How Type 1 Diabetes Saved My Life

WRITTEN BY: Neel Jadeja

I’ve been a professional musician most of my life in various rock bands, having various levels of success; signed to MCA Records, playing on major tours with acts such as Godsmack, Deftones, Eminem and D12 and sharing the stage with countless others. I thought I would never play again when on May 10, 2010, at age 35, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

My diagnosis wasn’t like most. I was deep into my alcoholism at the time and I was in deep trouble.

I had been depressed about a lot of things in my life and tried many times to quit drinking, including treatment, rehab and AA meetings, to no avail. I would regularly binge drink and it was in the middle of one of these episodes that I was rushed to the ER because I blacked out and my family called 911. I had passed out hundreds of times, but this time, my aunt could tell something was different.

At the hospital, I was 85 lbs and my sugar level was almost 600. I was in a drunken stupor, but doctors diagnosed me with Type 1 diabetes. Of all the things that my family was prepared to hear, Type 1 diabetes was not one. The confusion, the questions, the fear, the uncertainty were overwhelming for everyone. When I came to, I couldn’t comprehend the information. I had heard of T1D because of Bret Michaels because I had opened up for Poison before, but how could this be happening to me, at this age?

When I left the hospital, I immediately checked into a 28-day rehab facility. I was there trying to cope with one disease while trying to grasp a new one. It was hard being at a rehab facility with heroin addicts when you need needles for insulin. It was the craziest and most intense few weeks of my life. I knew I would never play music again. I didn’t even know if I would live. I was struggling to eat. I didn’t know what would kill me and what wouldn’t. I couldn’t control my glucose levels at all. I felt so isolated and alone, and of course my depression just got worse, but I was sober.

Neel4When I got out of rehab, I found the local JDRF chapter. One of the volunteers explained what they did and I shared my entertainment background in the city and different things I used to do, things I didn’t think I could do anymore. She told me there were more people like me and it would be good for me to talk to them. There were more people that were dealing with what I had also.

Having the opportunity to meet others with Type 1 diabetes turned my life around. It opened my eyes to survival, to living, to being normal and accomplishing anything in my life. I didn’t feel like I was gonna die anymore and I could see that life was not only going to go on, but it would be better and of my making. I was inspired by what I saw T1D kids doing.

I was inspired by the other adult T1s I met who had been succeeding for decades with this awful disease, even before technology.

I realized I was sober and I could play again. Not only was I able to play, I have found success as a studio drummer in Charlotte, playing and recording at some of the best studios and live venues in the city.

I have served as Entertainment/Media Chairperson for the Walk to Cure Diabetes. I have met with with congressmen about passing legislation that will help fund a cure. I have given television interviews about life with Type 1 diabetes, I have spoken to rooms full of nurses about treating patients and I have talked to every Type 1 I can to help them along their path.

I’ve become a vocal participant of the DOC (diabetic online community) and of course, use my facebook, twitter, instagram and other social media outlets to promote advocacy, cure funding and education, among the long list of T1D related subjects.

Being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes actually saved my life. I haven’t had a drop of alcohol since the day I was diagnosed, and it’s been over five years! I have gone beyond my dreams living with Type 1 diabetes and I get to rock n roll every night!

Read our interview with MTV’s Jennifer Stillson Fleece Denial is Overrated.

Neel Jadeja

Neel was diagnosed with Type 1 in May, 2010 at the age of 35. He is a musician, producer and business owner currently based in Charlotte, NC and is an administrator for the Free Diabetics Movement. Read more from Neel at and follow him on social at @neeljadeja.