Diary of An Artificial Pancreas – March & April 2018

Welcome to our JDRF Bay Area blog series, Diary of an Artificial Pancreas, written by 13-year-old Jamie Kurtzig. In each entry, 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.

Here is a photo of my friends and I at the Mother Daughter Weekend! We had so much fun!

March 10-11
Yay! I am at the Mother Daughter Weekend organized by Carb DM, and I am having a great time. When we got there, we met all of the other moms and daughters, and learned about mother-daughter communication. There was a panel of mother-daughter teams who talked about how they got through the teen years while living with type one diabetes. I thought it was fascinating how two of the three daughters (who were grown-up counselors) did not tell many people that they had diabetes. I have always told everyone that I have diabetes, and they understand that it is not type 2 diabetes (like people usually think automatically when they hear “diabetes”). It was also interesting to hear that the moms still help the daughters with diabetes when they are just needing a break or if there is something big going on in their lives. During the panel, I learned that it is always good to ask for help when you need it (everyone needs help sometimes!), and that you should focus on the positive instead of on the negative side of going through teen years with diabetes.

This is my mom and I together- don’t I look different with makeup and my hair done?

At dinner, we got our hair done and got makeovers- it was my first one! I looked so different! The next day, there was this amazing presenter about how you can be creative about living life with T1D. She had written parodies of several songs and she turned the words into ones about diabetes. Her first song that she performed in front of is was “Mother Says Test” to the tune of Mother Knows Best” from Tangled. Next, she sang/rapped “My Shot” from Hamilton. It was amazing! We then split off into groups to do creative projects relating to T1D. My group and I (along with the presenter) made a parody of “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana (we turned it into “How Low I’ll Go”!), and “Firework” by Katy Perry (we turned it into “Bleeping Mess” about how the pump is always alarming). It was so fun! If you haven’t gone, I recommend going!

March 16
I just found out which high schools I got into, and I am super excited! I got into San Domenico, Marin Academy, and Stanford Online. I got waitlisted at Branson. And I decided to got to …… (drumroll please)………. Marin Academy and Stanford Online! Now, I know what you’re thinking- how can she be going to 2 schools? Well, I am going full-time at MA and taking one course per year at Stanford OHS. It was such a hard decision to make because I have gone to San Domenico for basically my whole life, but I was ready for a little change. Deciding which school to go to really made me question the kind of person I wanted to be. I decided that I wanted to be at a forward-minded school that fosters a love of learning as well as happiness. I wanted to be at a school that would give me a healthy balance of schoolwork, family, friends, extracurricular activities, work for the JDRF, and “me time” (as I like to call it- everyone needs it!). What  do you think is important to have in your life? What are your priorities moving forwards? I am so excited for next year, and I will definitely let you know about how it is next year!

I loved the flags I saw when I was driving to the Tee to Table Event!

March 16
Today is going to be a great day! I am going to the Tee to Table event, and I am so excited! I have never been before, but I am coming today to gather ideas for the Hope Gala. It was Cuba themed, and everything was super brightly colored. There were tons of crazy costumes too! There was one person who had a giant, colorful hat that was about two feet tall! She really went all out. Also, I thought it was super cool how they had a “Shoot for A Cure” basketball activity. I did not do it (I am absolutely terrible at basketball), but I really liked the idea. During the dinner, there was a fund-a-cure speaker who was in high school. It was so inspiring and interesting to hear from him. I am trying to make my speech as inspiring and interesting as his was! It was an amazing night and I had a fabulous time!

March 18
Yes! The Hope Gala is almost sold out! I am so happy to see so many people supporting this great cause. However, if you would like to come but found out that it is already sold out, you can make a donation for the Fund A Cure or donate auction items for the live and/or silent auction.

March 21
This year, I am trying out soccer to see if I like it so that I can play it in high school. It is pretty tricky because everyone has been playing for a lot longer than I have, but I am really enjoying it. Whenever I go low or high, I can always step out for a moment because I told my coach that I have type one diabetes and how she can support me if I do need to adjust something. If you have a coach and have diabetes, I really encourage you to tell your coach about it so that they aren’t confused when you do go low or high. Also, never be afraid to try a new sport or new anything. Just know that nothing can stop you on the field- even diabetes. I hope this helps!

March 25
Today I am going to the Diabetes Summit. I have decided that I am going to the kid’s group in the morning and to the adult break-out sections in the afternoon. In the morning, I met some kids my age, one of which I had also met at the Mother Daughter Weekend. We listened to a diabetic athlete talk about how diabetes couldn’t stop him- even through his amazing athletic feats. It was so inspiring to hear how people with diabetes can do amazing things. I thought that if they can do it, then why can’t I do it? I may not want to be a marathon runner, but I will follow my heart and try to inspire others while doing it. In the afternoon, I went to the sessions: “How tight is too tight?” and a class about how to hand off responsibility to the child. The first session was answering the question, “Is a tighter range of desired blood sugar numbers always better?” I learned that people wanting tighter control are more likely to get hypoglycemia. I thought that was fascinating. Next, I learned that the transition of diabetes control should be a gradual process and that it is probably not going to be linear. Many kids just have times when they get tired from taking care of their diabetes, so it might shift back to their parents a little bit. I learned a lot and had fun while doing so!

Me pretending to be the President of the United States!

April 9-13
Yes! This week, I am going to Washington DC for my school field trip! Even though it has been really tiring (we are getting on a bus to go to D.C. at 2:30 A.M. and getting back to California at 1:00 A.M. California time- 4:00 A.M. D.C. time), it has been a blast. If you name a place in DC, we saw it. My favorite places were the Library of Congress (I LOVE BOOKS!), the Arlington National Cemetery (we saw the Changing of the Guard), and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. It was so inspiring, but they need a statue or something to recognize everyone living with type one diabetes. However, dealing with diabetes and celiac on the trip was pretty difficult. My mom came with me (and she brought the NIMA and a whole suitcase full of gluten-free food), and that definitely made it easier for me. For breakfast every day, there was a buffet of eggs, pastries, cereal, ham, fruit, and potatoes, so I would get milk, fruit, and potatoes every day (I didn’t like the eggs or ham). For lunch, every day was different, but none of them were gluten free! One day, I went to this family-owned restaurant who said that they had a gluten-free salad. However, I ate some of it before my mom found out it wasn’t gluten-free (she used the NIMA)! The owner was devastated, but we learned that it was probably because of cross-contamination (it was an Italian restaurant). ☹ I ended up eating rice cakes, peanut butter, and bars for lunch every day! Dinner was different every day, but it was okay  since almost all of the days were buffets. There was one day though, where we had to wait for our dinner until about 8:30! It did not look gluten-free to me, so I asked my mom to check, and it had gluten! That was annoying. I had an amazing trip, but it was challenging to manage diabetes and celiac while on the trip! Me pretending to be the President of the United States!

April 21
Today, I had my placement tests at my new high school! I am trying to get into Algebra II Honors, Spanish II, and the Advanced Chamber Ensemble. I did get testing accommodations (like I usually do), but today they were a little bit different. I typically get 50% extra time in case I go low, high, or if I need to care for my diabetes, but today they arranged to stop my clock every time I did any diabetes care. I also had a violin audition to play music at MA. I played my two songs: Elfentanz (it means Dance of the Elves) and Air Varie, and then sight-read (when you read music that is new and play it) a piece (that was really hard for me! I need more practice on sight reading!). The day went pretty smoothly, but I don’t know which courses I get into until mid-May. Keeping my fingers crossed that I did well! Before and during my math placement test, I was running really high- like 300s. I noticed that before and during the first part of any test/performance/etc. I usually run really high because I am nervous (like before my SSAT I went really high). I think that my BG numbers calm down after the first bit because I realize that it is not as bad as I was expecting it to be! Next time, I should remember to bolus extra!