Diary of An Artificial Pancreas – December 2018

Welcome to our JDRF Bay Area blog series, Diary of an Artificial Pancreas, written by 14-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.

By Jamie Kurtzig

Finals: FUN! FUN! FUN! I have my first high school finals this week. I am so nervous since a few of my grades are teetering on the edge. This weekend, I basically spent the whole entire time studying at my house. I might have left the house once. When I had math finals in middle school (that was the only real final I had), I could always just study the day before and do well on it, but now times have changed and school is harder. For the finals, I have something called “stop the clock”. I get to stop the clock (basically the same as a time out) whenever I feel low or high. I actually never ended up using this, but this would have been super helpful if I did feel out of range.

Biology was my first final, and that was pretty straight forward with everything pretty much the same as it was on the study guide. Next, I had English which is a little bit harder for me. I really love writing (especially this blog!), but I feel like there are so many different ways that you can grade writing. It is definitely not as black and white as multiple choice.
On the second day, I had my Spanish and History finals. These are both tricky subjects for me, especially Spanish. I think that I spent double the amount of time studying for Spanish and English as I did for all of the other subjects combined. I am hoping that it paid off!

On the last day, I just had math. I was feeling really confident walking into the exam because I calculated what I needed to keep the grade I wanted. I knew that there would be “stretch” problems (these are problems where it asks us to stretch our brains and apply things that we have already learned to a more difficult problem), but I have done well on those in the past. It was way harder than I thought! However, I feel like solving difficult problems is the real world for so many careers. Most jobs are not simply repetitive tasks, but they are jobs that ask you to think and question. This is, after all, what scientists do every day.

Banana boating: I am on vacation in Hawaii. Yay! Today I am going banana boating and bumper boating with my family! I did this a few years ago, and I fell off both the banana boat and the bumper boat which was very humbling since my brother (who was 5 or 6 at the time) and my grandma were the only ones able to stay on. This year, however, I am determined to not fall off. At the end of the 20 minutes of banana boating, I was so happy that I didn’t fall off!

But then, there was bumper boating. We went around a super sharp corner and my body fell off but my hands stayed on. I trailed on the edge for a little while, but then I couldn’t hang on any more. Nooo! I fell off. When I got back onto the boat, I saw something floating in the ocean. It was small and white with plastic on it and a little needle sticking out on the other side. It couldn’t be my sensor since I put an armband on it and my armband was still on. It was my set! I guess that my set got ripped off when I was holding on to the boat while my body was in the ocean. That really changed our plans we did not take a back up set – a rookie mistake). Should we stay for jet skiing or go home to change my set? We decided to stay for the rest of the bumper boating (like 5 minutes more), but not for jet skiing since my blood sugar was already creeping up. I am reminded that diabetes can sometimes change plans and that we always need to be flexible.

My brother and I having so much fun on the bumper boat.

New Year’s and resolutions: I am so excited for 2019! I always love New Year’s and New Years Eve because it is a chance to start again and to be a better you. I always make New Year’s resolutions, and this year, I am so excited to do them! Here are my resolutions:

1.Get an internship in medicine maybe working with gene editing, analyzing data, or doing anything I can related to T1D. I am really interested in medical science, and would love to get some experience in the real world.
2.Publish my poetry book. I have been working on this project for a really long time, since in my free time, I write poetry. I now have a draft of 100 poems, so hopefully I can publish it sometime in 2019. I will definitely show it to you here once I publish it! I want the proceeds to go to diabetes research.
3.Get into the MARC Program. This is a super cool program at my school that is 2 years (junior and senior year) and it lets you explore any scientific problem you want. I think this is so cool!
4.Give a few speeches for JDRF. I have had the amazing opportunity to give a few speeches this year, and I would love to keep doing this in 2019 since I feel like I need to spread the word about T1D and how people can help or learn more.
5.Get good grades. I know that learning is always most important, but I still want to do this!
6.Read Harry Potter in Spanish. I have made a lot of progress in Spanish this year since I am only allowed to speak in Spanish and since the teacher only speaks in Spanish for the whole 80 minute class.
7.Play a piece (on the violin) from each country I visit and learn the story of each piece and it’s composer. I want to improve my violin skills, so I think that it would be super interesting and valuable for me to learn the story of each piece. I think it might help me be more passionate about the pieces I am currently working on. Right now, I am working on Polish Dance by Edmund Severn, a composer born in Britain in 1862, but moved to Connecticut when he was 4. He went to Berlin to learn the Joachim bowing which is extremely difficult-except for people with long arms. He had a medium length arm, so he worked really hard to be able to
do it, and when he learned it, he came back to the United States to teach it for 8 years. His most famous piece is Polish Dance (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3BvkYpP_K8).
8.Make a friend in every place I visit and keep in touch with them. I want to continue to travel and explore, but I feel like when I have traveled, I am more of a tourist. I want to become more of a traveler instead of just a tourist.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or any other holidays, I hope that you have an amazing winter and holiday season.
My annual jump in the pool on New Year’s morning with my pajamas on.