Jay Cutler might not be the poster boy everyone wants in the NFL, but not many seem to remember the inspiration he is to many who suffer from Type 1 diabetes. Not only is he a leader for those suffering from the disease, but he's also the quarterback and iconic leader of the Chicago Bears.
Constantly challenged by keeping his blood sugars level and at a stable point to ensure that he does not have complications, many forget what Jay Cutler must endure while playing the game of football.
In 2007, Cutler was in his first season as starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos, and his 3,497 passing yards ranked as the seventh best single-season performance in team history. Experts were beginning to refer to Cutler as the next Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, but in the later stages of the 2007 season, Cutler did not feel like himself. He lost over 30 pounds, felt lethargic and did not know what was wrong with him. It was then that Jay Cutler would realize he had Type 1 diabetes, a disease that affects millions worldwide.
Cutler went through a period where his pancreas was turning off on him, what most people call the honeymoon period. It’s where your pancreas shuts down and will stop creating insulin for your body, which causes your blood sugar or glucose levels to rise. One who suffers from a high-blood glucose can feel sick, and if high enough, this could eventually turn deadly. By administering insulin, a diabetic can somewhat control their blood glucose level through careful monitoring and eating regimens.
Cutler tried using an insulin pump but learned injections suited him better for playing football. His goal is to go into a game with blood sugar between 100 and 150 mg/dL and then check each time he comes off the field during the first and second quarters. If his blood sugar levels go low enough, he'll start drinking Gatorade to stabilize them during the game.
"I check more than average people do," he says. "I always want to see where I'm at. So if I start getting over 200 before we take off for a road game, I have no problem sticking myself on the plane in front of everybody. I check when we land, too. I always have a Snickers or Milky Way nearby to offset a low." - Diabeteshealth.com
Approximately 25.8 million Americans suffer from diabetes (Yahoo.com), and Jay Cutler is no different from any other person with the disease, except he is an NFL star.
While many members of the media slam Jay Cutler for his attitude and looks he gives on the sidelines, I tip my hat to the inspiration that he has become to thousands of little boys and girls who one day want to be a professional athlete.
Jay Cutler has been instrumental in founding The Jay Cutler Foundation, dedicated to improving the quality of life for underprivileged children and those suffering from diabetes. It is their belief that we are investing in their future as well as the future of the community itself. One can hope that he can raise millions of dollars to find a cure.