in the wake of the great and powerful stanford medicine x conference, i want to share with you a recent trip i took. it all started in the bar where i tend.
i’m doing my thing at sleepy dog brewery, pouring and delivering beers, when a woman walks in. erica. she has been in before, but this time her pal from work, alex, is coming in to join her. they work nearby.
as i’m turning around to let the computer know they will both be having our tail chaser ipa, alex notices my well-displayed dexcom sensor sitting pretty on the back of my arm. or maybe he sees my diabetes alert tattoo first and then the dexcom, but either way…
he asks if i have diabetes, to which i reply ‘indeed i do.’
he tells me that him and erica work at the tech group, which is a manufacturing company that produces some of the dexcom parts.
my next question leapt from my mouth faster than a light switch. BAM!…
“do you do tours?” i begged, eager and hopeful.
as he answers yes, i begin to dance the cabbage patch. okay, i didn’t really do this, but that is what i felt like doing.
. . . . . . .
between the time of this exchange and his departure, i had shared with alex that i write this blog, that i’m an active member of the DOC and that i attend conferences as often as possible. i learned that he keeps up with some diabetes blogs and frequents the diabetes mine. he took my email, gave me his card, and by the time i woke up the next morning, there was a message in my inbox about setting up a time to have me come in.
so began my trip to the tech group manufacturing facilities, a place where many dexcom parts are made.
visiting tech group: august 22nd 2014
when i first walked in the door, i was delighted to hear “are you heather?.” feeling expected rather than unknown is such a wonderful thing.
moments later, as i was signing off on the liability waiver, alex greeted me.
we walked into the offices area, then into a nice conference style room. alex taught me all about the tech group via powerpoint. he also shared with me that the office collective takes part in fundraising for a local charity. a part of that fundraising is in the form of a cursing box. each time you curse, you pay money to the box. that money gets donated. good system. good people.
. . . . . . . . .
after telling me about the history and workings of the tech group, alex introduced me to some co-workers. one woman took a minute to show me a letter they received from a young boy thanking them because the dexcom sensor improved his quality of life. she was so touched by this. it reminded me of the disparate goals between the business and end-user/patient.
as a patient, i want to believe that new technologies are developed and disseminated FOR THE PEOPLE USING THEM, to make life better for us. i want to believe that money isn’t as important of a factor as it is in reality.
i didn’t witness anything at the tech group that led me to believe that they didn’t have patients in mind, but i wasn’t surprised that a great majority of their employees had never met a patient using the final product they help to build.
alex took me on a tour of the machines next. it is a clean room, so we had to garb up. i’m disappointed that i do not have a photo of us in the clean gear, but you’ll just have to use your imagination. we looked like surgeons!
i learned a lot about how they make dexcom parts and was very impressed with their speed of production. specifics escaped me, but one thing in particular grasped me in all the right ways.
every dexcom adhesive patch is hand-glued to the plastic piece that holds the transmitter. i saw the women and men sitting down under bright lights, performing this glueing procedure. i was so strongly comforted by the fact that human touch occurred in the process. after seeing all the the huge, cold, machines pictured above (i got the image from google), the human part brought the dexcom to life.
people. people are making this medical equipment i use everyday. people are making the thing that improves my quality of life.
. . . . . . . .
the good news and why this ties into medicine x:
after the factory tour, alex introduced me to many of his co-workers. dave, one of said co-workers even invited me to come to the tech group’s upcoming quarterly meetings to share about my experience with the dexcom.
the people who work the machines, the people who give human touch to my medical equipment will be there.
i can’t wait to be a connection for them. i can’t wait to thank them for making the thing that literally makes my life better, my diabetes more manageable, my data more expansive.
i can’t and to tell them that wearing the sensor they make might even help me live a longer life.
. . .
i would love to come prepped with statements from others in the DOC about how their dexcom improves their life.
what would you want to share?
Wow- cool post! It’s so nice to hear about the “human touch” used to manufacture the very product that makes all of our lives better. I started using the Dexcom CGM in May and haven’t taken a day off since; I honestly do not want to remember life without it. Going to bed without that pit in my stomach that I may not wake up one day, touring medical facilities as part of a graduate class this summer and being able to see my sugar falling from the exercise in time to prevent a bad low, connecting with the Dexcom facebook group members and realizing I was not alone- all of these things are a direct result of the Dexcom product.
Thank you for being an active advocate for diabetics. You have a great story on your hands for years to come: “So this one day, I show up to work at a bar… Next thing you know, I’m touring a CGM factory!” 🙂 It is important for Dexcom to see firsthand the people who their employees help to keep healthy. Keep up the good work!
I am so jealous right now, but happy for you! I know you will do great when you meet with everyone else. Just tell them your story, honest and true.
This is so awesome. You never know when you just might run into someone that could make such a difference in life (yours? that of people who meet you? those of us who read about it?), and I’m so glad that you were forthcoming enough to display your Dexcom and ask for a tour. I can’t wait to hear about what happens next. (Unfortunately, though, I have no Dexcom stories to share)