Managing Low Blood Sugars on Tour
Crystal Bowersox is a Lilly Diabetes Ambassador. Educational content related to severe hypoglycemia is made possible with support from Lilly Diabetes, and editorial control rests solely on Beyond Type 1.
Ever since I was six years old, I dreamed of being a touring musician. Nothing would get in the way of my dream – not even having type 1 diabetes. Growing up in a small rural farm community in northwest Ohio, I didn’t know any other kids with T1D and my friends and family didn’t know that much about diabetes. The everyday challenges of diabetes made me feel like I was alone, so I channeled that energy into music.
That dream eventually brought me to being a contestant on Season Nine of American Idol. I remember worrying that talking openly about my diabetes would affect what people thought of me. The show’s crazy film times threw off my schedule, making it tough to manage my blood sugar, and at one point I had to be hospitalized. I knew then that I had to overcome any inhibitions about having diabetes. I made the decision to tell everyone around me so they could help if I needed it.
My time on the show helped to kick off my career. Ten years later, I’m blessed to still be doing what I love for a living – performing all over the country, sharing my music and diabetes journey with the community. Being on the road means adapting to a shifting schedule, which can make managing my blood glucose level a challenge! But I know my tour manager and team are always there for me.
I’ve taught them about type 1 diabetes and what symptoms to keep an eye out for in case I’m low. My tour crew may not be who I would’ve imagined of as my “caregivers” but we spend so much time together that I’ve made sure they’re all a part of my diabetes support network. They know where I keep my peanut butter cup stash if I’m starting to feel a mild low, and how to administer my prescription rescue treatment, in case of a very low blood sugar emergency.
As we all know, in spite of our best efforts in managing blood sugar, lows can be unpredictable and happen unexpectedly – I’ve even experienced lows while on stage, and on television in front of 30 million viewers. It can be scary but knowing I have people around that are ready to help keeps me at ease and gives me peace of mind.
At home, I’m a proud mom to my amazing son, Tony. He’s my everything. I’ve had to teach him some important information about diabetes at an early age, but he knows how to recognize the signs and symptoms of a low.
I’ve learned that having a support network you can trust is so important and should stretch beyond family members and partners to those around us like co-workers, friends, coaches, teachers or roommates – and in my case, even my fans.
One time at a concert, in the middle of a song, I started to experience low blood sugar. Instead of stopping or canceling the show, I decided to use the situation as a teachable moment. After explaining to the crowd what was happening, I asked if anyone in the audience had any glucose tablets or candy they could spare. The next thing I knew, the front of the stage was covered with sweets, and several hundred people now knew what to do if someone with diabetes was experiencing a low. My fans became an important part of my support network, and I’m so grateful for them.
That’s why as a Lilly Diabetes Ambassador, I’m excited to share the launch of their new campaign Know Before the Low!
The goal of Know Before the Low is to raise awareness about low blood sugar and very low blood sugar emergencies to empower our diabetes community and our support networks to be prepared and know when to step in to help. There’s an awesome site, KnowBeforeTheLow.com, where you and your support network can go to access easy-to-understand information about the signs and symptoms of low blood sugar, when a very low blood sugar emergency can happen, and how to work with your diabetes healthcare team to be prepared with a rescue plan.
To learn more about hypoglycemia and treatment options, check out Beyond Type 1’s Let’s Talk Lows campaign.