Battling diabetes: Fil-Aussie show host takes a ‘guinea pig’ role

Noted show host Rod Dingle, a Type 2 Diabetes sufferer, says he doesn’t mind being a ‘guinea pig’ for as long as it takes to help in a groundbreaking medical trial research to combat diabetes.
Photo courtesy of Rod Dingle

Photo courtesy of Rod Dingle

The Filipino-Australian compere and head of the Filipino-Australian Movement for Empowerment has put his hand up to be in a drug trial for the treatment that saw him lose 13 kilos in ten months.  Diabetes is a condition where there is too much glucose (sugar) in the blood and is considered one of the ‘silent killers’ in recent times.  A recent news item published in PhilStar reported that the rate of diabetes cases in the Philippines is increasing and that there may be an estimated 6.16 million diabetic Filipinos by 2030.

In Australia, Mr. Dingle sees hope in the experiment and is happy to share his experiences about this new treatment.

VC:   How did you get involved in the trial?           

RD:  As a diabetes type 2 sufferer and also a former heart patient who had a triple bypass previously, I was regularly reporting to the Blacktown Diabetic Centre as an outpatient where they are monitoring my post-surgery and treatment situation.  It was during this time, that there was a call for “volunteers” to be part of the medical trial.  I was talking to an Endocrinologist at the time as part of my ongoing diabetic assessments when they mentioned about the trial.  I wasn’t too keen initially because of fear of the “unknown”; but after speaking with my GPs, my Cardiologist, family and friends (who have been on trial like this), I convinced myself to take part.  I joined the research in June, 2013.

VC:  What were the requirements that you needed to meet to be in the trial?

RD:  To qualify for this research, one has to be at least 50 years old, has diabetes type 2 and has undergone a heart surgery.  I ticked all the boxes!

VC:   Do you know how many of you in New South Wales [and Australia] are involved in the trial?

RD:  I don’t have the specific number but there are at least 50 around Australia.  I don’t have the actual geographic distribution but I know there are few of us from here in the Blacktown City LGA and actually also go thru the same process and procedures as I have been going thru since June, 2013.  By the way, we are identified purely by a code number and no names are included.

VC:  Did you experience any difficulties?  If so, what were they? Did they make you consider quitting?

RD:  In the beginning – especially the first 4-8 weeks – was the period of adjustment particularly when the effects of the actual injections were taking effect.  As soon as I injected myself (once-a-week – in the abdomen area), I started to feel cold compress around my groin area and then pins and needles all over my body, hot flushes and finally the nausea came, I started not to eat food – although I felt hungry, then I go really hungry but I don’t have appetite to eat, or I am in the middle of a craving for something specific – so I ate that food item only to stop wanting to eat in the middle of it and wouldn’t even want to touch it.  Even up to 10 months on – I still suffer from hunger, nausea, hypo (very low sugar that made me sick) and made me wonder should I stop now – or keep going.  I can stop anytime as I’m not bound by anything but my commitment to helping science and medicine.

VC:   What are the benefits for you so far?

RD:  I have lost considerable weight – 13 kilos in the last 10 months in fact.  I have lost my tummy and in the last 10 months, I have a complete change in my wardrobe.  I still crave to eat all sorts of food – but for some reason, I take one look at certain foods, the craving stops. I still eat lechon [roasted pork] and the like, but in moderation and I don’t crave for such food as much as I used to.

VC:  For how much longer do you have to be in the drug trial?

RD:  I can stop anytime.  But for the sake of the research and the many sufferers out there, I am fine to be a “guinea pig” for as long as it takes. Particularly, since I am also doing so much good for my own health and myself.

VC:  Any other information you wish to share?

RD:  Many have asked me how they could become part of this research too.  You can’t.  The research phase is now well underway and I sincerely wish the researchers are gathering a lot of data from the many subjects, which in turn help in the whole process.  However, there are some products in the market that you can actually avail of – but – you must first go and talk to your GP and discuss them; but most importantly, you must also be suffering from some form of diabetes or other diabetes-related health conditions to be able to use these methods.

Next time that your offer of dessert is politely declined with this reason, “myembro kasi ako ng me-dia”, the person who has a good sense of humour meant “me diabetes ako” [I have diabetes]. With continuous research being undertaken on diabetes, we are hopeful that there will be more effective management of its effects, if not completely eradicating them.

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