Let the Music Play

WRITTEN BY: Emily Tantuccio

BT1-800-EMILY-WARPEDLet The Music Play

Attending live music festivals is a physically exhausting task for someone without health problems, so it naturally can pose a challenge for a person managing their diabetes. I still remember everything about my first Warped Tour seven summers ago – the bands we saw, the giant stack of pancakes at IHOP that I devoured that morning to keep my blood sugar up, and the overwhelming excitement of my best friend and I felt to be so close to the artists we looked up to and loved. Fast forward 7 years, I now work as a live music photographer and attend Warped Tour not only to support some of my favorite bands, but also on assignment to photograph and review the artists on the lineup.

When I woke up on the morning of Warped in my city this summer, the forecast anticipated it being 94 degrees, humid, and sunny – daunting, but doable. From the minute I rolled out of bed, I started drinking a big bottle of water while getting ready. On a festival or concert day, I make sure to have a big breakfast with a balance of carbs and proteins to keep me from spiking and bottoming out, so I dug into a bowl of steel cut oats mixed with quinoa, turmeric, chia seeds, peanut butter, strawberries, raspberries and bananas, along with some whole grain toast. One of the most important things you can do before a festival like this is make sure you spend time preparing.

The night before, I packed my backpack with enough medical supplies (or so I thought) to last me through any emergency – glucagon and syringes, an extra bottle of insulin, IV prep wipes, infusion sets, glucose tablets and gels, juice boxes and granola bars, and even a sandwich, along with my doctor’s note that clearly states my conditions and supplies and snacks that I need to have with me at all times. I know it’s tempting to pack lightly so that you don’t have to deal with carrying a bag while you’re in the crowd, but remember that this is your survival kit, and will determine whether or not you have to spend extra time at the medical tent instead of watching your favorite band’s set.

Enter Here

When I got to the venue, I went right to the medical entrance with my note in hand. Security at the regular entrances are prepared to scrutinize concert goers’ bags very carefully for contraband and often might not understand your conditions. The employees at the medical entrance are often much better acquainted with diabetics – and you won’t have to wait in insane lines! After getting inside, I went right to the medical tent to ask them to refrigerate my insulin, because I didn’t want to deal with it going bad in the heat.

My schedule for the day was packed back-to-back with some of my favorite bands, and getting to hang with some of my friends on the tour that I normally don’t get to see. I ran to shoot my first band of the day, and after walking out of the photo pit, felt my insulin pump site get caught on my bag and rip out of my stomach. I immediately tested my sugar and decided I would go put a new site in over at the medical tent after the next band. When I got to the medical tent, the first site I put in felt like I had hit a nerve, so I ripped it out, put a new one in, and went on my way. After running across the grounds again to catch a band in the amphitheater, I hugged one of my friends and felt my site just fall right out. Slightly freaking out, I sat down and realized that it was so hot out, my sites were not sticking to my skin. I had two options – leave and go home, or give myself shots and stick it out, so I chose the latter.

It was stressful and scary to be in the middle of an exciting day and have to deal with a setback like that, but that’s exactly why I chose to just deal with it, be smart, and not let my diabetes define my day or interfere with me getting to do what I love. My life in the music industry is often pretty unpredictable, but by being prepared, listening to my body, and taking precautions to avoid emergency, my health has never held me back – and I don’t ever plan on letting that change.

How does heat impact your T1D? Read more here.

Emily Tantuccio

Emily is currently a full time student at Rutgers University, studying communication and entrepreneurship. Outside of school she works as a freelance publicist and entertainment photographer, and she also interns in MTV's publicity department in New York City. Emily was diagnosed with T1D 11 years ago and has been working actively since then to utilize her music community as a platform to spread awareness and defeat stigmas about living with Type 1 diabetes. She believes we're going to see a cure soon and she can't wait! For more on Emily visit her website www.EmilyTantuccio.com