In His Own Words

November 23, 2010

Musician and reality-TV star Bret Michaels has been through a lot this year, from an emergency appendectomy to a life-threatening subarachnoid hemorrhage, followed by a mild stroke that led to the discovery of a hole in his heart – all within six weeks. Michaels, who has lived with type 1 diabetes since he was six years old, took time to open up to Diabetes Forecast, the consumer magazine of the American Diabetes Association, and share the details of his experience. The December issue of Diabetes Forecast also includes an interview with Michaels’s brain surgeon, Joseph Zabramski, MD.

Bret Michaels on the Dec 2010 Cover of Diabetes ForecastMichaels stayed strong through the appendectomy and through the subarachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding at the base of the brain) – even when his doctor told him that his chance of survival was about 50-50. It wasn’t until the discovery of a hole in his heart that he started to feel down about his health.  "Now I’m a guy who fights, fights, fights,” Michaels says, “but that one took the wind out of my sails... Normally I deal with pain by laughing at a lot of it, but this one depressed me."

But Zabramski told Michaels that the heart defect could be corrected (surgery has been scheduled for January), and Michaels regained hope about his future. "When I got back from the hospital," says Michaels, "I went out on my property and took a walk and got straight with God and with myself. I said, 'Listen, I’m going to make every effort to get better, just give me a chance.' That was it. I just mentally got myself positive, and that is exactly what helped me get through it."

Several times throughout his hospital stays, Michaels found his blood glucose levels higher than he liked. "I literally wrote down, on a legal form, ‘I will take my own injections,’ to release the hospital from any liability," he tells Diabetes Forecast. "I just knew I needed to take responsibility for whatever was going on with my blood sugar, and I finally got it down, with enough insulin, to the 140, 150 area."

It wasn’t long before Michaels appeared on Oprah and the Celebrity Apprentice, and even performed on American Idol. "I didn’t decide to make a comeback," he tells Diabetes Forecast. "It was all already planned; it was just a matter of whether I could make it or not."

From his goal for A1C tests to his musical, TV, and book projects for 2011, this is Bret Michaels, in his own words, and this is the inside story of just what happened in all those hospital rooms, what he did when things hit rock bottom – and how his diabetes, paradoxically, helped him pull through.

There are many heroes in the world of diabetes, so the December issue of Diabetes Forecast also features "Doing Well and Doing Good," more success stories about people living with diabetes who actively give back to the diabetes community. These heroes range from age 9 to 70, have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and are making a difference in their own way.

This issue also includes:

  • A New Shine on an Old Medication: The story of metformin’s past, present, and possible future
  • How to Craft a Casserole: A step-by-step guide to updating this retro comfort food
  • A Victory to Celebrate: An Atlanta event promotes prevention in the African American community

Diabetes Forecast has been America's leading diabetes magazine for more than 60 years, offering the latest news on diabetes research and treatment to provide information, inspiration, and support to people with diabetes. 

About the American Diabetes Association

Nearly half of American adults have diabetes or prediabetes; more than 30 million adults and children have diabetes; and every 21 seconds, another individual is diagnosed with diabetes in the U.S. Founded in 1940, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) is the nation’s leading voluntary health organization whose mission is to prevent and cure diabetes, and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. The ADA drives discovery by funding research to treat, manage and prevent all types of diabetes, as well as to search for cures; raises voice to the urgency of the diabetes epidemic; and works to safeguard policies and programs that protect people with diabetes. In addition, the ADA supports people living with diabetes, those at risk of developing diabetes, and the health care professionals who serve them through information and programs that can improve health outcomes and quality of life. For more information, please call the ADA at 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383) or visit Information from both of these sources is available in English and Spanish. Find us on Facebook (American Diabetes Association), Twitter (@AmDiabetesAssn) and Instagram (@AmDiabetesAssn)