Should it Really Be Called………an Artificial Pancreas?

Artifical RealLet’s be one million percent clear from the onset: I, like the rest of the diabetes world, would love nothing better but to see a CGM communicate with an insulin pump for better control and to alarm the world when things derail.  It would, and will, revolutionize the management of type 1 diabetes.  But the more I speak to people newly into this diabetes world of ours, there is an inherent problem I’m finding with what is commonly being called an artificial or bionic pancreas.  In speaking to people at the ADA conference this week my feelings were not completely unique.  Inasmuch as many believe that a good deal of people completely ‘get it’, many also think that others might think this device will be almost like placing diabetes in automatic……and it is this thought of which I caution.

I, personally, hate the name artificial pancreas.  It isn’t.  Now it may be we get to the point of a rose is a rose by any other name but the device, as great as it will be, does not do things that a pancreas does…dispense glucagon being just one (although the plan is that the ‘bionic’ pancreas will some day).  And in looking at ways the word ‘artificial’ is used, even when looking at an artificial heart, does it really fit, as is present, in our diabetes world?

When people think of something artificial, they think of it being as close a substitute to the real thing as possible.  When these devices are hitting the market and ready to go in everyday use they will be fabulous. To me….TO ME (just me, my opinion), I think there is a better name for two electronic devices speaking to each other to monitor and dispense fluid than calling it something that it’s not; as darn good as it may become some day.  Perhaps, Integrated Insulin Delivery And Monitoring System–The IIDAMS (hmmmmmmm marketing gurus just might have a field day with THAT name;  ‘IIDAMS diabetes forever’ catch phrase….hmmmmmmm).

This is just me and I have never stated I knew any answers.  What do you think?  Do you think the name ‘Artificial, Bionic, AP, Electronic, Pancreas’, suits it?   What would you name these devices about to hit the market?
Just a thought I had…..chime in.
I am a DiabetesDad.
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Stop Discussing the POINT……..Discuss the Truth of Knowledge.

knowledgeI saw a great saying on-line recently.

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is knowing not to include it in a fruit salad.

Sometimes we know things but do we put into practice what we know?  Are we more interested in defending a stance than opening up our minds and our hearts to learn something by really thinking about what someone else states.

I saw a discussion recently and I won’t go into specifics because my goal is not to re-ignite the discussion.  But as I followed the thread of a few of the discussions; it left the point of the original idea and turned into a ‘taking sides’ and ‘I know what is right for my child’.

Now this is true.  We do know what is right for our child but do we know what we do not know?  We have made many decisions for our two kids with diabetes in their lives and in as much as we weigh all discussion points, we also must open our minds in trying to know what we don’t know.  Otherwise we would never grow and their care would never  adjust to the better tools that are both out there and are yet to come.

Case in point and I share this with you with the understanding that I’m not opening up a discussion but rather showing a process in my life.

Since the first time I heard a presentation on the artificial pancreas I, quite frankly, have never been a fan.  Logically and in practicality it just did not make sense to me that it could work as stated.  I stayed out of the many discussions of so many swearing that it is the best thing since insulin, and that may very well be true, but I did not know enough about it to discuss.  I just knew in my mind that the delay and absorption of insulin was too delayed and if people can not presently dispense insulin based on a cgm (legally, anyway), and utilizing just insulin instead of utilizing glucagon also…..well…all of it just did not add up, to me.  I thought that it might be interesting, but not yet.  When I first heard about it, it was like hearing research news in a mouse; could be good, but we’ll see.

But I kept an open mind.  I thought what I was hearing was ‘a step’, but not the answer.  Steps are important in science and it surely was a first step.  I investigated what one was researching and another and another….but all in the same pattern, to me. 

Sometimes when we hear what we think we are hearing, we miss anything new.  So I always try to go to the source.  And that is important.  If you want to know something, go to the source, weigh what you hear and decide for YOU.  Do not discuss someone’s opinion because you think they know.  If you do not know…..find out.  I have found out more times than less, that people do not REALLY know, they know a little and relay only what they know.  Always go to the source and find out.

Back to the artificial/bionic pancreas.  So during my journey, my friend Marie keeps telling me about this guy named Ed Damiano and his bionic pancreas (as he calls it).  When I had the opportunity to hear Ed, I went and heard with an open mind.  I was stubborn at first because I ‘thought’ I had heard enough.  But I went to hear from the source.

What I learned, to me, is that Ed has the real deal.  The first time I heard of anything utilizing both insulin and glucagon (although now I understand there are more working toward that end).

My point here is not about the AP or the Bionic Pancreas.  My point is that if I listened to only the people who thought as I did, I would have shut my mind forever.  When I had the chance, I went to the source and I learned a ton.

Paraphrasing the German writer (among other things) Goethe, one can not argue the point of someone elses experience unless they have actually experienced the same thing. 

So the point being, if you do not know something, learn it. Experience it for yourself.  If it is a pump, an insulin, a CGM, what to do, what not  to do, a doc, an endo, and on and on……never take at face value what someone tells you.  Whether it is about you, your child, something you heard, or anything else for that matter.

Always…….go to the source and seek knowledge.  For it is knowledge that is the best caretaker of all of us and it is wisdom that tells us how to use it.

I am a diabetes dad.

Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’

My Heart was Not Ready…..Does it Happen to You?

panicAt what point do we ever let go?

I was in the bathroom getting ready and was unable to get to my phone.  In a matter of about 30 seconds my cell phone went off twice with messages, rang once, and my hotel room phone rang twice.

Kaitlyn and I were traveling this weekend with the CWD conference; Focus on Technology in Virginia.  With my heart racing a mile a minute, I was convinced something was wrong, and raced out of the bathroom to find out that it was just a text message I had sent that a friend was trying to clarify.

No one did anything wrong.  But I panicked.

It took me a while to relax and I had to focus the anger that I felt toward my good friend who was trying to contact me.   But that was not the problem. The problem was with me.  It caught me at a moment when I knew nothing wrong could ever happen to Kaitlyn or Rob; they are old enough now….right?

It was a big error in judgement on my part to think that diabetes would ever be ‘done with them’.  It won’t be until we cure it once and for all.  We cannot build this false sense of security, ever, that we are ‘out of the woods.’   Something will happen to remind us otherwise.  Today was my reminder.

Clearly knowing that it was February 3rd, “23”, the reminder of that fateful day when a friend lost her son.  Perhaps I was ‘on edge’ to begin with, but I dropped my guard.  I should know better.  I panicked at a series of calls that were nothing more than a series of calls.  But it was the perfect reflection furthering the point that we should always be on guard with our kids; and always in touch with them.

We need to cure diabetes.  I had a great conversation with Ed Damiano this weekend and he made a point that I found absolutely fabulous; the ‘artificial pancreas’ by the very nature of its name, will tell you that it is not a cure: “Artificial”.  A management tool at best.  Although it might be a good one, time will tell.  He is working on an extremely promising management tool called a bionic pancreas, as he calls it.  All much anticipated tools for the diabetes tool kit.

So to me; a cure must be a cure must be a cure.  We need to re-find  and rekindle that focus as a community and challenge those working toward that end to work expeditiously; tomorrow is too far away.

Nothing else will do.

I am a diabetes dad.

Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.