Two “lab rats” discuss their upcoming artificial pancreas trial

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Brian: Alright Alecia–after months of trying to get into an artificial pancreas (AP) clinical trial, we’re finally doing it! All it took was hundreds of emails, dozens of phone calls, thousands of finger pricks, years of living with (type 1 diabetes) T1D, and some JDRF funding!

Now that we’ve been trained on the new pumps, how are you feeling?!

Alecia: I am feeling a lot of emotions! I’m excited, nervous, and thrilled that I get to be part of something that has the potential to change my life (and your life too!) This pump is totally different–I have to rely entirely on the bolus wizard (the tool on a pump that uses carbohydrate and blood sugar levels to calculate boluses for you) and there is a remote. It was a little bit intimidating. And it’s been a while since I’ve done everything by the book, like using alcohol swabs for everything.

Brian: I totally agree. Everyone has their own diabetes quirks and ways of simplifying it a bit. I can’t tell you the last time I swabbed my skin before putting in a new site or testing my blood sugar. Seriously–I can’t recall a single time I’ve ever done that (I probably shouldn’t so readily admit that.) But there is a lot riding on this. JDRF, Mt. Sinai, and many others are investing so much time and money and energy into this. The need to eliminate variables, like the residual leftovers of my lunch on my hands, is so, so critical.

Alecia: That’s part of the excitement for me. There are so many people involved! We are all so eager to make the artificial pancreas a reality, and it’s unbelievable to think WE are part of the process. After being T1D for 35+ years, I am proud that my body can contribute to this.

Brian: 21+ years with T1D for me. Eager doesn’t begin to describe how ready I am for this. Just the thought of having perfect blood sugars throughout the night THRILLS me. I can’t even imagine how well rested I’m going to feel! My Dexcom wakes me (and my fiancée) up at least 2-3 times a week to alert me that my blood sugar is either high or low. She might be more excited about this than I am! How pumped are you for a CGM alarm-free sleep?

Alecia: So excited. Uninterrupted and worry-free! Sounds like a dream come true. It’s impossible though, not to think about the artificial pancreas beyond our overnight study. I had a great workout this morning, and even with all the precautions I took, I had to cut my time short because of a low. I want to work out like that and NOT obsessively check my CGM only to get low. The thought of that makes me want to cry! But yes, a good night’s sleep sounds great, too.

Brian: And you know what a good night’s sleep leads to? Good blood sugars for the day!

Alecia: Yes!

Brian: Let’s wrap this thing up–fellow pioneer, are you ready to be a lab rat?!?

Alecia: I am! We’ve waited seemingly forever to be in this trial, but more importantly, between the two of us, we’ve collectively waited 47 years for this technology. As a little girl with T1D, this wasn’t even something I could imagine happening. It’s humbling to think we could really be part of the AP coming to fruition. It’s beyond exciting. This is really happening!

Brian: It IS happening! Let’s go make it happen.


JDRF’s Clinical Trials Connection provides people affected by type 1 diabetes (T1D) and its complications with up-to-date information on clinical trial participation opportunities.

Clinical Trials Connection is an online service that allows you to “opt-in” to get information about trials, and access to them. It contains information about all currently active diabetes trials in the U.S and U.K. Based on the criteria you choose, the connection provides you with information about selected trials and how to contact the researchers conducting them. You can also choose to receive regular updates so that you’ll know when new trials that meet your criteria become available. If you find a trial that interests you, you can discuss it with your doctor and also contact the trial’s primary investigator with any questions or concerns.

By Brian Herrick