Before the discovery of insulin in 1921, diabetes was a fatal condition. The calorie-restricted and fasting diets (often called a “starving diet”) were the only treatments available. Nothing was really effective to maintain adequately the blood glucose levels and keep people with a severe form of diabetes (today known as type 1 diabetes) alive for more than a few months.
The discovery of insulin: A life-saving discovery turns 100 years
The life-saving discovery turns 100 years. In January 1921, at the University of Toronto by Sir Frederick G. Banting, Charles Best, and John Macleod. Leonard Thompson was a 14-year-old boy who was living with diabetes. On January 11th, he became the first person to receive an injection of insulin. but unfortunately, he developed an acute allergic reaction.
Over the next 12 days, James Bertram Collip worked hard to purify insulin, and on the 23rd of January, Thompson received a second dose. After the second injection, his blood and urinary sugars dropped and went to normal. He lived for another 13 years. But, there were no doubts, that the insulin had saved his life.
But since then, insulin has saved millions of lives. As a result, it is considered to be one of the greatest medical achievements of all time.
One hundred years after its discovery, the world is moving forward with innovation. However, the access to insulin and associated supplies and technologies still remain inaccessible to some countries. Many countries like Macedonia, still do not reimburse all forms of insulin and/or required glucose monitoring tools (e.g. test strips, blood glucose meters, continuous glucose monitoring, etc.).
Nothing is more important than our health, and life. And our wish and message are clear, people with diabetes in Macedonia deserve to be provided with innovative therapy and medical suppliers with proven quality, that will help have excellent control on our diabetes. If we have all of this, we will have a normal and happy life.
Yesterday, 16.10.2021, was my second birthday this month. Today is my 23rd DIAversary. I still can’t believe that so many years have passed.
Since the beginning of the diagnosis, I have had over 70,000 blood sugar tests and 40,000 injections. And I am only 29 years old. A lot of people who are living with diabetes will agree with me that diabetes is hard. But they would also agree that we are more than a disease or a sickness. We are children, young people, adults and parents with love in our hearts and beauty in our souls.
My 23rd DIAversary – What I have learned?
I the past 23 years, I have learned a lot. Below, you can find the most important things for me.
My health is my number 1 priority
Without it, nothing in life is fun or enjoyable. Staying healthy requires constant effort. To be honest, sometimes that effort requires far greater commitment in the face of pleasure and convenience.
I accepted myself and enjoy my life
Yes, living with type 1 diabetes has taught me to be not only healthier but also happier. I feel very good in my own skin, constantly energized and always ready to do a lot of things. I also exercise and enjoy eating healthy food.
Diabetes does not stop me from doing anything
I have done many things in my life. And I’m grateful for that. Of course, this would not have been possible without the support of my parents. Living with type 1 diabetes gives me the strength to do whatever I want and motivates me to enjoy and rejoice even more.
23rd DIAversary to me – The celebration
In order to mark this day, I decided to try the famous Tiramisu Vegan Cheesecake from Healthyish.healthyish. Mmmm, it is so delicious
I have the power and my health is in my hands. Also, I won’t let diabetes rule me. I have done a lot so far and I will still continue doing a lot of things.
As a person who has been living with type 1 diabetes for almost 23 years, one thing is sure. Every time when my blood sugar level drops down, my body sends me some signals. Usually, my hands are shaking, I start to sweat and tremble. But I have never imagined that one day, I might not be able to feel anything while my blood sugar level decreases. And then for the first time, I faced the long-term effects of COVID-19.
I was tested positive for COVID-19 in April 2021. During those 3 weeks, my blood sugar level was too high. But thanks to my regular control on a daily basis, I managed to bring it to the normal ranges. Few weeks after I recovered from COVID-19, I am facing a lot of post-COVID-19 consequences. Now, I don’t feel anything when my blood sugar level decreases. And for someone like me, that is very scary.
The first Long-Term-Effects of COVID-19
To be even worse, in May 2021, in one week, I lost myself twice. Do you know how I felt in those moments? Scared. Very scared. The first time, I thought it was strange and even, I thought that I might give myself a higher dose of Bolus insulin. But, the second time, was very scary. I knew something is not okay with me. The people who were by my side (Thank God they were next to me, I will always be thankful to them for that), explained to me that I was awake, but I couldn’t respond to their questions or I was talking about something that was not related to the topic. I don’t remember anything. When they managed to wake me up my blood sugar level was 1,4 mmol.
The solution – FreeStyle Libre 2 sensor
After realizing that I don’t feel anything, I reached my endocrinologist. She explained to me that a lot of people with diabetes around the world are facing the same problem. When I asked her what should I do in order to prevent the previous two situations, she suggested me getting the FreeStyle Libre 2 sensor. I knew it will cost me a lot, as this sensor is not available in our country.
And for one, I will say only one thing. Since I started using FreeStyle Libre 2 sensor, my life has changed dramatically. Stay tuned and wait for my next blog post, where I will provide a deeper explanation about my experience with FreeStyle Libre 2 sensor.
Another brave girl decided to share her experience with type 1 diabetes. Cece Koteva is 17 year old gifr from Strumica. She has been living with type 1 diabetes for 8 years. Now she decided to share her story and expeirence with type 1 diabetes. I really hope it will help other people realize that they are not alone and will motivate them to share their excperiences as well. Find out how Cece accepted her life with diabetes.
Cece’s life with diabetes
It was not easy to accept my life with diabetes. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was less than 10 years old. Soon, I will be 18. However, it helped me to develop better habits for a healthier lifestyle and happy life.
I have been living with diabetes for 8 years. Day by day, I was struggling more but I learned how to live with it. It was not difficult for me to accept this new situation, but also, it was difficult for my parents. Every appointment at my doctor was ending in the same way. I was hoping that one day the struggling would end.
Many of my loved ones were with me from the beginning, they were supportive. They had positive thoughts, saying that diabetes is scary at all, they were saying that I can live with it. But, in the beginning, it was something new and difficult for me to accept. I have had periods when I had high blood sugar levels, which made my parents worried. If I don’t control my diabetes, it can have negative consequences on my health.
Аfter some time, I started being more motivated and decided to accept my life with type 1 diabetes. My decision had a positive effect on my blood glucose levels. I also learned that it is something I should be ashamed of, or hide from other people. Diabetes is a condition that helped me become stronger and braver.
Although I received the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine on March 27th, a week later, on April 3rd, I started having a fever. The day before, my father was tested positive for COVID-19, so I assumed that I was positive on the virus too. The same day I went to do a test. Two days later, I received a positive result. Carry on reading and find out more about how did COVID-19 affect diabetes.
When it comes to the symptoms, I had the following ones:
- Fever (between 38 ° C and 39.5 ° C)
- Muscle or body aches
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
After three days, I had a loss of taste or smell. My nose started to get stuffy. The temperature was rising and then falling, and I was constantly experiencing the previously mentioned symptoms.
Are you still wondering how did COVID-19 affect diabetes? In the next section, I will describe what I did in order to prevent developing serious complications. If you have any complications, consult your doctor about what to do.
Every morning was starting with a glass of lemonade. My blood sugar levels were usually higher, in the range of 12-19 mmol / L. Half an hour later, I had breakfast and after breakfast, I took the prescribed pills.
During the day, I drank between 5 and 6 litres of fluid. I was drinking tea, fresh juices, boiled water with onion. I also ate chicken soup.
Since I had a sore throat, I did inhalation 3 times a day. I put half a litre of water in a pot and added a spoonful of sea salt. After the water boiled, I removed the pot and added 2 drops of wild oregano.
I was checking my blood sugar at least 10 times a day. Since it was higher, I had to measure more often and make corrections with a bolus insulin. Fortunately, after the 5th day, I managed to bring it back to normal before bed (5-7 mmol / L.)
As a person with type 1 diabetes who belongs to a group of people with chronic illness, it was very important for me to protect myself from the coronavirus. After several consultations with my endocrinologist, I decided to get the vaccine. Thus, on Saturday, March 27, 2021, in Serbia, I received the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Before getting the Аstra Zeneca vaccine
Although there are a lot of people from the Balkan region waiting to get their first dose of the same vaccine, it was surprising that my parents and I got the vaccine and finished the process in less than an hour. When it was our turn, the doctor first asked us a few questions to determine if we could get the vaccine.
The doctor asked me the following questions:
- “Do you have a chronic illness?”
- “How long have you been living with type 1 diabetes and how often do you control it?”
- “What was your HbA1c in the last 6 months?”
- “Do you take any other therapy/pills?”
- “Have you had any surgery on your breasts, uterus?
- “Are you pregnant?”
After this, they entered our information into the system, then they vaccinated us and finally, we sat down for 10 minutes, take a rest, just in case if some reactions occurred.
Side effects of the АstraZeneca vaccine
It’s normal to experience side effects after the vaccine. It shows the vaccine is teaching your body’s immune system how to protect itself from the disease, however not everyone gets them. For any negative consequences you might have, it is best to consult your doctor. I will only talk about AstraZeneca and how my body reacted to it.
- 12 hours after I got the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, I had the following side effects: tenderness, swelling at the injection site, headache, chills and fever (the temperature was 38.6 °C). The blood sugar levels were in the range of 8-12 mmol/L. I took paracetamol. The doctor told me to take paracetamol if the temperature is above 38.0 °C.
- The next morning, Sunday (28.03.2021), I had a temperature of 37.2 °C, while my blood sugar level was 8 mmol /L. I also had pain and swelling. In the afternoon, after 17:00, the temperature increased to 38 °C, and in the evening, at 22:00, it dropped to 37.2 °C. My sugar during the day was in the range of 8-12 mmol /L.
- The day after (29.03.2021, Monday), the temperature was 37.2 °C. After 15:00, the temperature dropped above 38 °C. I still had swelling and redness at the injection site. My blood sugar levels throughout the day were in the range of 6- 10 mmol / L.
- These days, Tuesday and Wednesday, I have no fever at all, but I still have swelling, redness and pain at the injection site. I also have a headache. The blood glucose levels are still in the range of 8-12 mmol /L.
These days, due to the swelling and redness at the injection site, I can’t exercise. That’s why I go for a walk. I should take the second dose of AstraZeneca for 12 weeks.
We all know that smoking is bad for everyone, but for people with diabetes, it can be even more damaging.
Smoking is an independent risk factor for diabetes, and amongst people with diabetes, it increases the risk of complications. We already know that complications already include circulation problems, heart disease and stroke and smoking adds to the risk of developing all of these things. There are cases when it can not only double these conditions but also doubling the chances of suffering from kidney problems and erectile dysfunction.
Does smoking increase heart disease risk as a diabetic?
Both diabetes and smoking can increase the risk of heart disease in very similar ways. When combined, there are more chances of suffering a heart-related condition such as a stroke or heart attack.
The walls of the arteries are damaged by both high levels of glucose in the blood and smoking in a way that fatty deposits can build up much easier. When this occurs, the blood vessels narrow and make circulating blood much harder.
Coronary arteries are the arteries that supply the heart muscle with blood and therefore oxygen. When this happens to them, a heart attack can occur. A stroke occurs when not enough blood can get to the brain, and so anything that may limit blood flow increases the risks of a stroke.
As we know, high blood glucose levels have this effect on the blood vessels and blood flow. This means that if you have diabetes and smoke, you are putting yourself at a much greater risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.
Are there other diabetes complications that can occur if I smoke?
Yes, there are. Further diabetes complications that can occur are diabetic nephropathy, albuminuria. Although less evident, there are links between smoking and retinopathy.
The best solution?
Our favorite month has finally come. Do you know why November is special for people with diabetes? Because November is Diabetes Awareness Month! Each year, 14th of November marks the celebration of World Diabetes Day. This day is celebrated globally to raise awareness about diabetes. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) introduced this day in 1991.
The aim of this day is spreading the message about diabetes and raising awareness for the condition. Comprising hundreds of campaigns, screenings, activities, lectures, meetings and more are some of the ways how people around the world celebrate this day.
Join us in celebrating this incredible community all month long — and especially on World Diabetes Day. You can get involved in different ways: you can inspire others, educate peers. Or you can simply wear something blue.
Accept the challenge – Climb 5000 m for 5000 people with diabetes
On the occasion of November 14th – World Diabetes Day, Bojan Kirov-Jimi, a person with type 1 diabetes, will try to climb the top of Mount Vodno (1060) 5 times, which will dedicate 1 meter to each child and an adult with type 1 diabetes – 5000 in Macedonia.
For each attempt, 3 people will accompany Bojan Kirov, at a safe distance of 2 meters. Also, at the top, there will be a medical team that will take care of the health and safety of Bojan and the other people who will join him.
Due to the current situation with COVID-19, please express your support through social networks by sharing information about diabetes. Or you can simply climb the top of Vodno or another peak near you. Please adhere to the prescribed measures and recommendations for protection and prevention of COVID-19!
Find more information about this challenge on this link.