Diabetes, when well managed, is not a limitation to achieving dreams and goals. It can make us stronger and more resilient.
How long have you been living with diabetes?
I've been living with type 1 diabetes for 40 years.
How were you diagnosed?
I had the usual symptoms, namely intense thirst, frequent urination and tiredness. My parents took me to the doctor who, after using a strip to determine the presence of sugar in my urine, diagnosed me with type 1 diabetes.
Did your diagnosis come as a surprise to you?
I confess that at the time I was not very surprised, nor did I feel much impact from the diagnosis.
How did your diagnosis affect your family or loved ones?
My mother suffered a lot because at that time there was little information about diabetes and there were quite a lot of restrictions. At the time they prescribed a diet and I had to use glass syringes. The fact that it was a chronic disease had a big impact on my parents. My mother always hoped that a cure for diabetes would be found.
What are the most important things that have supported your diabetes care?
Firstly, family support. My parents always motivated me and never limited me because I had diabetes. Secondly, the medical support from a multidisciplinary team that from day one bet on my therapeutic education. I thank from the bottom of my heart all the help, friendship and encouragement I received from all the health personnel that I had the pleasure and the privilege of being in contact with. Thirdly, my involvement in associations of people with diabetes. Peer support has been very important.
What has living with diabetes taught you the most?
That diabetes, when well managed, is not a limitation to achieving dreams and goals. That diabetes makes us stronger and more resilient.
What has been your lowest point with diabetes?
Living with diabetes always means having good times and bad times. I have always accepted this, but there have been moments of fatigue that led me to not care about diabetes.
Have you ever experienced issues accessing diabetes medicines, supplies and care?
Fortunately, access to medicines (particularly insulin) and some technologies has always been easy for me. However, in Portugal we often have difficulty accessing new medical devices and some pharmacological innovations.
What would you like to see change in diabetes over the next 100 years?
No discrimination. Access to insulin all over the world. Access to diabetes education worldwide. Access to all the innovations that are developed for all people with diabetes. An end to inequalities in health.
What do you think needs to change to improve the lives of people living with diabetes in your country?
The abusive cost of health and life insurance for people with diabetes has to end. Diabetes innovations should be easier to access and there should be no more discrimination.
What does the centenary of insulin mean to you?
It means life. It means celebrating what allows me to live. It means celebrating all the advances and innovations in new insulins that have been developed over the last 100 years, but also celebrating future innovations. These make the lives of people with diabetes easier, more flexible and happier. But it also reminds me that access to insulin is still not guaranteed all over the world. It reminds me that we still have an uphill struggle ahead of us to ensure that no child dies from diabetes.