RaeLynn: Everything but Insecure

10/19/17
WRITTEN BY: Katie Doyle
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The WildHorse artist sat down with Beyond Type 1 to talk about her career, her relationships, her life with diabetes and everything in between. RaeLynn is making her mark on the diabetes world as a Novo Nordisk Patient Ambassador, and she started her own initiative to give back to the community through The RaeLynn Diabetes Fund.

With her album topping the Billboard country charts this year (“Insecure” is track number five on WildHorse) and her tour adding more dates, RaeLynn is constantly building on her public presence that began on The Voice. She shared with us how she balances life on the road with everything else and the role her support system plays in it all.

Dating and Diabetes

BT1: You’ve spoken a lot in recent interviews about Josh, your husband. Can you tell us what it’s like sharing your diabetes with him and also what it’s been like since he’s been traveling often since joining the military?

RL: Probably one of the most difficult things that I’ve had to deal with while having Type 1 diabetes is the whole dating process because when you’re young, you [tend to be] insecure about taking shots in front of a person that you have a crush on. I remember the first time me and Josh were eating at Panera, and I got broccoli cheddar soup in a bread bowl. I pulled out my stuff and he was like, ‘What the heck are you about to do?’ And I was like, ‘I gotta take a shot!’

A couple weeks before that, [I thought], ‘The next guy I’m dating, I’m just gonna lay it all out there and take my shot in front of him.’ He was so amazed. He said, ‘I realized right then how strong you were because you were so confident about having to check your blood sugar and having to take a shot. It was just so second-nature to you. I would have been so freaked out by it.’

That’s probably why he’s my husband now. He’s the one that convinced me to get my insulin pump. I was always kind of insecure about them. I was like, ‘I don’t want something on me all the time!’ and he was like, ‘Rae, you’re so beautiful. You need to get one and see if you like it. It’s your call, but I think you should try it.’

That’s been a big change in my life for the better. It works for me, it doesn’t work for everybody, but for my lifestyle it really has helped me.

DADs

BT1: You have a diabetes alert dog, Jazz. How does he help you manage your diabetes compared to your Dexcom?

RL: Jazz is super aware of my body in general. It’s crazy. He’s mainly trained for lows, but when my sugar is going up super fast, I’ll see him start to act weird and come up to me and jump on me, and I look, and it’s changing. 

I was on a plane, before I got my G5, and he woke me up. I checked my sugar it was like 53 (mg/dL), and that was because of Jazz. He’s definitely been a lifesaver in so many ways. He’s like my best friend.

It’s really great for our lifestyle because he wanted me to have that extra protection. But for every person it’s different. Just like when you meet with your doctor, they’ll tell you what’s great for you. I have families that tell me, ‘We really want to get a service dog, but we can’t afford one.’ I just say, ‘If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen, but you don’t need a service dog to get through having Type 1 diabetes.’ I will say, though, it is awesome to have a buddy with you all the time.

BT1: Do you have a favorite snack to eat when you’re low?

RL: Sour Patch Kids, for sure. Sour Patch or Trollies. Or Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I don’t eat a lot of sweets, so I kind of get excited when my sugar’s low. Part of me is like, “I get to eat a bowl on Cinnamon Toast Crunch, whether you like it or not!!”

The Red Carpet Team

BT1: You work in a really challenging industry and you also stay on top of your diabetes management. Do you have certain things you use to help yourself stay motivated?

RL: I can’t be the best artist I want to be if I don’t take care of my Type 1 diabetes. And that’s in life, in general. You’re not gonna be the best version of yourself if you don’t take care of your body. I was starting to feel sluggish and I couldn’t think straight. It was really affecting my writing, and me needing to get up to do what I need to do every day to follow my dream.

I think it’s super important to keep people around you that know about it. My tour manager, who’s on tour with me all the time, always knows what my blood sugar is and she always has like a bar or food if she sees a gap of time where I’m not gonna have food.

It definitely helps when you have people around you supporting you 24/7. I couldn’t do it without the support system that I have. I have the Dexcom, so people around me that I love can always know what my blood sugar is. If they’re seeing that it’s starting to go up, I’ll get a text message in the middle of the night saying, ‘Hey Rae, you need to take some insulin,’ or a call, or if I’m in a random city and any of my family members see it, they always check on me.

Diabetes Advocacy

BT1: Why do you think being an advocate is important?

RL: I think it’s important to be involved because I think it’s kind of selfish to not be able to talk about something that you go through because if you can help somebody become a better person by telling them your story, then you’re doing your job. And that’s what I always want to do. Having Type 1 diabetes makes me more unique because it’s a different angle to my story than the person to my left or the person to my right. That’s why I love to talk about it.

BT1: Diabetes can be hard to talk about, especially as a teenager. Did you have to overcome any of that when you were diagnosed?

RL: Yes, when I first got diabetes, I was very angry, very ‘Why me? Why me?’ When I turned 17 or 18, I really just kind of took the whole mindset that I had and turned it around. I was just really insecure about it and I thought, ‘I can use this to my advantage. I can make better choices. I can take better care of myself. I get to work out every day. This is a way for me to take better care of myself in general.’

I’ve met so many young teenagers that felt the same insecurities that I felt. It’s hard. And there are still days where it’s hard for me. I remember, I was wearing this really beautiful dress, and it was super tight to my body. I just got really irritated. I didn’t want anybody to see my site. I was just like, ‘You know what? I don’t care. I can’t even think about that. I have Type 1 diabetes and I’m gonna have to wear this thing.’

When I started taking care of myself, I just felt so much better about myself and just better about having Type 1 diabetes in general. I love to talk about my life. I love to talk about my diabetes. I love to talk about my songwriting. [It’s] the artist that I am, even the person that I am. I like to post pictures with no makeup on. I feel like [all of that] is so important because I wanna show any young girl that being their authentic self is beautiful.

It’s so funny because anybody you talk to, they’ve all gone through periods where they’ve been, like, ‘Why me? Why do I have to have this?’ But they’ve all been able to turn it around, and if I can help [anyone] to turn it around, then I’ve done my job.


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Katie Doyle

Katie Doyle is a writer and videographer who chronicles her travels and diabetes (mis)adventures from wherever she happens to be, and she’s active in the community as an IDF Young Leader in Diabetes. She’s written about dropping her meter off of a chairlift in the Alps, wearing her pump while teaching swim lessons on Cape Cod, and the many road trips and fishing expeditions in between—she’s up for anything and will tell you the story about it later. Check out www.kadoyle.com for more.