Hi. My name is Alexandra. I have had diabetes for four years. It's not a long period, I know, but it's enough to realize all the seriousness of this disease. Indeed, its seriousness was clear from the moment I was informed about it. I had a coma. The doctors asked my Mum if she couldn't see that I had diabetes. She couldn't, because there was no one in our family and no relatives or friends who had it. We knew nothing about it. Even my polyclinic doctor couldn't say what it was, so she put the diagnosis of flu or cold. It's really difficult to describe the state when you are so sleepy that it seemed you could sleep for ever. You can't move either hand or foot or even open your eyes. I don't want to frighten anybody, of course, telling about this state, but it's my experience and I wish nobody have it. So, if feel tired for no reason, always thirsty and visit the toilet too often, think about it and consult a doctor.
When I became conscious again, the first thing I saw was my Mum. She was always nearby and helped me to get used to the idea that I have diabetes. She tried to comfort me, but I think she needed the comfort herself. We thought it was a mistake and consulted a lot of specialists. Then, decided to find all possible information about diabetes to make my life adequate. It was very difficult in our country when healthy people suffer a lot of everyday hardships, not speaking of people with some health problems. Diabetes is a very expensive disease here. Besides, I faced problems at school. I was 12 at that time and this is the age when the kids became teenagers and, you know, they are very cruel for those who are different from them in any way. I was different. I had to make injections, I had to follow a diet, I couldn't take part in sport competitions as I used to before, because my sport teachers were afraid to let me.
I'd like to tell you about my best friend. Her mother called my Mum and "informed" her that I am a narcotics addict, because she saw me doing injections and she forbid her girl to deal with me. She even took her daughter to another school. Nice, isn't it? I was in a kind of isolation and didn't want anything - no studies, no sport, no friends, no such depended on injections and diet life! The Internet saved me. I came across a web site -- www.childrenwithdiabetes.com -- and found a lot of American friends there. My best friend is Doctor Sam. He is doing so much for American kids with diabetes and, I am sure, even more for the Russian ones. He invited me into his program, and first, I was in the winter camp with American kids and doctors who came to Russia, and then, went to the US. It was great. I saw the way kids with diabetes live happily and enjoy themselves and thought much. "If you can't change the things, change your own attitude towards them" - I did. I changed a lot and I am rather happy. I have many friends, I am going to enter the University and studying hard now.
My diet is rather flexible. If I have something which needs more insulin, I make an extra injection. It's not a good way, but sometimes I let myself have some tasty bit of cake or some fruits. It is rather difficult, because I live among people who don't follow any diets and can afford a lot. The temptation is strong, but the idea that I can stand it is pleasant enough.
I sometimes have hypos when my day is too busy with studies and I have little time to have a snack OR when I have some troubles OR even when I am extremely happy. I thing any strong emotion can cause it. And I am so hot-tempered! Sometimes, it is visa versa. I am rather angry and even strict - that is because the sugar level is low, and not because I am a nervous and moody girl. When I am sleepy and idle - my sugar is high - I am not lazy (he-he!) A good idea, isn't it?
I think diabetes requires a lot of discipline (ha-ha, you may say! I am just trying to find light spots in the dark room). Living with diabetes teaches me much, it makes me think of every moment of life as unique. I don't know what can possibly happen to me the next moment, what complications to expect, so I value life and try not to waste any moment of it.
They reactions of my friends and classmates were different. Some of them stopped dealing with me as the idea of any responsibility frighten them. They say, and what if something happens with you? Why should I help, what will happen if I do something wrong, ett.
Others are too caring and it makes me nervous. They always ask if I can eat this or that, if I can do this or that ... It's too boring.
I like to skate and roller skate. I do it whenever I have a chance.
I think much about the future. I am going to get a good education, to have a well paid and interesting job, to have a child ... you see, my idea of future is not new (he-he). The question is if it is possible with diabetes. I am trying to convince myself that it is. "Where there is a will, there is a way", in my case, it should be a positive way. As to the will, I have it. If I feel a bit depressive, I write. I am writing a novel in English now. Of course, it's a very bold statement - "a novel!", but nevertheless....
I have got friends among Russian and American diabetics of my age and older. It's so exiting to share your thoughts with people who live far away and speak different languages. If any person with diabetes or without have the same interest in communication, I am always ready to talk.
Alex receives e-mail at chesova[@]techelectro.ru.
Alex in a recent photo
At Chicago's O'Hare airport on August 14, 2002 as she was leaving to return to Russia
Published February 5, 2001
Updated March 10, 2004
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