Living with Diabetes in the Maldives – by Juzan Mohamed

10 years after my diabetes diagnosis, no matter how much I always wanted to keep hoping, believing, and praying, there were several times that I almost thought, “I’m not going to make it this time. I’m probably going to die on this hospital bed”.

Today, I’m a special educational needs teacher and a member of Diabetes Society of Maldives. I love both kids and cats very much!I would like to thank all the doctors who have treated me and helped me. I would like to thank my father, brother, and especially my mother, who had been the source of my strength. My heartfelt thanks also goes to the Diabetes Society of Maldives. Words cannot describe how thankful I am for that community.

Several people have mockingly told me that I must have gotten this disease because I must have eaten a lot of sugar. I believe it’s important that we put more effort into educating the public about diabetes, its risk factors, and any preventive measures. I wish they knew that there are many factors involved not only in a diagnosis, but in diabetes management. Insulin for us, along with the means to inject it, is as important to us as the air we breathe. We just cannot survive a single day without these injections.

Getting an insulin pump in 2017 was nothing short of miraculous. This was a day that I never thought would come. This pump is always connected to the body with a tiny needle which needs to be changed once in every 3 days – it’s microscopic in size and automatically injects my insulin. Yeah, this is pretty amazing!

That’s why I advocate for the community of diabetics in Maldives to soon have access to more effective treatment options, including different brands/types of insulin and increased availability across the country. It is my hope that insulin pen needles, lancets and test strips would soon be covered under Aasandha, the universal single-payer health insurance scheme of the Maldives. More of us with type 1 diabetes need to have access to insulin pumps, which provide us with an easier life. In Shaa Allah, we will soon have better days and find a cure for diabetes.

Follow Juzan on Instagram: @juzanmohamed

Anđela’s sweet life & travelling with diabetes – by Anđela Pantelić

Anđela Pantelić, from Belgrade, Serbia, has been living with type 1 diabetes for 15 years. Anđela is a 23-year-old student in her final year studying Faculty of Tourism and Hospitality Management at Singidunum University. Earlier this year, she started to work in Etihad Airways as Contact Center Agent for Spanish-speaking clients. Anđela has visited 30 countries so far – half of them more than once!

Diabetes has taught me to love myself and those who surround me and make me happy. I learned to become more responsible, more independent, and more organized – also, thanks to diabetes, I get to meet wonderful people from all over the world who are struggling with similar problems.

Hypos in Istanbul 

In August 2004, one year after I was diagnosed with type 1, I went on my first trip to Istanbul, Turkey, with my folk dance group, Talija Art Company, from Belgrade. We took a bus there! The tour was organized by the International Folklore Festival of Istanbul. During the festival, we had a couple of days off, and one day we went on a boat trip excursion to see beautiful Istanbul from the sea. When we came back to our bus, I went to take a nap. Later that afternoon, my father – who is director and choreographer of Talija Art Company and who is always with me on the tours – suddenly found that he could not wake me up. He took me to the nearest hospital, where, after two hours, I finally woke up and they provided me with some nice food to bring my blood sugar up from the hypoglycaemia. 

Since then, I have visited many European countries with my dance group, and I have also travelled to Taiwan, China, Dubai, Ecuador, Peru, Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Cuba. These overseas trips can last several months, and I need to think about how the climate, air, weather conditions, and change of lifestyle can all affect my blood sugar levels on each trip.

Stolen insulin in Ecuador 

In February 2012, I went on a tour to Ecuador and Peru. This was my first trip to South America. We flew to Ecuador and then took a bus from Ecuador all the way to Peru. During this tour, I visited one of the Seven Wonders of the World: the famous Machu Picchu and the incredible Nazca Lines.

In Ecuador, we participated in an international festival of fruits and flowers in the city of Ambato, which is 158 km (98 miles) from Quito. During the festival, we participated in many festival activities like parades, church ceremonies etc.   

One day, we visited the cathedral of Ambato. While we were singing our song in front of altar, someone stole my personal bag, which had my blood glucose meter, a couple of insulin pens, and some of my other personal belongings in it. The festival organizers found a new BG meter for me, and thankfully I had more insulin at the hostel, so I was easily able to manage my diabetes for the rest of my trip.

Where am I today?

Starting in December 2012, I started using an insulin pump and it has really changed my daily life by significantly reducing the risk of serious hypos and lost insulin pens, thus allowing me to have a more “normal” life.

Unlike people who don’t have diabetes, I have to behave more responsibly each day. For instance, going out for a drink with friends and considering whether I will drink water, juice, or Coke, or whether I’ll eat ice cream and how much insulin I will need, or whether I will do any physical activity and for how long, and all of the other things that people don’t usually have to think about. I face a lot of pressure, yet, after 15 years of living with diabetes (more than half of my life!) I just could not imagine living my life any differently. 

One day I would like to have children, continue to preserve folk culture and tradition, travel, and lead a completely normal life with diabetes, just as I have without it. My family, boyfriend, relatives, and friends are my biggest supporters. They give me the strength to fight every day!

Anđela is a folk dancer, dancing teacher, and choreographer of “TALIJA Art Company.” Since 2012, she has been active with the Belgrade Diabetes Association “Plavi Krug – Blue Circle” and “Plavi Kruzic” and she is also an IDF Young Leader in Diabetes. Feel free to reach out to Anđela for more:

Breaking Down the Technology Barrier – by Kamil aka Nerdabetic

At Beta Change, we love getting updates on latest and greatest diabetes technology that’s happening around the world. It’s no surprise that we came across Nerdabetic’s amazing YouTube and Instagram accounts while doing so! We’re lucky enough to get a quick introduction to Kamil, the person behind Nerdabetic, and to find out why he does what he does! 

My name is Kamil, a lover of coffee, insulin and trains. In the diabetes online community (DOC), I am known as Nerdabetic. Originally, I called myself ‘diabetic energetic’ but quickly realised that energetic really does not describe me well and changed it to something more me – NERDabetic!

I have been a type 1 diabetic for 7 years now and I only discovered DOC about 3 years ago. I started my own YouTube channel hoping that I will be able to help some non-techy type 1s with understanding the newest technology. My passion for diabetes technology started when I transitioned to a new diabetes clinic and my nurse showed me the Freestyle Libre. Up until then, I had no idea CGMs existed. 

CGM has been truly life changing for me; the ability to notice trends, improved Hba1C and simply improved standard of living. This ‘CGM discovery’ has possibly led to an even more impactful DOC discovery. After a while, I had the courage to do my own part of DOC and started my YouTube channel and corresponding Instagram and Twitter. My channel has videos about various diabetes tech products. 

For a while, I have been making monthly videos called Diabetes Technology Report – a single video with all diabetes tech news from the previous month. This report is aimed at everyone, so I explain ‘hybrid closed loop system’ as ‘give me more insulin when I’m high and less insulin when I’m low’. In my opinion, those simple language differences make a huge impact as everyone can follow and knows what it actually means. 

I know that tech is not a cure, but it does help us a lot and I think it is important that the community knows what is happening in the diabetes tech space. It empowers us to make our own decisions about preferred treatment options and we should know about ALL options to make the best decisions. Tech is not an answer to everyone but it definitely was for me. 

Keep up to date with Kamil aka Nerdabetic’s updates here:
Youtube: Nerdabetic 
Twitter: @nerdabetic 
Instagram: @nerdabetic 

Welcome to My Diabetic Life – by Sena Yüzgeç

Sena was diagnosed with diabetes when she was 10 years old. 10 years later, she reflects on how her life has changed with type 1 diabetes and where her future is headed. She has also kindly written us this Global Postcard in English and Turkish! 

Read in English:
New beginnings have always been difficult – especially with sudden changes like the ones you don’t expect, the ones that change your lifestyle or your daily routine: a new home, a new job, a new school, new friends… 

My new beginning came on October 3, 2008, when I was a 10-year-old and needed to adjust to a new lifestyle with diabetes. I changed my habits, started taking some responsibility – there were responsibilities other than school and homework! Type 1 wasn’t something that would drag me down or affect my life badly, and this will never happen as long as I control it. 

Now I am 21 years old and an environmental engineering student at ITU, one of the best technical universities in Turkey. Thanks to diabetes, my life is healthier and I have a purpose in my life. My mom always says, “Do not let the diabetes be a trap for your foot, make it a bracelet for your wrist.” And she is so right! I made diabetes my best friend and we share the same path. It is a healthier lifestyle for all of us. 

As I tried to make my life with diabetes easier, and I also invented something to improve the lives of other friends with diabetes: I designed clothes that would make it easier to inject wherever you are and wouldn’t disrupt the injection cycle, whether you’re at work, at parties, at concerts, etc. I was able to solve the problem of not being able to inject due to obstructive clothes, which is one of the main problems of living with diabetes, in a simple and efficient way.

I prepared the project, which I’m calling the SeYu collection for now (the intellectual property is still in development) and after a year, I entered it into a competition. My collection ended up being one of 10 finalists from the 170 projects that were entered. I thought mine seemed like the plainest one and had the briefest explanation, so I was surprised when I got an award! I am very excited about the realization of the project, and I’m working toward an agreement with a company so I can put this product into production right now. 

Diabetes has strengthened me and motivated me to become a manufacturer. I want to share my life with other friends with diabetes, so that I can enjoy every activity and participate in anything I want to do, and I want to give hope to those who I have met who have these fears for the first time. On my Instagram account (@diabitess) I share what I eat, my blood sugars, the things I do and the effects they have on my diabetes. Mostly, I like to have fun!

As the number of people who support me increases, I aim to show how enjoyable life can be through the diabetes videos I make. I am a member of the Rotary Rotaract club that supports the needs of people in different areas with monthly projects. For instance, sometimes we work on diabetes-related projects. I’m currently planning a diabetes-related project that I’m looking forward to starting soon. Unfortunately, diabetes awareness in some parts of Turkey can be very low and children can be cruel to each other. Another way I try to act for change and spread awareness is on social media: through @diabitess, I aim to increase awareness and make our lives with diabetes sweeter. 

After over a decade of living my “new” diabetic life, I love to travel a lot, read, work, and try to stay healthy. I see a lot of support from my friends – sometimes they know that my sugar is going low even before I do. I invite all of you to join my adventure and share your stories about how you’re living your best life with type 1.

 Follow Sena on Instagram: @diabitess

Türkçe okuyun:
Yeni başlangıçlar her zaman zor olmuştur. Hele de hiç bilmediğin değişiklikler zor gelir. Yeni bir ev, yeni bir iş, yeni bir okul, yeni arkadaşlar… Benim yeni hayat tarzıma başlamam 3 Ekim 2008’de 10 yaşımdayken oldu. Alışkanlıklarımı değiştirme, biraz sorumluluk alma yaşım. Artık okuldaki ödevlerden başka sorumluluklar da gelmişti. Tip1 diyabet hiçbir zaman beni aşağı çekecek ya da hayatımı kötüleştirecek bir şey olmadı, ben kontrol ettiğim sürece de asla olmayacak.

İstanbul Teknik Üniversitesi’nde İngilizce Çevre Mühendisliği okuyan 21 yaşında bir Türk genç kızıyım. Diyabet sayesinde hayatım daha sağlıklı ve hayatımın bir amacı oldu. Annem “diyabeti ayağına dolama, bileğine bileklik gibi tak” der, ben de onu en yakın arkadaşım yaptım ve aynı yolda birlikte sağlıkla yürüyoruz. Diyabet hepimiz için daha sağlıklı bir yaşam tarzı. Onun için hayatı kolaylaştırmaya çalışırken diğer diyabetli dostlarıma da katkıda bulunacak bir icat buldum. İşte, partide, derste, konserde, her yerde iğne yapmayı kolaylaştıracak, iğne saatlerini aksatmayacak kıyafetler tasarladım. Hayata geçirmeyi planladığım bu projemi bir sene sonra bir yarışmaya gönderdim. Yarışmada 170 proje arasından yarı finale kalan 10 projeden en sade, kısa ve öz sunulan proje panosu benimkiydi, şaşırmıştım. Finalde ödül aldım. Sade; ama ince düşünülmüş bir projeydi.

Diyabet hastalarının temel sorunu olan dışarıda özellikle giysiden kaynaklanan iğne yapamama sorununa çözüm getirmiştim. Hayata geçmesi için çok heyecanlıyım, şu an üretim yapabilecek bir firma ile anlaşmaya ihtiyacım var. Diyabet hayatımızda olumsuzluk değil, dost olmalı. Onunla eğlenip her etkinliği katılabileceğimizi, çoğu zaman da şakaya vurduğumu gösteren kendi hayatımı diğer diyabet dostlarımla paylaşmak, ilk defa tanışan ve korkuları olanlara da umut olmak istiyorum. Bu dileğimden ötürü bir tane instagram hesabı ile başladım. Yediklerimi, günlük şeker hayatımı, yaptıklarımı ve şekerime olan etkileri diğer insanlara anlatan aynı zamanda da keyif aldığım bir hesap: @diabitess beni destekleyenlerin sayısı arttıkça da youtube videolarıyla diyabetin ne kadar keyifli bir yaşam stili olduğunu gösterebilmeyi hedefliyorum. Günlük hayatımda da okul dışında bir kulübe üyeyim (Rotary) ve her ay farklı projelerde her konuda insanların ihtiyaçlarına destek olmaya çalışıyoruz. 

Bu hayatı dolu dolu ve sağlıklı yaşamayı seviyorum, bol bol geziyorum, okuyorum, çalışıyorum. Arkadaşlarımın da çok desteğini görüyorum, bazen bencen önce şekerimin düştüğünü anlıyorlar; ama Türkiye’nin bazı kesimlerinde diyabet farkındalığı çok düşük ve çocuklar arasında acımasız konuşmalar dönebiliyor. Diabites ile de bu farkındalığı arttırmayı, diyabetli hayatlarımızı daha tatlı yapmayı hedefliyorum. Serüvenime katılın. Düşük karbonhidrat ve bol sevgi ile…

Diabetes Technology Revolution – by Mercedes Howlin

Our friend Mercedes Howlin from Argentina talks about how diabetes technology can play an important role with diabetes management. She also shares some of her favorite diabetes tech and apps in Spanish and English! 

I’m Mercedes from Argentina. I’m 32 years old and I’ve had type 1 diabetes for 19 years.

Since I was a little girl, I was told that I need to have good control of my diabetes because one day, “in ten years,” there would be a cure – or at least an alternative for living a better life. 

After 20 years of waiting, today I believe that a cure will come “in ten years” for my condition. Luckily, we actually have many tools and technologies that make life easier and allow for better control to live better. 

In my case, I use insulin from a pen (Novorapid and Levemir). There are many useful accessories, like Timesulin or Insulcheck to help you know when you last took your insulin. After years of taking insulin, it becomes almost automatic, and sometimes I don’t remember if I took it or not, so using these tools are very beneficial for me.

Useful smartphone apps also exist so you can track what you had to eat, count your carbs and doses of insulin, your blood glucose readings, and more. I use one called Diabetes Kit and it allows me to keep a more detailed record of my day-to-day life.

With all of these inventions and new technologies, which allow us to take better control of our diabetes, living with this disease every day becomes easier. We achieve a better quality of life. And we, people living with diabetes, are not the only ones that benefit from access to technology. Access to technology also benefits the people who are by our sides every day: our families, our friends, our partners.

Don’t hesitate to join the conversation: sharing about technology and its benefits throughout the diabetes community is important. If you know of another tool or technology that has been useful to you, do not hesitate to share it so that more people know and can take advantage of it!

Mi nombre es Mercedes, soy Argentina, tengo 32 años de edad y 19 años viviendo con diabetes tipo 1.

Desde que era niña me han dicho que tenía que llevar un buen control de mi diabetes, porque algún día, “en 10 años”, saldría una cura, o una alternativa para vivir mejor. Y era mucho más viable si me encontraba en un estado de salud pleno. Siempre tomé esta advertencia de mis médicos como un desafío y como un propósito en mi vida, para que en “el día del milagro” pudiera ser la primera en anotarme.

Hoy, a casi a los 20 años de espera, aun sigo creyendo que “en 10 años, saldrá la cura” para mi enfermedad. 

Por suerte, actualmente tenemos muchas herramientas y tecnologías que nos hacen la vida más fácil y nos permiten tener mejores controles, para vivir mejor. 

En mi caso, uso las insulinas en formato lapicera (Novorapid y Levemir) y existen algunos accesorios muy útiles: Timesulin o Insulcheck te ayudan a saber cuándo fue la última vez que te aplicaste insulina. Después de años de aplicarme insulina, se vuelve casi automático, y a veces no recuerdo si lo hice o no, por eso hacer uso de esto fue muy beneficioso para mí.

Asimismo existen apps para el celular, donde podés ingresar lo que comiste, conteo de carbohidratos, dosis de insulina, resultados de glucosa y más. La que uso yo se llama Diabetes Kit y me permite llevar un registro más detallado de mi día a día.

Con todas estas novedades y nuevas tecnologías, que nos permiten llevar un mejor control de nuestra diabetes, vivir con esta condición todos los días es mucho más fácil. Logramos una mejor calidad de vida. Y nosotros, las personas que vivimos con diabetes, no somos los únicos beneficiados. El acceso a tecnologías también beneficia a aquellas personas que nos acompañan todos los días: nuestra familia, amigos y pareja.

No lo dudes: compartiendo y hablando sobre tecnologías de la diabetes es muy importante. Si conoces alguna otra herramienta o tecnología que te haya sido útil, ¡no dudes en compartirla para que más personas se enteren y puedan aprovecharlo!

Diabetes Tech Updates from the American Diabetes Association 77th Scientific Sessions

Beta Change co-founder, Pei Yan, recently visited San Diego – and her visit coincided with the American Diabetes Association’s 77th Scientific Sessions (attended by fellow Beta Change co-founder Robert Brooks). Here she shares her top tech takeaways – try saying that ten times fast! – of the world’s biggest diabetes conference.

We checked out Johnson & Johnson’s brand-new OneTouch product: the OneTouch Via. It is a thin, tubeless, on-demand insulin delivery system. There is a trigger mechanism by each side of the patch and each simultaneous click delivers 2 units of insulin. Pretty sleek and no hassle of dangling tubing. The only downside is that it only delivers exactly 2 units of insulin per click, so sorry, no 1 or half units doses!

After clinical trials of the highly anticipated 670G system by Medtronic, the insulin pump is officially in the U.S. market. Users of the 630G system will be first in line for an upgrade. The 670G comes with an algorithm (when used with the Guardian 3 sensor) that detects glucose patterns of the user throughout the day and then automatically suspends and resumes or adjusts basal delivery accordingly. The display interface is quite different when compared to the 630G/ 640G system with its coloured shield display.

Also available at the Medtronic booth was the improved i-port system for MDIs. The i-port Advance system comes with an integrated inserter (similar to their Mio infusion set) which makes inserting the i-port much easier. The product was launched in 2014 (no wonder I find the inserter familiar – we had the chance to trial it at the Singapore children’s diabetes camp two years ago).

OpenAPS refers to Open Artificial Pancreas System, such as Nightscout. It provides a platform for communication and information for anyone with compatible medical devices who is willing to build their own basic artificial pancreas system. It is quite interesting to see the trend of somebody’s blood glucose on the computer’s screen. Not only does it show the most recent trend, but it also shows the trend of the past 72 hours.

Other interesting new technologies showcased at the ADA conference include a new receiver from Dexcom and a soon to be launched device by Omnipod, as reported by diaTribe.

I also had the opportunity to meet with many people whom I have been wanting to meet face to face. On a somewhat somber note, I was invited to join in the informal farewell toast for Diabetes Hands Foundation as they close their operations and are absorbed by Beyond Type 1.

I wished I could have stayed longer to meet more people, but unfortunately I had other travel plans.

Catch up on more tech news and diabetes community updates on Twitter by using the hashtag #2017ADA.

Edited post; republished with permission from Pei Yan’s blog.

Diabetes Technology and the Privilege Bubble

The diabetes world is at odds. Diabetes technology is improving at a rapid rate and the hunt is always on for new gadgets. But there others who still struggle to afford basic needs such as insulin. How do we manage this and make the diabetes space an even playing field?

Here, we chat to Renza Scibilia, diabetes advocate and health writer from Melbourne, Australia, about diabetes technology and the privilege bubble.