Eric Paslay is opening up about living with diabetes.
The singer, who diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 10 after his grandmother – a nurse’s assistant – noticed his excessive thirst, says “he didn’t freak out” when he got the news because “everyone around him stayed calm.” However, managing the disease and being a traveling musician has occasionally been a challenge.
“As a kid I definitely had a few seizures. Having a really low blood sugar level, you wake up and you’re just like, ‘What happened?’ You just feel like a fool,” Paslay, now 33, tells PEOPLE. “It’s this delicate balance of keeping a good blood sugar level. And yeah, I’ve definitely had scary moments on stage where there’s been some random, mumbled, made-up words as I’m just searching for energy to stay awake.”
But Paslay, who has partnered with Dexcom and uses a continuous glucose monitoring system, is now able to see his blood sugar level reading every five minutes on his phone. So can his wife Natalie as well as his tour manager, so everyone knows exactly where his levels are.
“I use a lot of energy – I’m up there anywhere from an hour to two hours and we always have a cup of orange juice up on stage,” says the “Angels in This Town” singer. “If I hit a certain level [my tour manager] will signal me to start sipping some OJ.”
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Paslay actually credits his diagnosis with helping him have the confidence to pursue music.
“I still had a great childhood, but it grew me up a little quicker,” he says. “It also helped me think outside of the box. I mean, the thought of becoming a professional musician – that’s not typically in the box. You’re supposed to just go get a real job and do that. I think diabetes probably helped me pursue music because I was already an outsider in a way. I was not a normal kid already and that was a blessing.”