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Bret Michaels talks about life with diabetes

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February 18, 2011|By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
  • Musician Bret Michaels at the American Country Awards in Las Vegas in December.
Musician Bret Michaels at the American Country Awards in Las Vegas in December. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images )

Yes, he's had numerous stints on reality TV and millions of records sold -- but singer Bret Michaels may be best known as the star of a real-life medical drama.

In April 2010, he had an emergency appendectomy. Less than two weeks later, he had a brain hemorrhage. A month after that, he had a stroke, caused by a hole in his heart. He had surgery to repair the heart defect in January.

Michaels also has Type 1 diabetes, which was diagnosed when he was 6 years old. He spoke about how he deals with that disease in a recent interview with Diabetes Health magazine.

Keeping blood sugar levels in check while touring with his band isn't easy, Michaels said. He carries "a large supply of boring food" with him on the road -- including turkey, tomatoes, celery and peanut butter -- and keeps an exercise bike on his bus for those days when he can't stop at a gym.

He checks his blood sugar eight times a day. During concerts, his band mates know to look out for signs that his blood sugar is too low. They throw in extended instrumental solos as needed so that Michaels can run offstage, check his blood sugar and get a drink of orange juice.

Michaels has two daughters, one of whom is pre-diabetic. He said he's trying to teach them the importance of staying active.

A pet peeve? "The battle it takes to get the plastic off a new glucose tablet container," he said.

Advice for loved ones of diabetics? "The calmer you react [in a crisis] the better."

What he'll do when they find a cure for the disease? "I'm going to make every night Halloween."

RELATED: The Times ran profiles of four people coping with Type 2 diabetes -- Ernesto Acosta, Carole West, Laura Bauden and Nancy Kaneshiro -- in November.

RELATED: More from The Times on Bret Michaels' January heart surgery and recovery.

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