Kevin Kane and Jay Cutler have one similarity; both were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes later in life.
But Kane, a Wisconsin native who works as a Realtor outside of the state’s capital city of Madison is – like most Wisconsinites – a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan, and will never be found cheering for the Chicago Bears, no matter what he has in common with the team’s quarterback.
When Kane was diagnosed in August at 49, he became one of the 15,000 adults a year diagnosed with the disease that was once known as juvenile diabetes, but in truth can reveal itself at any age.
Kane overlooked his initial symptoms – including unexplained weight loss – because the former runner had packed on a few extra pounds he was glad to see go. He told himself it was because his eating habits had improved, even though in his heart he knew that wasn’t true.
Then came the fatigue, “exhaustion on a whole different level,” Kane said. “I was unbelievably exhausted.”
That, he couldn’t overlook, so he made an appointment with his doctor, which led to five-day stretch that included going from reading glasses to prescription lenses, learning he had high cholesterol and a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes.
“That week, I was feeling old,” he said.
But with weight loss already behind him, he looked as his diabetes diagnosis as the kick-start he needed to get back into shape and almost immediately reestablished a fitness routine.
“It’s easy to say, ‘why me?’ but that doesn’t change anything,” he said. “Diabetes took away my excuses and had me doing things I should have been doing all along. I’m healthier now than I have been in 11 or 12 years.”
While initially he was concerned about the daily insulin injections he’d need to keep his blood glucose in check, his memories of a friend from high school with type 1 guided him through those first days, and made him more aware of what to expect.
Kane first began taking once-a-day injections of Lantus insulin glargine, but when that didn’t bring his numbers down, he added fast-acting Humalog insulin lispro to his mealtime regimen.
In the meantime, his wife Amy began researching low-carb meals – including smarter choices at various fast-food restaurants to accommodate Kane’s irregular schedule.
“Some days I’m on the road and I have to go to McDonald’s or Subway,” he said. With Amy’s low-carb list in hand, he’s able to select foods that are low on the glycemic index and won’t lead to spikes.
He and Amy now start their day with a trip to the gym – ending Kane’s 10-year hiatus that was meant to be a 10-rest to heal from an injury – and five months after his initial diagnosis, he did a 5-mile fun run with the older of his two daughters, ages 16 and 19.
And while type 1 is a constant in his life – he’s reminded every morning and at every meal – “it hasn’t been as hard as hard as I feared,” he said.
He chooses to eat larger meals instead of sweets, although he doesn’t have a list of foods that are off limits, including the cheese and sausage that are omnipresent in his home state.
“Everything has a cost,” he said. “I’d rather choose low-carb foods and eat more of those than have a cookie. It’s not like I can’t have a cookie, but if I do, I only have one.”
His blood glucose numbers, at first an alarming 613, rarely rise above 85 to 120, and his A1C had dropped to 6.1 from his initial high of 15.6.
While Kane is only seven months into his diagnosis, and he expects challenges along the way, he also knows that diabetes doesn’t have to negatively impact his life.
“Everyone has their own journey,” he said. “But life can be every bit as good if not better.”