Sugar for Your Soul: Local musician releases song for his son who battles Type 1 diabetes

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Matt and Jude
Matt and Jude

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 then you're already familiar with Matt's work: as Head of Audio at Sunrise Productions, he is responsible for the exciting sounds behind these hugely popular children's shows.

A shocking diagnosis  

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

"Jude, then three years old, had a sniffly nose for about a month after having a cold," Matt explains to News24. "It was just after the second lockdown when kids could go back to school. So he got a run of the mill cold, but it lasted a long time." 

"One weekend, he started to drink water constantly. Like all the time. He also started to wet his bed, although he had just been potty trained and wasn't needing night nappies anymore," he says.

"We couldn't explain it, so on the Monday we took him to the doctor. She took blood tests, and on Tuesday morning, we were told to rush him to the hospital," Matt explains, adding that soon 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 has no history of diabetes, they were very lucky to find out this way.

"If it had progressed, it would have been a lot worse. It was hard to fathom the severity at the time," he says, describing the revelation as "like being hit by a sledgehammer out of the blue".  

Also read: Medical alert dog offers lifeline for tot battling Type 1 Diabetes 

A heavy load

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

Waking up every two hours every night to check Jude's sugar levels, stopping the car often on even short trips to check he is still responsive, and spending enormous amounts of money on medical supplies are just a few of the challenges the family faces, daily.

He describes the diagnosis as "A heavy load for a three-year-old" and shares that although Jude is a champion, it's hard for a 4-year-old. He describes how Jude needs five injections a day and that, at first, he had to hold his son down to administer them. 

"But he's accepted that now and it's become more of an unexpected lifestyle, than a death sentence," Matt says. 

The family has also managed to buy a Freestyle Libre Sensor has changed the game for them. "We don't have to finger prick to check his blood sugar, and it is just wonderful that we live in a time that has this technology available for him," he says. 

Nonetheless, it's not an easy life for a small child. "It breaks our hearts when he asks us to take diabetes away," Matt says. 


Music from trauma 

Channelling this experience into his passion for music, Matt found himself working on a song about this time. 

"Since I was a kid, I've dealt with trauma by hiding behind my guitar and writing songs," he shares. "I think it clears my thoughts and allows me to gather myself and carry on."

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

"I had started to play the song as a fun way to make them dance, to bring down Jude's sugars (exercise can help), and one day I started to flesh it out. It made me cry, and by the end, I felt like I had made some peace with it," he says. 

"It's a love letter to Jude," he says, adding "we can't always say what we feel to our loved ones. I haven't played it to him, so one day he might look through daddy's music and find it and that makes me smile." 

Matt also hopes his song helps parents who are going through something similar. "I hope any parent who has held their child's hand when they are ill will resonate with it," he says. 

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

Find Sugar for your Soul here

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