Welcome to our JDRF Bay Area blog series, Diary of an Artificial Pancreas, written by 13-year-old Jamie Kurtzig. Each month, she will share her day-to-day experiences living with the Medtronic MiniMed 670G closed-loop system, or Artificial Pancreas. Jamie, diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at 19-months old, participated in a clinical trial for this system with Stanford University in the summer of 2016. She was able to keep the system and has been living with it ever since.
By Jamie Kurtzig
May 1: Another thing that is just part of life with diabetes is how every few years, I have to go to the eye doctor. There is not anything wrong with my eyes,but if someone with diabetes didn’t take good enough care of themselves and their diabetes, then their eyes would start malfunctioning. I take care of my diabetes (well, I think I do….), so there is nothing to be worried about. But this is just an extra precaution. At my appointment with my awesome eye doctor, Dr. Good, he had me read letters while one eye was covered. I think that it is fun to do this and see how well I can see. Then, he made me look at this really bright light – which was hard for me since I have sensitive eyes- and then he put an eye drop in my eye to dilate my pupils. We waited for 30 minutes in the waiting room to see its effect on my eyes. Everything was normal and all good so we will see him again in 2 years.
May 5: Diabetes can never stop anyone from doing anything. Just because you have diabetes doesn’t mean that you can’t chase your dreams. For example, I have wanted to be on the 8th grade student council since I found out about it in the 5th grade after my first time voting in our school’s middle school elections. In my middle school, there are many positions. The positions are President, Girl’s Vice President, Boy’s Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, Spartan Captains, and Athenian Captains (spirit positions). I decided to run for Girl’s Vice President. I tried my hardest, told people what I was running for, made fun and unique posters, and wrote a speech telling people why they should vote for me. One big reason I talked about in my speech was how I had been a good leader at school since I was the team captain of our school’s JDRF One Walk team. We had over 100 people walk on our team and we raised over $54,000! Thanks, Diabetes, for offering me leadership practice! In my election speech, I even decided to do a rap – since people would never have expected me to do that! After the voting, I got really nervous because I just wanted to be on Student Council so badly. It was just one of those things that I really, really wanted. Then the results came late that night and said (drumroll please….) that Jamie Kurtzig was Girl’s Vice President. I was so happy and so excited that day. This is just to show you how if you want something badly enough and try your best, then often you can achieve it.
May 6: Today has been a historic day for me – I had my first ever growing pains! I have always been short. In fact, I am the shortest 7th grader still. And there are over 80 other kids in my grade. That is how short I am. I sometimes wonder if I am so short because of my early diabetes diagnosis or even my celiac disease. I guess I will never know for sure. But today, I know I was growing – I felt it. It was a very big discovery for me that I would not be so tiny forever. Today, I also noticed that I came up much higher in comparison to my mom than I have before. Last I paid attention, I was at her heart level. Today, I am at her smile. At first, I was shocked, then kind of excited, and then……sad. I like being short. It is who I have been and who I am. My 5 foot 3 mom assured me that I would not likely become a giant, but that I would be small and mighty.
May 7: Today, my parents explained all about the Hope Gala that was last weekend. The Hope Gala is a giant annual black tie fundraiser where there is a cocktail reception, a silent and live auction, a Fund A Cure, a nice dinner, and lots of music and dancing. My parents said that they raised almost $2 million dollars at just that one event! Wow! My mom said her favorite fundraising game was where the last person to raise their paddle won two tickets to Hamilton (an amazing musical!). The thing is, every time you raised your paddle to try to win those tickets, you gave $500 to the JDRF. My parents said that the auctioneer would say “going once, going twice…” and then a dozen people’s paddles would go up. The game finally ended and my parents were not the lucky winners for that game. BUT, we are the lucky ones about something else! They also announced that night that my family gets to be the honorees for the next Hope Gala on May 19, 2018 (the 20th anniversary Hope Gala and also MY BIRTHDAY!). Please come and support us and JDRF next year on May 19 – save the date now. I am super excited for it. It will be an awesome day and event. I hope you come!
May 11: Today was Mother’s Day and I made my mom lots of cool gifts – she likes homemade ones the best. We had a really nice time having lunch at Stinson Beach and playing catch and keep-away at the beach. I am glad that my mom had such an awesome Mother’s Day because she deserves it. It is her favorite holiday of all! She always tells us how special we are, especially on this day – and she tells me that I am extra special because I am the one who made her a mom!
May 19: Yay! Today I officially turned 13! I am nervous to go into my teen years, but I will still enjoy the process. We went out to a nice dinner at my favorite restaurant Benihana. Benihana is soooo good about celiac disease folks – they cleaned the grill well and madeall of my food first so that there was no cross contamination. They even had gluten free soy sauce ready for me. Highlights of the evening were when the whole restaurant sang happy birthday to me in Japanese and English, being with my family and when my uncle shoved a bowl of rice in my dad’s face. After dinner, the celebration continued at my favorite ice cream store Humphrey Slocombe. All of their flavors are gluten free too except the few with malt or cookies/brownies/baked stuff in it. I got my favorite – peanut butter fudge ripple.
May 20: Today, I had a tiny, little problem. Alright, maybe it was bigger. We had a night without the Medtronic sensor (I had an unexpected sensor failure late at night and my parents were out). When they got home, they decided not to put a new one in because you have to calibrate in 2 hours from the time you put one in and then again within 6 more hours or it beeps like crazy and still does not work in auto mode. So, my parents decided to try for a “normal pump only” good night of sleep. It did not work out. They slept some but my blood sugars were not close to range for their 6 sleeping hours. I ended up being 240 most of the night and did not feel that great in the morning. Nights like this really showed me how amazing my sensor is when it is in auto mode and renewed my gratitude for having it.
May 21: I love to run and I am on the track team for my school. I had my final meet today where I ran the 100 meter, the 200 meter, and did the long jump. I have noticed at track meets or other sporting or nerve racking events, that my blood sugar sometimes goes up just because I am nervous. This is interesting to me that my feelings affect my blood sugars. I cannot exactly prevent being nervous but I will pay attention next time I am really nervous and see what happens to my blood sugars. It is also interesting to know that when you do short distances like I do, my BG went up since my adrenaline was pumping. However, when I was running cross country and longer distances, my blood sugar would go down since I was exercising for a much longer time. Fascinating isn’t it all! Thank goodness the 670G can handle some of this basal rate modulation need.
May 30: I am excited to share with you the link to my TV interview with Stanford News about the 670G that I did last month– it just came out. Here it is! I hope you like it!