DALLAS - A spoonful of sugar may make the medicine go down, but when you have diabetes, as Madeline Trumble does, it can be dangerous.
That's why when Trumble started playing Mary Poppins on her first national tour, her mother joked that she should rename her character's classic song, "A Spoonful of Splenda," after the artificial sweetener.
Trumble, 23, is starring in "Mary Poppins," this month in Dallas.
The musical, still going strong on Broadway since its 2006 opening, is adapted from the 1964 Walt Disney film, which was based on P.L. Travers' stories about a magical nanny who changes the lives of families for the better.
Trumble is thrilled to be playing the part and grateful that diabetes has never slowed her down, she says.
"It's part of my day, every day," she says. "It's hard doing a show with an added challenge. I have to eat at certain times, test my blood sugar backstage, check my insulin pump. But I'm used to it. It's part of who I am, and I have a pretty good attitude about it."
A Berkeley, Calif., native, who now makes her home in New York, she's been dealing with diabetes since she was 4 and learned she had Type 1 diabetes on her first day of kindergarten.
Type 1 diabetes affects 5 percent of the 25.8 million people in the United States with the disease, according to the American Diabetes Association.
While people with Type 2 diabetes do not produce enough insulin, those with Type 1 do not produce any of the hormone, which the body needs to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy. Those with either kind of diabetes need to test the level of sugar in their blood regularly and make sure they have enough insulin to get the job done.
Trumble is the only one in her family with diabetes, but she says no one in her family, not her parents or her siblings, ever tried to hold her back from pursuing her dreams. "I started out performing in my living room, did my first show when I was 7 and never really stopped."
It helped to have support from local juvenile diabetes organizations; her mother encouraged her to talk and sing at events and participate in fundraising walkathons.
Trumble says her insulin pump, which she's had for 10 years, has helped by providing insulin delivery 24 hours per day. She wears it under her costume, beside her two hidden microphones.
As with any pump, she still needs to test her blood sugar as the amount of insulin needed varies depending on activity level, sleep, food and other factors.
She doesn't eat as much on Mondays when she doesn't have a show, and makes sure her blood sugar is a little higher than normal when she gets ready to perform because she's learned the high energy required by the first few numbers will lower it to where it needs to be.
"I eat something in the first act and at intermission. I keep juice boxes all over the stage. It's a juggling act," she says.
She's managing with such precision that she says she has better control over her blood sugar now than she did before she started the show.
One aspect of the plot that touches her is the way Mary teaches those around her by showing, rather than telling them what to do. That's something she says she tries to do in real life - encouraging others by her own perseverance.
"Sometimes people come to me at the stage door just to say, 'Thank you so much,'" she says. "Once I had a group of 40 people from the juvenile diabetes organization come to see me after a show in Memphis. I talked to them for a long time. I'm glad I can show them someone with diabetes who is doing what she loves to do."