Amanda Jo was in first grade when she was asked to draw a picture of what she wanted to be when she grew up. She drew a girl singing on the radio. Skip ahead almost 20 years, and a diabetes diagnosis later, and Amanda and her former touring partner, Billy Lee, have joined forces as the duo Truckstop Honey. This year they signed a record contract with Winter Records and released their single, Polaroid, to country radio. They are currently touring the country from radio station to radio station promoting Polaroid.
Q. What’s it like to hear yourself on the radio after setting that goal as a little girl?
I’m still pinching myself! It’s such a special and personal song to me and it’s so cool that it seems to resonate with other people as well. This past October, we celebrated the release of our album, also called Polaroid. It’s a 14-song snapshot of our lives over the past few years. Every song has a story behind it and was written with a purpose from a personal place. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it! The best place to find all of the tour dates is online at Truckstop Honey.
Q. You have a song called Needle Free. What does it mean to you to be needle free?
The song idea originated from a discussion I had with some passionate diabetes doctors about bringing awareness to type 1 diabetes and all the research being done for a cure. Fellow type 1 Adam Lasher, Billy, and I worked with them to write the final version and Adam and I recorded the song in Nashville. I am continually inspired and motivated by work done by diabetes researchers. Our collective dream is to have a world where diabetes doesn’t exist. The song is available for a free download at www.needlefreesong.com.
Q. What do you consider your greatest musical accomplishment?
Last summer, I had the privilege of singing the National Anthem at the Lilly 250 NASCAR race at The Brickyard in Indianapolis in front of an estimated viewership of 3 million people. I’ve never been more nervous in my life! And of course I’m proud of our record contract with Winter Records and how Polaroid has been climbing the New Music Weekly charts.
Q. How did you first get involved playing music to audiences with connections to diabetes?
Initially I thought that people would judge me when they found out I had diabetes and I tried to keep my music life separate from my diabetes life. I had a change of heart around my 15th anniversary with diabetes when I realized that I had created a platform and I wanted to make a difference. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. Nothing brings me more joy than combining my love for music and my love for people with diabetes.
Q. Do you need to adjust your insulin needs for days you are performing?
Yes! My insulin needs are constantly changing. Thankfully I have a great endocrinologist in Nashville who works closely with me. I often need more insulin while performing due to adrenaline. Also, long travel days can be challenging, so I use a lot of temporary basal rates to help work around high and low blood sugars during these times. I’m so grateful for my t:slim X2 Pump that allows me so much flexibility with basal rates.
Q. What do you do to prepare your diabetes for a show?
Preparation is king! But, my life is different every day and so is diabetes. I do my best to manage both to the best of my ability. The hardest challenge I face is low blood sugars on stage. It doesn’t happen to me often, but when it does it can be a scary. I had a show in Indiana where I struggled to get my blood sugar to come back up. I had to drink four cans of soda to make it through. In a low blood sugar induced brain fog, I forgot a few lyrics. It wasn’t the best show I’ve ever played, but I made it through.
I once tried to treat low blood sugar with fruit snacks on stage and they kept getting stuck in my teeth! Now I always make sure to have a liquid form of glucose on stage. After updating my t:slim X2 Pump to include Dexcom G5® CGM integration, I now keep an eye on my blood sugar readings right on my pump. While I’m on stage, it gives me great peace of mind knowing what my blood sugar is and which direction it’s moving.
Q. What is the biggest change you’ve seen in yourself since your diagnosis?
I’ve grown up, graduated high school, gone to college, moved across the country, and followed my dreams of being a country music artist and songwriter — all with diabetes. I do believe that diabetes has made me stronger. It has made me more compassionate and understanding. And I believe it has actually made me healthier. I pay attention to my body and work harder to treat it well.
Q. If you met someone newly diagnosed with diabetes, what would be your advice to them?
Take a deep breath! Diabetes can be scary and overwhelming, but it will get easier. Be patient with yourself. Follow your dreams. Diabetes won’t stop you from having a beautiful life.
Q. What’s next?
Touring Polaroid, playing music for people with diabetes, and I want to play on the Grand Ole Opry stage at least once in my life.
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