Going For An Artificial Pancreas

Ilkka Koski
Jun 19 · 3 min read

In July I have an appointment with a certain type of Diabetes doctor. The kind who has the mandate to equip me with an artificial pancreas – a combo of a self-dosing insulin pump and a glucose sensor.

This is new for me in two ways, since I have never requested for an insulin pump earlier, and because it’s the first commercial artificial pancreas (Medtronic 670G) of any big pharma players on the field of Type 1 Diabetes. Yes, there is the DIY world for artificial pancreases, but talking of an ”off-the-shelf” kind of product now.

Pens & needles have been my thing

In the 20+ years I’ve been a Type 1 Diabetic, I’ve always preferred having my insulin taken via injecions using the insulin pen, and the main reason for this is that I’ve seen the everyday life of an insulin pump user for years and years.

Seeing that, I’ve hated the idea of having wires and all hanging from me, and the thought of doing the hassle of refilling the pump repeatedly has not been encouraging.

Right now I’m a wireless diabetic with pens & sensor

Even though lots of my diabetic friends have had their glucose balance enhanced with an insulin pump, still I’ve been kind of like ”you’ll get these insulin pens only from my cold, dead hands”. I know I’m not the only one, there’s a lot of us non-pumpers.

Times are changing…

But times are changing, and we have finally arrived at a point when my pros/cons scale is tipping the other way.

The reason for this is the reality that there is a new insulin pump gaining ground here in Finland, slowly but steadily, and it operates as an artificial pancreas for the user.

The new insulin pump makes the calculation

So instead of having a ”normal” combo of a glucose sensor and an insulin pump which requires you to dose your insulins by yourself, the new insulin pump does the calculation and dosing with algorithms while correlating the situation to the current glucose value from the sensor.

It can sound like a minor thing if you’re not familiar with the workload Type 1 Diabetes adds to one’s life, but it really is a big, almost huge step forward. There still are cons in the system (you have to input your carbs), but as there is no perfect system available for us, I’ll have an extremely serious go for this.

But are they really?

During my diabetic life I’ve been witnessing the lack of understanding from the political and bureaucratic scene, where they make the grand decisions about what treatment products diabetics in Finland are going to get and what not.

While not going to the reasons for these decisions, it has been an unbelieveably rocky road to enable patients to have the possibility to gain & use modern glucose sensors, which have an enormous impact on your ability to control your glucose. Luckily the situation has gone better especially within the last year or so.

We have seen most bizarre set of basis for getting or not getting a pump (or sensor)

The insulin pumps are another piece of technology that you might or might not get your hands on – we have seen most bizarre set of basis for getting or not getting a pump (or sensor) which tend to change from hospital to hospital and from face to face. Usually there is no logic, so maybe it’s partly a face value thing.

Because of these problems, I’m not holding my breath, and it remains to be seen that does the doctor consider me as eligible for the new pump with artificial pancreas features. Hope so! And if he/she does, I’ll probably write a little review of the thing.

But now, sleep.

Ilkka Koski

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A Finnish type 1 diabetic with some undiagnosed neurological head problems, mental health issues and the constant need to draw something (amateurish).