People to Know 2018: Eric Paslay
Whether we sing country, rock, or the blues, musicians have a lot in common. We spend a lot of days—and nights—away from home. We love interacting with our fans, and we hope to hit the top of the music charts. But fellow country artist Eric Paslay and I have a special connection: the need to routinely monitor our blood glucose levels.
Eric was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 10, after his grandmother noticed something wasn’t quite right. “I would constantly come in to drink a glass of something, probably root beer, use the bathroom, then run back outside to play with my cousins,” says the “Friday Night” singer-songwriter. “She caught on pretty quick that something was wrong and told my mother I needed to be checked out.”
Eric had other symptoms, but you know how it is: Kids—especially boys looking to impress girls—don’t want to admit to some of the more embarrassing aspects of dealing with diabetes (like wetting the bed because they have to urinate so often).
“Once I was diagnosed, I still didn’t want to tell anyone if I didn’t feel right,” says Eric. “In school, I didn’t want to disrupt the class, so even if I felt like I was going low, I wouldn’t speak up.”
But that was then. Now, he says, “I involve everyone—my bandmates and tour manager, my wife—instead of hiding my diabetes like a dark secret. That support helps me keep my target numbers in sight at all times.”
Thanks to Eric’s continuous glucose monitor (CGM), his wife, Natalie Harker, can see his numbers via her phone, whether she’s backstage or at home in Nashville. If he goes low during a concert, she’ll send him a message to drink some juice.
In a way, diabetes helped Eric build his country music career. “It helped me realize I’m OK with being unique,” he says. “That uniqueness gave me confidence to pursue a career in music.”
Ben Rue has been living with type 1 diabetes for 16 years. The “I Can’t Wait (Be My Wife)” singer is currently traveling across the country as part of the “Buck Off Diabetes” campaign (sponsored by Roche and Accu-Chek Guide) and performing his new single “Let ’Em Loose.”