My name is Alejandra Solis and I have been living with type 1 diabetes for 10 years. I am from Honduras, a republic located in Central America surrounded by so much natural beauty and many beautiful people who work hard to get their own food to their homes. I'm going to describe living with type 1 diabetes in Honduras and what it implies.
Honduras is a country where there is poor knowledge of type 1 diabetes among the general population, which is pretty common around most of the world. I was bullied at school due to my diabetes and because kids at my school didn't know what it really was like to live with the condition. I missed a lot of days of school because of my high and low blood glucose and I had to change from school to school because of the bullying and the lack of consideration from teachers. Not all the people at these schools were bad, but because of their lack of knowledge of type 1 diabetes, they assumed that living with the condition was all about not eating sugar and taking your medicine. I found this really funny since, if this was the case, then living with type 1 diabetes would be as easy as 2+2!
I graduated from high school and started studying medicine soon after but it was such a battle to get into medical school, not because of my grades but because of discrimination from people who did not believe in me. I've never been someone to let diabetes stop me from achieving my goals and getting into medical school was no different, so I fought to make the people who did not believe in me know that, even though I live with type 1 diabetes, have the potential to be one of the best medical students. I remember going to my endocrinologist one day and he asked me what I was doing with my life and I told him I got into medical school. He looked at me and laughed, saying that people with diabetes are not able to deal with all the pressure a medical student has to face, particularly when it comes to rotations.
I remember feeling destroyed by that comment because I considered my endocrinologist as the only person who actually understood what it was to really live with type 1 diabetes. To hear him laughing about my condition just like the people who discriminated me at school made me feel like I was alone and that I could not continue in medical school. I wanted to give up but my parents helped me believe in myself again, and thanks to them I am making my dream come true.
In addition to dealing with discrimination, people with type 1 diabetes in my country suffer from lack of medication because many people are unemployed or do not earn enough to buy all the medication required and the right food for a healthy diet that a person with diabetes requires. Our health insurance does not cover the cost of our insulin so we must look for ways to get the money to buy it. For this reason, many children with diabetes die from complications. People like me who live in the city have a better chance to get a decent job in order to have enough money to buy insulin and visit an endocrinologist. I'm aware that sometimes you have to adapt to a diet that is not ideal, but the best that is available, given the circumstances, to keep our blood sugar stable and live a long life.
I've had the opportunity to visit many towns in Honduras and see for myself the misery in which many people with diabetes live. Many do not have a blood glucose meter and lack insulin. Their diet consists of rice and beans, soda, coffee and sweat bread These people are not looked after by the health system and many do not even know that they have diabetes or how to treat it, because no one explains to them what it is and it is managed.
My intention with this testimony is to make the world see how hard living with type 1 diabetes can be, especially in a country like Honduras, to show the scars left by the efforts a person with type 1 diabetes makes to stay alive, and to make people aware that whenever they judge a person with type 1 diabetes, they should not only consider the tiny holes left on fingers from pricks and the small dots caused by needles, but also the deeper scars that don't fade. The distress we go through when we can't control the highs, the tears we cry for not having the support of the health system, the emotions we can't control, the smiles we force even on the toughest days, and the impotence I feel for not being able to help people with no job to get their treatment. It is my wish to make the voice of these people heard and make the world see that living with type 1 diabetes is a full-time job, unpaid.