Pam Durant talks to Mohammad Al-Bahar about his experiences living with Type1 Diabetes for over 35 years. He turned this very challenging situation into something very powerful, as he became a role model, ambassador and athlete. He shares some very personal and inspiring experiences. Mohammad, who is also a TEDxKuwait City speaker, also shares the wisdom and lessons he has learned along the way.

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Dia-Logue diabetes podcast: The Diabetic Traveler

Mohammad Al-Bahar is The Diabetic Traveler.

Born in Kuwait, in 1983, Mohammad was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when he was 2 years old, which changed everything.

Mohammad is the founder of Diabetes Ambassadors Program, which focuses on advocacy, education, insulin access and the rights of people living with diabetes, and is a Trustee of the League Of DiAthletes.

He is a public speaker in the field of diabetes, largely focusing on discrimination towards people living with diabetes. He is also known as The Diabetic Traveler – an adventure activist who raises awareness about Type 1 Diabetes.

Mohammad has a bachelor degree in Management Information Systems (IT), and a degree in Insurance. His vast professional experience spans the government, private and NGO sectors.

Follow Mohammad on Instagram @thediabetictraveler

Episode 04: A Lesson in Diabetes Self Acceptance with Mohammad Al-Bahar

Pam  0:02  

Hello, and welcome to Dia-Logue, the Diapoint podcast. I’m your host, Pam Durant. Thank you everyone for joining us today. And today I am speaking with Mohammad Al Bahar, who lives in Kuwait. Mohammad has been living with Type 1 Diabetes for 35 years. He is the founder of the diabetes ambassadors programme, as well as a trustee of the League of League of Diathletes. He is also an ASICS, front runner ambassador, and a sports enthusiast. He’s a TEDx Kuwait speaker and also known as the ‘Diabetic Traveller’ in social media. And you can find him doing other sports such as weightlifting, endurance, and strength. Thank you so much for joining us today Mohammad. Thank you for coming to the podcast. And let’s get started. So why don’t you start by just sharing with us, your diagnosis story, and how it was growing up with diabetes?

 

Mohammad  1:03  

Yeah, thank you so much for hosting me in this podcast. And it’s really interesting to be in connection with you, Pamela, you’re simply doing an amazing job regarding diabetes advocacy, and what the right terminology is to use with people living with diabetes, not a lot of people in certain regions do focus on the right and proper vocabulary with people living with diabetes. So, it’s surely going to be a different experience than a wonderful one. I was diagnosed when I was two years old. At that time, I don’t recall any kind of a memory. That’s what is diabetes and the early symptom, but my parents actually noticed that I was very thin, even underwears were not fitting my waistline. So they took me to the doctor. And the doctor actually mentioned that I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, that was in 1985. At that time, there wasn’t a lot of people number of people diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, usually Type 2, but not as common as these days with, with the bigger number of percentages of people living with Type 1 Diabetes. And then I started to realise that I’m living with a certain condition when I was 4 years old, that I want to have to eat certain type of food, I had to take into consideration urinating, because at that time, technologies were not available everywhere. Like usually when checking my urine, is actually knowing the colours, it was blue, green, it was high, if it was yellow, it was because it was it was an regular order, or the required range. And blood testing devices were very expensive at that time, usually. And they are very huge. They would be very big like a brick. That’s how the diameter of the device would be. And we’ll take one minute to come down for the number of readings. It wasn’t flexible. There wasn’t card counting. That wasn’t CGS at that time. There wasn’t clash monitoring devices, like I have plus clash sensors like those kinds of new technologies are these days. There wasn’t. Also the insulin mix time on the fast acting and still acting insulin were used to be mixed, they were not together, you have to mix them by yourself. Which was also a hassle, there was no there were no pens, there were no Frio cooling wallets. You were supposed to take the cooling boxes with you when you travel with plenty of ice. And it was it was a hassle. I do recall it was a hassle. And I when I go to school I had actually a housekeeper with me, I have a house assistant with me that used to take me to the toilet. And one of the issues is actually when I used to see kids eating chocolate I would crave for chocolates. I was not the kind of a kid who would not eat the chocolate, like we had a corridor and the corridor is L shaped, so the fridge they used to close it and our house there was chocolates and juices and stuff. I was a very sneaky kid I used to go there and open the fridge and eat it, and hide the cap in the box of juices and the box of chocolates, so they wouldn’t see there’s something missing. The case, I used to take the paper of the chocolate, and insert it inside the coke, the Coca Cola can, and throw it in because they will check behind my back. It was like mission impossible thing.  The juice, which is a box I used to spread it and put it in the book. And when I go to school, I throw it out. So I was very good then in hiding my evidence of what I have done. But at the same time I was not meeting any person living with Type 1 Diabetes till I was seven, my twin got diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when he was seven years old. But we never spoke about it, we didn’t discuss it like taking in that injection, eating this kind of food and so on wasn’t, let’s say opening the chapter. And understanding what kind of diabetes is, that it’s actually accepting it in the beginning to be able to help us smooth sailing, – although smooth sailing is not considered to be a very proper terminology for people living with diabetes.

 

Pam  5:35  

Right. So how many times a day, so when you were younger, and you have all these supplies and everything, it’s like the size of a brick, and it takes a long time, how many times a day, then were you able to really check your blood sugar?

 

Mohammad  5:49  

Usually, we would check it maybe twice or three times a day, some sort depends on the availability of these strips, because usually, we would, when we travel in summer, we bring some strips. And if they were available here, they will be very expensive. And the injections usually we have the Mixtart. And when I was like around 10/11 Mixtart. And the which is 70% low acting incident and 30% Fast acting insulin in the morning at seven and you have to have it at 7am and 7pm. You should have it exactly the same timing. You have the fast acting insulin before lunch. And the Mixtart, of course had lots of effect of having the drop of the blood sugar after two to three hours, which causes hypos.

 

Pam  6:40  

And then when your twin brother was diagnosed at seven, is that, how did you feel about that? Did that bring you any kind of, I don’t want to use the word relief but kind of relief because then you weren’t the only one? Or did you go through any kind of resentment? Like why do I have this and he doesn’t have it? And then did it? Did it change the way that you saw diabetes?

 

Mohammad  7:05  

Actually I was the one who diagnosed my twin with Type 1 Diabetes, I had the symptoms, I’ve seen the symptoms and so on. And I mentioned it to all my parents. I wasn’t happy that he was diagnosed, I knew that he had a lot of hassle that he has to carry on his shoulders. It’s not a condition that is easily managed. It’s not a condition at that time I was accepting, it took me a very long time to accept diabetes. Because also at the same time, we didn’t have the opportunity to speak about diabetes, we are indirectly addressed by my father that diabetes is like a burden. Sometimes parents when they show kind of empathy, or they try to show empathy in a way they can miss judge and they can use improper terminologies that has a different impact. And it’s like, that’s why when you use wordings with people living with diabetes, you have to be very precise, you have to be very eloquent in the way of addressing things. It’s not related to sensitivity. It’s not related that we are sensitive people, it’s related that how you accept yourself and how you address it on others, that’s very much important. You cannot come and say to someone living with diabetes, ‘Oh don’t eat that chocolate to be careful, you’re going to have low blood sugar or high blood sugar’ and you have no idea about what type of diabetes is Type 1 Diabetes is or ‘you’re going to have complications when you grow older’. ‘Are you going to have kids? Are you going to have kids?’ Or ‘Can you do that? Can you exercise in this way? Can you do this?’ So a lot of people who work is certain professional fields like trainers, maybe doctors as well, lack the way of communicating with patients and their parents and use the proper wordings as well.

 

Pam  8:58  

That’s so true. I think in the future, we might do an episode about that. I have a presentation that I’ve made a few times to some doctors and one of the slides is about conversations and the comments. And almost every time that I’ve gone through the highlights, at least a few of them are in tears because they’re shocked. And I’ll tell you the story of one incident my son had in a very good diabetes centre. And he was about around age seven or so I would say and still he was a little bit how shall I say had some anxiety and stress around getting the annual blood checked for thyroid and everything else, now it’s no big deal. He goes in and sticks his arm out and he’s fine. But of course for a small child to get a blood test, it’s a huge deal. Sometimes you can’t find the veins they still have a lot of fat on their bodies and the veins are hiding under there. So, he’s crying as I explained it and we have to go to the lab and we have to check, because usually we were doing we weren’t doing it longer than a year. The doctor said he’s been fine unless you see some symptoms because It’s so stressful for him. So, we were going walking to the lab that day and a nurse educator, a diabetes nurse educator who deals with children every day turned to him and said, ‘What’s wrong with you? Are you a baby?’ To this day, he still tells that story. And that day, he made the decision, he did not want to go back there. So, language is extremely important. And you carry those moments with you. Like, I’m sure you remember those things. People were saying to you, from the time you were very young, you remember that, and you still feel that throughout your life.

 

Mohammad  10:32  

I remember once I had an incident with a math teacher, that’s I think one of the reasons I hated math, I wasn’t like bad in math, I’m good enough, I can use my fingers as a calculator, in a way. But I had a very unsettling experience with my elementary school, I was seven years old after the first Gulf War. And we have to merge to two elementary levels together, so we can go to the next level. Because there was no school for about 11 months, because of the invasion that occurred in 1990 and lasted till February 1991. So I was having a hypo, at that moment, and I didn’t realise that. And usually when you have a hypo, everything gets jammed, everything gets frozen, and you cannot react in a way you have lack of reaction because of the weight and the heaviness of the hypo, depends on the severity of it. She was addressing a question to me and I couldn’t answer, I had the response in my head. But I couldn’t speak up, I had a very heavy tongue to address that. And she told me tomorrow, I need to see your mom. It’s urgent. And when my mom came to the school, she told her that ‘your son should be in special needs, kids with disabilities school, he shouldn’t be in a school for regular kids. Because I have very difficult issue to educate him. He’s an idiot. And I don’t want to teach him’. So at that moment, I really hated the math. I hated the math, the math topic, can you imagine? that it also affected me getting better levels and better results in math. But now, lately, I started to accept it, I started to be in good terms with it. And that remained with me for a very long time. And remained with me till I was 32/ 33. And that affected me a lot. Because she was scolding me and shouting in front of other kids. And I didn’t find that, I think this is one of the blocks that’s allowed me to have disagreements and acceptance for diabetes, I, in that moment, I started to realise that maybe diabetes is a burden. And maybe diabetes will cause a lot of difficulty in my life from that incident.

 

Pam  13:05  

Yeah, for those of you listening, you can’t see me but my mouth like dropped out. And when you told me what the teacher said, it is so important that people working in schools, teachers, administrators, school nurses, that everyone understands this topic, they don’t have to be experts. But even to say that to a child, no matter what the condition is, or even if a child doesn’t have a condition, no one should be speaking to a child like that. And then that that’s just heartbreaking. So then looking ahead, so after school, and after that time, can you kind of take us through any other challenges? And then when did you get to the point in your life that you didn’t believe what that teacher told you anymore?

 

Mohammad  13:54  

Oh, go before that. When I went through depression. I had very good bondness with my very good bond with my diabetes doctor, paediatric, she was a very well-educated doctor, she was very much caring and nurturing. She had the mother figure in her. And in 1996, she wanted to go back to our country because her husband was sick, and she needed to aid him and so on. And at that instant moment is the shift between paediatric and adults doctor. So, I didn’t find that I doctor that will understand my needs as a person living with diabetes, they were just addressing this. If you do this, you will have complication. Your blood sugar is not in the range, and you are not doing a good job. It’s based on judgments based on do this, don’t do that. Do this and don’t do that there was no compensation. So I said, ‘Why should I go to the doctor anyways? I know the diabetes routine and I should, I should handle it by myself’, which was a wrong decision of course. Because always there is new technologies, new information, and new updates, and a lot of new things coming out, because the research is always constant. Then I started to go, of course, I had frequent hypos or frequent hypers. But hypos were the most triggering thing that happened with me, which affected me, and certain levels, and sports that affected me also when I had an exam, but also I was accepted to medical school that I transferred to business school, I was an A student, I didn’t want to use diabetes as a burden, I don’t want to use diabetes as a way of holding me back. And I was doing it as if I was challenging diabetes, I was doing it as if I’m telling myself, I don’t have diabetes, I can do everything in a very proper way in a better way. without mentioning diabetes, I used to ignored pricking my fingers, I used to do that sometimes, depends. But not regularly, I take my injections regularly, I wouldn’t skip my injections. But I didn’t accept it. I didn’t come and accept it, and take my injection in front of people or in public places, especially during puberty because you want to get accepted with others. Without one of the reasons I wasn’t accepting diabetes, to be honest, at that moment, I was not accepting it at all. And that caused a huge burden to understand myself. That was a huge block for me knowing who I am. So, getting back to your question, in 2011, I went to severe coma, diabetes hypocoma, hypoglycemia coma and I had a very near death experience. And when I woke up I realised that I was not the same person who I am. And I said, this is not the way of living as a person who is 28 years old, I need to be in charge of my diabetes, I need to be in control of my diabetes, because if I was not in control of it, it will be in control of my life. And I don’t want that, I want to be the, let’s say the master of this story, or the hero of my story. Everyone should own that life on their story. So at the end of 2011, I won draw, I won to draw, a motorcycle, which I never had the opportunity to. Actually, the guy and I wanted to sell it, and I sold it to a guy who works in one of the advanced health care providers in Kuwait. So I said, ‘Can I have a tour? Is it possible to have a tour in your premises and see the technologies and the other stuff you’re doing?’ He said Yeah, definitely. Sure. So I went on a tour. And I pass by the office, and I saw actually the name of the doctor that rings a bell, the paediatric I said, Oh, definitely. It’s something that the doctor has a similar name, can’t be the same person. When I entered the office, and I saw her there, it was actually my doctor, my pediatrist and I was in tears, I was very much into severe depression. And she only told me that one word is ‘everything is going to be fine’. Like, don’t worry about it, and things will be fine. And that actually triggered me to be more keen and interested to take charge of my diabetes. She said, Can you pass by, it was on Thursday, So ‘can you pass by on Sunday?’, because all weekends are on Fridays and Saturdays. So I said yeah, I definitely can come on Sunday. So to do the HBA1C and check my blood sugar levels and, and then it was 5.8, which was not considered to have frequent hypos. Usually in that clinic, they want it to be between six and seven. And she said, How about having a course training course free of charge called DAFNE – Dose Adjustment For Normal Eating, that you will meet other people living with diabetes. And at the same time, you will be learning new stuff about diabetes, card counting sick days, sports, and all those kinds of stuff. What was really interesting about it, wasn’t only the education, it was meeting other people living with diabetes, that you’d see someone who has diabetes, very much a range, or we didn’t say all the time and range. You see people who are having hypers,  is having frequent hypos, who are people who sometimes check and don’t check, and that actually, and they are very much close to your age, either older or younger. And at that moment, that was the first group of people living with diabetes and we’re still in touch DAFNE group number 14.

 

Pam  19:40  

Oh that’s great.  Was that the first time since you were young, that you had other Type 1, and you really didn’t meet any before?

 

Mohammad  19:49  

Yeah. So it was three young ladies and two guys. So three,  guys, four, and three. So we’re seven, we were seven, it was five days a week, from 5 to 9pm. And they also take you to a restaurant based on your, your choice, to do the carb counting, and so on and I said, ‘Wow, that is a lot of advancement happened’, I was on Novorapid. But at that time I shifted from Mixtart to Novorapid and the Lantus. Of course, it took me four years since the training course to have better results.  I use to have frequent hypos, I wasn’t able to exercise, or when I exercise, I have hypos because of the exercise and you feel like your life was on a pause, like things are on a pause. And having frequent hypos will definitely have an impact on your brain functions and the future. So that is very much important to take care of your blood sugar levels and to have it as much as possible within the required range. And then I started to believe that, I started to read, I started to be more responsible and then I started to work in one of the diabetes nonprofit organisations. Then I felt that everything in my life was on a pause. But working with diabetes was the only thing that helped with the processing and life, I met other people, I trained I actually participated in global training programmes for people living with diabetes. Then I started to attend those programmes. One was in Melbourne, which is Young Leaders in Diabetes and by IDF International Diabetes Federation. And the first programme I attended was in Melbourne in 2013, then 2015 in Vancouver, and then the last one was in Abu Dhabi in 2000. The one I attended, of course, in 2017, I attended as a speaker, also in Vancouver, I was the speaker as well. I spoke about diabetes discrimination towards people living with Type 1 and Type 2. And then I started to be very much into the diabetes patient scene, and talking about the topics and things that us, as people living with diabetes need to focus on, empowering people living with diabetes. And I’m in that process, I started to accept diabetes. In that process, I started to understand that you cannot help others. If you don’t help yourself.  You cannot lift others. You cannot tell someone, do this and do that. But you’re not doing that. Live as an example, don’t come and address people because people don’t like to be addressed. If they come and ask you, try to be helpful as possible. And then I started to, also an exercise now I have, I wouldn’t say I don’t have hypos before exercise, that happens once a month, once every two months. When I change my food regimen or I have different nutrition programme, or maybe a stressful day at work, that could happen. But mainly I would have a great workout experience because I do weightlifting. And I do cardio, which has an impact. And usually now, even after I exercise, I never have blood sugar, let’s say 567 after exercise, because of the weightlifting but I added the cardio and I have to have 675 after the workout, mm which is not an easy task to have. It’s very difficult. But when you add like 30 minutes or 20 minutes of cardio, you will be going back to the required range. And since then, I started to be very much keen and interested at what my health and respecting my body as my body is my temple.

 

Pam  23:43  

Nice.

For I mean Type 1, is really difficult, hypos are it’s not a matter of if but when. I think you, from what I know and all the Type 1 that I’ve got to meet, hypos they’re not a way of life, but they happen and like you said the smallest change, things can happen. What is your advice, let’s say top three or five or what have you, that you would give to someone living with diabetes?

 

Mohammad  25:02  

I would say the most important thing is diabetes is part of you. It’s not the whole picture of you. It’s like a trait or a pattern you have or let’s say, part of you. It’s not the whole picture of you. So don’t look at yourself as a person living with diabetes, look at yourself as who you are. And what you are. That’s number one. Number two is accepting it. Because once you accept it, you will be able to overcome a lot of challenges and a lot of obstacles. Either that was education, either it was relationships, either it was in sports, achieving whatever you want to achieve, goals, objectives, career wise, and so on. The third advice I would say is, you do your best on, daily basis, so don’t go hard on yourself. You do your best. Checking your blood sugar, you do your best. Taking your injections, changing the site’s insertion on if you’re using a pump, you’re going to the doctor, so don’t stress about diabetes and forget living life. Don’t stress about diabetes, and you don’t travel and explore the world and meet other people, experienced food. Of course, you have to be moderate. Sometimes we all have cheat meals. But yesterday I went out to the friend, and he wanted to have KFC and I said I’m not going to have KFC. I didn’t have it since 2006. I will have something. So I had I had a bastrami and I had sweet potatoes and I had the kale salad. That’s how now I cannot accept those kind of type of food, because I work so hard during the week exercising and working my body.

 

Pam  26:57  

You’re an athlete so what I what I noticed with my son too, and I mean maybe this is I’m not an extreme Mom, I’m like everything in moderation because you’re surrounded by kids with parties, but I don’t think my son’s ever had KFC. He’s like so curious. He’s tasted his fair share of fast food and junk food. But I find that when he does eat it and then he’s like, ‘Oh I don’t feel well’. I’m like, I try to make him aware. And I guess, I imagine because you as an athlete eating KFC and other things now it’s a real shock to your body. So maybe you’re not feeling your best if you if you KFC. 

 

Mohammad  27:35  

And it messes things up.

 

Pam  27:36  

And, what can I say? this is not to say anything negative about KFC you know, or any fast food but it can be more difficult to digest.

 

Mohammad  27:51  

it can be and also you feel the sensation of low then, after four hours or three hours you feel your blood sugar is hitting the roof. So it’s not settling experience, even for people who are not living with diabetes, it wasn’t certainly experienced but my friend as well. And I said because you have a drop of your blood sugar than you have the blood sugar going up so, so I don’t want to have feeling those kinds of sensations like weekends I supposed to have fun, not over stressing about my diabetes. Also, when you live with their diabetes is take a day off or take doesn’t mean take a day off is not taking blood sugar and you’re taking your insulin or not checking blood sugar, but don’t overthink about it. Don’t make it a way of locking you’re living to live life to the fullest, enjoy life. Because it’s there, it’s always going to be there. But also you have the right to be happy and to enjoy the moment as well travelling or having certain events getting married to being in a relationship or having a first child or those that are graduating. So don’t let it be a burden for you. It’s going to be there, till there is a cure, hopefully. But don’t stress about it. That’s the advice I would also give myself because sometimes we do forget with all the stress and the hassles we have with life diabetes, and you know, is just let it be.

 

Pam  29:24  

I think that’s excellent advice. And I would say the same thing to any parents of children with diabetes. And the same for people with Type 2 Diabetes. like nobody wants to have diabetes in their life. But once you acknowledge it, accept it and then say okay, I’m going to deal with it, then I agree it does get easier for sure. And if someone is say, anyone out there listening right now and they’re struggling with it? and maybe they’re feeling burnout, similarly but not the same, maybe not diagnosed, they’re feeling overwhelmed, and they don’t really know quite how to overcome that. What would you suggest?

 

Mohammad  30:07  

Ask for help. Ask for help. If you have a sibling you trust, if you have a parent you can speak about your diabetes freely without feeling you are being restricted or you’re being hushed down or so on. You have to speak about it, you have to ask for help. Because we all need someone to help us, your health care professionals. If you have a good bond between your health care professionals, let’s say diabetes nurse, educator diabetologists, your diabetes doctor. It’s very much important also when you as a person living with diabetes is you have this communication, healthy communication with your healthcare professionals, if you didn’t feel your doctor is understanding, your diabetes educators understanding you have the right to choose who you feel comfortable with because you will be dealing with them or regular basis. Diabetes, burnout is not something to be avoided. It’s not something that you should ignore. It has kind of have extreme side effects to it. Talk about it, discuss it. Don’t feel ashamed about it. We all go through diabetes burnout in one phase or the other in our life, as people living with this chronic condition. Wonderful.

 

Pam  31:30  

Yes, I agree. And the good news. Now what I’ve seen in the region is there are more professionals that can support from everything from endocrinologists, to psychologists to psychiatrists, coaches, and it’s about you know, finding someone that you trust, like Mohammad  said, and finding the right one, definitely ask for help. Because you are certainly not alone. There are millions of people out there living with diabetes, although no two are ever alike. But please ask for help if you’re struggling. Now I want to make a shift to some of the exciting things that you’ve been doing the last few years. And one of those is becoming an ASICS athlete. Can you tell us more about that?

 

Mohammad  32:23  

Yeah, I was, I was really in awe in the early months of 2021. I had an ASICS representative from UAE, he is actually a South African. He said ‘I’m actually a ASICS representative when I want you to be part of the ASICS family frontrunner’ and I was I thought it was a spam. You know, you get those kinds of messages that you can be. And I wasn’t like I said, I said, Okay, well, this one seems like ASICS. And I always loved ASICS when I was young, and I find them comfortable. And then I said that’s interesting, but I’m not sure he’s actually a person to be credible or not. And then I said, Can we have a meeting? I said, Yeah, definitely we can have a meeting and we settled the meeting, like the next day. And he was serious. Like, I saw a lot of boxes of ASICS behind him and he was in the office and because he didn’t have a Wi Fi in his apartment. And I said, Okay, now I understand. I think in the beginning, he thought that I was cocky in a way, I was uptight, and I was a bit stiff. But because you get those spams all the time, and you don’t know who’s saying the truth. So he said yeah and I said I’m actually not a runner like, I wouldn’t consider myself a great runner. And he said actually ASICS we are not considering someone to run 25, 21k or 45k. Even if you’re running 5k you are considered to be a runner, and which is true, if you’re doing cardio you’re considered to be a runner, if you’re doing 5k or doing 2k or doing it in a certain pace, you are considered, even moms they can there are runners when they go with their kids and using the trolleys and so on. They are runners, but we go so hard and then judging ourselves because we have to because all the tabloids and body ads you see they have to be very fit. And they have to be very in a certain body type and thus but actually, when you’re running three to four days a week or maybe twice a week, you are a runner, you are doing running and so on. If something you practice it for three years, I read in one of the books, you are already practising it for three years, you become professional. So I said yes. And he said actually, because you’re a person living with diabetes, we wanted to focus on that, we wanted to focus on this segment of the society that actually lack exercising, and think exercising can impact them in a negative way, and we want it to be that.  So diabetes has opened a lot doors for me. I would be, I’m very grateful for all the stuff that has thrown in my path, the difficulties, but I’m also very much happy about the things that I have done with diabetes, because maybe without diabetes, I wouldn’t be very active, and it wouldn’t have met people around the world, living with diabetes, or parents of kids living with diabetes, which is, I think it’s a very rare, very rare thing to have, you know. You feel everyone understands you understand your hassles, understands the obstacles and understands the need of change in the whole healthcare spectrum and the culture spectrum about being healthy and being active and being more aware of yourself. Because without diabetes, I wouldn’t be who I am today, I wouldn’t be accepting, I wouldn’t be self loving. And I wouldn’t be aware of my body, and aware of what I’m eating, and how it’s going to impact me in the future. And the moment of having a high or low blood sugar. So that’s very much important. I like that perspective.

 

Pam  36:09  

That’s great. And I love the story about ASICS, that you thought it was spam. And I love their definition of a runner. So I’m feeling much more fit and better right now about myself as well. But I love that ASICS, if you’re out there listening, thank you for focusing on people with diabetes, it’s so important. Because I feel like there’s still a long way to go in the general public everywhere around the world that there’s a lot of shame and blame on people who have diabetes, and there really shouldn’t be. And I often use the analogy, Mohammad and I were doing this video call as well, we’re both wearing glasses, and nobody’s shaming and blaming us because we need glasses. But if you know, sometimes people hear of someone or see someone with diabetes, and then goes the shame and blame, and there’s just no need to do that. So thank you  ASICS for really reaching out to Mohammad and others like him, because it’s a condition that can be managed and for sure exercise does help. So I think you picked a great ambassador for that too. Well done ASICS. Can you also tell us about your work the in the founding of the Diabetes Ambassadors Programme?

 

Mohammad  37:22  

Yeah, so Diabetes Ambassador Programme is actually when I participated in the first young leaders and diabetes programme, you have to go back and have your own project. So it was established in January 2014. And mainly it started in schools, mainly it was presentation actually also addressed, addressed and supervised by my diabetologist. She had to go and review. You know, the definitions and stuff like that it has to be very accurate. And we covered up 32 schools and non-profit organisations workplaces to educate about Type 1 Diabetes, and the difference between Type 1, Type 2, hypos hypers, early symptoms of diabetes, medical, it is why it’s important. And then we started to have to grow like we had our first marathon in 2018. We also participate with non-profit organisations to for incident access, as well as we have drafted regulations document for the rights of people living with diabetes, but it wasn’t passed by the government because the last parliament was has ended, and when your parliament and you know the whole the political issues and stuff like that, but it is very comprehensive in terms of reference and laws or regulations for the rights of people living with diabetes, access to insulin, new technologies and healthcare and the mental health patterns that and sometimes need to have two extra hours of work or two extra hours in the beginning of the day or the end of the day because they need to take their kids to the hospital or they need to assist them when they have hypos. So it’s also a burden on the family. And it is a part of the whole family. It doesn’t just impact the person living with it. So there’ll be this Ambassador programme is also during COVID. We had live sessions, we also do workshops for teenagers and adults and parents, which parents was a huge success as well, as well as teenagers and we also include activities about education and about sports, and all those necessary stuff. And we did the one workshop for sports, who are as interested in sports. Hopefully soon one, have the time to finish the materials to have the advanced one for different types of sports; running, swimming and weight lifting because every topic is a huge major thing to be focused on.

 

Pam  40:08  

They’re very different. I would love to attend that just so I can teach my son to manage. Like he’s into basketball last year, he did a little bit of swimming when that opened up. And then sometimes after basketball, it’ll spike but it’s, you know, it’s aerobic and anaerobic at the same time. So finding those details and really understanding it. There’s a lot of studies and books and things out there. But that’s it’s one thing, but if you actually go to a workshop, that would be amazing. Wonderful! And so I think this concludes our time together now, but I would love for you to come back in the future and talk to us about some of the other things you’re working on and other topics because I know we could talk about this all day. It’s always a pleasure to talk to you, every time I listen to your story, even though I’ve heard it before I still learn new things. I still get incredibly motivated and it makes me very optimistic for the future of people with diabetes. Just before we go, I want to ask you what is your favourite food? People love people, all walks of life. Everybody loves food. If I’m talking about food, or if there’s a post about food, we get more engagement on everything about food. It can be a low carb food, it can be a healthy food, or maybe not so healthy food. Tell me your favourite foods. 

 

Mohammad  41:31  

I would say if not healthy, I would say definitely burgers. I love burger.

 

Pam  41:36  

Burgers. I’m good. Okay, I’m gonna send my son to Kuwait so you guys can hang out he wants to go try every burger around the world. And yeah, yeah, I’ll take him to the best ones and healthy ones. Oh. Well go easy. On the unhealthy ones to you guys can be best friends.

 

Mohammad  41:54  

And healthy food I would usually say like Scandinavian food, to be honest with you. It’s healthy. It’s light. But also you feel, and I love I would eat breakfast the whole day. Like I would eat eggs and eggs and let’s say eggs and vegetables the whole day. I don’t mind eating breakfast the whole time.

 

Pam  42:20  

Sure. Turkish breakfast is the way to go in our house. Yeah, breakfast all day. Wonderful. Do you listen to music when you exercise?

 

Mohammad  42:29  

Yes, I have a playlist. I could send it to you. I use the Murali application. So I have a playlist. If I have a personal trainer usually not. But I have a playlist for running, I have a playlists for hard work out. I have night drives playlist as well.  It’s not the common music that you’d listen to, sometimes I listen to certain unfamiliar artists and I really like if I like the lyrics I like the music. Yeah, I would add to the list.

 

Pam  43:03  

Cool. Is it more Arabic or is it more Western? Or kind of? Uh, no,

 

Mohammad  43:06  

it’s more Western at smaller Western I listened to Arabic but not a lot of like singers do attract my ears, to listen to, like certain ones that still remain good ones. But that doesn’t matter to me about the nationality or the language. The most important thing is the lyrics and the type of music. You know, we have different tastes in music in the morning and afternoon and, and you know, but lately I’ve been listening to audiobooks when I go to work, or I’m going back to home or going to the gym. That’s mainly the errands I go through, because everything you can order online, like say food and stuff like that.

 

Pam  43:52  

And your favourite audio book?

 

Mohammad  43:56  

I would say the best audio book I have listened to was, that’s a very difficult question, because I heard a lot of great narrators lately.  I would say the narrator for the Hail project, Hail Mary was amazing. And also the narrator for Dune by Frank Herbert was really amazing, because when I read the book, Dune, I wasn’t very much into it. It was a bit difficult to read, but when I listened to it through Audible, it was a really nice narration, really nice way of addressing the study with different voices. It was a lady or it was a man to be able to address it in a different way. And I really enjoyed the book. It was a very long book. And Frank Herbert is considered to be one of the best sci fi authors out there. It’s an interesting read, I would say. Also the narrator for the project hadn’t met. He was fun. He was more into jokes and fun, you know, kind of feelings.

 

Pam  45:07  

I like books with jokes and fun. Cool. All right, thanks for your recommendations. I’m definitely gonna check them out. Thank you again for joining us. And thank you, everyone, for listening to my interview with Mohammad Al Bahar. We wish you a great day. And we hope to see you back again soon. Thank you so much. Thank you.

 

I just want to take a moment to thank Mohammad again for joining me, and sharing his insight and wisdom, that he’s gained from living with diabetes for many years. And I really appreciate that he shared that one thing that he’s gained is acceptance, self-love and understanding. I think this is something that everyone is looking for. And one of the lessons that we’re all learning somehow somewhere. And it’s interesting that diabetes was kind of the vehicle to do that. So thank you again, Mohammad for sharing all of that. We will put the link for his TEDx video in the show notes, as well as all the other places where you can find him. And if you want to learn more about Mohammad, please follow him at the Diabetic Traveler on Instagram. Thank you again. It should go without saying but I just want to take a moment to remind everyone that anything you hear on this podcast is not here to replace medical advice. You will hear us interview medical experts and many other people that are very knowledgeable about a lot of subjects. But please, please always go ask your qualified doctor, diabetes team or other expert about your health.

Show Notes and Links

Disclaimer: It should go without saying that the Diapoint podcast is not intended as or should not be used as personal medical advice. You will hear us interview medical experts and others, but please always always ask your qualified doctor, diabetes team or other expert about your health. What works for one person does not always work for another person. What you should always do when you discover any new health information is ask YOUR doctor about it. This information should empower you to have a discussion with your healthcare providers about it. Diapoint, our guests, sponsors and business partners are not here to replace that advice. Living a full, healthy life means taking the proper medical advice from your qualified physicians, diabetes team or other healthcare providers.

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About Dia-Logue: The Diapoint Podcast and Pamela Durant

Here at Dia-logue: The Diapoint Podcast, we talk to experts and people living with diabetes about social situations, nutrition, mental health, travel, and many other topics related to health and wellness.

The Founder & Managing Director of Diapoint, Pam Durant, shares her experience as the mother a teenage son who was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at 20 months old.

Pam was also a healthcare manager for 25+ years, and is a certified Wellness and Lifestyle Medicine coach. She is passionate about showing people how to not just survive, but thrive.

If you are interested in appearing as a guest, please email us at info@diapointme.com. We would love to hear your story and your connection to diabetes.

For more information about our work visit us at diapointme.com and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @DiapointME.

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