Diary of An Artificial Pancreas – February 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.

Feb 7
I just finished having an interview about the 670G pump and how it could be better. The interview was by a market research company that was wanting feedback about Medtronic’s product. It was super cool of them to ask for feedback on their product (I sometimes have trouble taking feedback). Some of the main pieces of feedback that I had was the ability to set a lower target blood sugar, the ability to do remote monitoring, the ability to do combo boluses, and the ability to better handle highs. Currently, the lowest target blood sugar you can set is 120, which is perfect during the day. But, at night, I wish that I could set it to 90 so I could wake up at about 100. Also, I REALLY wish that the pump had share capabilities. This would make life so much better and I do not see how anyone would not buy it if it had share. Also, you can do combo boluses when you are in manual mode but not in auto mode. I find this so weird. Lastly, I wish that the pump could give boluses for highs instead of a simple basal rate adjustment. I love the pump, but if I was working on the 671G pump (that is my made up name for the next version of the pump), I would try to include these features. Some of these research studies also pay money for your feedback! Silver linings!

Feb 16
Today was my middle school dance (Hawaiian themed by the way). Since I am on student council, I helped to plan it and set up for it. Right away, I asked a teacher where I could set my purse that would be safe. I didn’t want to have my purse on me the whole time, but I wanted it to still be safe. I ended up putting it in a classroom. I went low a few times and I just took a break from dancing and ate some food I brought from home so it was gluten free. I had an amazing time. It was so much fun!

My family picked me up from the dance and we went straight to the airport!! We had an overnight flight to Panama/Costa Rica for a 6 day Backroads MultiSport family trip. San Francisco Airport is always very thorough and picky about our carry on supplies and food bags and we usually have to take a bit of time at security, but they did not confiscate anything this time when we showed our doctor note saying that what we had was medically necessary. I was so happy to get on the plane. Mom said I fell asleep the second we took off at 12:40 am!

Winter Break Week:
I love Backroads and Costa Rica! We did so much cool stuff and I absolutely loved every second of it. We climbed a waterfall and jumped off (see my video link!), went surfing, biked on the beach and across banana and papaya plantations, went horseback riding, hiked, went white water rafting, ziplining, rapelling and more. I want to let you all know that diabetes did not hold me back in any way – I did all of the activities that the other kids on our trip did (10 other kids) and I had so much fun with them all! I even got to practice speaking Spanish a lot! We got to stay in a tent camp called RAFIKI LODGE – it was amazing and in the middle of nowhere – we hiked a couple of miles in and then rafted out – how cool is that!?

Do a Backroads trip if you can! Costa Rica was definitely amazing for families and we heard that the Switzerland one is awesome for families too!

My sensor did come off at an unplanned time so we changed it and were back up and running in a few hours. With all the activities, I did need to wear the arm band to keep my sensor on after that. The time change was only a few hours, so no big deal.

At the Sugar Cane Plantation! Too bad I was not low here!

We did not really know about the gluten free ness of food in Costa Rica before we went, but the great news is that most of it was gluten free according to Nima. I had the traditional Costa Rican breakfast most mornings – gallo pinto – beans and rice and also friend plantains – all GF!

Feb 23:
Today we left Costa Rica and flew a short flight (75 minutes) to Panama. There were no issues with our supplies or food at either airport. Panama is just south and east of Costa Rica. I remember the order of the Central American countries with this mnemonic: BIG GUYS EAT HAMBURGERS, NOT CRUNCHY PEANUTS (Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama). Today has been an amazing day in beautiful Panama. We went on a nature boat ride (we saw toucans, crocodiles, and fed bananas to monkeys from our hands) on Gatun Lake (man-made lake made for the Canal) and learned about the Panama Canal. The engineering of the Panama Canal is amazing. We walked around Old Town (my grandma thought Old Town looked like New Orleans for architecture) and before our Uber came, my mom saw a frozen yogurt place that said gluten free all over it – “Forever Yogurt.” We had to go check it out! We went in and saw that frozen yogurt products that would not usually be gluten free (like cookie flavors) were actually gluten free.

When the owner saw that we were impressed about the gluten free-ness of everything, she came over and told us that her sister had celiac. She was really kind and showed us how she even divided the topping bar into a gluten free section and a non gluten free section to prevent cross contamination! We had never been anyplace that did that because usually people don’t even know about cross contamination. I felt so happy! Thank you for caring so much!! The amazing owner also told us about a restaurant to go to for dinner on our last night called Makoto – it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had! They also had a gluten free menu! Thank you Panama!

I cannot say the same good things about COPA Airlines. We pre-ordered gluten free meals on all of the plane flights, but NONE passed the test. In fact, one even said HIGH GLUTEN on the Nima. Thank goodness we always travel with food (and the Nima) so it was more peanut butter and GF crackers and carrot sticks for me on the plane. Please always travel with back up food if you have celiac or food allergies. By the way, Nima just came out with a peanut sensor too!