Este Haim Says These Were Her First Diabetes Symptoms
In a new interview, Este Haim, bass player for the band Haim, spoke about her experience with type 1 diabetes and gave some details about what it was like to have some worrying symptoms when she was 14.
On the latest episode of the Made Visible podcast, Haim says she’d been experiencing some symptoms for a while before her diagnosis. She was thirsty and urinating frequently, for instance. “I was like a funnel,” she says, “I was drinking water while sitting on the toilet and peeing. It was a constant flow of fluid coming in and out of me.”
She had also lost a lot of weight unexpectedly, she said, and was bumping into things more frequently because her vision was blurry. But it wasn’t until she passed out in the middle of a mall that she finally got tested—the day before she started high school.
Then, on her first day of high school, she was sitting in biology class when the teacher mentioned they would be starting with studying autoimmune disorders, such as diabetes. Her teacher started rattling off the early signs and symptoms of diabetes when Haim realized they matched what she had been experiencing. “I don’t think I’m a hypochondriac, but this sounds a lot like what I’m going through,” she recalled thinking at the time.
So, being an “overly dramatic 14-year-old” theater major at an arts high school, Haim immediately stood up and left class to go to the nurse, where she announced, “I’m diabetic! I know I’m diabetic!” The nurse and her mom told her to take a beat, but three hours later her results came through and, it turns out, she did in fact have type 1 diabetes.
Diabetes is a condition in which the body has a hard time processing glucose, a type of sugar that your cells need for energy, either because it’s unable to produce enough of the hormone insulin or because the body doesn’t respond to insulin in the usual way, the Mayo Clinic explains. Normally insulin is produced by the pancreas, and it allows glucose to enter your cells, taking it out of the bloodstream. But in people with type 1 diabetes, their immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that normally produce insulin, which lets glucose build up in their bloodstream.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common symptoms of type 1 diabetes include many of those that Haim experienced: increased thirst, increased hunger, frequent urination, unintended weight loss, blurred vision, fatigue, irritability, and weakness. It’s usually diagnosed after blood testing to measure the average level of glucose in your blood.
Diabetes is a chronic condition that often requires maintenance in the form of daily insulin administration and monitoring your blood sugar level, regular appointments with your doctor, and possibly some big changes to your nutrition and exercise habits. As an aspiring rock star, Haim says, she had one big question for her doctor after being diagnosed: Would she still be able to be a touring musician when she grew up? It would be tough, her doctor said, because it’s harder to maintain a healthy lifestyle while touring.
“I was devastated; I started crying,” she said. At the time she had been writing in her diary about wanting to see the world and to be in a band with her family. “And to hear that it might not be something that I would be able to do was really hard.”
But Haim’s family—including her sisters and, now, bandmates—were extremely supportive of her continuing to pursue her goals. “You listen to your doctor when it comes to medical advice,” her parents said. “But when it comes to life advice, you listen to yourself, and you do everything you can to make your dreams come true.”
5 Things I’m Sick of Hearing as Someone With Type 1 Diabetes
7 Helpful Tips I Have for Anyone Else Traveling With Type 1 Diabetes
The Diabetes Symptom That Finally Helped Nick Jonas Get a Diagnosis