Eric Paslay, country singer and songwriter hailing from Temple, recently launched a five-episode podcast aiming to give a voice to people across the country living with Type 1 diabetes.
Each episode of “Level with Me” includes a different interview facilitated by Paslay. As someone living with T1D, he peeks into the lives of others battling the disease and fosters an open an honest discussion of how the chronic illness impacts their lives and relationships. The first episode was released in mid-May, and the fifth and final episode of the season was released last week.
T1D is an autoimmune disorder in which the body doesn’t produce its own insulin, so people with the disease must closely monitor their blood glucose levels, regulate their diet and take insulin when necessary. Having the disease affects how people eat, sleep, travel and their attitude towards life – not to mention, until the latest technology came out, patients had to prick their finger 10 or more times a day to make treatment decisions.
In an email interview with the Telegram, Paslay said he was approached by Dexcom, a company that develops, manufactures and distributes continuous glucose monitoring systems, with the idea to launch a podcast that would provide a community and outlet for people with T1D to share how the condition challenges and helps them grow each day.
“I loved the idea and I’ve never done a podcast before or hosted any sort of show, so I was really excited to get started in something new and different, especially since it benefits a community I’m so close to,” Paslay said. “I also want to say that I am so fortunate to have been a patient at Scott & White as a kid. The doctors and nurses there helped me believe I could do anything regardless of my diagnoses of T1D.”
The first episode of “Level with Me” peeks into the life of Colleen Rinehart, a wife and mom from Pickerington, Ohio, who is also a certified diabetes educator and nurse. Rinehart was diagnosed with T1D when she was 8 years old and has lived with the condition for 30 years.
Rinehart said she initially applied online to be a Dexcom Warrior.
“It’s just an easy process; you just click on a few buttons and then I just typed my story,” she said.
Shortly after that, she was contacted by Allison & Partners about being involved in the podcast and sharing more of her story.
Rinehart said her episode was originally meant to discuss how T1D impacts relationships. She said at first the producers came to her house to interview her and her family to see how they live with her T1D.
“I always say ‘we’ because it really is something we as a family you kind of have to gather all together and take on,” she said. “You’re way more successful that way.”
After that, she traveled to Tennessee and had a chance to meet Eric and his wife, Natalie, to discuss growing up with diabetes and how they had seen it impact their relationships.
Rinehart said her major focus is for listeners to have a sense of ownership for their diabetes.
“We still have to be focused around nutrition and exercise and ownership of it, and just don’t lose your sense of that,” she said. “Because as soon as you forget about it, it’s never going to forget about you. And that’s true for all kinds of diabetes.”
She said she wanted listeners to be able to find the good out of every situation they’re learning with and reflect in the happiness they have.
Paslay said he hopes the podcast will provide clarity to people who don’t understand the disease and how it can affect the daily lives of people who live with it.
“And for listeners within the diabetes community, I hope that hearing these inspiring stories will give them another way to connect with the community and others like them who are experiencing similar challenges and successes,” he said.”
Other guests on “Level with Me” include an endurance athlete who has completed several Ironman races and runs a camp for T1D kids, two mother-daughter duos, and Eric’s wife, Natalie.
“Each and every one of the guests on this podcast has a unique story and I’ve enjoyed spending time with all of the guests on ‘Level with Me,’” Paslay said.
He said it’s been amazing to hear the everyday stories of people living with diabetes, not just their emotional diagnosis stories or conquering of incredible tasks.
“I want this podcast to encourage and inspire other people living with T1D and let them know they are not alone,” Paslay said. “This podcast is about connecting normal lives together with the common thread of diabetes.