Esraa Elhaj

I was fortunate to have received a lot of information about diabetes that made me aware about everything.

How long have you been living with diabetes?

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2008, when I was 11 years old.

How were you diagnosed?

I was fasting for Ramadan and felt very thirsty on the second day. I started crying and my mother became concerned because this was unusual. She was living with diabetes and had noticed that I was drinking too much water, going to the bathroom frequently during the night and losing weight. She measured my blood glucose and it was very high.

How did your diagnosis affect your family or loved ones?

When I was diagnosed, my parents were very depressed and had trouble accepting the situation. They subsequently accepted it and began looking for the best methods to manage my condition. They read more and supplied me with everything I needed. I was fortunate to have received a lot of information about diabetes that made me aware about everything.

At school, my friends and teachers were also very supportive. My teachers knew when I needed to have breakfast and allowed me to have it even in the middle of a lesson. One challenge was having to watch my friends eat and drink whatever they wanted, when I could not.

What has been your lowest point with diabetes?

After four years living with diabetes, I started to have negative thoughts which impacted my diabetes management: "Why me?” “Why can't I live like everyone else?” “Why can't I eat sweets?” “I don't want to take care of my diabetes.” Things got better one year later when I started to work on my mental health.

Have you ever experienced issues accessing diabetes medicines, supplies and care?

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, I did not experience any issues accessing insulin. The pandemic restricted its availability to certain pharmacies and made a doctor’s prescription necessary to receive it. In my country, many people with diabetes do not have access to insulin, supplies and other diabetes care.

What does the centenary of insulin mean to you?

The centenary of insulin means a lot to me, because I know that I would have experienced many issues if insulin had not been discovered.

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