My name is Cristina Petrut and I am from Romania. I was diagnosed with diabetes in February, 19, 2002. I was very lucky because in August, 29, 2002 I was the first person from my country that started using an insulin pump and I have been using it since then. The fact of having diabetes since I was 12 years old, guided most of my career decisions around the desire of working close to the subject of diabetes. So I started studying Psychology. Most of my projects and research in the faculty and in my masters were related to diabetes. And now I work on my dissertation that will relate psychological concepts with diabetes. After five years of study I am a Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist and I am about to open a private psychological practice. Since 2013, I am the president of a local diabetes association and I am trying to combine my profession with my passion.
For me, living with diabetes was not much of a challenge. There are times when I am getting a little bit tired of having to be constantly careful of what I do, how much insulin I inject and my blood sugar levels, but I always try to see the good part in everything and each challenge is an opportunity to develop new skills. Although it is difficult when I see the lack of education for this medical condition and how some people can sometimes make you feel uncomfortable with your diabetes. What bothers me is the fear of people living with diabetes that they are not accepted, that they are judged by others and that they get anxious, depressed because of their thoughts and fears and they stop taking care of themselves. A thing that scares me regarding my diabetes is the possibility of complications and having to live with it for the rest of my life.
In Romania, the access to insulin and medication is very good. Usually those with type 1 go to a consultation every 3 months and they also get a prescription for as much insulin as they need and for needles, or pump supplies and for 100 strips ( the amount of strips is small so to have a good blood sugar control we often have to buy more strips). Those with type 2 go to a consultation every 6 months (unless they have diabetes complications) and they receive prescriptions for their medication but no strips. We can get the insulin from any Pharmacy as well as the strips. Most people use insulin pens and since 2002 we have started using insulin pumps but unfortunately there are still only a few people that have access to it. We also have to pay for our HbA1c testing.
Since 2013 I have started my own Diabetes Association that is a member of the Romanian Diabetes Association Federation (and this is a member of the Romanian Federation of Diabetes, Nutrition and Metabolic Disease). Up until now, I have organised education meetings with our members, created a short movie with the message that life is beautiful even when you have diabetes, got involved in organising some events for World Diabetes Day in 2013, taken part in diabetes screening projects and in the selection and training of the Romanian Football Team that will participate at DiaEuro 2014 (The European Football Championship of People Living with Diabetes). At the moment, for my association I am planning some education workshops, the national forum of diabetes associations for next year, the activities for World Diabetes Day 2014, and diabetes screenings in rural areas, as well as some sport activities for its members.
I am a Young Leader since Melbourne 2013 and have so far held some presentations about what the YLD means, the purposes of the project, what I have learned from this program and how all the associations could do something for people living with diabetes. Now I am settling the last details for my YLD project and I hope that I will be able to start it soon. My main idea is to connect young people with diabetes, to form a powerful community of people living with diabetes, based on collaboration, knowledge, friendship and desire to help others. I will form groups of young people with diabetes that will work together as a team and they will have some workshops together (team-building, diabetes, food, sport, psychological issues related to diabetes, fun and a short weekend camp). With this I would like to involve young people in managing their diabetes, in knowing and helping each other and in doing volunteer work for a better world for people living with diabetes.