Off the Dial

Donald Trump Says Hi

Just back from a week with my parents in New York.   We had a great time and got into the city a couple of times with the kids.  But it was hard to top the very first day.  I met Donald Trump!

For the past year, we’ve all heard about how the Trumps were looking at Charlotte for a new development that could have included an office tower, condos, five-star hotel and shops.  At last report, the deal was on hold, but you can still look at the pretty pictures at the Trump Charlotte website.

My parents are members of Trump National in Briarcliff, NY and they invited us along for the July 4th celebration there.  My son, Benny and I were making our way to the outdoor buffet, when Mr. and Mrs. Trump walked right by.  He was obviously just off the golf course and they were walking and talking.

I couldn’t resist.  I walked up to him and introduced myself ("Hi, Mr. Trump.  You don’t know me.  My name is Stacey Simms and I live in Charlotte, North Carolina").  I asked him about the plans for the building and development here.  He looked me straight in the eye and said… "Maybe." 

I think Donald, Jr is the one in charge of the Charlotte project, but it was still fun to ask.  We talked for about a minute more as I thanked him for the great Independence Day event.  He did ask me who I was there with – maybe he thought I crashed the party!

One Year Pumping

It’s been almost a year since we started using an insulin pump to treat my son Benny’s diabetes.  It was July 4th weekend last  year that we stopped giving him shots and began pumping insulin.  The pump has its own unique challenges but it’s a huge improvement over needles.

As we reach that milestone, I was very excited to read some great news stories about type I diabetes in the news this week.  I do believe we’ll have a cure for diabetes at some point during Benny’s life, but I’m not a pollyanna about a cure any time very soon.  Instead, I believe diabetes management will imrpove tremendsouly and that will come in just the next few years.

Here’s one way it’s all going to change – the artificial pancreas.  It’s not your traditional replacement organ.  This is mechanical and would sit outside the body.  It’s a marriage of two pieces of techniolgoy already being used by type I diabetics, many here in the Charlotte area.  A continuous glucose monitor keeps track of your blood sugar and an insulin pump delivers the right amount of insulin needed to keep those levels steady. 

The monitor, worn like a pager and connected to a sensor placed just under the skin, tells the patient whether levels are trending up or down. If levels reach dangerously high or low levels, it sounds an alarm.

The system already is in trials at centers in the United States and internationally. But researchers say it’ll likely be another five or so years, as component parts are improved and consolidated into a single package, before the realized vision is ready to hit the market.

There are a lot of skeptics – after all, we’ve been hearing about this type of system for a long time.  I’m very optimistic, though, and I’m very thankful for all of the people who’ve been working to test all the components of an articifal pancreas so that it will work when my son gets his!

Another cool story came out this week – something called the Sugarmobile.  It’s a car that monitors blood sugar.  The car, being developed by U.S. medical device firm Medtronic, flashes up blood sugar readings on a dashboard display so the driver can keep track of them without having to stop and take blood samples.

The new car, which went on display for the first time at the recent American Diabetes Association annual conference in San Francisco, could reduce the risk of diabetes-related crashes.  This uses the continuous glucose monitor I mentioned earlier.   Medtronic’s is called MiniMed.

When used in the car, the MiniMed would instead send the data to a screen on the dashboard via Bluetooth – the wireless system used in mobile phones to transmit music and picture files. A microchip inside the dashboard converts the readings into a display that is updated every few minutes.

Pretty cool stuff.   Makes thinking about my 3-year-old son someday driving a little easier to bear.  Okay, maybe just a little.