Kristina Loskarjova (above) sent me an email about her book, Yes, You Can! In it she shares a multitude of stories and strategies from people she interviewed around the world who are living well with type 1 diabetes. Below is a peek into her personal story.
Kristina Loskarjova: “I still remember my 20-year-old self standing on stage and thinking, ‘Is this really what I am destined for?’
I was pitching my start‐up to a jury in a competition in London, and I was experiencing a severe hypo. Back then, while still a student, I was devoting all my efforts to building a start‐up called E77. I was extremely proud of it and had invested all my work and free time into making it a success. I had experienced the side effects of low blood sugar in pressured situations before – in golf and dance competitions, while doing my daily exercise, in school during exams – but it had never occurred to me that it would happen during a truly significant event in my life.
When I finished my presentation, I patiently listened to the feedback I was given, then managed to elegantly (I would like to believe) walk out of the room and rush to my hypo kit. My caring friends kept asking, ‘How did it go?!’ But all I could focus on was getting my blood glucose level up in time. In the end, of course, I didn’t win the competition – but by that point my prize was a steady and safe blood sugar level.
This was the first time in my life I had truly felt beaten by diabetes. It was the first time I realized that diabetes is not just a convenient excuse that I can childishly use every time I make a mistake on an exam or play a bad golf shot. It could also become an obstacle between myself and my dream life, preventing me from doing things that truly matter to me.
Nevertheless, I refused to accept that this was the only way it could be, so I devoted time to exploring ways to work with, and not against, my diabetes. I know that I learn best from good examples, so I embarked on a mission to find out how other Type 1 diabetics tackle their blood sugar while performing and excelling in their daily life.
As someone who comes from Hungary, where diabetes is barely discussed, I discovered the inspiring online diabetes community only when I started searching for advice. And I was wowed! Actors, singers, TV presenters, professional sportspeople and those who have no fame– so many role models, so many individuals who could tell me how they managed to handle diabetes while pursuing their goals. And I reached out to them, trying my luck and not quite believing that they would respond to requests from an unknown person like myself.
But guess what… they did! And their advice was full of stories and life events that reassured me: if they can, I can!
The more individuals got back to me, the more I realized that every story was unique in content yet similar in advice. I immediately started to apply the best practices to my own life. Some of them worked immediately while others took time to master. However, overall, I now find it much easier to give presentations as I know the dos and don’ts that the ‘best of the best’ apply.
Today, every time I’m about to step onto the stage to present, I find a silent space, remember the strong individuals who shared their advice with me and tell myself loudly, ‘Yes, you can!’ I then confidently head onto the stage knowing that I will not find myself in a hypo during this significant moment in my life.
The more I applied the best practices to my own life, the more confident I became. With time, my diabetes and I became great friends. Today I know – I can! And, in fact, I know that everyone can!
I wanted to share the advice I had received from professionals, knowing that I couldn’t keep it to myself. I wanted to share it with the wider Type 1 diabetes community. So I classified all the best practices into life events (e.g. careers, activities, nights out, interactions with friends) and turned them into a book called Yes, You Can! This book contains interviews with people from various professions across Australia, Brazil, several European countries (including the UK), Russia and the USA. Among them are champion sportspeople, astronauts, celebrities, actors and everyday individuals who all live happy lives and teach us that even the sky is not the limit with Type 1 diabetes!
The lesson I have learned from this experience is that if you ever doubt yourself – whether due to diabetes or something else – sometimes all it takes to believe in yourself and achieve the life you want is to explore the wider community, find your role models, get inspired and, most importantly, keep on believing that ‘Yes, you can!’”
My note: When Kristina began writing her book at the age of 18, she wanted to inspire those newly diagnosed with T1D to feel anything in life is possible. We also agree that all our situations are unique, so never feel you are a failure if/when your road becomes bumpy. We hope you find ways to achieve your personal best whatever that is, and we know too, in time and often with hindsight, we discover the bumps were exactly what helped us find our way forward.