Bret Michaels – the Face of Diabetes

Musician Bret Michaels seems to have done it all. Earlier this year he won NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” and raised more than $300,000 for the American Diabetes Association. To help the Association raise awareness about the seriousness of diabetes and the importance of prevention and control, Bret is  representing the “Face of Diabetes” and is involved in various activities including being featured in a public service announcement campaign that he helped produce.

Bret and I have at least two things in common: the same birthday and the same chronic disease; type 1 diabetes. So I wanted to hear what he has to say about living with diabetes, being part of American Diabetes Month®, and more:

You’ve had a very busy and extremely successful year so far – what inspired you to add representing American Diabetes Month as the Face of Diabetes to everything else?

This cause is so important to me. Being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at such a young age had a profound impact on me – it’s a huge part of who I am, so of course this is something I feel incredibly passionate about.

Diabetes doesn’t have to derail your dreams.  I’m so proud to be the “Face of Diabetes;” if my work can remind other people who are struggling with the disease that it is possible to manage diabetes and still live an amazing life, then I’m happy.

What’s your daily diabetes routine look like?

Every day is a battle. You have to wake up and say to yourself, ‘I accept that I have diabetes, and I’m not going to let it run my entire life.’ It’s a fine line, a catch-22, a balancing act. I work to enjoy my life like a regular human being and at the same time keep my blood sugar levels as decent as possible.

Do you find it harder to maintain when you’re on tour?

For sure, being on the road for months on end can mess with my routine. I test my blood sugar about six to eight times a day and eat smaller meals all day long to keep my blood sugar even.

Did you ever struggle with how diabetes fits into your identity?  If so, how did you overcome this?

This is disease is something I’ve been struggling with for more than four decades.  Diabetes is undeniably a huge part of who I am and it is definitely something I’ve worked hard to come to grips with. At the same time, I’ve never let it limit me or hold me back. All I can do is take it one day at a time and be thankful for every day I handle successfully.

You were diagnosed at a young age – what do you remember?

I was six years old when I was diagnosed with diabetes; I remember I was in between kindergarten and first grade. It came on really quickly and I will never forget how extremely sick and dehydrated I was. Everything I drank or ate immediately came out of me. At  two or three in the morning my mom and dad took me to the Harrisburg hospital (in Harrisburg, PA) – the doctors in the emergency room knew what the problem was right off the bat; they recognized that it was type 1 diabetes immediately.

What do you wish someone had told you when you were first diagnosed? What would you say to kids who have just been diagnosed?

When I was first diagnosed I had no idea what was happening to me or going on inside my body. Before my parents took me to the hospital, my stomach was bloated and I was literally drinking almost a gallon of water at a time. Because my parents didn’t know what diabetes was, they were giving me soda to drink, which was not only dehydrating me more, but making my blood sugar go up twice as much. Learning more about the disease and how to keep your blood sugar stable is hugely important in living with the disease, so I would tell kids who have been diagnosed to definitely accumulate as much knowledge as possible about diabetes, just be aware and arm yourself with as much information as you can.

We just celebrated Halloween a few weeks ago, which can be tricky for kids with diabetes.  What was that like for you as a kid?  And, because we’re curious – what did you dress up as? (I’m secretly hoping David Cassidy is an answer here…)

I love Halloween now with my daughters, and I loved it as a kid, too. Even without all the candy. Just dressing up and having a good time going out with all of my friends – for me that was what the holiday was all about.  And you know, I never dressed up as David Cassidy as a kid but maybe I should borrow your idea for next year, it might make a good costume…

Thanks so much for taking the time to share a little about you with us. We hope you have a very happy American Diabetes Month! Do you have any special activities planned for November to celebrate/acknowledge this?

This being American Diabetes Month, I’m trying to speak out about the disease as much as possible.  I really want to be a positive role model for others in the diabetes community who are suffering, so I’m going to stick to my daily routine, keep my blood sugar stable, serve as a positive role model, and take every opportunity to spread awareness about the disease.

Sounds like a great plan! If you could tell the world one thing about diabetes, what would it be?

Diabetes is a disease, yes, but it’s manageable one. You can have diabetes and still accomplish all kinds of unbelievable things. If I can help remind people of that, then I’m incredibly honored. If anything, diabetes is just a challenge to overcome – a prompt to be mindful of and grateful for my health, and a cue to dream bigger and do more.

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10 Responses to Bret Michaels – the Face of Diabetes

  1. Suzanne Lapsley says:

    My little boy was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at only 3 years old. It was very scary and indescribable. Before his diagnosis I knew nothing about type 1 and very little about type 2. Thank you Bret, for setting an example for young parents that type 1 is not the end of the world and there is still life and a future for my baby!

  2. Bret Michaels I think you are so cool and i am glad that you are trying to get rid of diabeties.I am 10years old and have had type one like you for the past 4-years mom fights with our neighbors because they join in with there kids being nasty to me and there kids call me a freak because i have this .my mom has even started to home school me because the teachers at public school was really nasty to me also saying i was faking being sick so much and that i couldnt possibly get sick so mom really sticks up for me and she really thinks you are great for what you are trying to do to help find a cure for this horrible disease.YOU ARE A TRUE INSPIRATION TO ALL OF US!!

  3. Lydia says:

    As a type 1 diabetic for 38 years now I have seen huge advances in the treatment of this terrible disease. So many people confuse Type 1 and Type 2 and they are very different diseases. In addition, too many people think if you just stop eating sugar you’ll be fine. This is so far from the truth. Diabetics have a great incidence of kidney failure, blindness, amputation of limbs, heart attack and stroke, just to name a few of the side effects. We need to find a CURE and not just more treatments. Please donate to the ADA or Denotes an external link. Please see our Linking Policy and Disclaimer of Link Endorsement.

  4. Maria says:

    I have type 1 diabetes I got it when I was 17 and about to go off my parents insurance , after that happened I found out I could not get insurance on my own cause . So the road has been really hard for me test strips are really expensive and if it were not for my doctor helpin me out I would not be able to afford insulin . I have found a place that will do bloodwork cheap Thank God ! God has helped me so much ! I owe everything to him ! It is nice to hear from people who are doing good with type 1 I don’t really know anyone that has it !

  5. Lisa Alexander says:

    My Dad has had diabetes for approximately 30 years. He is 74 now, has already had his left leg amputated below the knee, heart problems and now has gangrene on all of his toes in his right leg. There is no pulse in his entire right leg. Unfortunately, he is not able to have surgery to remove this leg as his heart would not allow him to survive the surgery. He lives in Phoenix and is currently at a rehab in Scottsdale to get strong enough to go back to his assisted living. I am his only daughter and live in Illinois. Just returned from Phoenix to help him with this process and just hold his hand and pray with him. He is on dialysis 3 x a week and today is considering going off of it. I don’t know what to say to him and just need to share his story with someone. Diabetes is a horrible monster and I have myself checked every year.

    Thank you!

    Lisa Alexander

  6. MamaOf3 says:

    Nice interview! Bret is truly the best. 🙂 He works non-stop to spread awareness about type 1, which is SO misunderstood. I’ve had type 1 for 30 years, diagnosed at age 3. I appreciate each and every interview that Bret does because he always, always makes a point of mentioning type 1. Bret offers awareness and education to the general public and for those of us in “the club”, he offers hope and a voice. Love, love, love him for all he does… I’ve been a fan since the age of 11 or 12 and I couldn’t ask for a better representative/face for type 1. I wish him a long life filled with love, peace and happiness.

  7. chris_b says:

    Thanks you Bret. I have been a type 1 now for 40 years I was diagonised at 9yo.The treatment is so much different than it was when I was first diagnosed. I was lucky my Father knew what was wrong (his side of the family has many other type 1 through the generations) as soon as he noticed what was happening with me and I did not get as sick as some do before they know what is wrong.To think insulin was only discovered in 1929 we are all very lucky to live with so much technology at hand.Using an insulin pump and 24 hour BG monitor is much more freeing than injections all day long.We live in amazing times where someday there will be a real cure.

  8. william cook says:

    i am 57 year old male i had it since 19.had an heart attack at 48 cause i wasn’t exercising as i did when i coached baseball and softball.weight 153 6ft tall.i got my niece’s 20 year old l daughter and her baby staying with’s making my blood sugar too high.i’m gonna have to live this way for a while.i’m losing weight and don’t eat .i stay in my room and just stay away from her.this has nothing to do with diabetes except-stress.

  9. Robert Grant says:

    I can’t even imagine how hard it must be on a child. God bless you all.

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