Yesterday we went to a diabetes gathering put on by the fairly new nonprofit Maine P-PODS (Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MainePPODS) featuring Ed Damiano and Ryan Reed as speakers. The BHE gets major props for driving through a slushy snowstorm, entertaining the Bear through two long sessions of adults talking, and spending an entire afternoon at a diabetes day.
It was a nice event – about 8-10 tables of medical device companies, diabetes organizations, and information. And we got to meet up with some new friends whose daughter is the same age as the Bear & was dxd in the fall. I was most interested in going to hear Ed Damiano but I really had no idea…
No idea that I would be swept away by the bionic pancreas — I’ve read the articles, blog posts, etc. about participants’ experiences and what the bionic pancreas can do. I think too many years of hearing about the cure (“only 10 years away!”), all those mice being forced to have diabetes and then getting cured of their diabetes, and new devices that promise more than they can deliver has been getting in the way of me being excited about the b.p. I’ve kept up more of a distance – sure, that sounds like very good technology and I’m sure it will be available someday, but who knows when.
Listening to Damiano caught me hook, line, and sinker. He’s a D-parent (which I knew but it’s different hearing a dad talk about his kid, show toddler pictures, and clearly see that he “gets it.”), and has watched this algorithm/device make a huge difference on the ground. He has seen the results when pre-teens, teens, adults really put the device/algorithm through its paces – playing hard, eating meals that would be near-impossible to manage even on the pump, going through their daily routines. He really understands what it could mean to not make diabetes decisions, to live life without thinking about these details every moment. He understands what his team is working towards – that it isn’t a cure, it isn’t trying to be a cure, it is solving one very complicated problem that could improve quality of life exponentially. He gets that this solution will still require T1s to wear a device and to have insertion sites so all of that better be as good as it can be.
The bionic pancreas could let me sit down to eat and just eat. If anyone without T1 (or who doesn’t care for someone with T1) is reading this, I’m sure that sounds like a very undramatic statement. To me, it is almost as implausible sounding as me traveling to Mars. We could all go to sleep and I wouldn’t have to think that if I didn’t get up at 2:30 to test our daughter’s blood sugar she might not wake up in the morning. I would not have to wonder if she would still be breathing in the morning. I can’t remember what that was like, not thinking that.
I had tears in my eyes during parts of his talk. I felt that scary feeling of daring to hope for something. I still don’t think I can believe that it might be available in the fall of 2017 (when Damiano’s son is due to go off to college – his goal) – but it’s hard not to believe that it will be available. That is more than I have hoped for a long time.
Here is a video that he shared during his presentation – the Helmsley Trust made the video of the trials that were done at the Clara Barton and Joslin summer camps in 2013: http://sites.bu.edu/bionicpancreas/stories/ The more people who see this video the better.
I hope that every person with or affected by T1 gets to experience something this year that makes them feel hopeful about better days ahead. Whether it is a scientist talking about advances, a new friend who gets it and makes them feel less alone, or a no-hitter on their CGM — we all need to feel better about the future.