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:: TAG-VHS Diabetes Research Centre
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“A Daughter? Again? O dear!” All the devout temple-goers ‘commiserated’ with the Temple priest.
As they circumambulated the corridors of the temple, women were talking in stage whispers, “Poor man! He’s now a father of five girls!”
“Yes indeed! His earnings as a temple-priest must be next to nothing. How is he going to manage a brood of five girls?”
“It is said, in our country, that even a King who has several daughters becomes a pauper by the time he gets them married.”
“I am sure the Goddess who blessed him with girls will take care of them when the time comes. After all, our priest is such a devout, orthodox and god-fearing person.”
‘Yes, that’s true. Have you seen the girls? So sweet and pretty they are.”
“So is his wife. A fine good natured lady, she is too. May the Goddess bestow Her blessings on the new-born and her parents”.
Baby Champa grew up into a ‘sweet’ girl in more ways than one! The sweet-natured, shy, pretty girl was barely 7 years old, when she was diagnosed as a Juvenile Diabetic. Her father, however, received the blow with equanimity.
“My Goddess will take care of this challenge too” he thought to himself.
And sure enough, as though divine grace had prevailed, the Diabetes Department at the VHS offered to take Champa into its fold – for life!
She and her parents were counselled at the Department and they were taught how to take care of her. So intelligent was Champa at such a tender age, that she mastered the art of self- management of Type 1 diabetes very soon. Her condition did not deter her from attending school and she completed her graduation in Science with financial and medical aid under the VHS Juvenile Diabetes Programme.
Even as she studied, she would spend a lot of time teaching similarly challenged children at the VHS. The Diabetes Department was glad to appoint Champa as a receptionist cum educator. Champa and her parents were delighted since she was now being paid a monthly stipend.
“I told you. The Goddess has opened her eyes. Not only has our ‘sweet-baby’ overcome all challenges, she is well-educated and is even earning today! What’s more, I haven’t had to spend a pie on her medication or education!” The priest said to his wife.
“Well… you are right, of course…” His wife started hesitantly. “But she is no longer ‘our sweet baby’. She has now attained marriageable age and we will soon have to find her a life partner.”
“Don’t worry! Divine grace has seen us through the weddings of the other four girls. Champa’s beauty and sweet fragrance is bound to attract all eligible bachelors in our orthodox community.”
“I am not worried about finding a groom, nor even the finances! It’s her health – our special child needs an understanding and supportive family! I have spent several sleepless nights wondering whether to disclose her diabetic status before the wedding. After all, it is said that a marriage should be arranged even if it means telling a 1000 lies.”
“Hmm… I’m not sure about that. On the one hand if we were to disclose her condition, it would dissuade prospective grooms, but on the contrary, we will be assured of a caring family and home for Champa, if someone seeks her hand despite her challenges.”
Champa, who had never been shy about her condition, wanted them to be honest and open, with prospective alliances.
It was a joyous occasion - Champa’s Engagement Ceremony.
The groom’s father was also an orthodox temple-priest and lived in a small temple-town down South. The well educated groom worked in a bank in Chennai and earned a handsome salary. Horoscopes had been exchanged, and the astrologer had declared that they matched perfectly.
Champa’s father hammed and hawed, and eventually, hesitantly informed the groom’s parents about Champa’s juvenile diabetes status.
“But then Champa is well-trained to manage her condition. Plus your son will not be burdened with her medical expenses. That’s been taken care of by the VHS’ Diabetes Department.” Champa’s father hastened to add.
Much to everyone’s surprise, the groom’s parents threw Champa’s medical history to the winds.
“So what if she is a diabetic? Marriages are made in heaven! When the astrologer himself says the kids’ horoscopes match perfectly, I treat it as God’s will. Who are we, mere mortals, to question Him, on the basis of lack of physical attributes or medical history?” The Groom’s father asserted. “Moreover we like everything about Champa – her beauty, simplicity…”
“Yes, so what if she’s a diabetic? So is my husband. He’s been a diabetic for almost 10 years now. In fact Champa will be an asset to our household. She can help me take care of my husband.” The groom’s mother stated emphatically.
Champa and Chandran were united in wedlock at a traditional wedding ceremony in Chennai.
Champa was soon in the family way. The VHS Diabetes Department worked in tandem with an eminent gynaecologist all through her pregnancy and during childbirth. Juvenile diabetics need special attention and support, close monitoring of sugars and frequent hospitalisation – all the services provided free of cost to Champa! She gave birth to a normal, healthy, non-diabetic, baby girl!
A couple of years later, she begat a son, again with full support and assistance from the VHS Diabetes Department and the Gynaecologist.
Today, Champa is a happily married lady, a mother of two healthy, normal children, who have since blossomed into fine youth. Although Champa’s father-in-law and subsequently her husband have been (Type 2) Diabetics, her children are not juvenile diabetics, proving again that Type 1 diabetes is not hereditary.
Champa’s doctors shared her joy at her daughter’s wedding recently. Champa’s happy story has been a rewarding experience, inspiring these doctors to continue with the good work of supporting children afflicted with juvenile diabetes.
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