Bionic update (with Tom Brobson)

This week, I went to a JDRF function as a volunteer and as a reporter. I brought my camera along to interview John Brady, the International JDRF Board President. That interview will air on Time Warner Cable News Charlotte soon. I was also thrilled to see Tom Brobson at the function. We’ve only met a few times, but it was like seeing an old friend.

Tom is one of the very first people to test the bionic or artificial pancreas. He’s seen it go from its days of testing in the hospital, to real- life experience, with doctors along for supervision, to more free-range testing. I was excited to get an update on how he thought it was all progressing.

You’ll hear that I start the interview referring to how Tom almost “ripped off his shirt” the last time I interviewed him. While I would love to report guys do that around me all the time, it was because I had misunderstood how a CGM sat on the skin. At that time, I hadn’t seen the Dexcom up close and I thought it had tubing, like our Animas Ping insulin pump. Tom loves to educate people, so he graciously showed me the gear.

Click play (below) to hear our conversation:

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(Hmm.. having a bit of a glitch on some browsers right now. If you can’t see the “play” button above, please click here to listen to the interview on SoundCloud)



Happy New Year

As with most holidays, Rosh Hashanah means some very sweet food.

But we’ve got it covered – after all, it’s 5775!

Apples = 15 carbs each

Honey = 17 carbs per Tbsp

Have a sweet and happy New Year!!

(Where were these videos when we were kids?!)




School Tools

Back to school next week here! My daughter will begin her last year of middle school and my son heads into 4th grade. Wow.

We have a diabetes goal each year. Since Benny was diagnosed so young (before he was 2), he knew how to check blood sugar and give himself insulin before he started Kindergarten. Our goals tend to be: change your own inset at school, buy lunch once or twice a week (we’re less sure about the carbs when he doesn’t bring from home) and be responsible for remembering to check blood sugar at certain times.

This year, the goal is likely going to be some combination of counting his own carbs and giving most of his insulin before he eats. That’s the best way to do it. We just started so young – who knows what a toddler will really eat – that we’ve always given insulin after. For the past few years, we’ve been trying to transition, but it hasn’t really stuck. This is a good time to make it standard operating procedure.

Starting school with diabetes usually means lots of education for teachers, staff, even parents, especially if it’s a relatively new diagnosis. Here are some great tools we’ve used over the years to make it easier.

-ADA’s Safe at School  The American Diabetes Association offers everything from training materials for school staff to information on legal protection and advice on how to make everyone feel their part of a team.

-T1D in School JDRF has a similar set of materials

-Diabetes 101 (video) JDRF video featuring teens and kids talking about type 1 diabetes in a way their peers can understand.

-North Carolina Law/Guidelines  - Info specific to our state which allows individual care plans (and link to the actual law)

I usually go in and talk to Benny’s class and I send home this email (click here) explaining what we discussed. I usually ask the teacher to send the letter through email, but I’ve handed out copies, too. It really helps; I’ve heard from many parents who appreciate the info, and it’s saved us from well-meaning people bringing sugar-free (gross) alternatives to school birthday parties. Yes, he can eat that.

Our biggest challenge this year may actually come in the spring. Benny has asked us to invite his entire school to join our JDRF walk team. Looks like we’ll be making up a lot more t-shirts this year!

Jerry the Bear: The Big Idea

Benny was diagnosed with type 1 before he was old enough to pronounce diabetes. My parents bought him a Curious George doctor doll and his beloved Elmo often got a juice box and a shot. We explained everything the best we could to our 2 year old, but found that diabetes-play better helped him process what was going on.

That’s why I’m a big fan of Jerry the Bear, an adorable plush toy (below)that teaches kid about diabetes.


I met the company founders at a conference last summerthey made a big impression on me. Jerry is a great tool for children with diabetes and for their friends and classmates. It makes learning about diabetes less scary and more fun.

I’m so pleased that they asked me to help get the word out about their latest project. It’s a pretty audacious one. They want to give every newly diagnosed child a Jerry the Bear toy. For free.


From their website:

“Last Christmas, we shipped our first production run of Jerry the Bear and reached 2% of all newly diagnosed children with T1D in the U.S. Now, after 5 months, kids are still playing with Jerry for over an hour each week – monitoring his blood sugar levels, feeding him a healthy diet, and replaying his educational lessons.

This makes us ask the questions, what if we can get Jerry into the hands of100% of children newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes? Can we make a profound difference in the life of every child diagnosed?”

I bet they can do it. Find out more about how you can help with this big idea (link takes you to their fundraising campaign).

Just want to know more about Jerry the Bear? Watch this: