ABU DHABI // Hamdan al Maroui has been living with Type 2 diabetes for more than eight years now, but spent seven of them ignoring a disease he knew very little about.
The 33-year-old Emirati, who works for the Government, received an unexpected phone call from a Daman-employed coach 13 months ago. From that moment, he began learning how to manage his diabetes instead of allowing it to control him.
"Diabetes is the kind of disease," Mr al Maroui says now, "where the ideal patient is the one who knows how to take care of himself, who knows what it means to be in control of food and diet and exercise."
Before signing up with the disease management programme, he did not have that knowledge.
"All I used to do was take my medication," he said, and sporadically at that. If he ran out of medication, he would allow days and even weeks to pass without restocking his medicine cabinet. Even then, he neglected to check in with his doctor or get any tests, oblivious to the fact his dosage might need to be adjusted.
"The first thing my coach at the disease management programme did for me was convince me to make an appointment with my doctor and go get a full check-up, so I could be aware of my health," he said.
Soon enough, Mr al Maroui learnt to use a glucometer - an essential device for a diabetic that allows for blood glucose concentration levels to be monitored at home.
Mr al Maroui was told by his coach that being aware of his blood sugar levels is the first step in regulating diabetes.
"The best part was a series of lectures organised by the disease management coaches, which lasted for six weeks and covered every mundane detail about diabetes from A to Z," Mr al Maroui said.
He insists that all people, diabetic or not, should be made aware of the information he got from the lectures. Now, just over a year later, Mr al Maroui is taking fewer prescription drugs than before.
He eats five small healthy meals a day instead of skipping meals in the daytime and filling up with carbohydrates at night.
"The coaching is so motivational. I am so careful to never fluctuate over my 73kg, because I know I have to answer to my coach at least once a month."
Salem al Matroushi, 59, is another of the programm's successes.
The director of security at a company in the capital, he discovered that he had Type 2 diabetes seven years ago. In the two years since he began working with Daman coaches, Mr al Matroushi has been able to lose weight, make exercise a regular part of his lifestyle and learn to control his blood sugar.
"The idea behind the programme is genius," he said. "It is so encouraging to know there is someone out there who cares about your disease, and who forces you to care as well."
The doctor takes care of the medical part of things, said Mr al Matroushi, but the disease management coach provides the emotional support to live with an illness that will never go away.
"Every phone call I share with my coach, Munira, is a chance to be educated further," he said. "The benefit cannot be measured."