Safety and Wellness

Nick JonasandDiabetes: Call Me Mr. Positive

Nick Jonas seems to have everything a guy could want: thousands of adoring fans, a skyrocketing career, and a cool family, including Joe and Kevin, his bandmates in the Jonas Brothers.

At 16, Nick Got Sick

But Nick also has diabetes, a serious health condition that needs daily attention. Nick first got sick while on tour in November 2005. He was losing weight, acting moody, and feeling thirsty all the time. A blood test showed that he had diabetes and he spent several days in the hospital. Though he is healthy and feeling great now, back then he worried he might die.

"I had an emotional breakdown since I really had no idea what diabetes was all about. I wondered, 'why me?' Then I asked myself, 'why not me?' and realized that I might be able to help other kids with diabetes."

In 2007, the Jonas Brothers performed at a Diabetes Research Institute fundraiser in New York City. During the show, Nick asked audience members to raise their hands if they had diabetes. Then he raised his hand, too, revealing for the first time publicly that he has type 1 diabetes.

Of course, the crowd went wild. He even pulled up his T-shirt sleeve to show the audience the device he wears on his arm to deliver insulin to his body. (People who have diabetes have a problem with a hormone called insulin. Their bodies either don't make enough insulin or the insulin doesn't work as it should. Without insulin, your body can't get the fuel it needs.)

At the concert, Nick encouraged other kids with diabetes to be positive, adding that he earned the nickname "Mr. Positive" because of his attitude about his condition.

Madi Interviews Nick

Editor's Note: We knew kids dealing with diabetes would have lots of questions for Nick, so we turned the rest of the interview over to Madison Dodge. Madi, 12, has had diabetes since she was 5. She's also an accomplished performer and an advocate for the American Diabetes Association. Here's what Madi wanted to know:

maddi julyMadi: Do you notice a difference in your ability to perform when your blood sugar is very high or dropping low?

Nick: In the beginning, yes. I had wild mood swings and couldn't drink enough water. But now I'm able to check my blood sugar before we go onstage, so I can manage it by using my Omni Pod [the device he wears that delivers insulin].

Madi: I perform with several theater groups and choruses and for pageants, and I feel badly when my sugar is too high or too low. It is hard to focus and do my best. Does this affect you?

Nick: I do get tired, but our days are pretty jam-packed. Again, it's a question of regularly checking and managing our blood sugar.

Madi: How has your family handled your diagnosis?

Nick: At first it was really hard on all of us because we didn't know how it would affect our daily lives. I actually asked my doctor if I could die. Fortunately, we were blessed to have great medical care and learned how to manage diabetes.

Madi: Did they suspect diabetes before you were diagnosed?

Nick: No, we couldn't figure out what was going on. But one simple blood test gave us the answer.

Madi: Do you have diabetes in your family?

Nick: No one else in our family has ever been diagnosed with diabetes.

Madi: Do any of your other family members fear they will be diagnosed too?

Nick: I hope that no one ever will.

Madi: What has been your scariest moment with diabetes? Your funniest? I have some really funny stories I can tell about diabetes!

Nick: The scariest was the weight loss. I lost 15 pounds very quickly. My mom said I looked like a prisoner of war!

Madi: Have you ever considered coming to a diabetes event like the Step Out to Fight Diabetes walk or Sugar Free Weekend Retreat or a camp? I am sure that so many of the kids with diabetes would be inspired by you and happy to meet you! I know I would be!

Nick: If I had time in my schedule I would love to. It's important to share that it's a condition you can live with. There's nothing to be afraid of, and it can actually make you closer to your family and friends.

Madi: Have you ever considered writing a song about diabetes? I'd love to work on that with you!

Nick: There is a song on our new album called "A Little Bit Longer" that is all about my diabetes. But the lyrics could be interpreted as any difficult situation in life.

Madi: I have had type 1 diabetes for 6½ years. I use an insulin pump and I check my blood sugar 10-12 times a day. My best advice for you, and for people with diabetes everywhere, is: Control your diabetes. Don't let it control you!

If we take good care of diabetes, it does not need to limit or change our everyday activities and our lives. Live life to the fullest and find a way to make having diabetes a positive thing in your life. It will make it much easier in the long run!

Nick: Thanks, Madi.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: September 2011



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