In a new interview, Este Haim, bassist for the band Haim, spoke about her experience with type 1 diabetes and gave some details about what it was like to have worrisome symptoms at age 14.
On the latest episode of the Made visible On the podcast, Haim says she had symptoms for a while before she was diagnosed. For example, she was thirsty and urinated frequently. “I was like a funnel,” she says, “I drank water while I was peeing on the toilet. It was a constant flow of fluid coming in and out of me.”
She also lost an unexpected amount of weight, she said, and bumped into things more often because her vision was blurry. But it wasn’t until she passed out in the middle of a mall that she was finally tested ̵
Then, on her first day of school, she was in biology class when the teacher mentioned that she was going to start studying autoimmune diseases like diabetes. Her teacher began eliminating the early signs and symptoms of diabetes when Haim realized they were consistent with what she had experienced. “I don’t think I’m a hypochondriac, but that sounds a lot like what I’m going through,” she recalled thinking back then.
An “overly dramatic 14-year-old” theater major at an art school, Haim stood up immediately and left the class to go to the nurse, where she announced, “I’m diabetic! I know I’m diabetic!” The nurse and her mother told her to take a break, but three hours later her results came through and it turned out that she actually had type 1 diabetes.
Diabetes is a condition that makes it difficult for the body to process glucose, a type of sugar your cells need for energy either because they can’t make enough hormone insulin or because the body doesn’t respond to insulin in the normal way, explains the Mayo Clinic. Usually, insulin is produced by the pancreas and allows glucose to enter your cells and remove it from your bloodstream. However, in people with type 1 diabetes, their immune systems attack the cells in the pancreas that normally produce insulin and cause glucose to build up in their bloodstream.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common symptoms of type 1 diabetes include many of those Haim experienced: increased thirst, increased hunger, frequent urination, accidental weight loss, blurred vision, fatigue, irritability, and weakness. It is usually diagnosed after a blood test to measure the average level of glucose in your blood.
Diabetes is a chronic condition that often requires maintenance such as daily insulin administration and monitoring of your blood sugar levels, regular appointments with your doctor, and possibly some big changes in your diet and exercise habits. As an aspiring rock star, Haim says her big question for her doctor after the diagnosis is whether or not she could still be a touring musician as an adult. But her doctor said it would be difficult because it is harder to maintain a healthy lifestyle while on the tour.
“I was devastated, I started crying,” she said. At the time she had written in her diary that she wanted to see the world and be in a band with her family. “And hearing that it might not be something I could do was really hard.”
But Haim’s family – including her sisters and now bandmates – gave her tremendous support in pursuing her goals. “You listen to your doctor for medical advice,” said her parents. “But when it comes to life coaching, listen to yourself and do whatever you can to make your dreams come true.”