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December 28, 2017

Artificial Pancreas Review

Artificial Pancreas: A Real Review. Type 1 Diabetes. Caregiver Support. Resources that help.

Artificial Pancreas Review

Artificial Pancreas sounds uber medical, far out, technology, right?  Not to pop your bubble, but it isn’t a surgical procedure.

The Medtronic 670 G, with the Guardian Sensor Three makes up the Artificial Pancreas.  It is just a insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor.  What makes it special is that they are on a closed loop.

The closed loop means they talk to each other, which is a first of its kind in the USA.  This post is to review the device, letting our readers know what we think of the Artificial Pancreas.

Our First Days

Our first days with the Artificial Pancreas, I literally dreamed of ways to destroy it.  Alarms blared.  We had so many misunderstandings.  Let me explain.

Before our Artificial Pancreas, Champ had the Medtronic 630 G, and a Dexcom G5.  The Dexcom allowed me to see his blood sugar on my phone, which settled my soul, and made me live in constant state of alarm.

Early on I, it was said to me that the Artificial Pancreas would be just like the Dexcom.  Hearing that, I quickly, signed on.  In my mind, there would be a phone app, easy insertion, grandiose outcomes.

Reality Bites

Much to my despair, the Artificial Pancreas does not have a phone app at this time (me walking around tripping on my bottom lip because my hobby in life, checking my phone for his blood sugar was gone).  The agony of deleting the Dexcom App from my phone felt like shooting a family member (true story).

Inserting the Guardian Sensor 3 was awful.  I could not get to used to it.  So far I have broken four sensors (I need to call Medtronic about that already.  I did call, because I didn’t keep the broken sensors to send back, they won’t replace it).  There are so many steps!  It is not for the faint at heart.

The Artificial Pancreas also makes us calibrate four times a day.  There is a catch too (not a good one), there can’t be much active insulin in the pump when we calibrate.  The reason I switched Champ to a pump was so he could graze like other kids his age.  Currently, he can’t do much grazing or his sensor will be off and the communications between sensor and pump will be off.

Adding the blaring alarms to my woes, I was depressed.  This was a dark, deep depression, and I don’t even have Diabetes!  I hated what I had done to Champ.

Champ cried, real tears, longing for his Dexcom.  I felt like I had shot ourselves in the foot.

Turning Point

All the negativity happened before our Artificial Pancreas allowed us to change to Auto Mode.  For us, Auto Mode brought peace and calm.

The day we switched to Auto Mode, I breathed a sigh of relief.  No longer did Champ’s blood sugar rest only on my shoulders.  Now, the Artificial pancreas was controlling his glucose with algorithms (math formulas).  Still, I hate math – solve your own problems math!

However, our turning point was short lived because Champ kept diving low.  Oh lamentations, beguile upon my soul.

A Helpful Hint (because I love you & your T1D)

Hark, I remembered a setting called a temp target.  The Endocrinology Clinic told me to use it for Activity.  I began using it when I noticed Champ heading low.

The Setting is on the Main Menu and is called: “Temp Target.”  This sets the pump to aim for a blood sugar of 150 instead of 120 blood glucose.  Voila!  Rest filled my eyes again.  It was a new day.  This helped me not lose more sanity while the kinks were being tweaked between the pump and sensor.  (Glory.  Hallelujah.  Yes, Lord).

I used the Temp Target setting until the algorithms adjusted.  Currently, I hardly have to make any adjustments at all.  So life is much better.

It Gets Better

At our last appointment at Copeds in Columbus, Ohio, we learned Champ’s new A1C is 6.7!  This is way better than when we began, which was 7.8.

For the first time in seven years since being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, Champ has been in range 76% of the time!  That means his blood sugar has been between 110-150 glucose seventy six percent of the time!  Major happy dancing for me!

He was only low 2% of the time since Auto Mode.  Not one low was below 50 blood glucose which is much more safe than when he was on the Dexcom.  Again, this was another huge advancement to celebrate.

My son's data from Carelink. A service from Medtronic, that collects bunches of reports for tracking blood sugar.

The Truth

The skinny of it all.  The Artificial Pancreas is a pain in my butt.  Checking his blood sugar more than four times a day, the way his sensor just stops if it kinks, no phone app, a very complex sensor to insert, the alarms, many screens saying blood check required – it all sucks.

Butt, there is a big but.  (Oops, maybe I should switch those around – ah, who cares!).  The Big But, is that I love Champ.  If doing all this sucky stuff keeps his blood sugar this under control; it’s worth it.  The Artificial Pancreas is worth all the sucky complex stuff.  Champ’s health is worth everything.

Thus, the truth is: I support the Artificial Pancreas.  It isn’t awesome or perfect.  There is nothing flashy to it.  But, it helps my son’s blood sugar stay stable and that is worth it all and more suckiness.

With the Dexcom, his blood sugar looked like a Black Diamond Ski Resort.  There were high peaks with straight down valleys.  See the chart above.  His blood sugar has evened out.

And to be completely fair: It is way better than injections.  When we did injections, we were checking up to twelve times a day.  One bonus is we can see where his blood sugar is, relatively, on his pump screen almost every moment.

What have you loved or hated about your current diabetes management?  What are you planning on trying next?  I’d love to hear (and so would others) in the comments below.

Thank you for stopping by today, please come again soon.  In the meantime, blessings to you and yours today and always,


PS Stay tuned for pictures of the sensor insertion, more information about keeping the Artificial Pancreas Calibrated, and more updates.  I promise, you won’t fall asleep reading this stuff.  Until next time, Peace Out & may the Blood Sugar Gods be ever in our favor.  Amen.




I live in Columbus, Ohio USA, grown up here all my life. I love yoga, walking, riding bike, reading, bargain shopping, serving at church. Usually though, I'm napping in a doctor's office waiting area with one or two of the Fantastic Four Children. My passion is helping other families with extra health, behavioral, and learning issues like mine. Let's enjoy life... TOGETHER. It's more fun that way =)!

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