Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Artificial Pancreas

I've read a couple of intriguing articles about a robotic/artificial pancreas, and it seems hopeful for the near future. There's a great article in Wired Magazine this month here, and and another article from the LA Times here about Boston researchers who are using a combination of insulin & glucagon in their trial pancreas. They seem to think that something can be on the market in as little as 7 years.

We have the technology. All the pieces just have to be put together. It's very exciting. I hope that when it all comes together, that health insurance companies will make such devices available and affordable.

Also, although the technology is wonderful, an artificial pancreas is still not a CURE! So let's keep working on that, eh?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hog Heaven

We've just returned from a trip to western North Carolina, with a college visit in Virginia along the way. When I researched our trip, I didn't get too many good "hits" for celiac-friendly places in the general vicinity, so we packed up the car with GF pasta, flour, bread, pizza dough, cookies -- enough to last a hungry teenager for a week. Right before we left I found the Glutino brand oreo type cookies which, according to Daniel, are pretty good for a GF cookie. Still, I knew there would be a number of times that we would have to eat in restaurants, so I was concerned.

We stayed overnight near Blacksburg, VA so that we could do a tour of Virginia Tech. I asked the hotel clerk for food recommendations, and she reeled off a list of fast food names that were not good for gluten-free eating. Then she said, "Oh, and there's a barbecue place a couple of miles down the road. You can't miss the sign with the big pink pig." We decided to check out the menu. It was either that, or a baked potato at Wendy's, which would have been okay, but not great.

I went into the restaurant first to ask about gluten free choices. I don't know -- I may have been the first person ever to ask, because I had to explain gluten. However -- the people at Due South BBQ were wonderful. They went over all their ingredients, and we determined that it would be okay for Daniel to eat there. It turned out to be okay for all of us. The meat was falling-off-the-bone delicious, there were numerous sauces to choose from, and we even were lucky enough to visit on a night with live music.

Our tour guide at Virginia Tech had a soy allergy, so she was a good person to ask about dining with special needs. She pointed out a dining hall where we could eat lunch. It was okay. Based on what I saw, I'm not sure it's that easy to stay on a GF diet there. But wow, what a lovely school.

As we headed south, barbecue became our go-to choice for safe celiac eating. Granted, we had to ask that no hush puppies or fries or rolls touch the plate, and Daniel couldn't satisfy his sweet tooth afterward (unless they had vanilla ice cream). But he could eat his fill of barbecue (ribs, pulled pork, chicken), beans, and cole slaw with no problem. By the end of the week we had all had enough of barbecue. Even my husband. I've never seen that happen before!

I did find a listing for a totally gluten-free restaurant in Asheville, But there was major construction on that particular road, and we just couldn't find it. We ended up eating at Moe 's Southwest Grill (a fast food chain) for lunch that day, and the lady behind the counter there went out of her way to make sure Daniel's nachos were gluten free. The cheesy sauce that is poured on top of nachos is often NOT gluten free, but she sprinkled regular shredded cheese on his nachos and heated them up in the clamshell cooker. It took an extra 5 minutes, but we appreciated the attention to detail.

On one of our trips, we ended up in the small town of Brevard, NC. We found a lovely place there: Rocky's Soda Shop, which is set up like an old fashioned soda shop restaurant with a lovely lunch counter, great milkshakes, and fun, touristy stuff for sale. (I bought a Transylvania County t-shirt that has the saying "Transylvania County / Just Bite Me"). We were hoping to get a bunless burger there, but they only sold hot dogs. Hot dogs often have gluten, so that was a no-no. But they also made chili, and the cook told us what was in it. He even made it into a chili/salad combo so that Daniel could have a side dish. They were great. The milkshakes were made with Edy's ice cream, which we know is okay.

So the celiac thing went okay. But with all that fat, the blood sugar numbers were running high! We had a little scare when Daniel changed his site one day, and when he was trying to prime his pump, it gave the message "no delivery." He tried and retried a few times, and finally it worked. We didn't know what happened, but were happy that the pump was pumping, When we got home, this happened again, so we called minimed's technical assistance number. Daniel kept trying to get it to work while he was waiting on hold, and after about 10 minutes, it started to work again. When the technician came on the phone, she told us that it probably was not the pump (whew!). It is usually the case that there is a problem with the set, something that happens at the factory. Perhaps the lubricant didn't get all the way into the set, or the needle is bent. They have a set of steps to go through to find out exactly what the problem is. But they were nice, they sent us a couple of replacement sets, and if the problem happens again Daniel will go through the steps with the technician to find out what is wrong. I'm just glad it's not the pump!

Western North Carolina is beautiful. We visited plenty of waterfalls, saw wild elk, wild turkeys, hundreds of butterflies, and we hiked a lot of trails. And climbed a few. Nothing like a steep incline to get those leg muscles working! The scenery on the Blue Ridge parkway is gorgeous! My daughter and I had lots of fun checking out the arts & crafts as well! My friend Jeanne taught us a great family game (pegs and jokers), which was our fun activity every evening.

We even got to feed some burros, which lived near our cabin. They like carrots! All in all, it was a great trip.