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The DX Diabetes Dish: Chelcie Rice

Atlanta-based stand-up comedian on life as a T1 comic

The DX regularly features The DX Diabetes Dish, a profile about life and life with diabetes. This month, we dish with Chelcie Rice, an Atlanta-based stand-up comedian living with type 1 diabetes. Creator and host of a series of shows called Sugar Free Comedy, which benefits and brings awareness to the world of diabetes, Rice – who also blogs and can be found on Twitter @ChelcieRice – shares his quick wit and unique point of view with The DX Dish:

What is your state of mind today?

I am kind of worn out after a whirlwind weekend. It left me with lots to think about. I’ll keep you posted!

What three words would you use to describe who you are?

Enigma (my band director called me that, so it stuck), sharp (mentally, ’cause pajama pants rule) and diligent.

How does diabetes change – or not change – who you are?

It doesn’t change my sense of humor, but it does change my ability to take a risk sometimes. I suffered vision loss in my right eye and the left is my dominant, but not 100%. So suffice it to say, I don’t drive at night much. And being a comic, that’s when you work the most. So I have to think ahead and play it really safe. I never was much of a play-it-safe kind of guy, so I’m limited in the distances I can go to perform or if I can travel alone. Comedy is a stand-alone art form, so this has been a challenge.

If you could take away one aspect of diabetes, what would it be?

You gain a greater appreciation for hating bad news – sometimes you just don’t want to know what your numbers are. I used to hate math as a kid, but diabetes just makes me hate numbers even more! People think comedians are always cheerful and making jokes, well that’s not really true. The craft itself can be depressing due to the isolation, but diabetes can make it worse. Diabetes and comedy can be a rough combination – sort of like Jägermeister1 and Red Bull2.

What inspires you to do what you do?

Actually, the same answer as the previous question. It makes me keep searching for a better way to defeat the bad times. Much of what you deal with as a person with diabetes is in your head. You have to find a way to keep motivated and wanting to search for ways to be healthy mentally. Sometimes, talking to other diabetics about things other than diabetes does wonders. Comedy helps me in a lot of ways by staying creative and exercising those muscles by writing.

What do you appreciate most in your friends?

Their ability to get what it is I’m going through. Not many of them get it, but I make sure I show the few who do how much I appreciate it.

What would you pack for your favorite vacation?

A fresh stack of Batman3 comic books. (NERD!!)

What’s in your refrigerator right now?

Kale and fruits for green smoothies, my homemade jelly, some tofu.

What is your favorite way to relieve stress?

I hope you’re not expecting me to say “exercise.” Honestly, it’s watching old sitcoms! There is nothing better for stress relief than Barney Miller, Sanford and Son, Taxi, and The Carol Burnett Show. It takes me back to my youth when my younger brother and I would sit in front of the console TV on Saturday nights, eat popcorn, and laugh.

What is your idea of happiness?

Creating my piece of the world. Just being creative and not having to spend my life making my boss happy because I showed up on time.

What do you most dislike?

Being dependent on something. My greatest fear when I lost vision in my eye was that I wouldn’t be able to be independent again. I’m just that kind of guy that when I want to just go do something, I just go. I don’t leave a note or voice mail, I just break out! But with [what some call] “the beetus,” I have to be smarter and prepare. I think it’s because I was diagnosed when I was twenty-five, so I was pretty much used to being on my own by then, and I still am to this day. It still takes some getting used to, but I’m getting better at it. (I think!)

What’s your favorite diabetes management tip?

Eating well. I like to cook and learn different things in the kitchen like eating raw and juicing.

What words do you try to live by?

James Brown said, “I don’t want nobody to give me nothin’. Open up the door and I’ll get it myself.”

What is your greatest fear?

That I never get a chance to really be special and leave my mark. And after what happened recently with Hostess, I fear waking up and hearing they stopped making Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups4.

What is your greatest extravagance?

I can’t afford it yet. I’ll keep you posted!

On what occasion do you lie?

When the last Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup is missing.

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?

That they never had to hear I was diabetic, or that they made more money when I was in high school so I could have gotten that ’79 Trans Am!

Who are your heroes in real life?

My parents, my grandparents, my brothers. All of them had obstacles individually, but they pushed and achieved in spite of them all.

What would you choose for your last meal?

I’d make my old-school tuna casserole and chase it with a green smoothie just to be ridiculous.

All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the interviewee and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies, or affiliates.

1Jägermeister is a registered trademark.

2Red Bull is a registered trademark.

3Batman is a registered trademark of DC Comics.

4Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups is a registered trademark of Hershey’s.

© 2013 The DX: The Diabetes Experience

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