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As a Diabetic, Here's How I'll Try to Fast for 19 Hours

06/19/2015 12:34 EDT | Updated 06/19/2016 05:59 EDT
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The wafting smell of suhoor creeps through the crack under my door as I'm just stirring awake. It's time to eat! I rush to the washroom to wash up before I can indulge in the sweet and spicy breakfast my mother has so lovingly made for me. As I fill my plate with the lovely treats, I have to take caution. I am a diabetic, and cannot allow myself copious amounts of food.

Traditionally, Muslims are not allowed to eat throughout the day while they fast during the holy month of Ramadan. Although individuals with illnesses are usually exempt from fasting, I try my best to do what I can. I must have the occasional snack throughout the day to ensure my sugar levels don't deplete rapidly. I do, however, try to keep my food intake minimal to usually just a small carton of juice. It's an interesting struggle to keep the balance between fulfilling my religious responsibilities and keeping my health in check. The criticism is endless, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do! My doctors have advised me against fasting numerous times, but I think it should be a personal choice. Although it's not the healthiest way to go about things, it's definitely not a hard choice to make.

As I'm getting dressed for work, I realize I've forgotten to take my insulin shot. Four times a day, every day is the rule. I try to take less insulin while I'm fasting to ensure my sugar levels don't drop dangerously low throughout the day. No matter how much I try to avoid it, I do end up having to take some form of sugar eventually. The guilt sticks with me, but I like to remember the actual meaning of fasting.

Fasting is not just abstaining yourself from eating. Yes, it's a major part of it, but it's not the be all and end all. It has a much broader meaning behind the term. My interpretation of fasting requires us to hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil and think no evil. This is even harder than avoiding food and water! Working in a customer service role definitely doesn't help. The amount of cuss words I hear on a daily basis is probably much more than what the average Joe hears on the job. Furthermore, it's even harder to keep malicious thoughts out of my mind as I deal with the most demanding, disrespectful customers throughout the day. This proves to be a major challenge for me.

In Canada, the fast is normally a lot longer than other countries. For the first fast this year, the time will be approximately 19 hours. Although it can prove to be a challenge, I like to think we are being tested at a higher level. One of the biggest challenges rolls around close to noon, which is the normal lunch hour at work. Delicious smells of salads, soups, sandwiches, and much more make their way to my desk quite quickly. Even though I find this difficult, I realize this is the daily experience of many unfortunate individuals around the world: being able to see and smell the food, but not having the ability to eat it. Not only does this make me even more thankful, but it reminds me that I too have a responsibility to do what I can in my capacity to help the less fortunate.

The culture and brotherhood seen during this month especially is astounding. Big groups of students from the local university can be seen walking down the street to attend the mandatory prayers at the local mosque. The sense of community at the mosque is a joy to behold. Almost each and every mosque holds the tradition of iftaar when breaking the fast in the evening. Families come together during this month to pray and rejoice in the blessings we've received in plenty. It's a wonderful atmosphere full of respect, togetherness, and understanding. Overall, the month of Ramadan is a blessing within itself.

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