Manno Does Other Things (#1): Diabetes Screening Campaign

So I do realise it has been a while since I’ve last written to you about books. Although I’ve read two books ever since I talked to y’all about the Secret Life of the Bees, and I’m currently in the process of getting through two others, I’m not talking about any books today. Today, I’m talking about being an dilettante medical student with so many hopes and dreams and as many restrictions –personal, social, and some due to lack of time. Today, I’m talking about stepping outside of the things we feel through our fingertips as we drag them across the rough pages of the book, trying to soak in every little bit of adventure. This is about being the part of a process that gets written about.

I guess we all like to think that, when opportunity presents itself, we would step forward and “be the change we want to see”. But unfortunately, so few of us actually do; and I always wondered which category I’d fall into when given the choice. On the 6th of December, thanks to a wonderful group of proactive people in the university I go to, I found myself –despite circumstances such as lack of security and a midterm on Tuesday– at a diabetes screening campaign with the aim to screen over 6,000 people in 24 hours. I was thrilled enough to wake up at five in the morning and freeze my limbs off for it all.

My role was exactly the aim of the campaign, screen for diabetes for early detection. I pricked people and let the monitor read their blood glucose levels. Needless to say, the first few trials were so nerve-wrecking that my legs were shaking under the table, I was worried the other people sitting next to me would notice it. And besides that, my interactive abilities were so stiff, I wasn’t sure if it was the cold, the fatigue, or just my usual inability of carrying on a conversation that doesn’t centre around a specific, stimulating topic.But what was fascinating was how, over the course of the day, I slowly found myself interacting with those around me, and the “patients” for whom I was testing. When positiveness is radiating across both sides of a bridge, I’m guessing the makes crossing over easier. Once I’d gotten a feel of the pulse of the things around, I was as rhythmic as the event required me to be.
I guess something else I came to find out yesterday was that there’s more to being an empowered person/woman than just claiming that I am. When I took a moment to think about it, I figured out that I haven’t really done much to prove that I am the person I assume to actually be. And there’s more to the experience than just what you put into it. In this particular event, there’s also what you get in return. There was this man, around 45 years old, who was just curious about the whole thing: who are and how did we organise it, if we were advertising for a certain medical company; he wanted to know all the ranges of blood glucose levels and what they indicated, symptoms, and loads more. It wasn’t my part to talk and answer questions; I did on certain occasions and I did answer some of this man’s questions before the guy who’s assigned awareness took over. After the man had started walking away, he turned around again and smiled at me so genuinely that I wasn’t sure how to react and he thanked me. It warmed my heart so much, I could’ve teared up if I were my normal self. But I wasn’t. I was in wonderland; empowered, dazzled by the way people were cooperating for a cause, an organised event to make a change amid the tough times my home country is going through: a dream come true. “I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, sir, because I’m not myself, you see.”

What boggled me up yesterday was the fact that we were in a bit of an upscale place, so we were interacting with a certain class of people, whom I believed should be more knowledgeable about a disease as common as diabetes. I’m glad we were able to counteract even if a small fraction of this negligence.

But now that I think about it, we had more impact than just that. I can remember lots of people who were so scared of the prick. They’d instinctively put their hand out, and once I moved to prick them, they’d retract and ask, “Will it hurt?” Now that these people realise that the process is basically painless, I think they’d go check up on their glucose levels more often. Maybe they’d even tell their friends and their parents about it and it’d become a regular thing. Several of the older people took the brand names of the equipment we were using, wanting to secure one for their personal use. So I believe that even if they haven’t retained most of the information we’ve provided on diabetes yesterday, at least they will have walked away knowing this much: it’s an easy thing to do, it takes a less than a minute, and it’s good for you to know.

My only loss yesterday was the fact that I am no longer fair skinned, but I think it’s a little price to pay for such a worthy experience. I’ve stepped out of my cocoon and into the sun, and I enjoyed every little bit of it. Here’s to more taking after the characters I admire! Here’s to the wonderful people who try to make this world a better place! Here’s to a metamorphosis that involves more than just me!


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