Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bret Michael's Talks About Living with Diabetes in Diabetes Health

As I was messing around on Twitter yesterday, I noticed someone had posted a link to an article about legendary rocker, Bret Michaels talking about Living with Diabetes!

As a mom of a child with diabetes, you know I just had to read it! We show Lenny pictures, videos, commercials, and expose him to some of Bret's music, and explain to him that Bret is a major rock-star, touring the world, playing his music, and living a dream life... all while living with Type 1 Diabetes! The faces Lenny gives us when we tell him this (no matter how often we share this with him LOL!) is truely priceless! It's like he is so suprised!

We go on to tell Lenny that, if Bret Michaels and Nick Jonas can live the life of a rock-star, while living with Type 1 Diabetes, then he can do anything he wants to do in life, despite having diabetes, if he takes good care and control of his diabetes! We use this to reinforce, and encourange Lenny that, he may have Type 1 Diabetes, but diabetes doesn't have to "have him", so to speak!

The article I had read first had lead me to the original article (you can read here), of which he did an interview with the writers of Diabetes Health.

This article was very well written, captivating, and truthfully, parts of it had almost brought me to tears!

In the article, Bret says:
"My parents let everybody know. We went the exact opposite from others who would have kept it quiet to friends and neighbors. My parents didn't hide it. They were like, 'Look, my son is a diabetic. We don't know a lot about the disease yet, and he's only six.' I remember being in kindergarten and people worried if I took a sip of Coke, was I going to die? It's like a balance beam--people didn't know what to feed me, and I had to say 'You can feed me regular food.' I was never embarrassed to tell my friends I was diabetic. I remember playing football and having to go to the sidelines for a blood sugar test, and that was back when there wasn't a glucose meter. Instead, you had to pee into a cup, drop a pill into it, and wait 45 minutes until it bubbled up. I was like a lab rat, but I was very fortunate because I'm one of these guys who doesn't fear what people think of me. It wasn't like ‘Oh my god, this is so embarrassing because now I gotta do this for the rest of my life.' My dad and mom told me more than once that these are the cards you were dealt. It's not fun, but you either embrace it or it's going to embrace you, and that's not what you want."  
He encourages people, both parents of diabetic children, and people living with the condition, to let people know you have Type 1 Diabetes, how you act when you are having a low blood sugar, the signs to watch out for. He says:
"You know what makes me frantic?" Michaels says, shaking his head, then taking a deep breath during a long pause. "If they overreact and move too quickly. Now, my brain says 'I'm very thankful,' but if you can move a little slower and just give me what I need, that's all you have to do. Kristi is very in tune when it happens, and she'll sometimes say 'You're not answering my question very well.' I've asked her to just sit across the table from me, hold my hand, and let me take the stuff I need. Now, I know she wants to react quickly to get me orange juice or glucose tablets and, yes, you do have a small window of opportunity to do that, but as a diabetic you just want someone to move slow and say ‘you're going to be fine‘ and get you what's needed. That's it. Sometimes, I can't open the containers, and she'll be all over me battling and trying to open the cap of the juice or the glucose. I know all of her love and her intentions, and I'm never mad about it but, still, the calmer you react, the better." 
He also talks about when he has a very low blood sugar reaction, often times he "focuses on something familiar". According to the article..
Hanging onto a familiar image is common for people coming off a low blood sugar. Many have explained that it's the foundation they use as a way to rejoin the real world again.  Through the years, Michaels has noticed another common reaction after a low: He wants to show those who have witnessed it, and himself, that he can still "do it." "When I have a low blood sugar, it's almost like a constant need in my soul, which is the 'Rose Has Its Thorn' part of my life. I'm constantly trying to prove that through all adversity, I can still do it." 

I found that to be very interesting, as I have never heard that before, nor have I thought to try to teach Lenny to do this when he is having a hypoglycemic reaction!

The article goes on to say that Bret is a strong believer in a cure.

The part of this article that filled my eyes with tears was when Bret was asked what he would do when they find a cure for diabetes, he said:
 "I'll tell you what I'm going to do," he laughs, "I'm going to make every night Halloween! For every trick-or-treat night that I couldn't eat anything that we were given, I'm going to find the thickest, fattest piece of cake I can find and I'm eating it! Then, everyone step back, because I may go back to Denny's for a second Grand Slam Breakfast with all the real syrup--not the fake god-awful stuff. I'm not riding my bike for twelve hours!"

I learned, through this article, that Bret has an exercise bike on his tour bus, in which he rides while on tour, if he is unable to get to a gym. How interesting! Great idea!

The article discusses a lot about Bret and his rock-star life with diabetes, but to me, two of the most important parts of the article, and the ones that I found have the most significant impact are his advice to newly diagnosed people, and his advice to the family and friends of the newly diagnosed people.

Advice to the Newly Diagnosed
Here's the first thing you want to do: Know there is a great future. The first things everyone told us when I was diagnosed were the horror stories about the kidneys and amputations. There's a great opportunity today. If I can live this crazy life, you can do whatever you want. Read a lot and learn, and while you're reading, ride your bike. You can read about being healthy, but unless you do it, just reading doesn't do you a lot of good.    
Advice to Family and Friends of the Newly Diagnosed
Read a lot, learn a lot, help them with nutrition. Be calm during low blood sugar moments. From a personal standpoint, if everyone overreacts, it makes my heart pound more, and the lower my blood sugar goes. As a family of a diabetic, know this: There's a lot of mood swings involved that aren't necessarily meant toward you. When I'm having blood sugars all over the place, my mood is swinging, not because I want it to, but because stress will cause high blood sugars. My piece of advice to the family: Accept it, and let everybody know you have it. In the old days, you didn't talk about that stuff. Nowadays my thing is shouting it from the rooftop. It's important to let friends and family know someone is diabetic, and this is their situation, and here's what they'll need to do to deal with it. This is a disease that is un-ignorable because it's coming at you like a freight train, so don't be embarrassed by it. 
WOW! Great advice, Bret!

Bret is a caring and loving father, supporter of the ADA, works hard to raise money for a cure, seemingly fun loving, look-for-the-positive-things-in-negative-situations type of guy who is also a Type 1 Diabetic, that rocks hard, plays harder, and gives life everything he's got because he knows life is too short to waste on worry and stress.

I also learned through this article that Bret has an autobiography coming out next month, on his 48th birthday, titled Roses & Thorns. Yep, you know I will be buying that book!

In closing, for all you Rock fans out there... Enjoy the music!

Every Rose Has It's Thorn
Your Mama Don't Dance (And Your Daddy Don't Rock 'N Roll)
Nothin' But A Good Time

1 comment:

living with diabetes said...

Living with diabetes is not easy at all, but there are treatments and medication that helps everyone with this disease battle it out.