Fatima's Heart

Listen to the Rhythm of my Heart!

Methadone: Is It The Answer For A Pregnant Heroine Addict?

Source: Methadone: Is It The Answer For A Pregnant Heroine Addict?

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Why Uganda?

I have known Kiyemba Vicent, the founding member of Visit Act Uganda Foundation for over a year now and have been following his organization quite avidly. Uganda is one of the poorest nations in the world, with 37.7% of the population living on less than $1.25 a day. Poverty remains deep-rooted in the country’s rural areas, which is home to more than 85% of Ugandans.

According to an article published in The Guardian earlier this year, by Alon Mwesigwa, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) has estimated that 68% of children in Uganda who enrol in primary school are likely to drop out before finishing the prescribed seven years.

In practice, schools have to buy scholastic materials including pens, exercise books, clothing and even bricks for classroom construction. They also have to provide or buy lunch for their children. Some schools ask parents to pay between $2 and $5 a pupil for every three month term so that they can prepare lunch for them. But parents cannot afford to pay, and their children end up dropping out. For poorer parents, especially in rural Uganda, who live on about $1 a day, the cost is beyond reach. An estimated 30% of girls leave school when they start their periods, often because of lack of sanitary pads.

Visit Act Uganda Foundation has helped more than 200 children, youth, women and over 70 families living and affected by HIV/AID’S and poverty. The organization supports 3 elementary schools, provides life saving medicines to HIV positive children and sanitary pads to young girls so that they do not miss school.

Kiyemba Vicent tells us, “Despite the best intentions, there are few state run schools which are free in Uganda and the quality of private schools varies tremendously. The education program, that runs from February through to December, begins with 7 years of primary school education. With up to 100 pupils in a class who fail to pass their leaving examinations, this ends their hopes there.

In the few funds we get, we utilize them by buying scholastic materials like text books, stationary, geometry sets etc. We also pay for the school fee of students, lunch during school and provide sanitary pads to girls. Since the ministry of sports is under the ministry of education, we also support sports activities by buying football, netball, volleyballs and all their gears.”

Manu Costas and I, have been frequently in touch with Kiyemba Vicent. His organization’s needs are much and donations are little. The challenge for us is to make sure that the much needed support that Kiyemba and his organization needs, reach him safely and in one piece.

For this reason, we created a plan. With the money we raise, we will shop online and have stationary items (pens, pencils, crayons, geometry sets etc) and the sports gear directly shipped to Kiyemba. Lisa Robertson was kind enough to donate her children’s elementary school books, who were home schooled here in California. This saves us the effort of purchasing books. However, we do need to cover shipping costs, which according to Manu amount to $100 per 40 lb package. The books weigh around 200 lbs which brings our cost to about $500.

Our aim is to raise a thousand dollars to be able to send these books along with the online shopping of sports gear that we intend to do. And we need your support in doing that. A generous donation or sponsorship is all we need to make this happen. And it will make a world of a difference in a child’s life.

Many of us may have not experienced poverty, but some of us have definitely seen it, felt it and gone through it. This is the time to give back, to give back to a community at which no one gives a second look.

Please, we request you. Spread the word, join us in our efforts. This is the time!

Buy a sweatshirt at:

www.booster.com/support-education-in-Uganda 

For queries, donations or sponsorships, kindly email me at taimee_82@yahoo.com

Thank You.

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Meet Rene S Lecour, founder of Amigo Skate Charity

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To support Amigo Skate Charity, buy the tee shirt featured above here…

“Amigo Skate” is a bunch of people, trying to make a difference in the lives of young boys. They provide positive role models, skateboard equipment and skateboarding instructions to at-risk youth of Miami and Havana.

Based in Miami, Florida, they have worked within their local community offering scholarships to skateboard camps, organized canned food drives, raised funds for breast cancer research and several other children’s causes.

The Amigo Skate Team raises awareness by providing skate demos, safety clinics and entertainment to events like the Miami Dade County Youth Fair and the Skateboard Rodeo. They also plan to launch a free summer program to teach skateboarding to children with special needs and have recently formed a partnership with Longboards for Peace to teach children, living in group homes, how to skate. They have now extended their reach internationally, to the youth in Havana, Cuba.

We had a conversation with Rene Sugar Lecour, the mastermind behind all the fundraising for Amigo Skate Charity. Here is what he had to say.

Q. Congratulations Rene. You have been selected by Cyber Kiwanis to be featured as “Community Friend” on our website. First of all, tell us about this big tour to Havana, that is coming up in June?

Well, thank you for honoring me and giving me a chance to speak out, I am extremely humbled. We will be in Havana for one week in June. Our objective is to; bring skateboards, art supplies and music equipment to give away for free to Cuba’s youth, rebuild a section of the dilapidated Havana skate park, and host the first ever ‘Go Skateboarding Day’ in Havana Cuba. Go Skateboarding Day is a day that skaters go out and skate together in a mass, to celebrate the love of the sport and solidarity with skaters worldwide. On June 21, our GSD Havana event will feature a parade style skateboard, touring the streets of Havana, several skateboard competitions at iconic locations around the city and a free party for all the participants at the close of the day.

Q. Ah! A “Skateboard”, what does it mean to you?

A skateboard can be a form of transportation, a source of entertainment or a piece of sporting equipment BUT, to us the skateboard is the vehicle that we use to deliver our message of love. We use our skateboards to form bonds of international friendship and peace.

Q. Who were the people who came up with this idea of providing skateboards to youth?

My son and I started the Amigo movement 5 years ago after watching a documentary about Cuba’s teen culture. We are both avid skateboard enthusiasts and after witnessing the hardships of Cuba’s youth we decided that we could make a positive change in their lives. Due to the restrictions set by the TRADE EMBARGO and the Cuban government, there are no skate shops in Havana and honestly none of it residents children really have the funds for sports equipment. A skateboard may not be much in the grand scheme of things in this world but it is what we have to give. If we were doctors we would send medicine but we are skaters. What started out as a couple of people donating their extra gear, has turned into a movement that is 5 years strong, with dozens of friends donating their time and hundreds of skateboards delivered to Cuba’s youth.

Q. It’s been five years you have been raising funds and traveling to Cuba, what keeps you going?

For the most part we have been self-funded over the past five years. We collect new and used equipment and we bring them in duffel bags on the plane ride to Cuba. Our members pay for their own expenses to go into Havana, give away first-hand the products that we collect, teach safety skills, repair the park and host free events. For us, it is a labor of love.

Q. What difficulties have you faced during all these years?

Well, as you can imagine, not too many people understand the mission. Skateboards? Why? My answer is always the same. We make children smile, we give them a healthy way to pass the time and we give them a connection to the outside world. Now they know that they are not alone, and they are part of an international brotherhood of skaters, that not only acknowledges their existence but also stand beside them in solidarity.

Q.What are your hopes for the future?

Our hope for the future is that one day we are no longer needed in Cuba. Until that day we will continue with our mission. Our goal for 2016 is to build a multi-use indoor facility where we can teach Havana’s children skateboarding, art and music free of charge.

Thank you Rene for your time and efforts. And congratulations on being a “Community Friend”. All your hard work is much appreciated and we wish you the very best.

Their Website: http://www.amigoskate.com/
You can also connect with Rene at: amigoskatecharity@yahoo.com

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Keeping un-fortunate children in mind…

It is very disheartening to know that girls don’t attend school in Uganda just because of lack of sanitary pads. Really! Is that it?

Visit Act Uganda Foundation, a very interesting name for a charity organization that is working in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. As the name suggests, first visit…then act…and then help Uganda!

Uganda is a landlocked country surrounded by Tanzania, Rwanda, Congo, Sudan and Kenya. It is one of the poorest nations in the world, with 37.7% of the population living on less than $1.25 a day. Despite making enormous progress in reducing the countrywide poverty incidence from 56% in 1992 to 31% in 2005, poverty remains deep-rooted in the country’s rural areas, which is home to more than 85% of Ugandans.

Visit Act Uganda Foundation has helped more than 200 children, youth, women and over 70 families living and affected by HIV/AID’S and poverty. The organization supports 3 elementary schools and provides life saving medicines to HIV positive children and sanitary pads to young girls so that they do not miss school.

I had a conversation with Mr. Kiyemba Vicent, who is one of the key members of this organization. This is what he had to say :

“Uganda is riddled with unemployment and young people are without much hope. An urgent need exists to kick-start the economy. Many foreign aid agencies and governments are working hand in hand with local authorities in an attempt to turn this into a reality.

Our organization supports 3 elementary schools (only) for now because of lack of funds, but many schools like ours need us. There are 200 students in total, my mum takes care of one school where we have 100 children and other 100 children are from the other two schools. Our aim is to help them go from primary up to university, only if we can get more sponsors.

Despite the best intentions, there are few state run schools which are free in Uganda and the quality of private schools varies tremendously. The education program, that runs from February through to December, begins with 7 years of primary school education. With up to 100 pupils in a class who fail to pass their leaving examinations, this ends their hopes there!

There are also four technical colleges, of which one is private. Those students who do qualify for tertiary education, less than 50% of them find places there.

In the few funds we get, we utilize them by buying scholastic materials like text books, stationary, geometry sets etc. We also pay for the school fee of students, lunch during school and provide sanitary pads to girls. Since the ministry of sports is under the ministry of education, we also support sports activities by buying football, netball, volleyballs and all their gears.

We would like to tell the world that our organization needs help to continue supplying HIV+ children with daily life-saving medicines in Uganda and also provide sanitary pads to girls. Many girls miss school because of that.”

Kiwanis International is seeking to identify members who are actively involved in Africa, whether to serve, or as a result of personal or business connections. If you or anyone you know has a connection to share with them, let them know here.

If we can all just donate a small amount, out of our pockets, to Visit Act Uganda Foundation, thinking that we are providing sanitary pads to young girls so that they can go to school, I think Mr Kiyemba Vicent and his team at Visit Act Uganda Foundation would be very grateful. Keeping all such unfortunate children in mind and praying that life becomes easier for everyone everywhere, I would like to end my blog here. Continue the great community service that you are doing and support the less-fortunate amongst us.

Have a great week ahead!

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The Impact…changing lives!

Kiwanis Club of Karachi was chartered in 2002 and has 32 members at present. It is the sole functioning entity in Karachi, Pakistan that provides free early intervention services to children with Down Syndrome and counseling services to their families. These children have a potential of functioning independently and getting involved in mainstream schooling with remedial teachers. They also learn active vocations that help them secure a comfortable future.

Prof. Jamal Ara, an endocrinologist by profession is the President of Kiwanis club of Karachi. She is also a member Al-Dua Association in Karachi, which is a welfare organization, founded in 2010, dedicated to improving the lives of the poor by helping them acquire financial independence and long-term economic self-sufficiency. The association runs an ‘Early Intervention Program’ for children with disabilities and also provides training to the physical, occupational and speech therapists.

‘Rising above Down Syndrome’, an article published in 2009 in Daily times tells us about Dr. Jamal’s daughter and her talent. Click here to read more….

I had the honor of talking to Mr. Ali Allawala, a Kiwanian at heart, VP of Karachi club of Kiwanis (in Pakistan) and founder of Karachi Down Syndrome Program (KDSP) about his life changing moment and wish him all the best in his future endeavors. Visit our page, ‘Community Friend’ to read what he had to say.

Karachi Down Syndrome Program (KDSP) is an organization formed by a group of affected parents and passionate individuals advocating the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down Syndrome living in Karachi and to provide them with the opportunity to lead fulfilling lives.

You can follow the activities of KDSP on Facebook here.

If you are interested in supporting Al-Dua Institute or KDSP, contact Mr. Ali at ali@kdsp.org.pk

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My mid-year Summer Resolution!

When I joined Cyber Kiwanis, I was clueless as to what I was supposed to do. As I observed, followed and educated myself more about the role of Kiwanis in the community, I understood.

It is all about taking initiatives, to bring that change that you want to see, doing everything in your power to help that cause that you think is being neglected. It is about taking things into your own hands to impact someone’s life in a positive way!
Cyber Kiwanis taught me to listen to my inner voice, to take responsibility and to change everything that is plaguing our society.

As Summer approaches and school year ends, as happy graduating faces look forward to new chapters in their life, I realize this is the best time to evaluate the goals in our lives and to start thinking about what really makes us happy. Using my barriers as my resources (my kids as my assets), I decide to pen down my ‘Summer Resolutions’ and to start taking action!

1. A friend in Need is a friend Indeed!

I was introduced to a homeless girl I did not know by my friend. She is a single mother of two minors living in Desplains, Illinois. I have been talking to her almost every day for past 7 months, giving her advice, calming her fears, giving her hope and praying for her and the safety of her daughters. I visited her too when I was in Chicago this month to see my ailing mother in law. Since then, I worry about her more. The least I could do was give her some money and the most I do, is every day, talking and letting her share her feelings!

2. Education for all!

Education is free in US till high school, but in a country where I come from, education is a luxury. ‘Zindagi’ meaning life in Urdu is a trust created by a famous singer in Pakistan for whom providing primary and secondary level education (till grade 10) to poor children living in urban slums of Pakistan is a priority. I signed up as a volunteer with Zindagi Trust, initiated a dictionary project for them(about which I had learned from Cyber Kiwanis only) and now will be involved in their community outreach program.

3. Starting a Summer Camp in my neighborhood!

With two daughters of my own, i found it hard to find places where you can involve kids as young as 3 yrs and 8 months. The only place I can take my daughters is to the public library (my older one loves books) or to the park, which with increasing summer heat, will become even harder with time. So I decided to initiate a summer camp of my own. Engaging the Pakistani community living in Fresno, I thought this was best for the kids of my community. The summer camp will include reading a short story, singing rhymes, doing arts and crafts, maintaining a scrap book, a little bit of education mixed with fun! And all with the help of other parents just like me!

So this is my mid-year summer’s resolution. And that’s what Cyber Kiwanis is all about! Taking initiatives, connecting with friends with similar sentiments and reporting service hours at the end of the month completing the feel of accomplishment !

You can visit my other blog at http://www.cvckiwanis.bravejournal.com to find out what I have been writing about over there!

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Paid to Learn !

Have you heard of 8 functional schools running within a single campus? Schools renting out its grounds for private and wedding parties at night? Well, this is a norm in the public school system of Karachi, Pakistan where there are 3,625 government schools but only 900 campuses, and we are talking about just one city of Pakistan.

Zindagi Trust is a non-profit organization that strives to reform public schools, educating working children and lobbying the government to improve education policy. It’s vision is to give every child a chance at transforming his or her life through education. It wants to improve the quality of education available to the average Pakistani.

School Reform:

The organization strives to effect public school reform as opposed to creating alternative systems that will always struggle to reach the masses. For this reason, lobbying the government to effect recommendations learned from their school reform project into policy is a critical tenet of their work.

Zindagi Trust took over the management of a government school SMB Fatima Jinnah Girls School in November 2007 with the aim of transforming it into a model school and documenting the process in getting there with the objective of creating a blueprint for government school reform.Throughout the project, they worked closely with the Education Department, lobbying the government to institutionalize the policies they introduced so that schools across the province can benefit from them.

School Consolidation Policy

When Zindagi Trust took over the management of the school campus, there were eight schools functional within a single campus: five primary schools (class one to five) and three secondary schools (class six to 10) in the same school premises, each with its own set of teachers and administrators which could not be shared. Zindagi Trust merged the eight schools into one at SMB School and also lobbied successfully for policy reform to prevent this administrative nightmare from continuing in other schools: in July 2011, the Sindh Education Secretary issued a notification approving the School Consolidation Policy that aims to merge adjoining and nearby schools in one campus under one administration.

Private (ab)use of school grounds

Another curious practice inherited by the school was the renting out of the school grounds to private parties for wedding dinners at night. The grounds were never cleaned up to be ready for the children the next day, with leftovers from the dinner attracting the neighbourhood’s wild dogs instead! This not only rendered the grounds unusable by the students, depriving them of their right to play sports and run around and express themselves, but also presented a serious hazard. After taking over the school, Zindagi Trust had the grounds cleaned out and put an end to any such activities on the school premises, and successfully pushed the government to implement the same in schools across the city.

The School Reform project at the SMB Fatima Jinnah Government Girls School in Karachi has involved the following:

1. Infrastructure Rehabilitation and Development:
which includes building a Health Room, staffed with a full-time nurse, an Art Room, a Library, an Audio Visual Room, two Computer Labs and a Science Lab.

2. Administrative Changes:
which includes maintaining teacher /student records for attendance and performance, hiring custodial staff for maintenance and cleanliness of the existing and refurbished premises, detailing staff responsibilities and job descriptions and formulating a detailed admissions policy.

3. Academic Innovation and Planning:
which includes introduction of modern, thought-provoking textbooks in Urdu, English, Mathematics (almost all provided free to the students), having a video-based science curriculum in their well-equipped A/V Room, hiring academic coordinators for English, Mathematics and Science to plan syllabi with learning outcomes and to design tests, monitor progress, observe and train teachers.

4. Teacher Reform :
which includes monitoring teacher attendance and evaluating teacher performance through regular teaching demos, lesson plan reviews as well as in-class monitoring by academic coordinators throughout the term.

5. Student Affairs :
including introduction of learning modules like art, chess, sports (netball, basketball, football, hockey, throwball, , cricket), public speaking and sexual health and abuse awareness.

Paid to Learn Program

19 million children in Pakistan cannot afford to go to school. 10.5 million such children are forced to work in menial jobs to support family income. These working children are exploited by their employers: they are grossly underpaid and receive no education to improve their future prospects. Most of them are completely illiterate and some even live on the street, finding it difficult to integrate into mainstream society even if they are given the opportunity.

The “Paid to Learn” program recruits children who work in the urban slums of Pakistan and enrolls them in a 2.2-year accelerated non-formal curriculum of primary education. The programme also sponsors the continuing education of top graduates who are encouraged to enroll in mainstream secondary schools. This helps the children, toiling in car-repair shops & other general stores in Karachi, Lahore & Rawalpindi, see a window out of child labour; makes them aware of their rights as children, as workers and as citizens; empowers them as responsible and more complete future citizens of a young Pakistan, all the while making a dent on the country’s literacy rate. The programme serves nearly 2300 working children at any time, nearly a 700 of whom graduate from the primary education course every year.

Be My Buddy

If you are looking to make a more long-term commitment to a child’s education, you can sponsor the education of a working child as well as develop a relationship with them through their Be My Buddy program.

You can sponsor a term ($25) a year ($75) or whole primary school education ($175) of a worker child. You can exchange letters with the child and also get regular updates on the progress of the child.

Be my buddy NOW ! Donate here….http://zindagitrust.org/donate.php

Volunteer Program

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Did you know you could volunteer at Zindagi Trust!

Zindagi Trust is always looking for passionate volunteers to help out at their schools, be it with teaching a course or running an awareness programme on health and nutrition. They also welcome those who can help with fundraising, be it through organizing an actual event at a college or home, or assisting in their campaigns through writing, graphic design, film-making or video editing skills.

Hours are flexible and school credit can be awarded. If you work in education or development and have an idea for a project or advice or just want to exchange thoughts – contact them through their website.

 

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Let’s Be The Change!

Serving voluntarily is not every body’s cup of tea! Who has the time and money? Especially with so many non-profits out there, you feel more than enough is being done, and yet…nothing is being accomplished. The hunger, poverty, misery, homelessness etc is still out there eating away innocent lives. Who are the non-profits serving? Why do they still need more time, more money and more volunteers?

If you ‘Want Change, Be the Change’ is what I believe in. The truth is, it is each and every person’s job to be looking after these needy people. Our donation is just not enough, they need our time, our skills, our knowledge and our love too.

Volunteering is not a hard job in itself. There are seasonal volunteer opportunities and there are permanent ones. Being part of a non-profit is best way to stay involved. Let’s make voluntary service easy and accessible where children and adults, professionals and home-makers, students and retired personnel can all make an impact. And let’s target those who have a passion to serve and commitment to help the most vulnerable in the society. The moment you prioritize it, you will find time for it automatically.

You must learn about any organization’s credibility, you have to educate yourself about how the organization works, where the money comes from and where it goes. It is not just the job of a philanthropist, but every human being. And it doesn’t require a lot of money, neither a lot of your time.

There are many credible clubs out there but the one that I decided to join was unique in its own way, Cyber Kiwanis!

With only $50, for the whole year, to get into the club and Conference Call / Email attendance to their meeting, I found it very convenient. They have members all over US, who participate through electronic means, hence the name ‘Cyber Kiwanis’. The club sponsors 3 high school key clubs which is a HUGE job in itself. They are able to accomplish so much with so little, that I feel only God is helping them. Their main focus is on fighting childhood obesity, preventing diabesity, providing scholarships to key club graduates and supporting other causes like Children’s Hospital in Madera, Kiwanis Family House in Sacramento (www.kiwanisfamilyhouse.org), Special Olympics and Relay for Life.

Kiwanis is a global volunteer organization trying to change the world, one child at a time. The best thing about Kiwanis Family that it provides service and leadership opportunities to children as young as 6 years to adults with disabilities. You can find more about these clubs, how to join them. or create one in your own neighborhood and the Qualities that the Kiwanis Volunteers posses at my blog http://www.cvckiwanis.bravejournal.com.

I also overlook the Kiwanis Club of Karachi which provides Early Intervention program to Down Syndrome patients and provides training to Physical, Occupational and Speech therapists that look after these patients. The monthly expenditure on one therapist is $200, if you are looking forward to provide financial assistance to this club, please contact me at taimee_82@yahoo.com

So, do you want to be’The Change’ every body needs right now? Take that first step. Don’t be scared. Whatever age you are, whatever resources you have, there is some organization out there that needs you!

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Diabesity…you think you don’t have it? Think again!!

DIABESITY, THE link between OBESITY and DIABETES!

Obesity in children has risen dynamically over the last couple of decades associated with increased risk of Diabetes. Hence the term ‘Diabesity’. It may be misleading that only obese people suffer from diabetes, which is not true. Thin people suffer from diabetes too but their metabolism behaves as if they are obese. These are the “skinny fat” people. They are “under lean” (not enough muscle) and often carry a little extra weight around the middle

To understand what is happening inside the body, let’s understand the basics.

UNDERSTANDING DIABETES

Our body produces two kinds of hormones: Anabolic (building up…eg Insulin) and Catabolic (breaking down…eg Glucagon) hormones. Insulin and Glucagon are both produced by the pancreas and they work in harmony to maintain metabolic balance inside the body.

Insulin is produced after a carbohydrate or protein meal. It promotes glucose uptake and storage, protein synthesis (increasing lean body mass) and triglyceride uptake by fat cells meaning it increases overall body stores of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

Juvenile onset, Insulin Dependent, Type I Diabetes is usually due to deficient or decreased production of Insulin caused by autoantibodies produced against cells of pancreas. Age of onset is less than 30 years and body build is usually thin. This is because the anabolic (body building) effects of insulin are absent,decreasing the body stores of fat and the catabolic effects of glucagon have overpowered, increasing the blood levels of sugar and fats.

Maturity onset, Non-Insulin Dependent, Type II Diabetes is due to Insulin resistance caused by chronic elevated levels of Insulin in blood leading to down regulation of the glucose transporters and insulin receptors in the target tissues. It is almost entirely induced by environmental and lifestyle factors. Age of onset is more than 40 years and body build is obese.

When the diet is full of empty calories and an abundance of quickly absorbed sugars, liquid calories (sodas, juices, sports drinks or vitamin waters), and refined or starchy carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rice and potatoes), the cells slowly become numb to the effects of insulin, and need more of it to balance the blood-sugar levels. This problem is known as insulin resistance.

A high insulin level is the first sign of trouble. The higher the insulin levels are, the worse the insulin resistance. Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is often an early symptom of insulin resistance.

UNDERSTANDING OBESITY

Official definition of Obesity is when our body mass index (BMI) is greater than 30. BMI is ratio between our height (in feet) and weight (in lbs). BMI less than 18.5 is considered underweight and greater than 25 is considered over weight.

Obesity is the cause of and result of Diabetes Type II leading to a viscous cycle. The more we eat, the more insulin is produced, more fat storage, more weight gain, increased insulin in blood, more fat storage, more weight gain…..and so on.

Weight reduction of as little at 4-7% has enormous effect on peripheral insulin sensitivity. Exercising muscle does not need insulin for glucose to enter. 25%of patients can be kept off medications with diet and exercise alone. The effects of weight loss can last for many years.

UNDERSTANDING DIABESITY

A new word, “diabesity,” describes the continuum of metabolic imbalances and diseases that range all the way from mild blood-sugar imbalance to insulin resistance to full-blown diabetes. So if you have diabetes, you have diabesity. But if you are borderline pre-diabetic, or even have symptoms, you could be suffering from diabesity.

Nearly all people who are overweight (almost 70% of Americans) already have pre-diabetes, which is an earlier stage of diabesity that carries with it significant risks of most chronic diseases in the 21st century. There is an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, dementia, cancer, high blood pressure, blindness and kidney failure.

Unfortunately, most people who are suffering from diabesity have no idea that it is a deadly condition or that it is 100% reversible. There are no national screening recommendations, treatment guidelines, approved medications, and no reimbursement to healthcare providers for diagnosing and treating anything other than full-blown diabetes.

RISK FACTORS

1. All age groups, male and female can be affected by this disease.

2. Family history; if parents, grandparents, siblings or first cousins have diabetes, yearly screening is recommended. There is a very strong genetic predisposition to diabesity.

3. Weight; thin people with strong family history or those losing weight out of proportion are at risk for Type I Diabetes. Overweight (BMI more than 25) are at risk for insulin resistance, hence Type II Diabetes. Waist circumference greater than 35 inches for women or greater than 40 inches for men is a worrying sign.

4. Gestational Diabetes; a pregnant woman not able to maintain fasting or post-challenge glucose levels in the blood. It is due to diabetogenic effects of human placental lactogen (hPL), placental insulinase, cortisol and progesterone. 35% of women with gestational diabetes will develop overt diabetes within 5-10 years of delivery.

5. All underlying diseases and hormonal causes leading to obesity are risk factors for diabesity.

6. High blood pressure, high cholestrol, heart disease, sedentary life style are also associated with diabesity.

DIAGNOSING DIABESITY

Symptoms to look out for are:

1. Excessive urination
2. Excessive hunger and thirst
3. Sugar cravings and fatigue after meals
4. Difficulty losing weight
5. Abnormal weight loss especially in children (type I diabetes)
6. Visual disturbances
7. Numbness and tingling in hands and feet
8. Sexual dysfunction, infertility
9. More prone to infections
10. Very dry skin

Abnormal Blood Tests:

1. RBS/ RBG ( random blood sugar/glucose levels within 2-4 hours of eating)
160 mg/dl or more prediabetic
200 mg/dl diagnostic for diabetes

2. FBS/ FBG ( fasting blood sugar/glucose after 6 hours of eating)
100-125 mg/dl is prediabetic
126 mg/dl or more is diagnostic of diabetes

3. HbA1c (demonstrates control of blood sugar in preceding 6-8 weeks)
5.6%-6.4% is prediabetic
6.5% or more is diagnostic of diabetes

4. Fasting Lipid Profile
Triglyceride more than 100 mg/dl
HDL (good cholestrol) less than 40 mg/dl
Total cholestrol more than 200 mg/dl
Triglyceride/HDL ratio greater than 5
Total cholesterol/HDL ratio greater than 6

5. Glucose in urine (normally not found)

Summary: If there is a family history, belly fat, BMI more than 25 (overweight), high blood pressure, high cholestrol, frequent urination, excessive hunger and thirst, even one abnormal blood test or urinary glucose found during routine screening…you are suffering from diabesity.

(Normal values are mentioned at the end).

SEVERE “FIRST EVENT” FINDINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR
(leading to coma/ death)

Ironically, medical practitioners do not pay attention to mild symptoms or prediabetic blood work findings until patient has full blown diabetes. Asymptomatic individuals may end up discovering they have full blown diabetes with these life threatening conditions.

1. Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA), blood glucose more than 350 md/dl

It is a serious condition that can lead to diabetic coma or even death. When the cells don’t get the glucose they need for energy, body begins to burn fat for energy, which produces ketones. Ketones are acids that build up in the blood and appear in the urine when the body doesn’t have enough insulin. High levels of ketones can poison the body.

Warning Signs of DKA:

DKA usually develops slowly. But when vomiting occurs, this life-threatening condition can develop in a few hours. Symptoms include:

Thirst or a very dry mouth
Frequent urination
High levels of ketones in the urine
Constantly feeling tired
Dry or flushed skin
Nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain
Difficulty breathing
Fruity odor on breath
A hard time paying attention, or confusion

2. Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic State, blood glucose more than 600mg/dl

In contrast to DKA, serum glucose levels in HHS are extremely high, but a metabolic acidosis is absent or mild. Altered mental status is also more common in HHS than DKA. DKA has been associated with Type I Diabetes, whereas HHS has been associated with both.

Symptoms include:

Increased thirst
Altered mental status
Neurologic signs such as sensory or motor impairments, seizures or motor abnormalities like flaccidity, depressed reflexes, tremors
Hyperviscosity and increased risk of thrombosis
Coma leading to death

3. Hypoglycemia, blood glucose less than 70mg/dl

It is usually first sign of insulin resistance, produced by too much insulin in the blood stream.

Symptoms include:

Double vision or blurry vision
Fast or pounding heartbeat
Feeling cranky or acting aggressive
Feeling nervous
Headache
Hunger
Shaking or trembling
Sweating
Tingling or numbness of the skin
Tiredness or weakness
Trouble sleeping
Unclear thinking
Fainting
Seizures
Coma

MANAGING DIABESITY

Diabesity IS preventable, curable and reversible unlike what we originally knew. You are NOT destined to suffer progressive decline. The only cure is :
Life Style Change !

1. Healthy Diet:
Our nutrient-poor, calorie-rich, low-fiber, high-sugar diet has led to overfed but undernourished people. There is an epidemic of nutritional deficiencies that promote the development of diabetes, including vitamin D, magnesium, zinc and antioxidant deficiencies. Controlling portion sizes, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, monounsaturated fat, such as olive oil and raw nuts, fish, poultry, meat substitutes, low fat dairy products and fresh home cooked food can be the most potent medicine you can use to prevent, treat and reverse diabesity.

2. Controlling underlying health issues:
Most of the weight gain and metabolic imbalances are because of hormonal imbalances. Be it sex hormones, stress hormones or thyroid etc. Many of the underlying issues can be diagnosed and treated preventing obesity and diabesity. Controlling blood pressure and blood cholestrol levels are key to preventing diabesity.

3. Exercise:
The importance of physical exercise has always been highlighted with people finding no time for it. Walking 30 mins a day is enough. Resting muscle needs insulin for glucose entry but an exercising muscle does not. 25% patients were kept off medications just with diet and exercise. The purpose is not just to lose weight but also to regulate the digestive system as well as lowering stress.

4. Lower your stress:
Stress makes you fat and contributes to the development of diabesity. Chronic stress increases our levels of insulin, cortisol and inflammatory compounds. This drives the relentless metabolic dysfunction that leads to weight gain, insulin resistance, and diabetes. Hence, managing stress whether through relaxation therapies, meditation, yoga, massage, exercise, laughing or anything else is a critical component of obesity and diabetes treatment.

CONCLUSION

Since diabesity is not considered a real disease until you are diagnosed with full blown diabetes, (usually)with or without complications, it is recommended that early testing for anyone who has a family history of diabetes, increased waist size, or abnormal cholesterol be done. A recent study showed that anyone with a fasting blood sugar of over 87mg/dl was at increased risk of diabetes. Yet most doctors are not concerned until the blood sugar is over 110 mg/dl or worse,126 mg/dl, the level that technically signals diabetes.

Normal values of blood tests:

1. RBS:
Less than 140 mg/dL age less than 50
less than 150 mg/dL ages 50–60;
less than 160 mg/dL age 60 and above

2. FBS:
Less than or equal to 100mg/dl

3. HbA1c less than 5.5% is normal

4. Lipid panel :
Total cholesterol (ideal < 180 mg/dl),
LDL (ideal < 70 mg/dl),
HDL cholesterol (ideal > 60 mg/dl),
Triglycerides (ideal < 100 mg/dl).

 

 

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FATIMA’s HEART….a campaign!

EDUCATION GAVE ME WINGS!

So people must be wondering what ‘Fatima’s Heart Campaign‘ is? It’s very simple, I am listening to my heart. I am not a very wealthy person, just a house wife with two kids. my husband doesn’t make a lot of money, my parents never did either. But what they taught me in life, was to be contented. Do good, feel good!

I am an MD by qualification and people always question me, why don’t you practice, you’re wasting your education, the time, the hard work that was put in for 8 years for me to be qualified as a family physician? Well, I don’t think my education has gone to waste. So what if I am not a practicing, clinician! May be I wasn’t meant to be one! May be God wants me to do other equally important things in life. Every profession demands hard work, dedication and commitment and that is what the professionals are paid for, to carry out their jobs with utmost knowledge and precise skills. And every thing nowadays is about money!

My mother always told me, education is not about having a career, it is about giving you the knowledge to live in this world and understand how it works. It is not about making money, it is about exploring the possibilities you have. Money comes along in itself, with hard work and perseverance.

I come from a country (Pakistan) where hardly 2% of people are educated. There are three classes of education system; the public/government schools (70% ghost schools), the private schools (producing the average 2% educated lot) and then the Cambridge system (producing the export quality). I went to the best of all 3 systems. Primary & Secondary schooling at Cambridge, which gave me a strong base, a private high school which gave me a strong pre-med background and then the best govt med school in the country. I graduated in 2006, worked till 2008 when I got married to a US citizen. When I came to US, people use to be surprised how fluent my spoken English was, I was blessed.

Now I want to give back to the people, the country who made me what I am today. I want the other 98% of the people of Pakistan to feel as proud and blessed as I do. I am not in favor of creating a non-profit that works to help the communities, I want to help and empower the non-profits that already exist. I don’t have a lot of money to give away in donations, but I do have the capability to generate that income, that can be utilized to create awareness and help those, that are already in the field, to get closer to their goals.

That is what Fatima’s Heart is all about. I am a member of Cyber Kiwanis here in US, I take care of their website and blog. I discovered a Kiwanis Club of Karachi a few days back which is running an Early Intervention Program for Down Syndrome patients and also has a training program for physical, occupational and speech therapists that look after these special needs children. You cannot imagine how proud I feel that I am part of an International organization that is helping kids here in US as well as in my home country, Pakistan. This is what Fatima’s Heart is all about. Every drop contributes into making of an ocean. My heart is that drop! And I am sure, many drops will follow me :)!

My first project that I have initiated is sending dictionaries to a school in Karachi, Pakistan. Each dictionary is costing less than $3.00, which is nothing here but almost Rs.300 in Pakistan. I am putting in $100 myself. The hurdle I am facing is shipment. Shipping is costing me twice than the books themselves. If I can find someone who can sponsor the shipping or someone who is traveling to Karachi, Pakistan from US and volunteers to take them, it will be a great help. That is all Fatima’s Heart seeks for now. Is there anyone out there who can help me?!

Thank you for bearing with me for so long! May God Bless everyone!

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