Daily Archives: May 27, 2015

More bottles and more cans

There’s a destination a little up the road
From the habitations and the towns we know
A place we saw the lights turn low
The jig-saw jazz and the get-fresh flow

-Beck,  “Where It’s at”


Well, this was unexpected! (Not that I kept up the pace for 6 of the 7 days of DBlogWeek, though that was unexpected too.)

I am completely overwhelmed with the response to my Day 4 post on Changes, titled “Bottles and cans,” in which I pondered my destination and the road that would lead me there.

If the post was tl;dr for you, I am deeply hurt and offended because I spent a lot of time writing it, the main gist of it was this: I’m not quite getting the same personal satisfaction I once got from talking about diabetes, and that I may feel more fulfilled with a different approach: by building a better mousetrap rather than discussing the challenges of catching mice (don’t get the metaphor? go read the post. It’s tough to summarize).

Essentially, I think I can more effectively leave my mark on the tangible than the intangible — focusing on the parts of diabetes we can feel with our hands – the “bottles and cans” if you will — rather than the parts we feel with our minds. It’s just where my talent lies, and it’s the destination to which my mind tends to wander quite frequently.

But, unexpectedly, the responses to that post led me to wonder if I came across as delivering a farewell message. I assure you, I was not. But at the same time, I wasn’t acknowledging or committing that “I recognize I’ve not written much lately, and I’ll try to kick it back into high-gear again” either.

The post was about my hopes and aspirations as it concerns diabetes, and what I would like to do with my life. Equally, it was about how I have no idea how to get there, and I questioned whether the pursuit is even worth pursuing.

* * *

Then, the day after that post went live, Asante happened. Better put, Asante un-happened.

Asante put an ingenious concept out there, one that essentially solved the long-sought after desire for simplicity that no other manufacturer dare acknowledge, much less fix. Even more admirable, its designers built the Snap pump from a blank slate, completely free of any preconceptions over how a pump should look or work.

The impressive part: it was REAL. The concept became an actual product, and real people with diabetes were actually using it. The Snap is, in a large part, responsible for my own inspiration to build a better mousetrap insulin pump. It could be done. IT HAD BEEN DONE.

And then, just like that – POOF – it was gone.

And my personal dreams, already shadowed by a dark cloud of doubt, got a shocking dose of reality. Well, they didn’t POOF entirely, but the doubt grew even larger. The sliver of optimism I held just a day before was overcome by the enormous risk and the unfavorable odds that were stacked heavily against the new guy. And I wondered.

* * *

Then on Saturday, I finally got around to listening to the rest of the Chris Snider’s Just Talking podcast from April 7, featuring DiabetesMine‘s Mike Hoskins. (With my schedule, it takes me about a month to get through a single podcast and I don’t get to listen to them all, but this was on my “must-hear” list and I found the time).  I was most curious to hear his views on the state of journalism and news reporting amid today’s media, and he did not disappoint.

But then he got to the point where he spoke about the DiabetesMine Innovation Summit, and my ears perked up — even though I knew I’d already missed the deadline. I had contemplating making a submission and competing for a spot in the Summit in the past — for a couple of years actually — but I knew that even if my idea earned me billions of dollars to advance my idea, I still wouldn’t have a clue what to do with it, yet I’d have an enormous responsibility to shoulder. In fact, I’d recently gotten in touch with one of the previous Summit winners — a group with much more knowledge and experience than myself — whose innovations seem to be stalled pending more funding (this contact was made after a tweet I made during one of my inventive mental meanderings). The current state of this venture also gave me reason to think that the Summit wasn’t compatible with me and my dream.

But, in the podcast, Mike mentioned another element of the Summit, one which I didn’t know about (probably due to my lack of paying attention). He said that there would be an opportunity to liaise with the “movers and shakers” in the industry — to get ideas noticed by people who really do have the power, connections, and resources to make a difference. This put it in an entirely new perspective for me, one that carried less risk and was more attractive to me. It wouldn’t lead me to riches as as an entrepreneurial effort might, but that’s not my goal. My goal is to put my mark on a piece of diabetes equipment that is designed from real first-hand experience and that truly makes life easier by fulfilling every (achievable with today’s tech) item on a D-tech user’s wish-list.

But, alas, the deadline had passed. I suppose there’s always next year.

* * *

Now, as I write this post a week later, there’s another Just Talking podcast fresh in my mind — this one from April 14 with Christel Aprigliano. She is the one who inspired me to overcome my fears and DO SOMETHING in the first place, as I mentioned in that DBlogWeek Bottles and Cans post. I won’t repeat what I wrote in that post, but listening to the podcast gave me even more respect and admiration for her than I had before (apparently it’s possible!) – not just as a fantastic diabetes advocate, but for her talents to organize, execute, motivate, and engage. And to feel and sympathize. That is a precious combination; people like her don’t come along very often.

The bulk of the podcast was about the unConference, and it was truly enlightening to learn how the Little Engine That Could, did. It was also enlightening to learn of her one-, five-, and ten-year goals of the Diabetes Collective — which reminded me that it’s important to set milestone goals en route to the ultimate goal. That makes each task a bit more achievable and provides an opportunity to learn from mistakes. Maybe I need to write my future that way — rather than look to take one impossible ginormous step to the finish line, to reach it in a series of large, tough but achievable, steps.

As I listened, I also thought what I might be able to contribute or take out of the unConference simply as an attendee (I had not attended the last one, but plan to go to the East Coast version next year). Generally, I’m not a verbally emotional guy, and I had questioned whether I would fit in at such a session. But Christel kept describing the unConference using terms such as safe, small, and intimate. And then, suddenly, the value of that type of setting clicked.

It hit me — the one thought that I keep locked deep inside, that continues to gnaw at me year after year but that I’ve never been comfortable vocalizing (and barely realized in myself either, despite it being plainly obvious). I won’t expand on that thought here, on this blog.

Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

But in the safe confines of the unConference, I think I can finally get it off my chest. I can discuss an aspect of diabetes that lives not in blood sugars or infusion sets or lab results, but entirely in my own head. Like a parasite, it lives, irrationally, in my own head. And now I know where and how to let it all out. I wouldn’t seek aid or validation or anything of the sort, I just want to let it out. That would be enough for me. (I think I’ve just broken my DBlogWeek Day 2 resolution!)

* * *

Which brings me full-circle back to the question I pondered from the start. Maybe I should leave the design of the bottles and cans to the experts, and instead focus on the tastes of the beverages therein.

Or I can do both. Because I’ve got two turntables AND a microphone.

As is the common theme here, I have no freaking idea what I’m doing. But of this I’m sure — I’m going in circles.