Sugar for Your Soul: Local Musician Releases Song for Son Who’s Battling Type 1 Diabetes

Matt Gair, a Cape Town-based singer-songwriter, lives with his wife Dani and two young children in Hout Bay.

If your kids watch Jungle Beat and Munki and Trunk, you already know Matt’s job: as Head of Audio at Sunrise Productions, he’s responsible for the exciting sounds behind these hugely popular kids shows.

A shocking diagnosis

As a father of two, Matt is no stranger to the sniffles and coughs that come with the joys of raising young children, but nothing prepared the family for the diagnosis they received during the pandemic.

“Jude, then three, had a sniffly nose for about a month after he had a cold,” Matt told News24. “It was just after the second lockdown when the kids could go back to school. So he got a cold, but it lasted a long time.”

“One weekend he started drinking water constantly. Like all the time. He also started wetting his bed, even though he had just been potty trained and no longer needed diapers at night,” he says.

“We couldn’t explain it, so on Monday we took him to the doctor. She did blood tests, and Tuesday morning we were told to rush him to the hospital,” Matt explains, adding that shortly after, the family was shocked to learn that Jude has type 1 diabetes.

Matt explains that because Jude had no other symptoms and the family had no history of diabetes, they were very lucky to find out about him that way.

“If it had progressed, it would have been much worse. It was hard to imagine the seriousness at the time,” he says, describing the revelation as “like being hit by a hammer out of the blue.”

Read also : Medical Alert Dog Offers Lifeline For Anyone Battling Type 1 Diabetes

A heavy load

Since then, the family has endured a rollercoaster of medical ups and downs as they deal with the challenges of managing Jude’s blood sugar and insulin levels.

Waking up every two hours every night to check Jude’s blood sugar, often stopping the car even on short trips to check he’s still responsive, and spending huge amounts of money on medical supplies are just some of the challenges the family faces on a daily basis.

He describes the diagnosis as “A heavy burden for a three-year-old” and shares that while Jude is a champ, it’s tough for a 4-year-old. He describes how Jude needs five injections a day and that at first he had to hold his son to administer them.

“But he’s accepted it now and it’s become more of an unexpected lifestyle than a death sentence,” Matt says.

The family also managed to buy a Freestyle Libre sensor which was a game changer for them. “We don’t have to prick the finger to check his blood sugar, and it’s just wonderful to live in a time when this technology is available to him,” he says.

Nevertheless, it is not an easy life for a small child. “It breaks our hearts when he asks us to take the diabetes away,” Matt says.

music of trauma

Channeling that experience into his passion for music, Matt found himself working on a song about that era.

“Ever since I was a kid, I’ve dealt with trauma hiding behind my guitar and writing songs,” he shares. “I think it clears my thoughts and allows me to pull myself together and move on.”

Matt says it took a year and a half to find the courage to write the song, but he explains that he felt he had to write it.

“I had started playing the song as a fun way to get them dancing, to get Jude’s sugars down (exercise can help), and one day I started fleshing it out. It made me cry, and in the end I felt like I made peace with it,” he says.

“It’s a love letter to Jude,” he says, adding “we can’t always say how we feel to our loved ones. I haven’t played him, so one day he might browse the music of dad and find her and it makes me smile.”

Matt also hopes his song will help parents who are going through something similar. “I hope any parent who held their child’s hand while they were sick finds it helpful,” he says.

Matt’s song will be released on Friday, April 15 on all major streaming platforms under Matt Gair, Sugar For Your Soul.

Find sugar for your soul here.

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Rachel J. Bradford