by KAYLEIGH ROBERTS Meghan Markle is living the rom-com dream and dating a royal. The Suits star and Prince Harry went public with their relationship last fall, and—as anyone who attended elementary school can attest—first comes love, then comes marriage. Which begs the question: what will Meghan Markle's official title be if she and Prince Harry do tie the knot? Here's what we know. First, can Prince Harry and Meghan Markle even *get* married? In 2017, this might seem like a ridiculous question—but Harry's royal status complicates things for two reasons: Markle is divorced and Catholic (according to People, she attended the private Immaculate Heart Convent school in L.A.). Markle divorced producer Trevor Engelson in 2013, but this shouldn't be a huge obstacle if she and Prince Harry decide to tie the knot because there's precedent for royals marrying divorcées. (Prince Charles and his wife Camilla Parker Bowles were both divorced before their marriage in 2005.) Meanwhile, the concern about Markle's faith stems from an archaic rule set forth in George III's Royal Marriages Act of 1772, which prohibited senior members of the royal family from marrying Catholics. In 2015, new rules went into effect under the Succession to the Crown Act which allows members of the royal family to marry Catholics. Phew. The Queen will absolutely have a say in the matter. Even though the supposed obstacles to Markle and Harry's potential marriage are easily navigated from a legal standpoint, Queen Elizabeth will still have to sign off on the union or Harry could lose his place in the line of succession. 2015's Succession to the Crown Act placed limits on an old rule from the Royal Marriages Act of 1772, which gave the monarch the right to approve marriages of all distant royal relations. Under the new rules, only the first six in line for the throne require the monarch's consent to marry—Prince Harry is currently fifth in line, meaning he would need his grandmother's permission to marry Markle. So, what would Markle's title be? According to Royal Central, in the United Kingdom wives automatically take their husband's title, meaning Markle would be HRH Princess Henry of Wales (admittedly a little weird). However, she would not be Princess Meghan, since "princess" is a title that you have to be born into under the British monarchy (which is why Kate Middleton is Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge—not Princess Kate). Royal Historian Marlene Koenig explains that like William, Harry will likely be made a Duke—therefore his wife will be a Duchess. "Most likely, he will be created a Duke. Sussex is available so [Markle] would be HRH the Duchess of Sussex. Her rank would be a princess by marriage of the United Kingdom, Great Britain, and Northern Ireland," Koenig said. Welp, that settles that! Now we just have to wait for the proposal .
Education was my only refuge from my dark thoughts. I focused all my energy on school. In my fourth year, I was promoted to head TA. I worked as a senior mentor for the school’s first-year transition program. I carried an eight-course load and earned a 3.99 GPA. One day, I got an email from my department advisor. In it was a description of the university’s highest honour, the John H. Moss Scholarship, a $16,000 award that’s given to an outstanding student who intends to pursue graduate work—the Rhodes scholarship of U of T. My advisor encouraged me to apply. No one from U of T Mississauga campus had ever won it, she said. The deadline was only a few days away, but she convinced me to hustle up the paperwork. A few weeks later, I got an email saying that I was one of five finalists. I arrived for my interview on February 6, 2013. The committee ran through questions about my academic record and leadership experience. I’d written about my abusive marriage in my application, too, and at the end of the interview, the panel asked me how I go on after everything I’ve been through. My polish wore off in that moment. "Every day I feel like giving up," I told them. "But I don’t want my daughters to grow up thinking that being abused is normal." Forty-five minutes after my interview concluded, I got a phone call. John Rothschild, chair of the selection committee and the CEO of Prime Restaurants, was on the other end of the line with a few other panellists. "Congratulations," they said. "You’re our winner this year." I couldn’t believe it. I grabbed my daughters’ hands and danced wildly around the house with them. I wanted to tell the whole world.
Samra and John Rothschild
Since then, John has become a friend, a mentor, and the closest thing I have to a father figure. He taught me how to believe in myself again. He says if I ever get married again, he wants to walk me down the aisle. In September of that year, I started my master’s in economics. By the time I graduated, I was surviving off OSAP, and my debt load was piling up. I wanted to stop borrowing money as soon as possible, so I decided not to pursue a PhD. Instead, I accepted a job at the Royal Bank of Canada, where I work today as a commercial account manager. Around the time of my graduation, I was named the top economics student at U of T. At the award ceremony, a journalist introduced herself to me (her daughter was in my class). I told her my story, and she published an article about it in a Pakistan newspaper. As my story circulated through the community, I received hundreds of messages from women all over the world trapped in forced marriages and looking for help. So many of them sounded like me five years earlier, isolated and helpless. Women who show up at shelters or call assault hotlines or leave their homes find themselves completely alone. Without any help, they return to their abusers or fall into new relationships that are just as bad. Once, while I was TAing at U of T, a father barged into my office yelling. "You’re pushing my daughter to get her master’s degree!" I couldn’t believe it. To me, it was natural to offer encouragement—his daughter was the top student in my class. "She’s supposed to marry a boy in Egypt. Stop poisoning her with your Canadian bullshit," he barked. Years ago, a woman wrote to me asking if we could talk on Skype. She was a Canadian university graduate whose parents forced her into a marriage in Pakistan after she finished school. Brutally abused for three years, she returned to Canada to have her baby. She wanted to leave her marriage. After we finished talking, I drove to her house and encouraged her to do it. "No one will ever love me again," she said. Three years later, she graduated from a master’s program and got a job working full-time in Toronto. I realized I couldn’t stop abuse from happening. But I could offer friendship to women in similar positions to my own.
I started a non-profit called Brave Beginnings that will help women rebuild their lives after escaping abusive relationships. John Rothschild, my mentor, provided our start-up funding, and we’re piloting the project this year. For the past three years, I’ve lived in a three-bedroom condo in Mississauga with my daughters, who are now 15 and 10. I serve as an alumni governor at the University of Toronto, and I speak about my experience for organizations like Amnesty Inter-national. I’m happier than I ever imagined I could be. I want women to know that they deserve a life of respect, dignity and freedom—that it’s never too late to speak up. It infuriates me that many women are expected to uphold their family’s honour, yet they don’t have any themselves. Last April, I called my ex. I wanted to help him repair his relationship with our older daughter. It had been four years since we had spoken in person. I decided to meet with him. Despite everything, I believed that my girls deserved to have their father in their lives. I sat in a coffee shop at Eglinton and Creditview Road, desperately hoping that I was no longer scared of him. I saw him walking across the parking lot, and waited for an avalanche of fear to hit me. It never came. Sitting across from me, he was just another person. To my surprise, he apologized. "I cannot believe after everything that you’re still willing to help me repair my relationship with our kids," he said. That day in the coffee shop, I finally felt free.
A few weeks ago, I lay in bed cuddling with my youngest daughter. Every night, we snuggle for 10 minutes before she goes to bed, just the two of us, unpacking the day. Out of the blue, she said, "Mom, I think Daddy’s family picked you because you were only 16. They thought you were just going to do whatever they told you to do and they’d be able to make you into whoever they wanted you to be." And then she paused. "Man," she said. "They picked the wrong girl."
Congratulations to Samra Zafar for her courage, determination and for her amazing success. She is a wonderful example of hope for women who struggle to escape abusive relationships and achieve their dreams. Never lose hope.
My first day of school in September 2008 was one of the best of my life. I got to school 15 minutes before my class started and walked through the Kaneff Centre at U of T Mississauga. After everything I’d been through, I’d finally achieved my dream. I sat in the hall, tears running down my cheeks. If only my father could have seen this, I thought to myself. I thrived in my new environment. I aced every class, and other students gravitated toward me, asking to study or socialize. My success changed my thinking. If I was the scum on the bottom of my husband’s shoe, like I’d been told all these years, why were my marks so high? Why did classmates want to be my friend? I could feel vestiges of confidence I hadn’t had in years. One day in October I was walking to the campus bookstore to buy textbooks. Just around the corner, outside the health and counselling centre, a flyer on a bulletin board caught my eye. On it was a list of questions. "Do you feel intimidated? Do you feel like you don’t have a voice? Do you feel like you’ve lost your identity?" As my eyes ran quickly down the list, my brain screamed over and over again: yes, yes, yes. "Come in and make an appointment," the poster read. I opened the door and walked inside. A few days later, I sat across from a counsellor, describing what was going on at home. "I don’t know what to do," I told her. "I’m trying to keep my husband happy and I’m still not good enough. He keeps telling me I’m worthless. All I want to do is fix it." She grabbed my hand. "It’s not your fault," she said. It was the first time anyone had said that to me. As I continued my counselling, I realized that what had happened to me was wrong. My agency had been stripped away. I learned about the cycle of abuse that characterizes so many unhealthy relationships. Our marriage was becoming more toxic every day. He once bought me a cellphone as a present, but installed spyware on it so he could monitor my calls. He kicked me in the stomach. He kept threatening to kill me. A year after I started counselling, I told him I wanted a divorce. "What are you talking about?" he asked me. "I love you. I can’t live without you." One January night in 2011, he picked a fight. I wasn’t doing enough housework, he said. As he loomed over me, tightening his fist, I picked up my phone. "If you touch me, I’m going to call 911," I shouted. And then he spat out the word divorce, in Urdu, three times: talaq, talaq, talaq. According to some Islamic scholars, uttering those words means the marriage is over. I thought I’d be thrilled when he left, but I was terrified. I’d never lived on my own, and I was bracing myself for the shame I believed I would bring to my family.
He sold our house out from under me, leaving me and the kids with three weeks to pack up. We had nowhere to go. I even registered at a couple of shelters, expecting to be homeless. One day, I was at the U of T tuition office, and a woman overheard me lamenting my situation. She suggested I look into campus housing; luckily, the university had one family unit left. Two days later, I had the keys to my very own shabby three-bedroom townhouse. I couldn’t afford movers. I packed all my belongings into garbage bags and made 10 trips back and forth every day for five days, in the van I used to drive the kids who attended my home daycare. I used my last $100 to pay a couple of students to help me move my furniture. I was relieved not to be out on the streets. I slept in one room with my youngest daughter. My eldest had the second bedroom, with enough space just for a single bed. I rented out the third room to a Pakistani student who watched my girls while I worked in the evenings. It was tiny, but it was ours. That year, I juggled five jobs to stay afloat. I worked as a TA, a researcher with the City of Mississauga and a student mentor. I did night shifts at the student information centre on campus. I even ran a small catering business out of my apartment.
One day it dawned on me that my husband was a man willing to put his own kids out on the street to teach me a lesson. I drove to the police station and reported everything. I gave a three-hour-long videotaped statement, offering as much detail as I could about the decade of abuse I’d endured. The officer said he likely wouldn’t be able to lay charges because there weren’t any bruises on my body. But it didn’t matter. Just telling the authorities was a huge relief. It was my way of acknowledging everything to myself, of finally saying, it wasn’t my fault—none of it was my fault.
The officers interviewed my doctor and counsellors, and two days later they arrested my husband for assault. He pleaded guilty. We finalized our divorce, and he got joint custody. My older daughter refused to see him, but my younger daughter visited him every other week. There were many times over the next year that I thought I’d made a mistake, that I couldn’t do it on my own. I thought the shame would never go away. After my marriage ended, none of my old friends would speak to me. My mother refused to tell people back home. I had no family in Canada, no friends at school who knew what was going on. I was completely isolated. I’d always been told that women are responsible for upholding the family’s honour. A woman living alone is a sin. A woman travelling alone is a sin. When everybody around you says you’re in the wrong, that your dreams aren’t valid, you start to believe that. And there were many times that I’d fall into those sinkholes.
When my daughter turned three, I learned about a parent drop-in centre called Ontario Early Years, funded by the Ministry of Education. Located in a Streetsville strip mall, the space was bright and cheerful. My daughter would make crafts or play with Play-Doh, and the parents would gather in a song circle with their children and recite nursery rhymes. My husband took my daughter and me there a couple of times. Eventually, he let me walk over on my own. I looked forward to those two afternoons a week, when I’d be allowed to step outside by myself without fear, when I’d feel fresh air on my face.
The woman who ran the centre was Pakistani, and she recognized some of the signs of abuse even before I knew what to call it. She saw how jittery I would get if the sessions were running long, or how I’d have to ask permission from my husband if there were any changes to the schedule. She let me use the phone to call my parents. I tearfully told my father what was happening, that I felt imprisoned and helpless. He was horrified, but advised me to wait until I got my Canadian citizenship. "That way you won’t risk losing your daughter," he said. And so I waited another year. Throughout this period, I resumed my education, taking high school courses by correspondence. I applied to university several times. I was always accepted, but my husband would never pay the tuition. In 2005, I told my husband that I wanted to go home to visit my family for four months. It had been five years since I’d last seen them. When he told me he didn’t have the money, my father sent plane tickets for me and my daughter, who was four by then. On my way to the airport, I asked my husband for $10 to buy myself a coffee and my daughter a snack. "Bitch, go ask your father for that too," he told me, as he dropped me off at Pearson. When my parents picked me up at the airport, they almost didn’t recognize me. I’d lost so much weight I looked skeletal. My family were shocked. The bright, confident girl they knew had been replaced with a skittish, scared young woman. It took a couple of months for me to realize I could go to the mall on my own, or to the grocery store. These were small triumphs, but they helped build up my confidence. By the end of my visit, I was resolved not to go back to Canada. As soon as I delivered the news to my husband over the phone, he unleashed a flood of apologies. He told me he’d never hurt me again. He promised we’d move out of the house, that we’d live alone together like we used to. He wore me down. In August 2005, I returned to Canada. We moved into a new apartment, and my husband was paying both his parents’ mortgage and our rent, leaving little money for anything else. At first, he was kind again. But within a few months, I got pregnant with our second daughter, and the abuse resumed. I needed an escape plan, so I began tutoring and babysitting children in our apartment building, slowly saving money for five months until I had enough for my daughter and me to fly to Karachi, where my sister was getting married. This time I wasn’t coming back. My father had been diagnosed with kidney failure before I’d arrived in December, and over the next few months I watched helplessly as his condition deteriorated. One day, I sat with him in the ICU. "Papa, if something happens to you, what am I going to do?" I asked him. "Realize the strength you have inside of you," he told me. "Go back to Canada and find a way to get out of your marriage." He died two days later. My husband arrived in Karachi that week for the funeral. Sex was the first thing he wanted. It wasn’t until he’d finished that he asked me how I was feeling. I said I was fine, got up and walked to the bathroom. I turned on the shower so he wouldn’t hear me cry.When I asked my mother what to do, she told me I should go back with him. After all, she had two more daughters to marry off, she said, and she didn’t have the money to support me. I couldn’t work. I had no education or experience. And I was pregnant. Resigned and defeated, I went back with him. While I’d been away, he’d moved back into his parents’ house.
This time I got a small room in the basement, with bare walls and a little window in the corner. My daughter slept in her crib in the room next door. In June 2006, I gave birth to my second daughter. I was miserable. And yet my father’s words had ignited something in me. I knew I was smart, and I knew the only way out was through school. I studied in my room every night, finishing the last course I needed for my GED, a Grade 13 economics credit. A few months after my younger daughter was born, I earned my diploma, and decided to apply to university again. I knew my husband would never let me leave the house to earn money for tuition, so I resurrected my babysitting service, telling him I was earning money for the family. I co-opted my mother-in-law with the promise that she’d earn easy money taking care of kids, and my husband even let me buy a van to drive my charges around. I was making between $2,000 and $3,000 every month, and though I had to turn over my earnings to my husband, I managed to sock away a few hundred dollars here and there. It took me two years to save enough for one year of school. In 2008, I applied to U of T’s economics program. I was accepted. Nothing was going to stop me from going. "Who’s going to pay for your tuition?" my husband asked. "I am," I responded. My in-laws were so angry about my decision that no one in the house spoke to me for six months. I didn’t care. This was my chance to get out. It had taken me nearly 10 years, but I’d gone from victim to survivor.
The next day, we were at my grandfather’s house for the wedding. As my mother adjusted my gown, I pulled back. I told her I wanted to run away. "Don’t be silly," she said. "All the guests are here." Someone put the marriage licence in front of me, I was told to sign it, and I did. Later we held a celebration at a high-end restaurant in the city. Strings of lights and red ribbons decorated the room, and 200 of our parents’ friends came. There were piles of food, and everybody laughed and sang and danced long into the night. I wore a long red lehenga sari. I was told to sit there quietly and look down at my hands, playing the demure bride.This was the first of two ceremonies—we had to make it official so that my husband could apply for my sponsorship in Canada. The second ceremony was still months away, as was my wedding night. In the meantime, I continued to live with my parents and attend school. My new husband stayed in Pakistan for a month. We saw each other a few times, but never for long and usually with others around. One evening, we went to Pizza Hut with his older brother and his brother’s wife. It was my first date, and I was so shy I barely spoke. We talked regularly online, over MSN Messenger, and occasionally on the phone. Slowly, I grew more comfortable with the marriage. Nothing about him struck me as special. He wasn’t smart or funny or warm, but he was a normal enough guy. He told me how pleased he was that his wife was so smart. He suggested university programs I should consider in Canada. He agreed to wait to have kids until I finished school. He said all the right things.
When my immigration papers came through in August 2000, we both flew to Abu Dhabi for our second, smaller celebration. After it was over, we slept together for the first time. I was petrified. I knew nothing about sex or birth control, and neither did he. My aunt had told me about ovulation, explaining that I couldn’t get pregnant if I had sex on certain days of the month. I thought our wedding night was one of those days. I’d never even seen a condom before. Later that week, we flew to Canada and I moved into his two-bedroom condo in Mississauga. I missed my parents, my friends, my school. I was so unhappy that I stopped eating, and I spent most of my days watching TV while my husband was at work. I stopped getting my period right away. At first, I thought it was because of the move, the abrupt change in environment. But a month passed, then another. I was getting sick every morning. My nausea was so severe that I was afraid to go outside in case I fainted. Finally I told my husband that I needed to see a doctor. I sat in the doctor’s office, listening to him ask me if I understood what being pregnant meant. All I knew was that it meant I couldn’t go to school. This can’t be happening, I thought. This isn’t happening. I was only 17. During the first few months of my pregnancy, my husband was kind and thoughtful. He took late-night trips to the grocery store to satisfy my cravings. He’d call a couple of times a day from work to ask how I was feeling, and every night we cooked dinner together. I discovered an adult learning centre near our condo and enrolled in an ESL course. I thought our marriage was going well. Then, two months before our daughter was born, he told me his parents would be moving to Canada and staying with us. He had planned for them to live with us all along, but this was the first I’d heard of it. We moved out of the master bedroom into the smaller one so his parents would be more comfortable. Everything changed when they arrived. My husband and I stopped spending time alone together. His mother got upset when he paid attention to me, so he didn’t show me any affection. When I would ask if I could call my parents in Ruwais, he or his mother would tell me we couldn’t afford international calls.
In May 2001, I gave birth to our daughter. When we returned from the hospital, my husband slept on the couch while I stayed with the baby in the second bedroom. I’d never felt so alone. I fantasized about stealing money from my husband’s wallet and taking a cab to the airport, calling my parents and asking them to buy me a plane ticket home. But I didn’t want to leave my daughter behind. When she was a few months old, we bought a four-bedroom house in Streetsville with his parents. I was rarely allowed to leave. I never had a penny to my name. My mother-in-law gave me her cast-off clothing to wear. I didn’t have a cellphone. I wasn’t allowed to go to the grocery store on my own. If I didn’t iron my husband’s shirts or make his lunch or finish my chores, he and my in-laws told me that I was a bad wife who couldn’t keep my family happy. I walked on eggshells all the time. If I asked my husband something, he would reply, "Bitch, get out of here." Two years in, the abuse got physical. He would grab my wrist and shove me around. I’d be sitting on the couch and he’d slap me upside the head, or grab me so hard on my upper arms that my skin would bruise. Once he tossed a glass of water in my face; I slipped on the floor and threw out my back. Another time he punched a hole in the wall next to my head and told me, "Next time, it’s going to be you." On several occasions, he picked up a knife and said he was going to kill me and then himself. I was having suicidal thoughts all the time. I was convinced my life was over. One time, I took a razor blade into the shower and thought about cutting myself, stopping only when I heard my baby cry. I believed my unhappiness was my fault—that the secret to perfect wifehood was eluding me. If I’d just done the dishes better, been quieter, anticipated that he wanted a cup of coffee or a glass of water, then none of this would have happened.
Cataracts are a common part of aging, with the eye's clear lens growing cloudy and blocking light. However, people with diabetes are 60 percent more likely to develop cataracts. They tend to develop this eye disorder at a younger age, and their cataracts worsen at a much quicker pace. People with type 2 diabetes develop cataracts due to their high levels of blood sugar. "As the blood sugar levels increase, the concentration of [glucose] around the lens goes up," Gonzalez says. "The sugar enters the lens through osmosis, bringing water with it." That changes the chemical composition inside the lens, prompting the lens to grow cloudy. People with type 2 diabetes also are 40 percent more likely to develop another common eye disease, glaucoma. Glaucoma occurs due to an increase in fluid pressure inside the eyeball. The pressure pinches off blood flow to the retina and optic nerve, causing slow damage. This damage leads to gradual but permanent vision loss. Diabetes: Protect Your Vision : The problems with blood sugar are the principal cause of the damage to the eye," Gonzalez says. "Most people with diabetes will vary in terms of how high their high is and how low their low is. The larger the difference between the high and the low, the more susceptible you are to damage from diabetes." Tightly managing your type 2 diabetes is the best way to prevent eye health complications. By Dennis Thompson, Jr. Reviewed by Farrokh Sohrabi, MD Type 2 diabetes can have a terrible impact on your eye health. Learn about the major diabetic eye diseases and get tips for avoiding them. Type 2 diabetes is a systemic disease, and if left untreated it can cause many serious complications in areas throughout the body — including the eyes. In fact, complications that threaten eye health are among the leading problems that can occur with diabetes and put people with type 2 diabetes at a greater risk of blindness. Preventing eye problems such as diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, and glaucoma hinges, in large part, on successfully managing blood sugar levels. Diabetic Retinopathy: Unchecked blood sugar levels that spike and plummet can cause damage to the blood vessels of the eyes, resulting in a condition known as diabetic retinopathy. This is the most common vision problem due to diabetes. Retinopathy targets the retina, the tissue lining the back of the eye wall that perceives the images captured by the eye. There are two main types of diabetic retinopathy: Non-proliferative retinopathy. This is the disease's first stage. "The fluctuations in the blood sugar begin to damage the walls of blood vessels," says Victor H. Gonzalez, MD, founder of Valley Retina Institute in McAllen, Texas, and a volunteer for the American Diabetes Association. "The blood vessels begin to leak." The leakage causes the retina to swell, blurring your vision and causing straight lines to appear wavy as the retina takes on an uneven shape. Proliferative retinopathy. This is the disease's second stage, in which the eye tries to compensate for the loss of blood vessels by forming new ones. These new blood vessels are weak, though, and crowd into the retina. "Unfortunately, the blood vessels begin to grow around the central vision," Dr. Gonzalez says. As these vessels mature, they often bleed and cause scarring that can lead to a tractional retinal detachment, which occurs when the scar tissue causes the retina to pull away from the eye tissue. This can cause blindness if not corrected. Cataracts and Glaucoma : Early detection is also key to preventing vision loss, especially for diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. People with diabetes should undergo a thorough eye examination once a year. These eye examinations must involve dilation of the pupil. That's the only way an eye doctor can observe the back of the eye. "They need to have a dilated eye examination performed by an ophthalmologist," Gonzalez says. "Sometimes patients will go to health fairs and have an eye screening there. That's not a diabetic eye exam. Unfortunately, I've had some people get into trouble because they use that as their annual eye examination." "We have very effective treatments," Gonzalez adds. "If we begin treatment early on in these patients, we can have a very significant impact on their retinopathy and reduce their risk of severe vision loss.
Meet Samra Zafar, a Pakistani-Canadian woman who is sharing her life story to encourage other abused and degraded women to be strong. She recalls the brutality of her abusive marriage, the struggle of surviving in a repressive, violent and controlling family. And finally her break for freedom to make life better for herself and her children.
Here is how it unfolded… in her words:
When I was a kid, my only goal was to get a good education. I dreamed of attending Harvard or Stanford, and planned to become a doctor one day. I was the eldest of four daughters in a Pakistani Muslim family. We lived in Ruwais, a small town in the United Arab Emirates, where my father worked in an oil plant and my mother was a teacher. At school, I always stood out among the girls in my class—I was brash, clever, outspoken. I took pride in acing every test. When I brought home top marks, my father would celebrate by handing out sweets.
One day, when I was in Grade 10, I was in my bedroom doing math homework. My mother walked in. She told me I’d received a marriage proposal. I laughed. “Mom, what are you talking about?” I asked. She didn’t crack a smile, and I realized she was serious. “I’m only 16,” I said.
”I’m not ready for marriage.” She told me that I was lucky. The offer came from a nice man who lived in Canada. He was 28 years old and worked in IT. His sister was a friend of hers. The woman thought I’d make a perfect match for her brother—I was very tall, and he was six foot two. “They’re going to look so great together in pictures,” she had said to my mother.
For weeks, I pleaded with my mom not to make me go through with it. I’d sit at the foot of her bed, begging. She would tell me it was for my own good, and that a future in Canada would give me opportunities I wouldn’t have here at home. She assured me that she’d spoken to his family about my desire to continue my education. “You can go to school in Canada. And we don’t have to worry about you being alone,” she said. The next thing I knew, his parents were measuring my wrist for wedding bangles. The date was set for five months later, in July 1999.
My friends would talk about their own dream weddings—the gowns they would wear, how they planned to be dutiful wives and homemakers. When I told them about my doubts, they thought I was crazy, that I was a fool, that Allah would punish me for being ungrateful. Marriage was their ultimate goal in life. But I didn’t want it. I just didn’t know how to get away.
For the next few months, I had recurring nightmares about my impending marriage. In my dreams, I was trapped inside a house, watching from the window as students made their way along the sidewalk to school. I’d wake up sweating and scared in the middle of the night. My mother would try to calm me down, telling me I was being hysterical. One night, when I woke up screaming, she decided to do something about it. She phoned my future husband in Canada and allowed me to speak to him for the first time. All I knew about him were those few details my mom had shared with me the night he proposed. When I picked up the phone, I was meek. I only had one question: “Will you let me go to school?” He reassured me: “Yeah, yeah, I’ll let you go to school. Don’t worry.”
The first time I saw him was on July 22, 1999, the day before the wedding, at his family’s home in Karachi. As we sat sipping tea, I snuck furtive glances at the man who was going to be my husband. I felt dwarfed by him.
Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms associated with poorly controlled blood sugar. By Jen Laskey Medically Reviewed by Justin Laube, MD If you have type 2 diabetes and you’re feeling tired, you’re not alone. Fatigue is a symptom that’s often associated with the condition. There are many possible causes, including everything from diabetes-related complications to underlying conditions. Simply managing diabetes on a daily basis can zap your energy from time to time. However, the most common cause, by far, is uncontrolled blood glucose, says Joel Zonszein, MD, director of the Clinical Diabetes Center at the University Hospital of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Health System in the Bronx, New York. With type 2 diabetes, poor blood sugar control typically results in hyperglycemia or high blood sugar, which can cause fatigue among other symptoms. But Dr. Zonszein notes that high blood glucose isn’t the only cause. “Some people — especially the elderly — get dehydrated because their blood sugars are so high [and this leads to increased urination]. The fatigue, in part, comes from the dehydration,” he says. “It can also come from kidney disease.” Find Out About Type 2 Diabetes and a Treatment Option. Underlying conditions and diabetes-related complications are additional factors that can contribute to tiredness. Dr. Zonszein explains that when people have had type 2 diabetes for a long time, they can develop damage in their kidneys, heart, and liver. “Abnormalities in these organs can also cause fatigue,” he says. When fatigue is a concern, Zonszein will also screen for anemia. Anemia is not caused by diabetes, but it frequently occurs in people with diabetes and is a common cause of fatigue. He will also check the thyroid hormone level. People with diabetes are at increased risk for thyroid diseases, especially hypothyroidism. “A sluggish thyroid together with diabetes can be another cause,” says Zonszein. Medications should also be reviewed, as fatigue can be a side effect in some, especially those used to control blood pressure like beta blockers. Type 2 diabetes is a complex disease that is associated with numerous co-morbidities, including obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar. People with diabetes who neglect their health because of fatigue and other symptoms put themselves at greater risk of developing complications, according to a review of literature focused on diabetes-related fatigue that was published in the July 2010 issue of the Journal of Psychosomatic Research. Often neglected are psychological factors, such as depression or feeling overwhelmed by their diagnosis or complexity of medical care, that can contribute greatly to feeling “low energy.” To reduce fatigue and your risk of other symptoms and complications, it’s important to work with your health care team to make sure you’re properly managing your diabetes and any co-morbid conditions — and that includes making healthy lifestyle choices. “People who have a healthy lifestyle — who exercise every day, eat well, drink a lot of water, and take their medications properly — tend to feel well,” says Zonszein. “It is the ones who are a little bit sluggish with exercising, or they over-eat, or they don’t eat all day and then they eat too much at night, and they forget their medications, those are the ones who often start to get complications.” Fatigue and headaches are the most common complications of patients who are not well-treated, he says. If you’re feeling abnormally tired in between your regular doctor visits and you don’t seem to be getting better, call your doctor and make an appointment to get examined sooner.
Prof Robert E Kelly keeps his cool during an interview about South Korean politics when his two children interrupt him, live on air. Kelly’s daughter first lets herself into his office and ambles over to her daddy and is shortly followed by a baby in a walker. He smiles and apologizes for the interruption while his poor harassed wife rushes into the room to take the children out. The interviewer admits he almost lost it and burst into laughter during that desperate grab for the doorknob.
The BBC was highly amused and invited the professor and his family back any time.
By Everyday Health Guest Columnist By Sue Montgomery, RN, BSN, Special to Everyday Health Nearly six million. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), that’s the number of people in this country who are currently living with heart failure. The Heart Failure Society of America (HFSA) says that heart failure is “a syndrome characterized by high mortality, frequent hospitalizations, poor quality of life, multiple comorbidities, and a complex therapeutic regimen.” Simply put, heart failure can be a very serious condition that puts people at greater risk for death, disability, and additional complications. When people are hospitalized for heart failure, for example, there’s a risk of developing hospital-acquired, antibiotic-resistant infections. By staying informed about heart failure and taking the right steps to manage it — like staying in close communication with your physician or family nurse practitioner — you can rise above heart failure and enjoy your life. There are many excellent heart failure resources you can go to, such as those from the AHA, the HFSA, and others. In addition, here are five things this nurse wants you to know about this potentially deadly condition. 1. Heart Failure Doesn’t Discriminate Based on Age Although getting older can put you at higher risk for heart failure, the condition can occur at any age. In fact, when I worked in the neonatal and pediatric intensive care units, I cared for many babies and children with heart failure due to a variety of causes. During my years working with adults in critical care and hospice, I witnessed heart failure across a variety of ages in these populations as well. You could develop heart failure for any number of reasons related to a variety of health conditions, including: coronary artery disease high blood pressure faulty heart valves a damaged heart muscle inflammation of the heart due to infection congenital heart defects abnormal heart rhythms chronic diseases, such as diabetes and thyroid disorders 2. Not All Heart Failure Is Created Equal Because heart failure can have many causes, it may also manifest differently depending on the cause. As the Mayo Clinic notes, acute heart failure occurs suddenly, with symptoms that are more dramatic, such as during a major heart attack. For acute heart failure, symptoms may include these among others: chest pain severe shortness of breath pink and frothy sputum a rapid heart rate Chronic heart failure occurs more gradually and is ongoing. Associated symptoms may include: swelling in the lower extremities and abdomen shortness of breath fatigue nausea chronic cough There are differences between left-sided heart failure and right-sided heart failure as well, as noted in this detailed description by the AHA. 3. Heart Failure Can Creep Up on You When You Least Expect It When my friend told me she saw a television commercial about heart failure that described her situation perfectly, it was a good reminder of how stealthy this common condition can be. She’d been struggling for weeks as her condition worsened, but couldn’t pinpoint the cause. In the ad she referenced, a man is sitting in his living room calmly reading the newspaper while water slowly rises around him. His whimpering dog understands the danger, but he’s oblivious to what’s happening. That’s the insidious nature of heart failure, and why patients often don’t recognize symptoms before it’s too late. Knowing what symptoms to look for and when to call your healthcare provider are key. The Cleveland Clinic offers an excellent and comprehensive list of both. 4. Heart Failure Can Mimic Other Conditions Because many of the symptoms of heart failure appear gradually and are common to other conditions as well, it can be easy to blame them on something else. You may feel short of breath, fatigued, or weak, for example, and your symptoms may be attributed to being overly tired. Swelling of the lower extremities, weight gain, and abdominal swelling might be linked to overindulging the week before. Lack of appetite and nausea might be chalked up to a stomach ailment. A persistent cough or wheezing might be blamed on the pollen count. But if you’re at risk for heart failure, these are the types of symptoms you should be on high alert for — and notify your healthcare provider right away if they occur. 5. You Have More Control Over Heart Failure Than You Might Think Although dealing with heart failure may seem overwhelming at times, you have more control than you may think. By taking a few simple but consistent steps, you can better keep your heart failure in check and enjoy your life while you do: Weigh yourself daily to monitor fluid status Monitor yourself for new symptoms Take your medications as directed Eat a low-sodium diet Maintain regular follow-up visits with your healthcare providerThe AHA provides an excellent checklist as a reminder of these steps — as well as warning signs that signal when you should contact your healthcare provider. With continuing advances in technology, your doctor or nurse may even be able to monitor your status from afar. In addition, getting regular exercise according to your provider’s guidance, maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet, and making other positive lifestyle changes are key. If you’re among the nearly six million people living with heart failure, the good news is that there are many things you can do to manage this condition, and you are not alone. The AHA’s Rise Above Heart Failure online community offers a chance for you to connect with others so you can get the support you need, one step at a time.
By Lauren Cox Reviewed by Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD Tips to help keep diabetes from interfering with your sex life. While nightly TV drug commercials seem to imply that sexual dysfunction is a problem only for slim, silver-haired men on vacation, it can plague a larger, and often younger, group of people because of diabetes. Men and women with diabetes can face a variety of challenges in the bedroom, from erectile dysfunction to loss of sensation or lack of desire. Studies have estimated that anywhere from 20 to 75 percent of men with diabetes suffer from impaired sexual function, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), and between 18 and 42 percent of women are affected. Why Diabetes Is Linked to Sexual Problems : Most sexual problems related to diabetes can be traced back to restricted blood flow and nerve damage. “If blood sugars are too high, blood vessels and nerves throughout the body are damaged,” says Joshua Safer, MD, an endocrinologist at Boston Medical Center and an associate professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine. If a person has had high blood sugar for years, this damage can injure vital organs, including the eyes, kidneys, and heart. “But the places that are going to suffer first are the places farther out — our fingers and toes,” says Dr. Safer. In men, the penis is also susceptible. Women may experience nerve damage and blood flow problems in the genitals, too, he adds, although the phenomenon is less well studied in women. People with type 2 diabetes may be at additional risk because of such related health issues as unhealthy cholesterol levels, excess abdominal fat, and high blood pressure, which can further damage blood vessels. A diabetes diagnosis, however, doesn't mean that sexual dysfunction is inevitable. “Broadly speaking, the problem develops when diabetes is not well treated,” says Safer. And even if you do develop a long-term dysfunction, many options are available to help you have a better sex life despite diabetes. Erectile Dysfunction : Although the risk of erectile dysfunction increases for all men as they age, men with diabetes are more likely to develop it 10 to 15 years earlier than men without diabetes, according to the NIDDK. The best treatment will depend on the individual. “If someone has erectile dysfunction, I will usually check their testosterone level first,” says Kristi Silver, MD, the vice division chief of endocrinology, diabetes, and nutrition and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland. If a man has low testosterone, then Dr. Silver says that hormone therapy may be prescribed. If low testosterone is not the underlying cause of erectile dysfunction, then drugs that increase blood flow may help. Some men may find devices and prosthetics to be more helpful than medications. Devices such as vacuum pumps can help men get an erection, and constriction devices can help them keep it. If other treatments fail, a urologist can implant a prosthetic. Low Arousal, Low Response in Women : Women with diabetes may experience a numbed response to sexual contact and reduced blood flow to their genitals. Diabetes can also decrease vaginal lubrication, leading to discomfort during sex, according to the NIDDK. To combat numbness and increase sensation, you can try experimenting with different types of foreplay or sex toys. If lubrication is a problem, both prescription and over-the-counter lubricants can help. Infections : High blood sugar slows the immune system's response throughout the body and increases the risk of infections, including those that can interfere with your sex life. Perhaps the most common among these are vaginal yeast infections, which cause itching and irritation, discharge, and a burning sensation during urination and sex. Although many women experience yeast infections, those with type 2 diabetes tend to have them more often, probably because elevated blood sugar can encourage the growth of yeast, according to the American Diabetes Association. Even a short-term blood sugar spike can increase your risk of infection. If this happens, talk to your doctor and try to get your blood sugar back to safe levels. If you experience a yeast infection, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter creams or suppositories. Medication can be prescribed for frequent yeast infections. Low Libido : Not in the mood? This common problem can affect both men and women with diabetes for several reasons, starting with problems related to high blood sugar and inflammation. Medications taken to treat high blood pressure and high cholesterol can also inhibit desire. Emotional health may play a role as well. People with diabetes are nearly twice as likely to experience depression than people without diabetes, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Unfortunately, libido can be lowered by depression itself, as well as by antidepressants used to treat it. Talk with your doctor if your sexual desire seems inhibited, since it may be a symptom or side effect that can be addressed. Better Diabetes Control Can Mean Better Sex : Taking control of your diabetes may put a stop to the physical — and emotional — roots of sexual dysfunction. Endocrinologists and sex therapists agree that what's good for diabetes overall will also be good for sexual problems caused by diabetes. “It's a whole lifestyle cluster,” says Richard Siegel, a certified sex therapist in Boca Raton, Florida, and a member of the American Association of Sexuality Educators and Therapists. Siegel says the same sedentary lifestyles and poor diets that are associated with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes also contribute to the mood problems behind sexual dysfunction and low libido. “There's a ripple effect. You feel [lousy], then you don't feel in the mood,” he says. “I would recommend staying healthy, being vibrant, and getting lots of exercise.”
Put this zesty citrus fruit to good use with these unexpected tricks that take some of the hassle out of your cooking session. By Brianna Steinhilber We all know lemons are delicious, adding a citrusy kick to everything from salad dressings to cocktails. And the laundry list of health benefits is seriously impressive – not only does the fruit contain antibacterial properties that cleanse the kidneys and liver and strengthen your immune system, but it offers a hefty dose of vitamin C and antioxidants that fight free-radicals and help keep you looking younger. *Health booster: Get in the habit of starting the day with a cup of hot water and lemon – it’ll kick start your metabolism and get your morning off to a healthy start! What fewer people know is that lemons also have some unexpected uses. Here are seven ways the handy fruit can solve your trickiest kitchen dilemmas and help enhance your meals. 1. Prevent Browning: A few squeezes of juice can do wonders for avocado, apples, bananas, and peeled raw potatoes, since lemon juice is just acidic enough to prevent the oxidation that turns produce brown. Try this trick the next time you’re doing meal prep ahead of time or when you set out a platter of fresh sliced fruit for dipping in a Chocolate Fondue. To crisp up lettuce leaves, soak them in a bowl of cold water + ½ cup of lemon juice, then refrigerate for an hour. Tweet 2. Stop Rice From Sticking: Have a problem with clumpy rice? You’re in luck – adding a few drops of lemon to your cooking water helps prevent the rice from sticking together. Added plus? The lemon juice will also whiten your rice and keep it looking great on the dinner plate! Try this tip with our Green Tea Rice recipe. 3. Keep Brown Sugar Soft: The juice isn’t the only useful part of the lemon; its super moist and flavorful peel can work wonders in the kitchen too. Add a slice of the skin (with the pulp completely removed) to your box of brown sugar to keep it from clumping and hardening. This way, you won’t have to do any sifting the next time you make our Old-Fashioned Apple-Nut Crisp. 4. Crisp Your Lettuce: No need to toss that limp lettuce! A little lemon juice and water can help bring your leaves back to life. To crisp up limp leaves, soak them in a bowl of cold water and ½ cup of lemon juice, then refrigerate for about an hour. The leaves will come out revived and ready for eating. Try it out on a simple green salad topped with our Roasted Garlic Dressing. 5. Cook Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs: Even if you’ve mastered perfectly hard-boiled eggs, try brushing the eggshells with lemon juice before adding them to the pot for a little added insurance. The lemon juice helps keep the shells from cracking while they cook, and it also makes them easier to peel once they’re ready to eat. Try this technique before you enjoy the eggs in our Golden Polenta and Egg With Mustard Sauce. 6. Tenderize Meat: Lemon juice is a great meat tenderizer; the acidity gently breaks down the fibers in meat, leaving it scrumptiously fork-tender. See it in action with Steak Salad-Stuffed Pockets or our Moroccan Flavored Pork Ragu. 7. Enhance Flavor: Last, but certainly not least, lemon’s yummy flavor can totally transform a meal. It brightens up creamier dishes, balances the flavor in seafood, and is a great sodium-free substitute for sprinkling on salt. Squeeze lemons over our Sizzled Citrus Shrimp, try them sliced with our Lemon Lovers' Asparagus, and get zesty with Fettuccine with Shiitake Mushrooms and Basil.
A virtual reality “game” that requires patients to copy the movement of a computer avatar could provide a cheap early diagnosis of schizophrenia, research suggested today.
The researchers found that observing how people are able to copy or move and interact socially with a 3D image displayed on a screen provided more accurate results than clinical interviews and were comparable with results from more costly brain scans.
The team, from Exeter University, believe this so-called “mirror test” could pave the way for health professionals to use avatars to diagnose and treat the mental disorder, which affects one in 100 people.
Dr Piotr Slowinski, lead author of the study, explained: “Human movement can give a fascinating and sophisticated insight into our personality traits and behavioural characteristics.
“Although this is still at a relatively early stage, we are confident clinical trials could reveal the potential of the mirror test to produce a reliable, adaptable and, crucially, affordable, method for diagnosing and monitoring treatment of schizophrenia in patients of all ages, and all stages of the condition.”
Variations in the motor skills of patients have been known for some time to be characteristics of schizophrenia, a psychiatric disorder with common symptoms such as delusions or hearing voices.
In the Exeter team’s latest research, published in NPJ Schizophrenia, they used a game in which the “player” is asked to imitate the movements made by an on-screen avatar.
By looking at how the patients move and react to others, and comparing it with comparable movement blueprints for people with schizophrenia, the team believe the test can give an accurate and quick diagnosis and demonstrate how well patients are reacting to treatment.
Until now we thought the positive effects of video games on people were fewer than negative effects. This opens up a whole new field of study and possibilities.
Ever felt hungry and angry at the same time? There’s evidence that “hanger” is a real phenomenon, one that can affect your work and relationships.
The main reason we become more irritable when hungry is because our blood glucose level drops. This can make it difficult for us to concentrate, and more likely to snap at those around us.
Low blood sugar also triggers the release of stress-related hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, as well as a chemical called neuropeptide Y, which has been found to make people behave more aggressively towards those around them. This can all have an alarming effect on how you feel about other people – even those you love.
A classic study of married couples asked them to stick pins into “voodoo dolls” that represented their loved ones, to reflect how angry they felt towards them. The volunteers then competed against their spouse in a game, in which the winner could blast loud noise through the loser’s headphones.
The researchers tracked the participants’ blood glucose levels throughout. They found that when people had lower sugar levels, the longer the blasts of unpleasant noise they subjected their spouse to, and the more pins they stuck into their dolls.
But while being hungry really does change your behaviour, the effects of hanger have sometimes been overstated. One study that attracted attention a few years ago found that judges are less likely to set lenient sentences the closer it gets to lunch.
However, the findings from this study have never been replicated. Further study on the the nasty judge effect is needed. But one thing is clear – it certainly isn’t advisable to make important decisions on an empty stomach.