Sunday, February 12, 2017

Feels Like Home

Exhaustion settles in as I sink into my seat at LAX. It's been a long week of meetings, a long few months of training, topped off with a few much needed fun days with my family here in Los Angeles.  

This last year or so has been one of both getting lost and self discovery, literally. I left my long lost career of comfort with Eli Lilly selling pharmaceuticals for diabetes. I was burnt out of feeling like I could not do enough to serve my customers and their patients. I was burnt out from being the token diabetic among my peers and management. Growing up with my self title of token diabetic in a rural North Dakota town was fine. It was incredible, actually. I knew my coach and friends had my back at basketball games and track meets by always knowing where the glucose tabs were or even holding a cup of Coke for me as I circled the 400 meter lap 8 times, people within my community understood enough to have something unique for me while trick or treating at Halloween to make me feel just like everyone else,  and my BFF had an in to get me a peanut butter and/or jelly sandwich at the drop of a hat anytime of day from the lunch ladies. Small towns really are like what the country songs make them out to be, at least mine was...

But being the token diabetic at work is different, difficult actually. Even though I was immersed among all of these people who sold in the industry of diabetes, only a few of us lived with it or had a family member or close friend with type 1 diabetes. No disrespect to anyone anywhere but you need that criteria to truly get it. I know I stand united among my peers who have to have insulin to survive in that statement. So I chose to leave that behind by leaving the human side of pharmaceuticals and joined the animal health side, Elanco. This is where the literal part comes in because I actually got lost on dairy farms across the Dakotas. I dare say it was refreshing to visit large family farms and walk the lanes with farmers in boots up to my ankles in manure. While the smell was not my favorite, the opportunity to have meaningful discussions with multi million dollar farmers who are providing dairy for cheese, ice cream, and milk that graces all of our tables was a fresh opportunity for me. I embraced it. I assumed that was it, I'd retire there. Growing up on a farm and returning to that in my career was a full circle, end of story. Until a dear friend called me at 8PM one night while I was driving home from a large dairy farm and told me to come back to diabetes.
She explained a new job opportunity was going to be posted with DexCom, a company that focuses solely on CGM, continuous glucose monitoring, the one tool in my toolbox of treating my diabetes that has been life changing over the last several years. If you have a DexCom or are following someone who does, you understand what I mean by life changing. After a whirlwind of considering, applying, interviewing, accepting, and training, I find myself among new friends. And somehow, it feels like home to me.

Sure, the cows were great, but I know I can do the most good with people. People immersed with diabetes, not just selling in the space, but living with it or loving those of us who do. I don't have any other words to describe it but when I received a company email highlighting business updates and pictures from a national meeting, the image above brought a lump to my throat. I don't even know who these wrists with Apple watches monitoring blood sugars belong to, but I know we have something big in common. And the fact that DexCom gets that and thrives on that speaks to my soul.
And so, I've discovered I couldn't stay away from this thing I carry with me every moment of every day, that may very well be with me until I take my last breath, and that is okay. It took me leaving the industry of diabetes to realize it is home to me. Not the disease but the people who live it with me, among me, like me. It's good to be home...