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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Diabetes Confessions: Elliott Yamin Opens Up

Diabetes Confessions: Elliott Yamin Opens Up

by ELIZABETH SNOUFFER on 02/17/2012

How does he do it all?
Elliot Yamin was one of the most talented and memorable contestants fromAmerican Idol (Season 5) who EVERYONE fell in love with and well…judging from his success, many of us still have a BIG crush on him today.  Elliott wows fans with his soulful serenades, and far-out funk, but he also brings a huge amount of awareness to type 1 diabetes.  Diagnosed as a teen (16), Elliott understands the struggles associated with type 1.  Today, Elliott is promoting his latest single —3 WORDS—and his third album, Let’s Get To What’s Real(Available 27 March 2012).  This morning, I got a chance to speak with Elliott.
What is your idea of diabetes happiness?
Well, diabetes doesn’t control me, I control it and that’s the big idea.  Staying on top of it makes me pretty happy.
What is your greatest diabetes fear?
Like so many, I’m afraid of complications like blindness or nerve damage.  In a sense it’s the future that can be scary.  It’s also the stories we live with; my grandfather lost his leg to type 2 diabetes.  It’s all around us.
What is the one thing that most helps you deal with diabetes?
It’s giving back.  Helping others has helped me.   Being a part of Idol and getting the chance to see how I could make a positive impact on people.  As a role model for others – the kids especially – I see things in a different light. My work with diabetes organizations like JDRF is important to me.
What is the one thing about your life that makes  managing diabetes more difficult?
Traveling on the road.  This is when I am thrown off my home routine.  Shows go late and sets run 60-90 minutes.  I always keep orange juice or sugar close by me when I am on the stage – like an arm’s length away.  I am extremely obsessive when it comes to checking my blood sugars before I take the stage.  Stress levels go up – good stress– but it has an impact.  For one show, I had a bad low and I had a Coke just behind me so I gulped the entire thing before the next song.  Well my low was OK, but all the carbonation made me burp nearly every word of that song.  It was funny – the audience understood.  Thing is – I’m not afraid to make mistakes.  You know, the show must go on…
What is your greatest diabetes extravagance?
I have something like 12 glucose meters and they’re everywhere!  There’s one in the car, one in the kitchen, bathroom (etc.) so I never have an excuse not to take my blood sugar.
What is your favorite diabetes journey?
After the American Idol tour in Pittsburgh, I had the opportunity to visit anAmerican Diabetes Association Camp to visit with the kids and it was GREAT.  It was an all day thing and just to spend time with these kids, and share my own story was magic.
What is the one thing you regret doing with regard to diabetes?
First three or four years with diabetes I injected insulin based on how I felt.   I had a lot of hypos.  I’d wake up a lot with a number of paramedics looking down at me.  One time, I was going low and I went into a store to get some juice.  One minute I was reaching for the door, next thing I knew, I was laying on the ground outside with 15 EMTs looking down at me.  It was a rough time.  When I look back or see old photos of myself, I realize there is so much I didn’t know back then.  I am so lucky with all I have now.  I have learned and gained so much.
What does the greatest love of your life think about you and diabetes?
I am not seeing anyone right now so…the greatest love of my life would have to be my Mom – she was a real supporter.  She hated diabetes – just like me – but then she saw all the success with Idol and how I was overcoming former struggles.  She was proud.  One thing that made her happiest was how I became a role model.  You know, striving to make your parents proud is one the best things you can do.
When and where were you saddest with diabetes?
When my mom died 4 years ago, it was tough saying goodbye.   Did grief affect my diabetes?   Absolutely.  Diabetes wasn’t my number 1 priority.  That’s what’s difficult about diabetes, it’s always there.  It doesn’t let go, so I decided to take a break from the studio, which helped.
When and where were you happiest with diabetes?
After I was announced as a top three finalist on Idol, and celebrating with my Mom during my homecoming visit to Richmond in 2006 was one of the happiest days of my life.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Taking the risk on American Idol and everything that came after.
(Elliott’s self-titled first release debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 chart. The album was the highest new artist debut on an independent label in SoundScan history and it was certified gold in October 2007.)
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
Overweight soulful piano-playing jazz artist.
What is your most treasured possession?
My house – having a roof over my head!
What do you most value in your friends?
Support and loyalty and giving it back.
Who are your favorite musicians?
Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway.
You have one wish, what do you wish for?
Finding (excuse me) a God-damn cure for diabetes.
How would you like to die?
On the stage.
What is your motto?
I was born ready.
Thanks Elliott…for giving back.
Thank you  ELIZABETH SNOUFFER  for such a great interview

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