This interview with Elliott Yamin was published nearly 5 years ago, Nov. 15, 2007. We updated it with a couple of photos from tonight's shoot for the 2012 Big Blue Test campaign, and links for you to show your support for his work, as a way to say thanks for joining the campaign this year.
When I got home the day I interviewed Elliott for TuDiabetes, I was very excited. So much so that it was a major disappointment when I realized that, somehow, I had lost his interview from the digital recorder I had used... So, I started going over my notes (both on my computer and my head) and realized that he had left quite an impression on me: deep enough to help me put together the notes I hereby share with you.
Growing Up With Diabetes Elliott was diagnosed at age 16, perhaps the toughest time for a person to find out about diabetes. He had been feeling crummy for a while, so finding out the reason for it was initially relieving.
Still, shock and denial didn’t take long to settle in: “I was a typical 16 year old: invincible,” confided Yamin. Yet it wasn’t a complete surprise to him, what he was up against: his mom had been type 2 and his grandmother was type 1: he had even helped her with her shots, so he was not foreign to insulin injections, though he didn’t look forward to them.
Elliott has been pumping insulin for 7 years (since he was 22). Getting on the pump helped him back then, when he was working two jobs and living a fast-paced life. Now that he spends weeks on the road, with his intense schedule, it helps him manage his diabetes even more.
He has been able to bring his H1Ac’s down since he started on the pump. His most recent A1C was 8. “Not something I am proud of,” he admitted, “but it can be very challenging while you are on tour.” His humility floored me: this was a huge celebrity admitting to me that he was not perfect in his control -he truly is like any one of us who live with diabetes.
As soon as he gets home, me told me, he will be looking at better options to let him improve his control. He is currently wearing the Minimed Paradigm 508 and is considering upgrading to a Guardian as well as using Dexcom as a means to monitor his blood glucose continuously.
Life As An Artist With Diabetes
Before he jumps on the stage, Elliott routinely checks his blood sugar, a ritual he repeats as soon as he’s done performing. Still, that hasn’t prevented him from running into lows while being on stage, as he shared with SixUntilMe author and TuDiabetes member Kerri Morrone, during a separate interview with her.
He is open about the challenges he faces with his diet while on the road too. But in the end, he is using his American Idol finals-earned fame (along with the popularity of the music in his recent self-titled album) to help spread the word about diabetes. And that is worth gold, though we all agree that we want him to take good care of himself.
When we asked him what song reflects what it is like for him to have diabetes, he replied without a doubt: “Free, from the new album,” he paused. “It wasn’t written with diabetes in mind, but it talks about anything being possible in life.” Amen, Elliott!
If you haven’t done it yet, get a copy of the new Elliott Yamin album... our favorite track, "Gather Around"!
Photos by Heather Rose.