Theatre and Diabetes

So basically I have been doing theatre since before I was diagnosed and I do NOT want to give it up at all. But I find that I am having a harder time balancing theatre with diabetes and I am letting myself slip. My a1c was a little high at 7.9 and my doctors said they want me to bring it down. If I do not do that I will not be allowed to partake in theatre anymore. I have also noticed that my blood sugars are not good because I do not eat as well with all of my rehearsals. It is already stressing enough with homework and other teenage responsibilities and I really am stuck between a rock and a hard place. I could use any kind of advice at all. Even if you cannot relate just let me know how you balance out your care and other school and at home responsibilities please. Thank you!

Yea, I do lots of theatre, too! But you’re right that it brings challenges, and I’ve been struggling with it too. I’ve had T1D for 31 years, and rehearsal schedules mean you’re eating on the run a lot, and eating out with friends afterwards. But you can adapt! Ideally try to pick up a Subway sandwich, the basic ones are about 40g carb and you can get some veggies that way. If you need to do fast food, choose a kid’s meal with a diet soda. My favorite is the McD’s Happy Meal with McNuggets and the tiny portion of fries and a small fruit. Performance nights in general are more stressful, so your BG’s will almost certainly get weird. So test yourself at least hourly, between acts and even between scenes whenever you can. Fun yourself at about 130-140 during the performance itself, then correct it right after. Stash packets of Skittles everywhere so you can grab something fast if you need it, or glucose tablets if you think people will steal them. The scariest situation I had recently was playing a ghost character that was “buried” in one corner of the stage under a tomb-like layer of black fabric and moss. I was one of the first vignettes, but I had to sit there motionless for 30 minutes before I could do my thing, and one night I could feel myself going low. I did my scene and did a beeline afterwards to the first Skittles packet I could find. I know you are one of the few that can understand this!

Oh, and if you’re eating out with friends afterwards, try to order veggies or a salad or a little hamburger “protein style” (served on lettuce leaves, no bun). If they go for pizza, pick off the cheese and veggies and focus on that with very little crust. The important thing about eating out is enjoying the experience with friends, not so much the food. They may look at you weird at first, but they’ll get used to it.

Thank you so much this information was so helpful. And just in time too because tonight is opening night! I will definitely take this advice and again thank you so much for helping me out!

Break a leg, Jessi!

Ugh, performances! I’m a harpist about to dive into conservatory auditions, and I’m already stockpiling snacks and trying to figure out how to balance it all. Rehearsals are always tough, but generally people (conductors, directors) are good with you sipping some juice or popping some skittles if you need it. I’ve had a few super uptight conductors that I told right off the bat that I might be snacking or dosing in rehearsal just so they didn’t blow up when they saw my phone (pump), and some super relaxed ones who wouldn’t care if I started eating poprocks!
The biggest thing I’ve had to work on is eating/correcting/planning about an hour before I go onstage. The thing is, you don’t want to run high because performing on a high sucks. You don’t want to run low because crashing in any situation sucks. In concerts, I put my gear below my chair and line up some glucose tabs (yuck) on my music stand. As an actress, you can’t really do this, but you can have a set place just offstage for your test set. And what about a secret pocket or a skin-tight belt with glucose somewhere on your costume? And yes…I’ve also done costuming for the past 5 years! Talk to stage crew and the director. Tell them you’ve got this thing you can’t help, but you’re working on managing it, and might have to take a short break sometimes. See what they say. And ask the costumers about glucose stashes!

Being a teenager feels wicked awkward anyway–yay, 18–but it really is more important that you always have dinner than whether you ace cues or not. I agree, bring a sandwich. Peanut butter crackers are another favorite, because they’re low glycemic so you don’t skyrocket. And try checking every 30 minutes or so, or whenever you have a break. Definitely at intermission! Yes, it’s sort of weird and awful to have to deal with T1 when you’re trying to perform and be normal with other teens, but you’ve made it this far, right?

Tell us how it worked out!