Diary of An Artificial Pancreas – January 2018

Welcome to our JDRF Bay Area blog series, Diary of an Artificial Pancreas, written by 13-year-old Jamie Kurtzig. Each month, she shares 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.

January 10

I had my quarterly blood draw for my clinical trial just before Christmas. The study really only needs to test for my A1C, but my other endocrinology and GI doctors also need some regular bloodwork, so we try to combine them sometimes. We got GREAT news today overall! Although I seem to be fairly low in iron (we already ordered a gluten free iron supplement), my celiac numbers were finally in “normal” range. Since I was diagnosed in the fifth grade, I have never had negative celiac antibodies (the goal for people with celiac). But today, I discovered that I was negative! Of course, this does not mean that I don’t have celiac, it just finally means that my gut is finally healing. Yay! I learned that this meant that I’ve done a good enough job with avoiding gluten lately. I think that this is because we almost always eat certified gluten free food (if packaged) and we’ve been checking (when in doubt) with the NIMA a lot more this past year before I ate anything uncertain. I am giving a lot of credit to the NIMA because without it, I would probably still have positive antibodies. So if you have celiac, my advice to get negative antibodies is to eat mostly certified gluten free food and to use the NIMA!

January 18

Yay! I just finished all of my high school applications! I worked super hard on them all and learned about myself a lot too. Some asked me about a life-changing experience, my environment/how I have been raised, what I love doing, and even what my favorite movie is (I have two – Mrs. Doubtfire and The Princess Bride). I liked it how they were trying to get to know me as a person and what I am passionate about. In some of the essays, I did write about diabetes since having diabetes has definitely helped shape who I am and what I care about. I only applied to Marin high schools that I really, really love so no matter what happens come decision time in late March, it will be ok.

Here is one of the short answer essays I wrote about diabetes:

I have had type 1e diabetes for 12 years, and have been fundraising for a cure for almost as long. I was one year old, so I don’t remember my exact diagnosis, but I know the story from my parents. Before I was diagnosed, I would throw up often, be really thirsty, have little appetite, and lose weight (which is really weird for a baby). My parents were so upset when the doctors finally figured out what was wrong with me. When they learned that type 1 diabetes was a chronic disease without a cure, they knew our lives were about to change.

If I was given the option to have diabetes or not have diabetes, I would choose a cure in a heartbeat, but, I am glad that diabetes came into my life and made me the person I am today. I believe that type one diabetes has helped me to show more compassion for those around me because I know what it is like to have a problem that seems unsolvable. I can then sympathize with whatever problem they have, whether it is with doing their math homework or living with autism. It has helped me to see through to their hearts, and I believe this is part of what makes me who I am today. Living with type one diabetes has also taught me to be grateful for what I do have. I know that my pancreas is super lazy (that is what my family and I like to say about diabetes), but everything else for me – like my arms, legs, and brain – works. It also makes me thankful for all the other things I have like a house, an amazing family, healthy food and water, and kind friends.

Having diabetes has also opened doors that would never have opened if I did not have diabetes. I would not be writing a monthly blog for the JDRF. Also, my family and I are so thankful that we have been chosen as the 2018 Hope Gala Honorees.

January 27

Today, I had my dojang’s annual taekwondo tournament! I was super excited to represent my taekwondo school (Kim’s Martial Arts) and demonstrate my Poomsae (forms) and Kyroogi (sparring). I was actually not nervous (which may seem strange) for my forms competition. My mom, who is also competing in her adult division, has taught me that these tournaments are just to have fun and “show what you know.”  When I think of it that way, I am not so nervous.   I performed TaeBek this year.  It is one of the Black Belt forms and it is named after a city and mountain in South Korea.   I did it as best as I could that day and was proud of my effort – I got a silver medal.

Then, came sparring. Sparring is where you try to kick or punch the opponent and score as many points as possible. You get 1 point for a punch to the pads that makes your opponent off balance, 2 points for landing a kick to the pads and then 3 points for any jumping or spinning kick that connects with the opponents chest pad and also 3 points for any “controlled head shots.” Sparring may seem dangerous, and it can be, but I think it is actually really fun. I was really nervous for sparring because this is the first year that I get head shots!  I do not practice this a lot at my studio so I was not sure how this would go for me today. When the match started, my opponent came out with a bunch of head kicks; I tried to dodge them since quickness is one of my skills, but I was not quite prepared to combat the constant foot in my face.  At the end of the first round (we got two rounds of 90 seconds each), I was exhausted from kicking and dodging. My opponent today was clearly better than I was, but I refused to give up. Unfortunately, the second round began and was very similar to the first round. I lost. My face, mostly my nose, really hurt after the sparring match was over, but I still felt proud of myself for not giving up. Today taught me a really interesting lesson. It truly showed me the meaning of the quote, “Sometimes you win. Sometimes you learn.” by John Maxwell (we have it on the wall in our house). I have lost a few times before in sparring, but never so dramatically as today. I really learned that I need to be much more prepared for head shots and not rely on my quickness alone.


January 28

Yes! We went to a super fun event to raise money for the JDRF Hope Gala!  The JDRF’s YLC (Young Leadership Committee) organized a charity bike ride at the Soul Cycle South of Market in San Francisco. The class was packed – they sold out all 60+ bikes! By the end, I was a sweaty mess! There was super cool music and the exercises really pushed me and the JDRF raised over $2,500 from the ride. Thank you all! I had a great day! (My mom and I are at the back. I am in a black short sleeve t shirt with 2 white sleeve stripes.)

January 30

Tonight, we had our meeting for the Hope Gala at the new JDRF offices in San Francisco. The new offices were beautiful!  We have committee meetings in San Francisco once a month to prepare for the big day, May 19.  I signed up to help on every sub-committee like auction, Youth Ambassador, décor, etc.   One of my jobs for this month is to make the cool name badges for all of the Youth Ambassadors.   I wanted them to look cool and James Bondish, so I created a cool template and then worked in my school’s MAKER LAB with the laser cutter to create the sample. Here is the draft. They liked them!  I felt so proud. We will make some small changes and then I will make one for each Youth Ambassador.

It was so cool to be at the meeting and hear the good ideas that are being talked about and hear about all of the progress.  It takes a lot of work to put a Gala like this together!    Please, if you would like to volunteer, or if you have an idea for an auction item/would like to donate an auction item, or would like to make a donation, please click here:


Thank you so much for your support!