggest challenge for her is to take her medicines on time_ and find privacy to take her insulin shots.
Sometimes low blood glucose episodes can occur at inconvenient times - even for famous performers.
One evening, before a show in Miami, she had low glucose and was asked by a doctor not to perform. But she grabbed some carbohydrates and continued with the show.
Compiled by the Canvas team
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