Monday, October 26, 2009

Santa Barbara

We just returned from a fantastic trip to Santa Barbara, CA where we visited our son, Gary.  It was one of those trips where everything just goes right.  The weather was perfect.  The scenery was amazing.  We can see why he likes it so much there.  We enjoyed mostly outdoor activities.  We biked along the Pacific, hiked in the mountains, toured the Botanical Gardens, and found some historical sites.  Gary took us to see one of the telescopes that his company owns and which he helps to maintain the network. It was way in the mountains in a national forest and the drive there and back was spectacular.  We ate most of our meals at open air restaurants and just had a wonderful time with Gary and Heather.  And of course we got to see his dog Maddux, the genius.

It was so nice not to have to worry about how the time change, especially with all of our added vigorous activities would affect my blood sugars and general state of well being.  I rarely even thought about it other than to notice that it was not an issue.  In previous visits across three time zones, it was always a problem, no matter how much. I anticipated and prepared for it.  My stomach was on its best behavior for this trip too.

Now I am getting ready to leave  for my one year and three month visit to Minneapolis.  I am really looking forward to it.  I leave tomorrow afternoon.  It has been a crazy week of flying, but so much fun.  I still have not managed to get my H1N1 vaccine and it makes me nervous to fly with so many people.
I have my mask that I can wear if I get near to someone who looks sick, but so far I haven't felt that I needed it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New book by Edmonton Protocol patient

I have had the good fortune of finding one of the original Edmonton Protocol islet cell recipients.  There was a story about her in Diabetes Health, one of the online diabetes information magazines that I read.  She has written and published a book about her experience.  I purchased the online version last night and have read some and scanned most of it.  It is really good.  I am really enjoying the parallels between our two experiences.

The author is Donna Marcelissen. The book is titled One Step Up From a Lab Rat, and can be found here.  I e-mailed her and she answered some of my questions and hopefully we have started a correspondence.  Her experience has been much more intense than mine on several levels.  Her diabetes and its complications were much more advanced than mine.  Her time and financial requirements were more than mine.  And most importantly, she didn't have people who had already experienced this before her that she could talk to or even read about.  I still have only found a few, but that is still a big difference than none at all. I really went into this with very few reservations.  She is a true pioneer and there will be so many of us who will owe her a great debt.

Gary and I are planning on visiting our son, Gary in California this weekend.  I am really looking  forward to it.  I have been feeling good lately, and hope my stomach will behave.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Pig islet cells transplanted in man in New Zealand

I found this article yesterday. This is the first pig islet cell transplant in awhile. I hope that I can find a way to follow the progress of the patients.

Wellington, Oct 7 NZPA - A New Zealand biotech company has implanted cells from a pig pancreas into a long-term diabetes patient at Middlemore Hospital in South Auckland.

The pig cells were expected to help the man, 47, manufacture his own insulin to combat type-1 diabetes.

They were inserted in his abdomen after Living Cell Technologies (LCT) received special approval for the xenotransplant.

The patient, who has suffered from diabetes for 20 years, was the first of eight approved for clinical trials of the LCT product.

The pig cells are covered with a seaweed gel to avoid them triggering the immune system in humans and being rejected.

The first four patients in the trial are being given the equivalent of 10,000 islet cells per kg of body weight and the next four patients will get a higher dose of 15,000 cells/kg.

It is not the first such transplant in Auckland -- LCT's medical director, Professor Bob Elliott, who carried out the original research, implanted pig cells into people there in 1996 and 1997.

His work was interrupted by Government concerns over the potential for pig viruses to be spread between humans.

NZ medical authorities blocked the trials being re-started in Rarotonga, and LCT was later listed on the Australian stock exchange to fund trials on monkeys in Singapore.

LCT has said it could avoid risk by using tissues from disease-free piglets in a breeding line said to have been isolated from other pigs for over 150 years on the Auckland Islands.

According to Dr Elliott, a group of Russians injected with New Zealand pig cells in 2007 showed reductions in daily insulin injections, ranging from 23 percent to 100 percent, and had good control of blood glucose levels in four out of five patients.

The Auckland trial received ministerial approval in June on the condition that it was limited to patients with "brittle diabetes", a relatively rare type-1 form of the disease which can cause extreme swings in blood sugar levels.

This week's patient has had frequent episodes of high blood glucose and unacceptable swings, including low blood glucose levels.

He was monitored for eight weeks by principal investigator, Dr John Baker, a diabetes specialist based at Middlemore Hospital, before the implant, and will be followed up intensively for a year.

An independent data safety and monitoring board will assess progress and provide a report in six months.

LCT chief executive Paul Tan said he believed the Auckland trial might deliver better results than the Moscow trial, because it would be using higher doses of islet cells.

Very exciting. This is what the Spring Point Project and Dr. Hering are working toward in Minneapolis. Information on this is on the pig picture at the side. The New Zealand study also included the gel surrounding the islets so that immunosuppressants are not needed.

I am continuing to do well. My blood sugars are running fine. My drug levels are stable. My stomach is not perfect, but tolerable. I'm still working on gaining some weight back.