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The Stuff That Este Haim Uses (Almost Daily) To Manage Her Type One Diabetes

Photo: Chelsea Lauren/Getty/WireImage

I was diagnosed with diabetes on September 4, 2000, and I just celebrated my 20th anniversary in quarantine. I had every single warning sign you can get. I was constantly thirsty and peeing a lot. All of a sudden, my vision became super-blurry, and I bumped into everything. And I lost a bunch of weight. At 14, I was six feet tall and 112 pounds. At first, I was stoked about that because I thought I’d look hella good in the low-rise flared jeans I’d just gotten from Dillard’s. But it was alarming.

The day I found out I had diabetes was also my first day of freshman year in high school. During biology class, my teacher talked about the different autoimmune diseases we would study and rattled off the warning signs of the different conditions. When she got to diabetes, I started ticking off the boxes in my head, and it hit me: I’m diabetic. I knew it right then. And naturally, as a very dramatic 14-year-old, I stood up in the middle of class and ran to the nurse’s office, like a bat out of hell, to call my mom. She told me to calm down, but four hours after that call, she and my dad showed up at my school to tell me the test results came back, and I was diabetic — I diagnosed myself before Kaiser Permanente did.

Diabetes affects every part of my life. My career is very tough on my body, so much so that my doctors have suggested I find something else to do. When I toured, I wasn’t properly taking care of myself. Instead of finding healthy food that wouldn’t wreak havoc on my blood sugar, I ate what everyone else ate, like pizza and snacks and what you’d imagine eating on a tour. I didn’t sleep enough. I would feel like shit every day and still perform because that’s what I needed to do. My health took a back seat to my career, which ended up doing a number on my body. I was eventually diagnosed with stage-three kidney disease. I found out two years ago before we were playing on the main stage of Coachella right before Beyoncé. My doctor told me not to, but I did it anyway. I was passing out onstage and just not really there. I blamed it on low blood sugar when, in reality, I was just so weak because my kidneys weren’t working properly since I had abused them for so long.

After that — I guess you could say it was a wake-up call — I made a promise to my sisters, my boyfriend, my parents, my friends, and myself that I would do everything I could to take care of my body because I want to be around for them and playing bass until I’m 110. I’ve found a couple of things that have helped me stay on track for the past few years and make life easier as a touring musician and a diabetic of 20 years. Everything is very personal with diabetes, but these are the things that help me.

The stuff that makes her life easier

As a diabetic, I have to be a nutritionist, a nurse, and a mathematician. I’m always thinking about my blood sugar, and it’s a constant roller coaster actually managing it. These glucose gummies are exactly four grams of carbohydrates each, and it’s much easier to determine how many I need to take in order to raise my blood sugar if it’s low. I want my blood sugar to be between 70 and 150 at all times — so, for example, if I see my blood sugar is 60, I will take two of these, and it will raise my blood sugar to exactly 120. Because these gummies are pure glucose, they get into my system faster than sucrose, which will spike my blood sugar but will be a slow ascension. If I’m low, I need something to spike it immediately, and these gummies do that. Another option is to chug orange juice, but you could overcorrect by doing that and make your levels too high. Glucose tablets or gummies aren’t exactly unknown, but a big gripe within the diabetic community is how to find glucose tabs that don’t taste like chalk, because most do. These actually taste good, and I don’t mind eating them when I have to.

When I was taking shots every day, this was a lifesaver. I’ve heard it’s great for kids, too. It’s painful taking multiple shots a day, especially if you’ve been doing it for years and develop scar tissue around the injection sites, which is almost worse than the shot. The cold numbs the pain, and the vibration tricks your nervous system into not feeling as much pain. It’s similar to a numbing cream, which some people like and think works great, but I just always preferred the ice pack. And it’s cute. My best friend told me they use this when you get Botox, too.

When I was growing up, all my doctors told me that traveling would be hard, maybe impossible, as a diabetic. I wanted to be a touring musician and go on road trips with my friends and see the world, so I did not want to accept that. But insulin needs to be as cold as possible in order for it to be effective, and it has a very short shelf life — once you open it, it lasts only a month. For so long, I carried my insulin in basically an igloo of ice packs, but they would melt and spill and be messy. I’ve even had the glass bottle break before, and I had to quickly figure out where I could buy a new vial. Vivi makes everything so much more convenient. If you’re not on a pump, it holds your insulin pen and keeps it at the optimal state thanks to its temperature sensor. I am on a pump, but I store my vials of insulin in it for when I need to switch out my empty vial on my pump. When I’m on the tour bus, I keep my insulin in the fridge, but if I’m traveling by plane, I bring my Vivi. It gives me peace of mind, too, because I know it will be safe.