Life with Diabetes… at Macedonia

Ever wonder what it’s like living with this exasperating ailment in the far reaches of earth? So do we! That’s why we created our — a type of “virtual tour of the world” via reviews from people with grappling diabetes all around the world.

Now, we bring you a story from the (former Yugoslav) Republic of Macedonia, or in their own language: РепубДика МакедÐ3/4Ð1/2ија. Where the hell is that? On the fundamental Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe, with Serbia to the north and Greece to the south (we knew that of course — NOT).

Student Renata Jakimovik is a young native of the place, excited to Talk about her experiences there with type 1 diabetes

A Guest Post by Renata Jakimovik

My name is Renata, I’m 20 years old and I live in Skopje, the capital city of Macedonia, which is a little country in South-East Europe full of wonderful tradition and amazing locations that it is possible to visit.

On the 27th of August 2003, when I wasRenata - Macedonia 9 years old, I was diagnosed with diabetes. Everything began about few weeks earlier. I began to drink a lot of water, to urinate a whole lot, to have headaches, and to get thinner, though I was already a lean child. Initially my mother thought that I drank so much water and urinated so frequently because it was summertime. But when they took me to the hospital the identification was different — type 1 diabetes.

Since I was in the hospital, in which I was educated about my nutrition, the way to take insulin treatment and track my glycaemia, I missed the very first week of the new school season. When I returned to my everyday activities and to school, I’ll be honest, things were a little bit different. Taking the insulin treatment, monitoring my glycaemia along with the diet, did not bother me at all. Although I am the first one in my family with diabetes, my parents, my sister and my younger brother encouraged me a lot, they followed the exact same diet as me personally and learned about diabetes.

But things were a little bit tougher in school. The teacher and the kids understood about my diabetes and not long after came the teasing and the offensive comments by my classmates. It was hard at first, but my mother kept telling me that I must not give in to such comments. I began to take folk dancing courses, to learn about traditional Macedonian dances and songs, and after a year, my parents let me go on a trip in Turkey with my sister, which lasted for fourteen days. My parents trusted I can look after my diabetes on my own and everyone that was with us on the tour organizers understood about my diabetes and so were of enormous support to me. As the years passed by, I began to realize more and more that I lived in a cruel world where kids with diabetes were insulted by others, so that they needed to hide and were afraid to talk about it. Our society was in need of better education about diabetes and still is!

In 2009 I had the honor to meet Dr. Goran Petrovski, my current endocrinologist who helped me a lot. With him I went to the first camp for kids with diabetes in Ohrid, in which I fulfilled 20 other kids from various nations. The motivation to make an organization for people with diabetes came out of our exchange of experiences and the instruction that we received. The organization was intended for all people with diabetes, particularly for the young people, age 15 to 30, because that was a group that did not exist anywhere.

At one of the camps in 2011, our guest was Team Type 1 creator Phil Southerland, who told us his story and told us he monitored his diabetes. He invited us and gave us more reason to look after our diabetes. Additionally, I fulfilled (Phil’s now wife) Biljana Southerland, who was a Doctor Advisor in the Cabinet of the Minister of Health and Creator and Leader of of the National Diabetes Program. She contained in the program the chance for us to attempt different insulin therapies, to receive 125 test strips a month, and most of all to be able to get an insulin pump. In our country, most form 1s utilize a CGM but also we have a lots of young people who have diabetes type 1 who use insulin pumps.

We’ve got a mixture of public and private health insurance companies in our country, and there was a recent medical reform in which the public main health care (PHC) organizations were privatized. Ever since that time, we still have good benefits for diabetes care and supplies: the Ministry of Health keeps supporting this program and is trying to make it feasible for us to have all necessary tools to regulate our diabetes. For us is easy for to our supplies that we need and I believe that we have good, easily accessible care in Macedonia, which is regulated by the Nacional Diabetes Program.

On the 31th of October 2012, after all of the preparations, gathered experiences and research, a bunch of experts and advocates finally founded a company for those who have diabetes, which we called “Alegria.” Our objectives are better education not only for the people with diabetes, but for the whole Macedonian society. We would like to raise consciousness about the need for physical activity and a healthy diet, to discuss our thoughts about the way we live with diabetes in Macedonia, the way young people deal with their diabetes every day and what are the consequences if it’s not handled well. But our primier goal is to show everyone that people with diabetes are not in any way different from people who do not have it and that diabetes is not stopping us from fulfilling our dreams!

We began to fulfill these aims by celebrating World Diabetes Day, competing in the Skopje Marathon, participating in various camps and accomplishing a fantastic effort for increasing awareness about diabetes.

Now I’m a law student and also a president of “Alegria.” I am on insulin pump nearly five decades now, and once a month I see my endocrinologist, who’s also my diabetes teacher — and occasionally I see him more frequently in a month if desire. I believe I can say for myself that I’m a girl who’s proof that if wanted, the diabetes could be handled and it doesn’t pose a barrier for fulfilling your dreams.

I would like to encourage young people who have diabetes not to give in to the barriers in their own way. Be positive, enthusiastic and creative. Surround yourself with positive people, be consistent and dream big. And do not lose hope, because you never know exactly what the following day will bring.

Thanks Renata, for showing us exactly what a small world it is really, when it comes to the Big D.

Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.


This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn’t stick to Healthline’s editorial instructions. To find out more regarding Healthline’s venture with Diabetes Mine, please click here.

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