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Young diabetic saved by Tui Ora kaiāwhina support

Young diabetic saved by Tui Ora kaiāwhina support
Kaiawhina Kim Marshall (left) with Sapphire Moke.

Last Updated: July 2017

A diagnosis of diabetes at age 11 is traumatic enough but for Sapphire Moke it was doubly difficult.

“It was kind of traumatic,” she recalls, now aged 18. “People didn’t accept me when I was young. I got judged. My family members didn’t want to be responsible for me when I stayed over and needed help with my insulin. My eating and my lifestyle had to change.”

She was referred to Tui Ora in February 2010 where kaiāwhina stepped in to guide her through the baffling experience. Over the past seven years, Sapphire has worked with a range of navigators Deb Tuuata, Lee-Ami McConnell and most recently Kim Marshall.

Along the way, they have provided clear and simple explanations about her condition, talked her and her mother through new and bewildering procedures, transported her to appointments and sat alongside her in support meeting.

She recalls the regime that she had to get used to, which as an 11-year-old seemed onerous.

“It was a big change for me. I had to exercise, I had to be less lazy, I had to take a lot of medication, inject insulin, take my blood sugars. I was in and out of hospital, sometimes more than once a week in the early days.

“They [the kaiāwhina] made a big difference in my life - without them I would not be here, doing what I now do. I was so depressed going through blood sweat and tears. It would just have been my Mum and I. They spent hours with us.”

It has been a major but, ultimately positive change for Sapphire, who is about to start studying towards a national certificate of business administration Level 3 at WITT.

Graduating from Spotswood College last year, she was named the Outstanding Gateway student as well as the Senior Girls Badminton Player of the Year.

Clearly, she’s proud of her achievements. As well as looking forward to tertiary study and the career path that it will lead to, her diabetes is in remission.

At its worst, her HbAIC level, (a measure of glucose in the blood over time) was 116mmol/mol, an off-the-scale measure predicting very serious both short and long term issues.

In the short term this vastly increased her risk of stroke or heart attack. While over time, without any intervention, she faced the possibility of kidney failure, sight loss or vascular and nerve issues potentially leading to lower limb amputation.

A life style change and support from Tui Ora services, means she has been able to reduce her HbA1C level to 49mmol/mol.

Even though Sapphire has been discharged from, Tui Ora Services Kim Marshall continues to be a friend; someone she checks in with every now and then, someone who keeps an eye on her. Recently, for example, Kim encouraged Sapphire’s involvement in a six-week Fit for Life programme, which saw her combining cardiovascular with strengthening and stretching exercises.

These days Sapphire is also proud to be a role model for others. 

“It’s a traumatic experience to go through at a young age, let alone for those who are older. I’m confident enough to talk to others about the condition and how to get through it.”
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