Before Oswald “Derrick” Durgana was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes 22 years ago he was very thirsty and had frequent urination. He made an appointment to see his doctor and was surprised when he was told that he was diabetic.
“I had never heard of diabetes before,” Derrick says. “No one in my family was diabetic.” His blood test revealed an A1C level of 12 so his doctor quickly prescribed Metformin. In time, with diet, exercise and the right medication, his A1C dropped.
“Currently my A1C is 8 and I’m aiming to get it even lower,” Derrick notes. “It’s meant working with my doctor to adjust my medication and I’m currently using an insulin pump that is called a ‘synthetic pancreas.’
“There is a sensor on my stomach that I change every five days. The pump dispenses insulin if needed and it stops giving insulin if that’s what’s called for.” That, combined with oral diabetes medications, is helping him maintain fairly steady blood sugar levels.
Thinking back to when he was first diagnosed, Derrick says that he had to make a substantial change in his diet. “Getting acclimated to a healthy diabetic diet was a big awakening,” he explains. “I am a native of Guyana, the old British Guiana in South America and am of Indian descent. At 19 I came to the U.S. with my immediate family.
“Back home we were used to eating lots of rice, bread and roti but those foods were making my blood sugar levels shoot up. There were just too many carbohydrates in my diet. My doctor told me to ‘Stop, stop!’ and start eating a lot more fresh vegetables. It was a major adjustment but I did it.”
One note: Derrick says that one time his type of insulin was changed because of what his medical insurance covered but it prompted him to gain 30 pounds in a short time. “That wasn’t good so I encourage other diabetics to work closely with their physicians if there is a change in medication and the side effects are unhealthy.”
Derrick, who is 62, has an MBA and is a licensed professional engineer who co-owns a telecommunications construction company for wireless phones that covers New York City and Long Island.
The New York State resident and his wife, Nalini, have three children and when they are not working they enjoy traveling all over the world and taking cruises to exotic places. Three of his favorite trips?
“Touring Egypt and China and taking a cruise to Cuba was great,” Derrick says. “I never thought that I would visit some of the places we’ve gone to but my wildest dreams have come true!”