Jay Cutler is Taking On Type 1 Diabetes
EW: Have you experienced any scary episodes ("lows") since your diagnosis? If so, please explain.
JC: I was aware I was having an issue one time last year against Kansas City. It was early in the game, first or second series, and I just didn't feel right—I felt out of it a little, shaky. My second pass got picked for a touchdown, and we went to the sideline and tested. I was at around 95—which isn't that bad. There are worse numbers. But I felt off. We got it back up to about 150, 160, and ended up winning the game.
EW: You're involved in some outstanding diabetes awareness programs for children and adolescents, but do you feel any pressure with your new "diabetes role model" status?
JC: Well, living with diabetes in the public eye makes it harder. There's no real room for error. If I go out and have a bad game and my numbers are way off, I'm going to get criticized for it—not just in the football aspect of it, but trying to take care of myself health-wise.
I want to do as well as I can as a football player, but at the same time, I want to help as many people as I possibly can with this disease. I'd love to use my story to help inspire kids. They can achieve their own dreams and do what they want to do in life.
Before diabetes, I wanted to win a Super Bowl, have a long career. After diabetes, of course I'm working toward those goals. But I also want to help make people more aware of diabetes. I don't want to just be a face. I want to be hands-on and make a difference. I think I got this for a reason. The first couple months were difficult, but once I came to terms with it, I've really wanted to have the opportunity to help change lives.
EW: Can you provide a brief anecdote about a memorable diabetes experience—either in your awareness work or simply a personal moment or event—that is particularly meaningful to you?
JC: I've been fortunate to meet some incredible kids along the way. Visiting children's hospitals in the offseason with Eli Lilly was a great way to connect with kids and families who are dealing with this disease.
We visited La Rabida Hospital on the south side of Chicago back in June 2009, and this kid named Nate came up and gave me a letter. I get a lot of letters from kids and parents, but this one was different. He had been diagnosed about three years before I did, and he wrote me a letter to let me know everything was going to be okay, that I was going to be fine. It was fun, and I've gotten to know him a little. He and his parents came to training camp this summer, and I got to see him after practice for a few minutes. It's those kinds of experiences I really like—when it's just two people with diabetes connecting.