It seems celebrities are not just going public with their diabetes these days, but actually picking fave products/treatments to champion, as in: What changed your life with diabetes the most?
As I hinted last week, Nicholas Jonas of the hot new teen pop group The Jonas Brothers announced his own experience with Type 1 diabetes at Sunday’s Carnival for the Cure. He was diagnosed in October 2005, and is now working closely with — surprise, surprise — Insulet Corp., makers of the OmniPod tubeless insulin pump system. At age 14, he’s living the dream life of a teen rock star, “and the OmniPod System lets me be in control so the diabetes doesn’t interfere,” he says (I was lucky enough talk with him personally last month.) Really, the OP system seems to be a big a hit with teenagers who are struggling with shots but can’t stand the idea of being tethered.
“Our social worker told me about the OmniPod System, and I knew I wanted it as soon as I heard about it,” Nick says. “It sounded so much cooler and better than the pumps that are attached to your body with tubing. Plus, the idea of having something that could be fun to use and was really good at controlling my blood sugar was awesome!” So there you go…
You’ll also see a lot of media hype in the next few days about actress Delta Burke’s (you know, of Designing Women) leading role in the brand new BYETTA Let’s Talk campaign, from Amylin Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly and Co.
And guess who’s accompanying Delta on the campaign’s 10-city tour as resident CDE expert? Virginia Valentine (!), interviewed here last week.
I had a phone interview with Delta earlier today, and here are some of the most salient snippets she shared with me about her struggles with Type 2 diabetes and the “turning point” in her health and state of mind:
DM) How would describe your experience with diabetes over the last 9 years?
DB) Hearing the diagnosis at first was shocking and depressing. I thought, ‘I’m going to die’ or ‘I might have to stop working and doing all the things I enjoy.’ I didn’t even deal with it at first because my mother had just been diagnosed with breast cancer…
Then things got so bad, the doctor said if I didn’t take care of it with diet and exercise, I’d have to take insulin. So I got much more active about it. I got to a point where I had to watch going too low, which was a new experience for me.
DM) What do you find so special about Byetta?
DB) I started on Byetta two years ago, and I’ve lost nearly 20 pounds on it. It’s stabilized my blood sugar, and I feel so much better — ‘normal’ again, like I used to. The highest I run is around 120, and my norm now is around 75-80.
Before the Byetta, I was taking glucophage and ActosPlus, but my numbers were still going up and down. Then my doctor told me about this new medicine… I was a little hesitant about using a needle, but it actually hurt less than pricking my finger.
Byetta is designed to be taken in conjunction with many oral diabetes medications. I now take the ActosPlus (with Metformin) twice a day, and the Byetta has helped incredibly in keeping my post-prandial (after meal) blood sugars from going too high.
DM) What made you actually decide to become a spokesperson for the drug?
DB) Byetta’s made such a huge difference in my life… (the companies) approached me because I’ve been very vocal about being diabetic. I’ve always been vocal about my struggles with weight, depression, everything. I like to share with other people, to help remove the stigma… With diabetes, I want to show there’s no reason to be afraid to hire us. We can work just as well as anyone else. I take my blood glucose tests and my Byetta shots in front of others, to help make it normal.
I think it helps when anyone well-known speaks out about a condition. A lot of people don’t want to talk about these things. To be perceived in Hollywood as weak in any way is difficult. There are issues with insurance on movie sets and other stuff. But I’ve spoken about it publicly and I haven’t lost any work.
DM) Delta, you’ve been very public about struggling with weight loss. Can you give us a little insight into your eating and exercise routine now?
DB) The Byetta has been very helpful, because it helps curb your appetite. But essentially, I try to focus on the proteins and vegetables — although I’m not very good at the veggies. My mother lives with us, and actually does most of the cooking, so she keeps an eye on me. But I still have these moments when I just have to have a treat, like a bite of a Snickers bar (giggles).
My main exercise is walking with my husband. He was diagnosed with lung cancer three years ago, and he’s trying to get his strength back. I used be a dancer, so I sometimes still do a ballet workout now and then.
DM) Finally, what would your top advice be to other people struggling to take care of themselves with diabetes?
DB) They should educate themselves — check out the web sites and learn all they can about diabetes — because lots of doctors don’t tell you much. One doctor actually told me that it’s going to be ‘all over’ by the time I’m 50, I’d have diabetic damage in eyes and everything. Now I am 50 and I don’t have those problems. So you need to find a doctor who will listen to you, and who’s responsive.
I know diabetes can be scary and you can be kept from working, or maybe can’t get insurance. Having a good support system is crucial!
(Delta adds this tip: Eli Lilly does have a program to help people without medical insurance, called LillyCares.)
Hmm, good for Delta and good for all the folks out there who feel the same way about Byetta.