It is difficult to accept all the prejudices about diabetes

Name: Ebba Målqvist
Age: 16
What: Has had type 1 diabetes since the age of three.

Porträtt av Ebba Malmqvist.
Ebba Målqvist, credit: Rebecka Uhlin.

“It was just before my third birthday that I developed type 1 diabetes and was hospitalised at Huddinge Hospital. I was neither afraid nor concerned by the needles, rather I was generally happy and had fun with toys, beads and watching television.

Because I don’t remember anything of my life before diabetes, I have nothing to look back on and miss. Back then it was more of a struggle for my parents, with all of the worry, responsibility and sleepless nights. They have been extremely engaged, supportive and driving, although they have also allowed me to attend parties, school trips and other events that my classmates were permitted.

When I hear stores about what others of my age have been through with diabetes, I understand how lucky I’ve been. I have received good aids, resource staff at nursery school, generally had understanding friends and dedicated teachers.

Still, the disease affects me in everything I do. And it is difficult to accept all of the prejudices that surround me, such as that I or my parents are responsible for causing the disease, that I have eaten unhealthily or exercised too little, which of course in untrue. Many people are also ignorant about just how serious the disease is, how easily it can get out of control. I wish that more resources were available to combat these prejudices.

Now that I’m 16 years old, in principle I manage my disease myself, although it is difficult to find the correct level given that my insulin requirement changes from day to day depending on what I’m doing.

For example, in school the stress of exams causes rapid changes in blood sugar and I find it difficult to concentrate, listen and understand instructions. However, my teachers are understanding and allow me to retake exams if necessary.

I don’t want my diabetes to be a hindrance in my life and I will find a lifestyle that works well for me. In the future, I want to work on something of my own, something creative, to collaborate with others, I’d love to run my own company and create change.”

As told to: Helena Mayer, first published in Swedish in Medicinsk Vetenskap No 2/2018