Looping with Jamie – January 2019

After two years of sharing her experiences with the Medtronic 670G under the title “Diary of an Artificial Pancreas”, 14-year old Jamie Kurtzig has renamed her blog “Looping with Jamie”.  In each entry, she will continue to write about her day-to-day experiences living with type 1 diabetes (T1D), now using the DIY app-based system that connects a continuous glucose monitor and an insulin pump to her phone to bring automated insulin adjustments.  

By Jamie Kurtzig

January 1, 2019: Happy 2019, everyone! I hope that you had an amazing 2018 and that you will have an even better 2019. Looking back, 2018 was such a successful and interesting year. My family and I called it our “year of change”. Actually, a lot of things did change. I changed schools (and am now in high school!!!), I changed from taekwondo to fencing (it is really fun to stab people); I joined an orchestra and a chamber music class; it was my first time going to Central America (Costa Rica and Panama), Italy, and Ukraine; I am taking a class 100% in Spanish; I started looping. Wow! It really has been a big year. And, I cannot forget about this: the Hope Gala! For 2019, I hope that I can continue learning, spend more time with family and friends, travel even more, play some beautiful music, continue doing work for the JDRF (I will keep you posted on my next moves), and keep having fun! I wish you a great 2019.

Here is a picture of the A1C checker.

January 12: Today, I did my first at home A1C test which is like a blood sugar check, but instead of it reading off my current blood sugar number, it reads my average blood sugar over 3 months. An A1C of 9 means an average blood sugar of 212, and an A1C of 6 means an average blood sugar of 126. I am really happy that my A1C is 6.5 (average blood sugar of 140) according to this test. At diagnosis 13 years ago, my A1C was 13, and has hovered around 7 for the last 10 years. I am thrilled to be 6.5, and I give the credit to the loop system that I have been using since September! My A1C dropped about a half a point, and I spend about half as much time on my diabetes care since I am looping- a win win!

January 17: Today, Mary Oliver, an amazing poet passed away at 83 years old. I have loved writing and reading poetry for a really long time, but Mary Oliver has always been one of my favorite poets. This year, I am working my hardest to publish a book of poetry (I am hoping to have the proceeds go to the JDRF), and the fact that she was able to publish so many beautiful books of poetry really inspires me. My favorite quote of hers is: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” I have this quote on my wall, and it reminds me every day to be the best me I can be and to work my very hardest at improving the world. This quote reminds me how I need to keep trying to further research to find a cure because it would mean so much to so many other people worldwide -including me. In my life, I plan to help find a cure for type one diabetes. I have been doing everything I can to help accomplish this goal, so I really hope that everyone suffering from T1D (including me) can experience life without T1D. I encourage you to think about this question and ask yourself what you are doing with your one life. Maybe you will become a firefighter and save lives, maybe you will make someone the most delicious chocolate dessert, maybe you will cheer up a friend, maybe you will thank someone meaningful to you, maybe you will help find a cure too. Whatever you plan to do, make sure that you start NOW and do not wait to start making the world better.


Here is one of my favorite poems by Mary Oliver. It gives me so much hope that there are miracles happening all the time all around us -not only in the fairy tales.

January 22: I went to this fascinating talk by someone living with cystic fibrosis today. It was so interesting to hear about the science of CF, and also about what it is like living with the disease every day. Cystic fibrosis is a recessive genetic disease (I am studying genetics right now in biology) that affects the lungs and makes it hard for people with CF to breathe. She loves to sing, and it usually helps clear her lungs, but she also needs to be careful about when she sings. Today, she was not able to sing, but we got to hear a beautiful video of her singing: she had such a beautiful voice! She told us that she is not able to have a full time job, she has to take a bunch of antibiotics, she needs to visit the hospital frequently, she can’t come close to anyone else with CF, and she has to use a vibrating vest multiple times per day. She seemed so strong and like she had everything under control while she was speaking. She told us that she always puts her health first, so that was a good reminder for me to keep doing that. She also told us something I never knew before: CF sometimes causes a type of diabetes because the mucus scars the pancreas, causing them to become insulin-deficient. She said that she actually has this type of diabetes. She handled all of these challenges with such grace. I hope I can do the same.

January 31: I am so excited for my chamber music concert today! I am having my first ever chamber music concert today, which is a little nerve-wracking because chamber music is like playing in an orchestra with no conductor and with no one else on your part. I have practiced my pieces, and feel pretty much ready. I will be playing a Dancla trio, Terzetto by Dvorak, and a few pieces by Purcell. First, I have the trio, and I am playing first violin which means I have the melody. Everything is going well, but halfway through the piece, I miscount my repeated eighth notes and need a few seconds to find where my other chamber musicians are. In the last few bars of they piece, I end up playing E flats and B flats instead of E naturals and B naturals, so everything sounds really off to me. I feel pretty upset because I have been practicing the piece for about 6 months and I could basically sight read it on the first day. Why did I mess up? After the intermission, it is time for my Dvorak piece. I am determined to play this piece well, but I am nervous about playing this 16th note passage that has flats and double flats on almost every note! This is my favorite piece, and I have practiced this a lot, so when it comes time to play my 16th note passage, I do not crash. In the Purcell, I do not have any mishaps, so I am okay with that piece, but I am still wondering why I messed up on the first piece. Oh well, I guess every concert doesn’t go exactly as I want it to. I will have another opportunity in chamber music this spring, so I will be sure to prepare a little extra for that one. This is a reminder that not everything always goes according to plan – and it doesn’t even have anything to do with T1D (incidentally, my numbers were surprisingly in range during my concert which is unusual because my numbers usually skyrocket when I am nervous!)

Aloha! Jamie