Saturday, December 27, 2008

Very generous donation to U.of Minn. transplant program

This month, the Richard M. Schulze family has made a 40 million dollar donation to the Diabetes Institute of Immunology and Transplantation.  This is at the University of Minnesota and where I had my transplant.

To read more, click here.  There is a nice picture of Dr. Hering, my doctor, receiving the check.

I googled Mr. Schulze and learned that he is the founder of Best Buy.  He lives near Minneapolis and has made other donations in the area.  How refreshing in this time of such intense mistrust of CEOs and of the very wealthy in general, to find that there are those that use their power  for the greater good of humanity.  This is capitalism at its best.

I am of course prejudiced, but I think it is just great.  I know first hand that islet transplantation is at least a part of the cure.  This kind of help going to a program with this track record and this foresight could just be the push that is needed to get the rest of the way there.  I am intending on writing a thank you letter to the Schulze family.  I am still working on getting an address that I think will make it to the right place.  When I find it I will publish it here.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Day 150

It has been 150 days since my transplant now.  I feel like everything is still on course.  
It has been 90 days since I have taken any insulin.  I still feel for both my pump and my glucose monitor in my pockets at times, but other than that, everything feels very natural.  I still think about what my blood sugar is practically 24/7.  I'm not sure if that is because old habits die hard, or because I still need to check it 7 times per day for the study protocol.  Probably a little bit of both.

Of course, the difference is that now my numbers are mostly normal.  I still have some that are higher than I would like (150-180) after meals.  These do stress me, but help to remind me that I am still a diabetic.  The bad numbers also give me a stronger motivation to watch what I eat.  It would in no way be worth it to enjoy a piece of chocolate cake (my previous favorite) and then watch my next reading be over 200.

I also seem to be tolerating the drugs well.  A few mouth sores are the worst part of it and they are minor.  My stomach seems to be making some strange and different noises, but nothing painful.  And, more importantly, no illnesses or infections.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Pig islet cells

Islet cells from pigs might be the future of islet cell transplantation.  There are simply not enough islet cells to provide for even all of the people who consent to be in  a clinical trial to get them.  Once this procedure has been established to be safe through clinical trials and is made available to  all diabetics, the short supply will be even a bigger concern.  

Dr. Hering, my doctor :), is one of the pioneers of establishing the use of pig islets to help fill the void.  The pigs have to be kept in a very controlled environment to ensure that there  are no germs or other harmful factors that would be introduced to the patient with the pig's islet cells.  The name  of this project is the Spring Point Project.  The pig at the side of my blog has all of the information, if anyone wants to know more about it.

It  is also  a funny aside to  note that it is this pig picture that led me to having my transplant.  For whatever reason, I just love pigs.  My family will be glad to tell you that I have  a house full of pigs. Not real pigs. Just pictures and decorations.  All in very good taste, of course.

But when I saw  this picture, while I was reading about diabetes research and went to the website, I found out about islet cell transplants in this country.  I already knew about the Edmonton research, but I had no idea that this was being done here.  I emailed an application on  the website, and the rest is history.

This picture is part of our Christmas lights display.  Isn't it great?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Glucose and insulin tolerance testing

This chart shows the results of my glucose and insulin tolerance test that was performed during my 75 day visit to the clinic.  

It was an interesting experience.  I was hooked up to two IVs.  One delivered the glucose and then the insulin, and the other was used to draw blood samples.  I was drawn at each of these intervals and the blood  was sent to the lab to be tested for C-peptide (measures islet cell function), glucose, and insulin.

After a baseline was established, I was given a giant bolus  of glucose.  The nurse warned me that it would make me feel flushed and light-headed and it did both of those.  As you can see, my glucose rose dramatically.  My insulin level increased as did my C-peptide, proving that my islet cells were responding to the high glucose level in my blood.  

Next I was given  a bolus of insulin.  It was a calculated dose, and I think it was about 2.5 units.  It was kind of scary to get that much.  It had been so long since I have had an insulin injection and I was worried about going too low, but it went very smoothly.  My insulin level rose quickly and then tapered off after bringing my glucose level back to normal.  My C-peptide also decreased as the insulin level decreased.

I am not sure what kind of results a nondiabetic person might yield.  I assume it is close to these results.  My islets seem to be functioning well.  It still is such an exciting experience and is so rewarding to see results like this.  I still test my glucose before and after each meal and at bedtime, and I get a charge every time I see all of my nice normal numbers.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

C-peptide values

This chart shows all of the C-peptide values measured since I had the transplant. C-peptide measures the ability of the islet cells to produce insulin. Higher numbers represent better functioning beta cells.

Note that at the time of the transplant, my C-peptide was at 0.  I had no reactive beta cells at all.  This was actually one of the criteria to be admitted into the study.  It only makes sense to transplant a patient if they do  not have any beta cells of their own.

The C-peptide is  measured both before and after I eat breakfast.  I eat my normal breakfast which contains about 45grams of carbs.  

The values are higher after breakfast which shows that the islet cells are doing their job.  They are responding to the glucose that is entering my bloodstream from my meal.  These values correspond with my normal blood sugars.  It is very exciting to see these numbers because they illustrate that my transplant is successful.