Hello from the outside. From the outside of the DOC. It’s no secret that I’ve been an outsider lately. There are various reasons for that.
I’m not going to go into those reasons in detail, but one big reason is that any time a thought came into my mind regarding diabetes and I considered sharing it online, I’d ask myself “Why?” Why do I need to tell a story that’s already been told?
There are plenty of folks who fulfil the role of inclusion, of solidarity, of showing people with diabetes that they are not alone. I don’t feel the need to do that myself anymore; not at this point in my life. Nor do I need that reminder from others. Next month will mark 35 years from my date of diagnosis. I’ve met people on both sides of that milestone and I know folks like me are out there.
I am currently writing this while on a plane, flying back home from my second (and overall, the fourth) Diabetes Advocates Forum (affectionately known as #MedtronicDAF). Frankly, I found it peculiar that I was invited again, considering my absence from – and arguably my neglect toward – the Diabetes Online Community. As I wrote the last time, I hardly consider myself an advocate to begin with. Not even an advocate-wannabe. But I accepted the invitation (expenses paid, thoughts my own, yadda yadda), and WHILE I was there, I learned WHY I was there. Sort of. But I couldn’t put it in words.
But Amanda, who’s in charge of Medtronic’s external communications and is the mastermind behind the event (she has a formal title and last name, but neither are germane to this discussion) – along with her hardworking staff – knew the reason. And while having dinner after the forum had concluded, she graciously introduced me to Brian. Brian is one of the chief CGM development engineers (again, not too big on titles). Patrick, another talented lead engineer, was also in the discussion.
After gravitating from specifics, we spoke more generally about the need to approach any design by first identifying an unmet need. Abstractly, without bounds, and without prejudice toward a particular technology or existing method. Engineering and problem-solving is in my blood and I found this discussion fascinating. Most readers probably find this engineering process dull, however, so I won’t elaborate on it.
There is great value in specific challenges that patients/consumers/PWDs/etc (take your pick) encounter and bringing them to the surface. The DOC does a great job of that. And there is also an absolute justification in voicing those concerns and demanding “I’m your customer. Find a solution and make it happen.” I read it often, and heard it often at the forum.
But in order to achieve a personal feeling of accomplishment, that’s not enough for me. I find a need take those concerns and figure out the overall unmet need – from a perspective that likely doesn’t exist deep in the trenches of industry or government – and propose a solution. One that, hopefully, will reach the ears of those who are empowered to make change.
So, since we could only accomplish so much (read: not much) in one day of sessions in Northridge, California, I’ll have to do it myself. Or at least do enough to get the gears turning. It’s not enough to restate what we want achieved, I’ll push to provide guidance on how to do it.
I’ll rely on youse guys (remember, I’m from Jersey – “y’all” is not proper English) to amplify that message. You’re great at that, and I’m a bit shy when it comes to self-promoting anyway. But I’m going to attempt to craft those messages and solutions.
Perhaps they won’t be taken under consideration word-for-word. In fact, I’m sure they won’t. But if they get the discussions started and open up new lines of thinking, I’ll consider it a success.
This is how I can contribute to the Diabetes Community. This is my calling.
There is a noticeable evolution in Adele’s music from 21 to 25. I am – and this blog is – evolving as well. However, this blog’s title will remain as it’s always been, inspired by her song from four years ago. There’s still a fire burning in my heart, and it’s reaching a fever-pitch that’s pulling me out of the dark. Going forward, expect this blog to be different than anything you’ve ever read before.
Hello from the other side.