Friday, November 4, 2011
*This* Artificial Pancreas Gets A Fail
Earlier this week, the JDRF – the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation – took out a huge nearly full page ad in the Washington Post and the New York Times. A gorgeous little girl stared out, and the caption read “1 in 20 people, like Piper, will die from low blood sugar.”
1 in 20. That’s a startling statistic. More than startling, heart-wrenching. I have nearly 300 Facebook friends all of whom have a child with type 1 – does that mean I will cry for 15 children whose lives will be cut short by diabetes? Or will I… no, I can’t even think of that right now.
The advertisements were not to raise awareness of type 1 diabetes, per se, or even fund raise, which JDRF is incredible at, but rathre it was to – in some crazy, somewhat roundabout way – encourage/coerce the Food and Drug Administration to move quicker on approval for the JDRF’s pet project, the Artificial Pancreas, a computerized, closed loop system which integrates an insulin pump system and a continuous glucose monitor. Essentially (and very basically, I know I'm missing the finer points), the AP would dispense insulin in response to blood glucose needs, no human interaction needed. Well, almost, you know what I mean.
Now, quite a few parents are not as happy with JDRF’s new direction as JDRF would like them to be, and I can certainly see why.
Incredible as it might be for an individual with type 1 diabetes to not have to worry about the mechanics of blood sugar control, which would be taken over by the AP, those individuals would still have type 1 diabetes.
I watched an incredible video the other day, which followed a group of children in Israel who were all given the opportunity to test drive the artificial pancreas. It really is heart-warming to watch it, though I must admit that the little girl who said that diabetes took up half of her life saddened me. A lot.
At the end of the video, all I could think of was cool. If I had an AP for Alex I would love it. Even if it meant she had electrodes coming out of her little body and was hooked to a laptop computer strung off her back in a laptop for the rest of her life.
And then I thought to myself, is that you really want for your daughter? To be physically tethered to a machine for the rest of her days? That’s not a real life. She’d still have type 1 diabetes.
Low blood sugar. It is an anathema to we type 1 parents. It’s scary enough during the day. We scurry for juice, glucose, anything to bring our child’s bg up. Today we hit a nauseatingly ugly 35, with 1.75 IOB. It wasn’t pretty. Alex dropped down onto the coffee table and wailed “I’m low.” No need. I could see that, shaky and pale, with tears welling up and spilling over. Good grief.
An artificial pancreas? Forget it, she’s got one already and it sucks. I mean, I just nearly killed her.
I’ll just wait. I’ll take one cure, please, thank you.