DIY Looping at the Diabetes UK Professional Conference

DUKPC-KW-2“We’re thinking of running a DIY looping Hot Topic at the professional conference” the Diabetes UK Director told me, “and we’ll ask (Dr) Emma (Wilmot) to run it”. (A Hot Topic is usually quite a short session of 15 minutes or less.)

“Hi Emma, just a quick message to say xxxxx told me about your possible Hot Topic session at DUKPC. If you need any clean images for presentations I’ve got a fair few…” I tweeted privately.

[a few weeks passed]

Emma’s email arrived. “I am delighted to report that DUK are keen to include a dedicated session on OpenAPS at DUK…I was hoping you would be agreeable to presenting at this session”

*gulp*
Oh heck.
Yes.
Absolutely Yes.

From little acorns…

I was really pleased that the topic was a Hot Topic, let alone become a dedicated session, let alone that I’d get to present alongside my friend and utterly-brilliant-and-selfless-and-tireless-looping-support-guy Alasdair, alongside Dr Emma Wilmot and Dr May Ng, in a session chaired by Dr Partha Kar. Not only this, but the session was designed so that the patients (I’ll include me in that) got 30 minutes to present, the Doctors having 10 minutes each. This was a bit step forward in the DIY diabetes tech world.

Officially invited, this is happening

The official invite came, saying I could attend for whichever conference days I wanted, so without hesitation so with it being my first I chose all three.
I googled the venue and room plan, that’s good only about 50 seats, I’m cool with that. Either my googling failed me or someone realised they’d need a bigger boat room as this is what greeted me on Day 1. Even then, without an audience, I was getting heckled…by my friend Kelly.
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Prep, prep, prep

Alasdair and I spent weeks trying to make sure we got all the important points into our presentation, making sure it flowed nicely and made (as much) sense (as possible). Revisions came and went, slides got deleted, new ones added and finally we had it, version 11, although if I’m honest v11 went to v11f. Working together over Skype was easy, a very enjoyable experience, but I’m not sure who’s more finickity about fonts/spacing/lining-up, me or him….probably me though.

No backing out now

As the day arrived I had no nerves at all, it was bizarre, I always feel a little nervous before presenting. I spent the earlier part of the morning listening to the fantastic Ellie talk about her transition, a sad and frustrating story which I never knew, even though we’ve followed each other on Twitter for ages.
The crowd came in, the session started, the nerves hit full on and I forgot to say most of my first slide. Damn it, Alasdair looked so in control, I was anything but. By the end of the first slide I felt relaxed and in control. The mind’s a funny thing.
My favourite part of any of my recent presentations is when I play the 70 second time-lapse video of AndroidAPS doing it’s magic, first with Amy’s glucose using TBRs (temporary basal rates) and next with Alasdair’s using SMBs (supermicroboluses). I love telling the audience what they need to keep an eye out for, then pressing play and watching the jaws drop as they see how it performs and realise what a Godsend any system like this is.

We moved on to describe the three systems (Loop, OpenAPS, AndroidAPS), how things have moved on with the algorithms, how the HCPs could help and more. When my final slide appeared ‘Useful Resources’ a hundred hands were raised snapping a picture of all of the links, and as they did my four scheduled tweets (#1,#2,#3,#4) went out on Twitter too.
It was over. I was relieved and sad that it was over, but mostly relieved. We’d done a pretty good job I think.
Dr Wilmot’s and Dr Ng’s presentations were fabulous, hitting all the right points, and the Q&A afterwards was excellent, with some Doctors suggesting they couldn’t support such initiatives and others say how Doctors absolutely should support whatever their patients are doing.
Within seconds of the session finishing Dana M Lewis messaged Alasdair and me to congratulate us, even though she was miles away, that was a nice touch.

Our presentation photos and slide deck

Thanks to Joanne Cura who took photos of virtually every slide so you get to see most of our presentation.
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Checking the feedback

Many presenters say never to look at the feedback but for me it’s important, otherwise how can you assess if you need to change anything for next time?
I didn’t get to properly check Twitter for any chatter about the session until 1am, but these really made my day.

To have the honour of Diabetes UK’s Chief Executive, Chris Askew, attending our session when so many other great sessions were happening:
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To the praise from Doctor’s who attended:
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To the one which made all the efforts made by all involved so very worthwhile:
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And it was nice to make the cut of the conference summary video too.

The road to Amy’s DIY closed loop artificial pancreas #OpenAPS

Day 6, nicely in target

TL;DR
I built Amy a closed loop artificial pancreas
She’s been using it for one week so far
It’s great

 
After getting into the world of #WeAreNotWaiting and Nightscout, I followed with great interest the progression of OpenAPS, a do-it-yourself closed loop artificial pancreas. I read the posts by Dana Lewis and Scott Leibrand with awe, wondering whether closed-looping would ever be something Amy might want.

If you’ve not heard about OpenAPS you might want to do a little reading first. In essence a matchbox-sized computer reads CGM data, figures out what temproary basal rate (TBR) could be used to help get levels on target and tells the pump to do the relevant TBR. If you’re worried it’s not safe, think again after reading this.

Back in October 2016 I decided I should gather the necessary kit together and should Amy ever want to close loop I’d be in a position to help. I’d need an old Medtronic pump, an Intel Edison chip and an ‘Explorer’ board. I sourced my first pump from eBay, it was no good, it was dead. The second was better and usable but I sourced a better third one, a 715, which I got from the Netherlands after asking all the right questions and requesting videos of it working.

I let Amy know that I had the kit should she ever be interested; she wasn’t. All the kit sat in a draw patiently waiting in a box adorned with a #WeAreNotWaiting sticker. Oh, the irony.

Last November I went along to a DIY closed-loop artificial pancreas build event hosted by the UK looping commmunity’s Tim Street, a tremendous driving force behind helping others to close the loop themselves, or understand and learn about it, or understand many different things about diabetes, plus he’s written a great guide to closed looping.

I had no intention of building anything but I went for the chat and to see what was happening, but I took my kit pieces with me. I came home with an almost working closed-loop artificial pancreas!

Amy seemed more interested now she could see something working.

Amy wasn’t using CGM at the time but my friend Alasdair let us use his CGM data from his Dexcom account to help me test, test and test the rig I’d built. It was working tremendously well, I watched in awe is it made the temporary basal rate changes which were sent to the pump – containing water and not attached to anyone.

A couple of weeks later my friend Craig gave us a G5 transmitter to help continue testing which I wore, along with the 715 pump pumping water for a few weeks. Thankfully my phone using xDrip+ worked well to collect the Dexcom G5 readings and my CGM trace was illuminating, a ‘normal’ person’s glucose line certainly isn’t flat, especially after eating my nemesis which is clearly bread.

OpenAPS rig Dean and pumpIt still wasn’t the right time for Amy, so I waited, applied no pressure and just hoped one day she’d ask to use it.

That day happened the morning after the Rise of the Machines event when Amy watched the presentation videos of me and then OpenAPS’s founder Dana Lewis, whom I had the great pleasure of introducing to Amy only a couple of days earlier.

Roll on a week and Amy went live on her rig ‘Dean’ (Supernatural reference) which tells ‘Castiel’ (the 715 pump) what to do. It’s been a full-on learning week, with tweaks here and tweaks there.

We started cautiously, setting the target range to 7.0-7.5 mmol, something we’ll drop later when Amy’s feeling more confident. It’s doing very well and every morning is like this:
Day 6, nicely in target

It’s already offering an improvement to less time spent hypo, or rapidly changing BGs, or standard deviation. More importantly Amy is having to make less decisions, or reactive actions. It’s important to remember this is the end of week one with a target set to 7.0-7.5, so it’s easy to see how A1C – if that’s what you’re worried about – can be lowered by dropping the target range.
Distribution, day 8 for 36hrs