Drum Corps International
I&E: Michael Elliot, living with diabetes

I&E: Michael Elliot, living with diabetes

by Drum Corps International

Michael Elliot plays baritone for Allegiance Elite. I've had diabetes since I was 13 years old, for the past four years. I was sick for about a month and was tested for diabetes. It turned out I had it and then I was treated in the hospital for almost three weeks.
It's a lot harder to do things with diabetes, especially after you first find out you've got it. You have to be a lot more careful about exercise and what you eat. I have to keep track of what I eat and make sure I take the insulin I need from the food, though I do take insulin separately. When someone with diabetes exercises, the blood sugar drops. You can't focus on things when the blood sugar gets low. You can't concentrate. You also get physically weak. I have to plan carefully what I eat and take the right amount of insulin. And I need to have sugar on the field in case my level drops, so I usually have candy and energy drinks ready. Sometimes I'll have to sit down during drill rehearsal. I generally am a fully functional member. Sometimes I've got low sugar after I perform, because I give it my all. So, there is always a staff member waiting for me with an energy drink when I come off the field. I have yet to miss a performance in two years. My parents were concerned about this tour. I'm from Canada and it's harder to get help in the place where I don't live. My prescription can't be filled here because Canadian doctors aren't licensed in the United States. I've got to bring enough insulin for the entire trip; otherwise I'd have to go home. I can't live without insulin. A doctor in the United States could treat me, but there would be a lot of complications. If you love drum corps, there is always a way to do it no matter what medical problem you might have. It just requires determination and perseverance and a willingness to be flexible. With diabetes, it's easier if you have a regimented schedule, waking up the same time every day and eating at the same time. But in drum corps, that doesn't happen. You can't make assumptions about rehearsal times or anything else. You've just got to be flexible. But if you're determined to do drum corps, there is no reason you can't do it.

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