Being diabetic fucks with my head a lot. It's instilled a real fatalism in me - I'm not gonna have kids, I'm probably not gonna see 60, so I might as well live the best life I can right now, which makes me work hard, write a lot, and buy all the books and movies and music I feel like having around me. But it's very difficult for me to get to any kind of understanding or psychological rapprochement with the disease, at least in part because I don't have anybody to talk to about it.
My dad was Type I, diagnosed at a year old or so, but he's dead - he died in his late fifties, a couple of years before I was diagnosed with Type II. And he never told me much about the disease - what it did to him, what he had to do to battle it - because I didn't have it and he was a private guy and we didn't get along that well anyway most of the time. I saw him injecting insulin a few times as a small child, but that's it. And once my parents divorced, and he didn't live in our house anymore, even that much exposure to the day-to-day reality of diabetes was taken away. So when I was offered the chance to interview Bret Michaels of Poison for the Cleveland Scene, and jumped at it, because (as you'll read in the story) he's diabetic, too; has been since he was six, and he's in his mid-forties now.
I told the editor that he should give me the assignment, over another writer who really wanted it, because Michaels and me were both diabetic and I would talk about that with him. And Michaels was completely open and welcoming on that score. I've had pleasurable conversations with celebrities before, every journalist has - the ones where you come away thinking "we could probably be friends, if this wasn't an interview/professional context." And that's part of a celebrity's job - to massage the media (and by proxy the reader/viewer) to create that impression of intimacy. (And writers are, obviously, complicit in the creation of that illusion, and worse things too, sometimes.)
But this was different...more like therapy. The first person I'd ever been really able to seriously discuss my disease with, other than a doctor or my wife (who doesn't have it), was a celebrity - one who gave me his assistant's cell number in case I wanted to come to his NJ concert and meet backstage, one on one, to talk more about our respective diseases and how we were dealing with them. I was more emotionally invested in this piece, at least while the interview/conversation was underway, than anything else I've ever written that was nominally about music.
And for the record, I stand by all my assertions about the quality of Poison's music generally and the new album in particular.
[Read the story here.]