American Idol and Diabetes

American Idol and Diabetes: Diabetic news has a decidedly American Idol influence this week with news both stateside as well as from earthquake ravaged Chile.

On February 27th an 8.8 magnitude earthquake struck the South American country of Chile. Amazingly fewer than 1,000 people were reported dead, but many others were stranded including former American Idol contestant Elliott Yamin. Using the social networking tool, Twitter, Yamin sent tweets to his followers telling of the devastation he saw and the people he encountered.

It didn’t take long for Yamin to realize he had his own crisis developing. He tried not to overplay the potential problem, but his plight did become newsworthy. Yamin is a type 1 diabetic and he had only packed enough insulin to last through March 1st (when he expected to be back home). It became clear that outbound flights were not going to be happening anytime soon because relief efforts meant more than usual inbound air traffic. In essence Yamin’s only way out of Chile did no coincide with his need for diabetic medical supplies.

One of Yamin’s tweets read, “I thought this was the end of my life.” As of the 3rd of March Yamin was still in Chile, but due to the assistance of the U.S. Embassy and the manufacturer of his insulin he was able to receive the required medication. He has also ventured to the city of Santiago where he has access to improved medical assistance. It is expected that Yamin will be back in the United States by the time this article is read.



Meanwhile, for the first time in American Idol (AI) history the order of a telecast was altered because of a contestant struggling with diabetes. Idol hopeful Crystal Bowersox was hospitalized as a result of diabetes complications. AI producers made the decision to reverse performance schedules to allow the possibility that Bowersox could still perform. The men performed Tuesday, March 2nd and the women performed the next night.

Bowersox was the first to perform and she seemed fully in control of herself and her performance as she tackled a Credence Clearwater Revival classic.

When Bowersox made no mention of her medical difficulties the American Idol judges took note and praised her for managing such a difficult ordeal without trying to use the instance as a means of enlisting a sympathy vote. Virtually all the judges spoke of her illness and then glowingly about her performance. Ellen DeGeneres went so far as to say the competition needed her.

Bowersox seems intent on encouraging votes in her direction based entirely on her ability as a singer and not because of the disease she lives with. Her performances seem to indicate she is a fan favorite this season.

Yamin and Bowersox are not the only individuals attached to the program to live with diabetes. Judge Randy Jackson was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and responded by undergoing a gastric bypass surgery. Jackson is quoted as saying, “It’s like the largest wake up call in your life.” He’s written a book about his experience that was just released through Penguin books.

In 2006 Yamin shared the stage with another Idol hopeful, Kevin Corvais. Both men struggled with Type 1 diabetes.

Perhaps the best news is that both types of diabetes are represented in emerging stories surrounding American Idol. In all cases the individuals involved continue to work at making appropriate choices and controlling their glucose levels. They are determined to not allow the disease to stop them from reaching their goals.