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Type 1 in a Mil

#DiAview with Milica


Milica Ilic is from Bosnia and Herzegovina. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2016, at the age of 16 year. In recent years, Milica has found a passion in helping others with diabetes, to show them that they are not alone. “People can need help to feel seen and heard, and to overcome any difficulties accepting diabetes.” She shares with a distinctive motivation about her tone, “that is why I love the work we do in our diabetes association, DiabetNo1. We fight together for a better life as people who have diabetes in Bosnia.”

In addition to her important actions to support those with this condition in common, Milica also has a talent for drawing. She is into keeping active in the gym, listening to music and dance, “imagining I'm in my own world.”

#Diagnosis. What do you remember the most from your diagnosis experience and what were your initial thoughts and questions about this condition? “When doctors told me that I have type 1 diabetes, it all felt unreal. Like I was dreaming. Like it was happening to someone else, not me.

I remember that I accepted it pretty well and I knew that I had to be strong because of my parents. It was hard. Mixed feelings, which isn’t easy to remember them clearly.

I had to start a new life. Literally a new life; to learn what I can eat and what I cannot eat. (Later I realised I can eat anything if I bolus correctly). I had to give myself injections, prick my fingers 10 times a day, every day. I didn't know how to live with that. Actually, at the time, I didn't think I'll be able to live at all with this condition.”

#DiabetesinBosnia. Is there much awareness or insight to what Type 1 is in Bosnia? What would you say is both a strength and weakness in the Bosnian health system for people with diabetes - and what support do you receive in regards to diabetes care?

I think it is hard living as type 1 in Bosnia. People are not educated enough, so it is really hard to feel seen and understood in society.

Regarding the health system in Bosnia. Type 1 diabetics do have free insulin; the number of test strips is limited (some get 3 boxes for a month and some 1 in 3 months). There are not enough diabetologists or endocrinologists.

We do not have sensors for continuous glucose monitoring via health insurance, so we usually have to buy them. Also, there is only one sensor in Bosnia registered and it doesn't suit everyone. So, if we want another sensor, we need to buy them in Croatia, Slovenia or Germany.

I think that the healthcare system in Bosnia and Herzegovina has a lot of flaws. The lack of education for people living with diabetes is a big problem; education plays a big role in managing diabetes and without proper education, the quality of life is lower.”

#PeerSupport. When was the first time you connected with another person with diabetes, and how did that impact you? Do you feel now by sharing experiences of your own, it can be a help to others? “The first time I actually connected with another person with diabetes was on Instagram, in the diabetes online community. There were mixed feelings; it was overwhelming at first but I felt for the first time that someone actually understands what I am going through.

And yes, I feel I can help other people to accept diabetes and everything that comes with it. I feel I can show them to not be ashamed of their condition and medical devices.” #RandomQuestion. If Type 1 diabetes was an animal, what would it be… and why? “I think a bee. Like bees, diabetes can be annoying sometimes but we can't just pretend that it doesn't exist. It is an important part of our life.” #Personal. As an outgoing young adult, do you feel confident about sharing you have diabetes / keeping on top of everything when our sociably with others? What advice / tips could you give to others on T1D and socialising? “I actually feel very confident about sharing that I have diabetes. I have never, not even from the beginning, hid that I have diabetes. I never wanted to let diabetes become something to feel ashamed of – and it was in knowing that not everyone has the same perception that in some ways encouraged me to join the diabetes community, to engage on Instagram and to try and raise awareness about it. Some advice that I would give others with T1D is definitely: don't hide it. In case your sugar drops too low others won't be able to help you because they wouldn't know what is wrong. It can be a life-threatening situation.

And don't hide it from your partners. If you are scared that they will leave you because of diabetes, they are not your person. You need someone who will try to understand it, who will be willing to educate themselves and help you when you need it. Don't settle for less.” #Motivation. What message would you want others recently diagnosed with diabetes to know, from your experiences with T1D? “With diabetes, diagnosis is not the end, it is just a new beginning. You can achieve anything you want. It will take time to accept it and figure out what is next; so, don't panic or try to figure it out all immediately. Diabetes is a journey full of trials and errors. Don't try to compare yourself with others; learn how to listen to your own body, in what is best for you and remember that we may have the same type of diabetes, but not everything is the same for all of us.”

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