Friday, April 15, 2016


Diabetes technology is kind of like iPhone technology to me. I wait to see what everybody else seems to like about their device, then I think about whether I really need it for a little while, and usually I decide I'm doing just fine on my own and still don't buy it. I didn't even own a cell phone until January, for example, and my tech-savvy mother-in-law was the one who picked it out for me.

But since some people with diabetes read this blog, and some people with diabetes care about technology, and there are multiple websites and even an academic journal devoted to the topic, I thought I would mention a piece of diabetes technology news that came splashing across my radar recently.

My cousin and her son, and a friend of mine, all affected by Type I diabetes, have recently done some clever software and hardware rigging to create a system that functions like an artificial pancreas. Apparently it is especially hoped that it may help keep blood sugars steady, especially during the overnight when even the most well-calibrated basal rates don't account for minute differences in daily activity and food consumption from the previous days. It works by adjusting basal rates on the insulin pump according to blood sugar information from the CGM, according to a rules in a program written by the user. This can prevent the severe nocturnal hypoglycemia I wrote about in my last post, since the pump's basal rates are in constant feedback with the CGM and will be reduced until blood sugar rises again. Boluses still must be given manually.

The system is called OpenAPs, and they are collecting data from pump and CGM users to improve it all the time. They also call it a "DIY Pancreas," which makes me smile since "DIY Diabetic" is a label I needed years ago when I started insisting that I be the one to make the final call about my own adjustments to my pump. I'd love to try out the OpenAPs system some day.

I went to high school with the man, Chris Hannemann, who is leading the charge on OpenAPs. At marching band camp one year, he saved me from a low blood sugar that was almost amusing (at least, in hindsight, once it wasn't embarrassing anymore). He has written about his experience in this post. Check it out!

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