The interview of Melanie
Hello Melanie, could you introduce yourself in a few words.
Hello, my name is Melanie, I am 22 years old, I live in a small town called Marignier in Haute-Savoie. I am a student in Health Engineering in Grenoble with the aim of being able to cure diabetes one day. Indeed, I have already done an internship with a team of researchers on diabetes who are working on the possibility of doing islet transplants without having to take immunosuppressants.
When was your diabetes diagnosed? What do you remember about the first period after the diagnosis?
I was 12 years old, it was very difficult for those around me, especially for my mother who was very worried and who was really behind me. She had to come in the night at 00:00 and 4:00 to give me dextro. We had to completely organize ourselves differently for college and meals. I didn't have a pump and I had to respect the carbohydrates programmed with the dietician and the schedules for each meal. I remember 10 years ago it was hard to find foods with no added sugars, but now there are many more choices.
Diabetes is still not well known to the general public. How would you explain to someone what diabetes is and how it affects your daily life?
There are three types of diabetes: type 1, type 2 and gestational. I have had type 1 diabetes for 10 years. It is a chronic (meaning it stays for life) autoimmune disease (caused by my antibodies attacking my pancreas). It is the pancreas that regulates the sugar level in the blood and supplies the organs and muscles with carbohydrates thanks to a hormone: insulin. As the pancreas of type 1 diabetics no longer functions, we must inject "fast" insulin at each meal, which acts for 2 hours, and "slow" insulin in the evening, which acts for 24 hours. Diabetes is a part of my life because I have to constantly monitor that my blood sugar is within the target range, I have to remember to take my insulins and everything else that goes along with diabetes with me, I have to calculate the carbohydrates I eat and organize my day so that I am not caught off guard.
The preconceived notion that you want to debunk at all costs?
Like many people, my parents and I thought that diabetes was only a disease that affected the elderly or obese. Over time I have met diabetics of all ages, sometimes even infants. I wish people would stop thinking that diabetes = junk food or poor lifestyle. Also, many young people around me think that because diabetes is a disease that cannot be seen (except with the sensor and the omnipod) then necessarily "it's not so hard, there are worse diseases". Yes indeed, there are worse things, but it is still a mental burden day and night, including vacations and weekends, and it is a vicious disease that can cause serious damage in the long term.
Tell us a positive or funny story about your diabetes.
In order to get my internship in the diabetes research sector, I didn't hesitate to mention that I was diabetic in my cover letter and that my dream was to be a diabetes researcher and I was immediately accepted (thanks to diabetes).
What advice would you give to someone who has just been diagnosed with diabetes?
I would tell her that life goes on, that it is essential to continue to live as before, not to stop doing sports, going out etc.. It is imperative that you follow your treatment seriously because that is what keeps you alive, but if one day it is too difficult, you must not be afraid to let go for a short time to start again. I would tell her that we should not lose hope because science is making more and more progress and the quality of life of diabetics is improving throughout the years. We must not forget that a century ago only type 1 diabetics died of hyperglycemia, whereas today we can expect to live as long as people who are not sick.
Kaio-Dia was created because many accessories were either boring, of poor quality, or uncomfortable. We would really like to continue to change this, as we have already started to do. For that, we would like to know what you need, like, dislike or miss in your daily life.
Before I switched to the omnipod I had a pump with tubing. I used to put my pump in my bra when I was in a dress or when I didn't have pockets in my pants. It's true that it would be nice to create bras or brassieres that could hold the pumps in a discreet and comfortable way. For the omnipod or sensor, I put them mostly on my arms. It would be nice to create headbands with pads to protect from getting caught on doors or with people. And that it is more comfortable at night if you sleep on it for example.