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“When I was diagnosed with diabetes”

Two members of the IDF Blue Circle Voices network discuss their diabetes diagnosis, the challenges they faced and their aspirations for the future.


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Jovan Nikolic
Jovan Nikolic from Montenegro


Blue Circle Voices (BCV), an IDF initiative launched in 2016, represents the interests of people living with or affected by all types of diabetes through a worldwide network. Currently, BCV has a total of 126 members representing all seven IDF regions including Africa, Southeast Asia and Europe. BCV members draw upon personal experiences with diabetes and on a larger scale, report observations from their communities and challenges or opportunities in their home countries. In this way, BCV is a forum for a unified global voice focusing on a variety of issues and challenges intent on positive change.

Living with diabetes is proud to present two members of the BCV who volunteered to speak about their diabetes diagnosis, challenges, aspirations and more. We thank them for their commitment to increasing diabetes awareness and education.

Taking advantage of each day

An interview with Jovan Nikolic from Montenegro

What was your first thought when you were diagnosed with diabetes?

My first thought when I was diagnosed was: why?. I was diagnosed with diabetes at age 27. I had clear symptoms for a few months, and was somehow prepared for that diagnosis when I went to the  laboratory for my blood analysis results.

Had you ever heard about diabetes before your diagnosis?

My very close friend has been living with type 1 diabetes since we were 18 years old, so I was aware of diabetes and its symptoms at the time I was diagnosed.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced since you live with diabetes? How have you overcome it?

My main challenge has been to regain self-confidence, something I am still working on each day. Another challenge includes living in a city (population: 60,000) with only one endocrinologist, which means that I am only able to have 10 minute sessions every three months, and have to spend hours waiting in the local hospital and community health centers for appointments and information.

Has diabetes had a positive impact in your life?

Diabetes has really taught me to organise myself better and take advantage of each day with as much activities as possible. This is especially important because I work 8-10 hours a day, and every minute of physical activity is precious.

What do you think is the biggest diabetes challenge in your country?

The biggest diabetes challenge in my country is definitely education and awareness about diabetes and its complications. 

Why did you decide to join the Blue Circle Voices network?

I am working on the best ways to start diabetes advocacy and develop tools. I am interested to hear and read advocacy experiences from people all around the globe. I believe I am on the right track, and I will certainly continue my commitment to help improve education and awareness about diabetes in Montenegro. 

Diabetes has really taught me to organise myself better and take advantage of each day with as many activities as possible.

Teaching healthy cooking classes for people with diabetes

An interview with Carlos Otero from Peru

What was your first thought when you were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes?

The first thing I thought was that I was going to have to change my eating habits and stop eating certain foods.

Had you ever heard about diabetes before your diagnosis?

Yes. My father had diabetes and diabetes was also in his family, so he was not a stranger to the subject. As soon as I knew he had diabetes, I started to become interested in healthy food, especially sugar-free and low-calorie desserts.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced since you live with diabetes? How have you overcome it?

There are two challenges. The biggest challenge is that I had a heart attack, which made me especially worry since I am someone who cares a lot about food. I got over it following an operation which involved insertion of a stent, and stopping stressful activities and living life more calmly. The other great challenge, being a professional chef specialising in pastry, is having to cook delicious, sweet and high calorie desserts for other people and being only able to taste them to know the final result. Being a person who likes sweet things very much, I got over my taste for sweets by creating healthy desserts, with more fiber and without sugar.

Has diabetes had a positive impact in your life?

Yes, it has. I began to teach healthy cooking classes in hospitals and clubs for people with diabetes, knowing that it is a way to help them take care of themselves. I also wrote a recipe book – Healthy Gourmet Cooking – suitable for people with diabetes.

What do you think is the biggest diabetes challenge in your country?

The lack of awareness of the disease. With the symptoms being silent, people often find out that they have diabetes when the disease is already advanced and the body has suffered a lot.

Why did you decide to join the Blue Circle Voices network?

To show that you can have diabetes and continue to live a normal life, with only some changes.  Diabetes is not the end of the world.

Being a person who likes sweet things very much, I got over my taste for sweets by creating healthy desserts, with a lot of fiber and without sugar.

ByElizabeth Snouffer

Elizabeth Snouffer is Editor of Diabetes Voice


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