Sunday, June 30, 2013

Plug n chuggin'

I've been reluctant to write as I find myself not wanting to look at another computer screen after I leave Novo as I have been doing a lot of work on the computer. But alas, I am learning and growing each and every day.
This past week my manager was out of the office and so even though I was in touch daily with her about various projects and updates, I was for the most part on my own at the office. Although a complete switch from the previous week of constant attention from my manager, I learned invaluable lessons from this experience. 
First, I continued to practice my communication skills. Writing detailed updates on all the work I had done, questions I had, and updated check lists was important so I could tell her how I had been spending my days  and that I wasn't just sitting at my desk all day doing nothing. Along with that, as she was not there to give me more work I finished, I had to be my own advocate and go seek the work myself from others in the office who might need another set of hands but not know that I was available.  Doing this led me to the medical publishers who were drowning in thousands of pages of PDFs that needed to be bookmarked with the hundreds of Subject IDs from different doctors in this particular trial. Being able to take work from a publisher so she doesn't have to do it at home after work makes me feel like I'm making a difference. Thanks to my childhood obsession with the Numlock portion of the keyboard, I have acquired quick number typing skills. Never thinking I would I would ever get to use this random skill, I was surprised to see my talent come into play as I got through hundreds and hundreds of bookmarks in record time. As technology kept failing and the tasks kept changing, I practiced the value of patience and learned to go with the flow of the publishing world where anything can change at any moment. 
When I got this internship I thought that I would be working and seeing patients that were apart of clinical trials of Novo drugs as that is what I naively thought nurses do at this company. Being placed in the Strategic Scientific Communication department instead definitely created a different reality than my expectations. However, as I've been working through these trials in their finishing state, I have seen how many patients and doctors and investigators are involved in creating these drugs that change patient's lives. Although these patients are just numbers to me, they are in fact real live people who have all entrusted the company's product on their health. I'm learning that these medical writers and publishers play a pivotal role in patient's lives even though they are not right by the "bedside" or " out in he field." If they did not write up what happened throughout the trial, the company would not be able to convince the FDA to put the drug on the market and the sales reps would have no material to persuade patients and physicians to purchase their drug. As I crunch numbers through this PDF, just a small small responsibility in a monster of a project, I think of all of the trials and people who crunch numbers through the trials for my insulin, Novolog, a Novo Nordisk product, and I am thankful for their work as this drug has enabled me to live a healthy life. So yes there are people who have different jobs within publishing a trial and yes some will be right there with the patient dealing with adverse effects and daily health just like there are some people who will make more money than others, but they are all working together to achieve a common goal to change patient's lives. It is my hope that I act as an advocate for patients on the company's drug during my time here and provide a humane appreciation for their work. When patients are solely numbers in your work, I believe it is necessary to remain connected to "real life" examples of how your drug, the product of your long days of work, is changing people. As the only employee in the department with type 1, I may have the least amount of "power", but I have the experience with the drug first hand and therefore can provide a unique perspective to the team. Whatever you do in life, you bring your perspective to the table and often this can be your greatest contribution. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Welcome to my pocket, CGM.

Today I write about a personal experience that in some ways relates to my experience this summer. This weekend I decided that one piece of technology around my waist was not enough and elected to start using a Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitor. I had previously used the Minimed CGM a few years ago, but for multiple reasons became to resent my CGM and therefore my pump, as the two are combined within the same machine. The insertion of the sensor was extremely painful, the readings of my blood sugar were always off, and it would begin to siren during squash practice when I needed it most as it was away from my waist. Each time I would wear it instead of collecting data of blood sugars and feeling safer sleeping through the night after exercise, I would want to hurl my pump across the room. Having a bad relationship with your insulin pump is not good as you grow more resistant to even using it. So I decided to save my pump from personal destruction and stop using the sensor. 

It wasn't until I attended the Students with Diabetes Conference this past month that I was reminded of the new technology that has evolved within the past few years that I stopped using my Minimed sensor. In this time, Dexcom has created a new separate CGM that is not only more accurate, but it is less painful, and has nothing to do with my insulin pump. Yes, there are cons to this machine, another "patch" on my stomach and have to have yet another "beeper" within 20 feet of me, but I can sleep peacefully knowing that the alarm will sound if I go too high or too low. It is hard to describe the feeling of trying to fall asleep after you have a dinner out with friends hours before knowing that the food might cause you to feel ill in the middle of the night or trying to sleep after a long squash practice that afternoon knowing it is possible that you could wake up in sweats from dreaming of falling down stairs with a dangerously low blood sugar. I am extremely thankful for Students with Diabetes for exposing me to this piece of technology and helping me remove the painful scab that my old experiences with my CGM created. Even after 18 years, I am continually inspired from others to be healthier, so thank you thank you!

This whole process has taught me the importance of not being stubborn. It is easy to get used to a routine, just like it is easy to get used to having blood sugars in the 200's all day. When that becomes normal, it is hard to consider anything else as normal. However, I am hopeful that this CGM will help me show that 130 can be not only more "normal", but also more healthy and easy to maintain. Similar to starting a new job or journey in your life, you have to be adaptable to change and willing to do something that you might have rejected before in your life. If we get too stuck in our own ways, we eliminate our ability to change and grow.

With the CGM, I am able to see trends in my blood sugars enabling me to change my insulin rates if need be. Similarly, it is important to take time to reflect on your day, work week, or project and see what can be adjusted and tweaked for the future. I used to think that this process was very self deprecating, as with diabetes there is always room for improvement, always something that you haven't done properly, but it must be viewed as constructively learning. I think it is imperative that interns and new employees use every opportunity as a chance to learn and become a better worker. 

I have only been wearing this for about a day, and while I am enjoying it thus far, I have zero idea of how what my relationship will be with in tomorrow, next week, or in the fall at school. I am hopeful that it will make me healthier and that I will experience less lows and highs. Similarly with any work, it is important to keep a balance in life. As this is a constant reminder of numbers, diabetes, and technology, I probably won't wear it everyday, but then again maybe I will! 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Making a Difference!

I have immediately been put to work at Novo and I am already feeling like I am making a difference in the Medical Writing area of the Statistical Analysts and Communication department. This area is so different than anything I ever thought I would do and I am enjoying immersing myself in "uncharted waters"!
I have mainly been working on a non-interventional survey on hemophilia patients, which they call HERO. This survey is different in that it asks patients and their parents about how haemophilia impacts their lives, similar to many surveys I have taken about diabetes. It is the largest study that has been conducted at Novo in quite some time, and I have had the pleasure of editing the 1800 pg beast! Let me say that I will now look at all of the research articles I read at school very differently after this experience! I have been busy checking all of the links in the Table of Contents and all of the footnotes, and links to the tables to ensure that there are no discrepancies among them. Usually trials go through 3 reviews, but HERO is in it's 6th and hopefully review, as changes are continually made. It has been a lot of work at the computer, but I am learning that this is what goes into publishing a trial. I was able to get through the table of contents and all of the Tables and figures relatively quickly, so I continued to ask for more work. The publisher was shocked to see how fast I was at it, and this made me both excited and nervous that she thought I wasn't doing an adequate job. So I continued to double check my work and ensure that I was being thorough!
I also have a new appreciation for people who work 9-5 everyday... as I have been very tired and can't imagine having a family to feed and  keep track of on top of work!
It has been a great start to the summer! I know that I will be not only a changed employee by the end, but also a changed person!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Medical Writing introduction

I feel like I have learned so much already from this internship experience and it has not even officially begun yet. A few days ago I learned that my department was getting switched to Medical Statistics/ Writings from Medical Affairs. As much as I was excited to learn more about medical affairs in the clinical trial process of new drugs from Novo, I am equally excited to learn more about medical writing. From what I have gathered so far, medical writing is involved with working with the statistical analysts and the investigators ( doctors) who are conducting the trials to write up the findings to then be submitted to the FDA. There are many different people involved in this process including an area called Quality that basically ensures that the writings and clinical findings are in compliance with protocols. As I do not know much about clinical trials and this process, I know I have a lot to learn, but am hoping that I will catch on quickly and begin to understand all of the important work that goes into creating new drugs. I honestly have never given much thought to the process behind creating my Novolog insulin and all of the trials on animals and then humans that occurred before patients like me are fortunate to use it. I know that whatever area at Novo I am lucky enough to be involved with I will learn so many necessary skills that I will be able to apply to wherever the future takes my career, at the bedside, in the corporate office, anywhere! I feel so fortunate to have received this internship and I am going to work my hardest to make the most out of this experience, get to know more people at the company to understand more about the work they do, and learn more skills that can be applicable to future work!

Friday, June 14, 2013

First Post

I've never considered myself much of a blogger, or writer for that matter, but as a part of receiving a Students with Diabetes internship this summer, I am required to write a blog about my experiences. I usually resort to twitter or an extensive photo library to capture memories and feelings, so I don't know how I will be as a blogger. A few years ago I turned to diabetes blogs as a way to seek support, and learn from others like me out there in cyber world that happened to be experiencing the same troubles, challenges, and triumphs that living with diabetes poses. I never knew that diabetes had this whole big world out there on the Internet. As much as it was therapeutic for me to read blogs, I assume it was equally if not more meaningful to write their own experiences. I am hoping that although others will have to read this, that I will use this blog for person and my own diabetes growth. Hitting my 18th anniversary this June, I still feel like I am overcoming new obstacles everyday. I think I could write a book about how diabetes has made me into who I am as a person, for better or for worse- as I continue to live with type 1, I am realizing what a crazy disease condition whatever it is and how it truly influences all aspects of a person's life: school, work, athletics, eating, romance, sleeping, literally everything! However, I feel so lucky to have grown from this condition and find positive aspects and not solely dwell on the pain, needles, and frustration that it also encompasses. Finding Students with Diabetes on a random google search has changed my life and caused me to think that maybe someday I can have an impact on other people's lives who have diabetes. I am extremely thankful for that as I used to push away my diabetes-cover it up so I could just be thought of as "normal", whatever that is. However, I am realizing it isn't selfish or going the easy route to stick with what you know best. This internship experience is opening my eyes that there is a need for passionate, caring professionals in the diabetes community. And furthermore, as I learn to care for others with type 1, in so doing, I am taking better control of my own diabetes. After 18 years, I still learn new things about diabetes everyday and have to continue to remind myself that my health is the most important thing. Because there is never a day off with diabetes, this can get tiring, and so I hope to continue to learn more about how to care for my diabetes while I also learn how I can impact others with type 1!