Mia Chichkarikj is 16-years old third-year student in the Orce Nikolov Gymnasium in Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia. What makes this young girl a true fighter is that every day for the past 10 years, she has been facing the challenges that Type 1 juvenile diabetes has thrown at her. No other medicine can help her but insulin shots!
She is constantly measuring the glucose level in her blood with the help of devices with sensors that her parents have been purchasing from Germany and Austria, each costing €60 and can be used for 2 weeks only.
We talked with Mia in this interview for Meta.mk about her life at home and her surroundings, how she is accepted at school, the challenges she is facing, with the goal of raising awareness about this autoimmune condition taking into account that the number of little kids with diabetes Type 1 is on the rise.
Mia, your fight every day with diabetes and that makes you a true hero. How did it all begin?
I have been living and fighting with diabetes for almost 10 years. On the 30th of September 2011, I was born for the second time, since my life completely changed. That day was the hardest in my life since I never even thought my life would change overnight. Many times I have heard that diabetes is a sickness, but it is only a condition where the cells of the pancreas aren’t producing insulin. I accepted this condition from day one, so very often in order to make a joke, I’m saying that diabetes will be the most faithful friend throughout my life. The constant control of the glucose level, hypoglycemia, as well as hyperglycemia, has truly made my life difficult, but I manage to fight with all of this. I have to admit that my parents, friends and professors are those that support me in this fight with diabetes and they are the ones who keep telling me I’m a fighter.
We live in a society where people are easily condemned, mistreated on various bases. How do the surrounding people react, your fellow students and professors?
When my diabetes was diagnosed, I didn’t attend school for a whole month. I missed my friends, the school, professors. During that period I constantly wondered whether my fellow students will accept me with my new condition or they will not like to hang out with me. I have to admit I had a great classroom, everyone accepted me and during those 9 years, they always helped me. Now I’m a high school student at the Orce Nikolov gymnasium and I’m very grateful both to my fellow students and professors for accepting me with my condition. I have to admit that the period before starting high school was too stressful for me since I was scared I will not be accepted by my fellow students. But now I’m in the third year and I’m coping great in these surroundings.
Please describe what a day in your life looks like.
I get up early in the morning, I’m measuring the glycemia immediately, and if the findings are high, I’m taking a shot of insulin, and then I’m having breakfast. If it is low, I have my breakfast first and then I take my insulin shot. Of course, I do the same before lunch and dinner. Before going to sleep I have to take basal insulin, which is slow and is regulating my glycemia during the day. In the beginning, when I was diagnosed with diabetes, my closest family was scared whether I will be able to deal with the constant measuring of glycemia, but I learned the process in a week. It helped my parents tremendously.
What is necessary to be done in order to ease the lives of children with diabetes?
My greatest desire is for all children suffering from diabetes to receive monitors that will help them to spare their tiny fingers from the constant pricking. I wish we could have good quality insulin that will help us in better regulation of the glucose in the blood. This should be a plea to the authorities at the Ministry of Health, to take our needs for ‘painless’ glucose monitors seriously and to provide them as soon as possible for all of us. This will help us to ease the everyday control of the glycemia in the blood.
Jasmina Chichkarikj: We were confused and scared
The so-called “sweet” story started exactly 10 years ago when the doctors at the Children’s clinic told us the diagnosis, juvenile diabetes. Firstly, we didn’t know what it was about, but they explained what Mia’s condition was like, and we, the whole family, has to live with it, said Mia’s mother, Jasmina Chichkarikj.
“We were scared and confused, we didn’t know how to continue. But, with time, we learned that, whether we liked it or not, this will be our everyday life, and slowly we accepted this type of life. Throughout the years we have managed to get through many problems, starting from lack of insulin, which happened many times, so we had to manage by ourselves. Then there was a problem with the devices for measuring glycemia, which are those with stinging the fingers despite our neighbors having painless glucose monitors in the blood. We pleaded to the Ministry of Health to acquire such monitors that will ease the lives of these children, but our petitions fell on deaf ears – said the mother.
She said that every day there are more parents whose children are diagnosed with this type of diabetes.
“We all have to understand that our children are healthy, to think positively and that it really is a condition that with a little bit of effort can be managed well. Our children are our heroes,” – stressed Chichkarikj.