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Jay Cutler Says He Likes Blogs.

Jay Cutler plays football and knows a lot about it.  Quarterback for the Denver Broncos, Jay know what all those flags and whistles and snaps and other football terms mean. 

So far, Jay Cutler and I have very little in common.

However, last April, Jay was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  

Jay and I now have a whole lot in common.

Jay took a few minutes to talk with me about his diabetes diagnosis, bringing diabetes onto the football field, and his passion for the Inspired by Diabetes campaign.  

Jay Cutler and I have plenty in common now.
Kerri: When, and how, were you diagnosed with type 1 diabetes?

Jay: I was diagnosed in April 2008. I knew something was wrong through most of the 2007 season, and I lost about 35 pounds. People said it was the stress of playing in the NFL, but all kinds of things go through your mind, like maybe I have cancer. After six months not feeling well, the doctors diagnosed me with type 1. My blood sugar level was about 550. It was a relief, really. It’s not easy to live with diabetes, but I was glad to know it was something I can manage.

Kerri: Most people with type 1 are diagnosed when they are small children, leaving us with no real sense of "before" and "after."  Do you feel that there is a benefit to being diagnosed as an adult?

Jay: I just can’t imagine what it would be like to be diagnosed as a kid. I visited a children’s hospital in Tampa during Super Bowl week and met a 4-year-old boy who had been diagnosed when he was 1. And I’ve met a lot of other kids who were still young but are really veterans because they were diagnosed at 4, 5, 6 years old. Those are tough kids, and tough parents, to have to deal with this at such a young age.

Kerri: What has been the most challenging part of the "diabetes learning curve"?  Or the easiest part?

Jay: I think the toughest part is that first few weeks, while you’re getting used to taking insulin shots and pricking your fingers so many times every day. The easiest part? There’s nothing easy about diabetes. But I’m lucky to good people around me to help manage every day.

Kerri: How do you manage your diabetes during a game?  Have you had any lows on the field?  Felt affected by highs?

Jay: I usually check my blood sugar four different times, about an hour before the game. I try to stay around 150-160 before the game. In the first half, I’ll test a few times to make sure I’m not getting low. The adrenaline and emotions of the game can make me drop in a hurry, so I try to stay in check. If I’m steady in the first half, I don’t check as often in the second half. I’ve had one time, when we played Kansas City earlier this season, when I felt low during a series on the field, but we always have some Gatorade ready in case I need it.

Kerri: What are you using, technology-wise, to manage your diabetes?  Do you have any interest in an insulin pump?  A continuous glucose monitoring system?

Jay: I tried a pump and a continuous monitoring system right after I was diagnosed, but using the pen just fits better into my line of work and lifestyle.

Kerri: Since you're in the public eye, do you feel you have a responsibility to disclose your diabetes?  Do you feel pressure to be the perfect diabetic?

Jay: I didn’t want to shy away from it at all. I think I can be an inspiration for people dealing with diabetes, especially kids. I think it’s important to let kids know they can achieve their goals and dreams, and that even though having diabetes is tough, it’s possible to do what you want to do in life. That’s why I wanted to team up with Lilly on the Inspired by Diabetes campaign. But it is tough, and I know I’m not going to be perfect. I’m going to have my ups and downs too, just like everybody else.

Kerri: You're probably used to being interviewed by ESPN junkies and football fans, but now kids with diabetes specifically are looking up to you.  What kind of message do you have for kids in the diabetes community?

Jay: I love the message of the Inspired by Diabetes contest being run by Lilly. First, we want to hear the stories of people affected by diabetes, especially kids, to hear how they’re dealing with it. A lot of people know my story, but all these stories can be inspiring to other people. There’s also a great message behind the campaign, that by telling your story you can help other kids with diabetes through the donations Lilly is making to the ADA for diabetes camps. It’s a great cause with a great message.

Kerri: Since you are new to diabetes - less than a year since your diagnosis - what kind of message do you want the diabetes community to offer you?  Do you turn to things like blogs, message boards, and other online resources for that sense of "community?"

Jay: When I was diagnosed, I noticed there’s a lot of information on the internet, but not as many personal stories. I think blogs are a great forum for that.

Kerri:  Thanks, Jay, for being part of the community.


Interesting interview.

I remember that Kansas City game. I was talking to my mom, and she made a comment about how someone needed to test him, "because I recognize that look." She could tell that he was low.

Great interview.

As a fellow 'Type 1 diagnosed as an adult", it is a very odd feeling to have the 'before' and 'after'. As the years go by though, the before memories are getting more vague. Like, I can remember birthday parties and other experiences without diabetes, but I cannot remember sitting down to a meal and just eating or going to the grocery store without thinking about the carb count of everything I was buying.

That was really great for me to read! My father in law was diagnosed as an adult with type 1 as well. It has been really hard for him to adjust.

As for being a roll model for young kids he is on the right track! When my 4 year old diabetic finds out that someone famous has diabetes her spirits are lifted just with the thaought (like Nick Jonas!)

Thanks for this awesome interview! I really enjoyed it!

I too enjoyed this interview. It is inspiring and comforting to know there are professional athletes living with type 1. It's one of the aspects of my daughter's future with diabetes that has been on my mind lately. I want her to enjoy exercise as part of her healthy lifestyle. But I'm worried the added complications that diabetes presents could discourage her. It's nice to know there are role models out there.

Thanks for yet another great post, Kerri!

Great interview. My son is a sports fanatic, so we're always talking about athletes with diabetes. He's become quite a fan of Jay Cutler (even though we live in Seattle WA). One of our papers just interviewed two Seattle Mariners - one who has T1 & one who has T2.

How did you get this interview?
I am So jealous! Not sure why! ha ha.

I LOVE football. And he is the first that I heard of last year that was living with T1 and playing football. I know there are others, as Bobby points out.

Too cool. Thanks for sharing Kerri!

"I think I can be an inspiration for people dealing with diabetes, especially kids. I think it’s important to let kids know they can achieve their goals and dreams, and that even though having diabetes is tough, it’s possible to do what you want to do in life."

For some reason that made me tear up. He's not just an inspiration to the kids, but the parents of those kids as well.

Great interview, Kerri.

Awesome interview Jay! Thank you Kerri!


Yeah, we're insanely jealous over this interview...

yay Jay and Kerri, I am Type 1 adult onset(age 37) and this week is my 2 year diabetes "birthday" so I was thrilled to read Jays comments! Whenever I get nervous at the gym I think hey if Jay can be a professional athlete and manage this blood sugar roller coaster then I can get through this workout. Thanks Robin

Great Interview. We heart Jay (maybe he can come to new england and we can love him more???)

And Canada,Saskatchewan Roughriders has YOUR John Chick , type 1 , a pumper and an advocate with JDRF ...I am not a football fan , however am tickled pink knowing about this : I used to live in ( mouthful ) Saskatchewan and am a type one and pumper ...google his name and look up his story !!

After Jay's diagnosis, I started following football alittle more closely (my husband is a HUGE Carolina Panthers fan). For my bday, I got a Cutler jersey from the husband (so I look cool when we got and watch games at our local bar on Sundays). Everyone asks why I'm a Denver fan...I normally just say I'm a Jay Cutler fan :) Us PWDs gotta stick together.

Great interview, Kerri. So, next do you think you can wrangle an interview with Ray Allen of the Celtics? It would be nice to get a sports icon's view of being a parent of a child with diabetes. I'd also like to see if he is going to use his celebrity to further the cause of finding a cure.

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