Rekindling Hope

Screenshot of article at Insulin Nation

Insulin Nation features a story on the bionic pancreas

Hope is a strange thing for someone who has lived with diabetes for as long as I have.

It’s there.

Deep inside me somewhere.

But it’s dormant; smothered to sleep by decades of failed promises and premature excitement (usually involving cured mice).

Ed Damiano showed me something pretty amazing at the CWD Focus on Technology conference recently, and I felt a glimmer. It was like he had a bellows and was delicately nursing to life the embers of hope in me.

The Bionic Pancreas – the tagline on the website is “using mathematics to treat diabetes …five minutes at a time.

This bionic pancreas is not a cure. It is exactly what it sounds like. A bionic pancreas. Which is kind of what we have now, but with a couple of weak links. We are one weak link, and our crippled glucagon response is the other (that last one is complicated, and beyond the scope of this post).

Ed and his team have created a system that uses existing technology (a Dexcom G4, an iPhone, and two Tandem tSlim pumps) to make a new decision about insulin and glucose dosing every five minutes. I won’t get into the studies and details here, it’s all on their website. But I will say that they are on-track (with an aggressive trial schedule) for commercialization in 2017.

The online publication, Insulin Nation, pictured above, has a lot of information in their story, and I encourage you to check it out. Ed has also been featured on a bunch of different websites and presents regularly. Just plug his name into Google and you’ll find more information than you can handle.

What really stoked the hope fire in me was the description of getting back to a normal life. To sit down at a meal and not think about the grams of carbohydrates, but to only need to tell the system if this meal is larger or smaller than average for you.

Can you even imagine?

And it’s almost here.

2017 is an important marker for Ed Damiano. That is the year that his son, who lives with type 1 diabetes, goes off to college.

If he’s willing to strap this thing onto his own child, I’m willing to give it a try too.

I can’t think of better way to close this post than to quote a friend of mine, Sean, who sat next to me as we listened to Ed.

But most of all I learned about hope.  More specifically, about watching in wonder as dormant and forgotten hope is revived before your very eyes into something stronger and more vital than it ever was before you lost it.


Today, though, I feel like I have seen the future, and a future which is not at all far away.  I have seen it in tremendous detail, for that is how it was shown to me.  I have seen pictures, and data, and technology, and journal articles, and a device, and a patent, and–perhaps most importantly–the unbridled passion of a man who I KNOW will make it happen.  I know this not because his passion is contagious (it is), not because his results are stunning (they are), but because he has already made it happen.



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26 thoughts on “Rekindling Hope

  1. I will accept anything if it helps prevent the big fluctuations in my blood sugar. I would do jut about anything to not have lows 3-4 times per week and the sub request highs as well. I would give anything to be able to feel confident that the next time I get pregnant that I have the best tools to keep me well controlled for my baby but not have hypoglycemia the whole pregnancy. I would love a cure but I will take anything that can make it easier.

  2. I believe in this technology,having been lucky enough to participate in some of the clinical trials. It’s not a cure,but it will keep us healthier(& perhaps even alive) till a cure comes along.

  3. I’ve heard Ed speak twice now, each time renewing my hope as well. Next month, I’ll be hearing the UVA AP team at the JDRF research summit. I’m interested to see if I walk away with the same feeling….

  4. Since we haven’t cured any other disease, I really don’t think there will be a cure for diabetes any time soon. Any (bionic) advancement that makes living with diabetes easier sounds like a good deal to me.

  5. We could all use some of this HOPE! Thanks so much for visiting my little blog about my little guy. Is it okay for me to add you to my blog roll? I could use all the “d” support out there!

  6. I remember talking to Ed at last years FFL. I was rendered speechless as he was walking me through all the ins and outs. I cried and felt, as you said, hope. It is so close and it is exciting.

    ….and now i am getting all teary eyed again… 🙂

  7. Great post. Love the way you weave in the disappointments over past advancements. I wonder how my girls will feel about advancements that fail to live up to to the hype. They are too young yet to realize or understand. Thanks for sharing bro.

  8. I understand both perspectives. It is definitely NOT a cure. However, if the machine can do a FAR BETTER job of maintaining near normal glucoses and reducing variability than any other person or therapy can do, I’ll gladly use it until the real cure comes. After all, until Scotty can beam me instantly wherever I want instantaneously, I’ll keep driving a modern car rather than ride a horse or walk unassisted.

  9. Something about this video IS, indeed, more inspiring than some of the others I’ve seen. Maybe it’s because I’m very mathematical-minded myself.

    Yeah, it looks just like “another artificial-pancreas” on the surface, but the approach seems somehow different. I do have my concerns (mostly – how will the algorithm, which “learns” the person’s biological response to various doses of insulin and glucagon, account for the twice- or thrice-weekly site changes and the associated absorption characteristic changes?). Still, I’ll be quite interested to see how it turns out.

    Of course, like many others, I’d love to see a cure as a final goal. But this would be a huge step forward, especially as compared to what we have today.

    • If you think this video was more inspiring, you simply HAVE to hear him present on it. On a scale of 1-10, this video was a struggling 2 compared to him presenting on it in person.

      Thanks for swinging by, Scott!

  10. Hope is contagious and I am delighted to see you passing it along. I keep my hope alive by actively fanning it for two impressionable little people that intently watch my every move.

    My hope too is to get whatever will improve our lives as fast as possible. If it is bionics, I will take two, please:)

    • I agree – to an extent. It’s not a cure, but until a cure comes what’s wrong with some better tools? If I subscribed to your concept of nothing except a cure I’d still be using old insulin through needles we boil to sterilize and needles sharpened on stones.

      There can be progress on many things at the same time, and if I can sleep at night without fear of dying before morning at the expense of wearing a gadget, I’ll do that. No question.

      I’m sure I’m coming off as more snarky than I intend. I do appreciate your viewpoint and even more so taking the time to read and share your thoughts.

  11. Since the day I was diagnosed, over 10 years ago, I have experienced many emotions. Hope was never ever one of them. I found it easier to deal with a chronic illness if I just dealt with it and moved on.

    I read your blog and the tiniest of shivers ran down my back.

    I think that’s the hope you were talking about.

    It’s a nice feeling. One that I am not at all familiar with in terms of Diabetes.

    I like it.