Eshaan Shevate did not let Type 1 diabetes deter him from completing an arduous trek to the 15th century Inca ruins at Macchu Picchu, Peru.
In 2007, the cruel vagaries of life shattered the dreams of 12-year-old Eshaan Shevate, a promising swimmer, when he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
Last month, Eshaan cocked a snook at the disease by completing an arduous trek to the 15th century Inca ruins at Macchu Picchu in the Andes mountains.
“I began swimming at age four. My instructors thought I had enough promise. In the next few years I came within earshot of representing the state. Then, one August day, my blood sugar shot up alarmingly, I lost appetite, my muscles bulk reduced and the diagnosis left us dumbfounded,” he recounts in soft, measured tones.
It was a debilitating setback for the family. “They were simply unaware about the malaise. There was no one with whom they could share information about what had happened to me. Diabetes was viewed merely as a scourge of modern living,” says Eshaan, now a second-year engineering student.
His serene façade belies a grim physical and psychological combat to best the disease; of days spent taking insulin injections secretly at school when his blood sugar ratcheted to 560.
Eshaan was the only Indian in a multinational group of 12 people, all afflicted with type1 diabetes, who completed the trek organised by the World Diabetes Tour. Eshaan was also the youngest in the group.
On the second day on the Inca trail, a loud, rumbling noise confronted the group when it reached the Salcantay Pass (4600 m above sea level). It was an avalanche.
“The tremors shook the valley. It was all quite perilous. We were given the easy option of taking a bus and shortening our trail. But we dug in and completed the gruelling 75-km climb uphill,” says the doughty Eshaan.
“His is a remarkable achievement. It is especially heart-warming as Eshaan has been hamstrung by type 1 since he was 12,” said noted diabetologist Dr. Abhay Mutha, who runs the Diabetes Care & Research Foundation, a first of its kind in the country with a ‘Childhood Diabetes Welfare’ Program that has adopted more than 300 type 1 diabetic children till date.
Dr. Mutha stresses on the lack of awareness about type 1 diabetes. “It was kind of taboo to talk about it,” recounts Eshaan, who hopes to transform his achievement into an inspiring cornerstone in the battle against diabetes.
For, as he says, no medals are expected here, only a steely triumph of the will.