I am on my second to my last day of the Beacon Hill Study of the Bionic Pancreas. It’s bittersweet already. I’ve become pretty fond of this device as it learns my eating patterns and overall insulin and Glucagon needs. The small doses of Glucagon are extremely helpful to keep me in “steady range”. I usually treat my lows with a massive amount of glucose. So, to have small amounts of Glucagon delivered to me when I am trending down prior to lows is overly impressive.
Today, just like every day so far in the study, I woke up with a wonderful blood sugar. Are you noticing a pattern? I sure am, and I love it! To start the day off with a great BG makes the day so much easier to manage. Heck, I feel like even if I could just hook up to the Bionic Pancreas before bed and disconnect when I wake up my diabetes management would be so much easier.
Now comes the fun part. I really put the Bionic Pancreas to the challenge today. I don’t eat massive amount of carbs all the time but I do on occasion. Pizza, Chinese food, sushi, cake, cookies, and candy are bolus worthy treats for me. I do eat them from time to time.
I am going to explain what I ate today for dinner and dessert. This is not a normal meal for me, but I will explain what I would have done without the bionic pancreas if I did eat this meal. Then I will show and explain what the Bionic Pancreas did. Now, I apologize if you start to drool looking at these pictures. It was for the good of diabetes research!
First I ate these two yummy slices of pepperoni pizza. The sauce was sweet and lovely. I will call this round 1 of dinner.
These two slices of pizza were so good. I couldn’t resist and I ate another slice about 15 minutes later. Can you blame me? Now here is the kicker, I waited another 30 minutes or so and completely indulged in gourmet cupcakes. I ate a half of each one of these cupcakes pictured above. For reference purposes, the flavors were butternut caramel, red velvet, and peanut butter crunch!
It’s a lot to take in, but here is how I would dose insulin for this meal. I tend to under bolus for food so I don’t go low, especially on meals like these, where counting the carbs is as impossible as pigs flying. So here is what I would have done:
- Two slices of pizza I would have bloused for 25 grams of carbs
- Additional slice of pizza 15 minutes later I would have bloused 15 grams of carbs
- For the cupcakes 30 minutes later I would have bloused 40 grams of carbs
The grand total? 80 grams of carbohydrates! The amount of insulin I would have given myself would have been 10 units over that time period. A complete underestimate, I know. But I would have followed with another correction type bolus about 30 minutes after I ate the cupcakes and would, most likely, continue to correct for several hours. Not a perfect plan, but that is what would make me comfortable. It would have been a struggle all night, hence why I don’t eat foods like this on a regular basis. It is just not worth the aftermath of guessing and correcting with insulin.
Now, let me tell you what the Bionic Pancreas did and how it was superior to the approach I would have taken. When eating meals, the Bionic Pancreas doesn’t ask how many grams of carbohydrates are in your meal. It asks you a simple question, “How many carbs are you having compared to your typical meal.” The answers you can select are “a small bite”, “less than typical amount”, “a typical amount”, and “more than usual.” These answer choices are interesting on many fronts. For one, many newly diagnosed people usually don’t know how to count carbs, therefore, these choices are easier to make rather than estimating carb counts. Also, for people like me who aren’t carb counting gurus, this way of thinking about my meals is a much easier approach.
For this pizza and cupcake madness I selected “more than typical amount” and it dosed me approximately 14 units of insulin upfront. This amount of insulin was more accurate to the amount of carbs I actually ate. When I started eating my pizza and finished the three slices my BG remained steady for about 45 minutes. Normally I would have already spiked. Then I ate the cupcakes. For this dessert I did not tell the Bionic Pancreas I was eating them. Shame on me, but I don’t have too. It is not required in this study to pre-bolus for meals.
My blood sugar results were amazing. After spoiling myself in this food overload my BG spiked to only 220 mg/dl and then went down steadily. That would have been impossible for me to do on my own. Not only did it save me hours of time not continually trying to treat for the meal, thinking about my BGs, worrying if I would go low afterwards, but my BGs came down softly and not with a violent crash from “rage bolusing.”
For that, I celebrated with a non-light beer! Look at those graphs. I still can’t believe what I see. If this isn’t magic, I don’t know what is!