Thursday, June 27, 2013

Chicago musings

Chicago. Having spent the last few days in the Windy City, attending the American Diabetes Association conference, it has been nothing but an eclectic experience.The city itself was fascinating, a dreamy, relaxed version of New York. Amidst the high rises, life seemed to have a gentle pace. Amidst the down-town traffic, some amazing Jazz clubs rolling out some absorbing Blues tunes.It was hard not to fall in love...easily one of the better American cities I have had the pleasure of visiting.

And as ever, an experience to enrich the mind and recharge the batteries. Bumped into old friends greeted by warm embraces, similarly passionate minded individuals who are keen to make a difference...cynicism wasn't the buzz word, it was more of realism. Got to know some others a bit better, beyond their normal work veneer, the witty, humorous or perhaps more human side. Making decisions about life, family and work. And perhaps also sure signs of getting old, or does one call it maturity? Walked up to build back some bridges, time would always the greatest healer,Niru Goenka was right, wasn't he? Struggled to do late nights....I blamed it on the jet lag..inwardly knew perhaps it wasn't the case. Encountered some mild ribbing too.."left your A game behind, Dr Kar?"...no, Dr Kar, away from the incessant adrenaline driven hubbub of the NHS, just wanted to relax. Sometimes you never know how much it all takes a toll. And amidst the relaxation, there as always the reminder when one opened the hospital emails of the state of play. Emails copied into showing the tired, angry exchanges generated by pressures of the system...who has time for morale building in the NHS when the incessant drive is to get the numbers correct right now?

But it was fun. Some staggering findings about the amount of financial burden poor diabetes care is leaving worldwide, a stronger realisation across the globe that primary and secondary physicians do need to get their act together, see alternative providers such as pharmacists and nurses as adjuncts to helping improve healthcare, rather than challengers and of course, some good academic findings (a possible vaccine for Type 1? ; a possible use of type 2 diabetes drugs in Type 1 diabetes?) which shows promise for the future.
Sitting down with young energetic bright research minds like Pratik Chaudhury and Dinesh Selvarajah..discussing CGM findings, exploring options for type 1 diabetes patients..ahh..such a refreshing exercise for the mind...pure science, no NHS politics..what was not to love?

I have never believed that the US system has nothing positive to teach us, I mentioned so after my visit to Seattle...indeed there are bits which we can learn from..never catered to the blinkered socialist view that nothing is there to be emulated. Simply put, that's ideological beliefs blinding one to the possibility of emulating good practice.
But there is the darker underbelly which one met too. The scenario where one person faces the grim possibility of their immunosuppressive drugs post kidney transplant not being renewed after 3 years due to insurance issues....people in the NHS...surely complain about the failings, but also recognise the system you have....continue to bash it..and a fundamental change will leave us all in a place of deep divide and discomfort. And of course, areas where the NHS is streets ahead of the game. I sat through sessions smiling, appreciating the work in hospitals being miles ahead of where the Yanks are..as I always say, never be shy of good quality work...but hey, doesn't sell those newsreels does it?

As ever, I realised the amount of collective goodwill around amongst the UK delegates to make a difference to patients..and I return with recharged batteries and energised that this battle isn't a lonely one. Passionate people abound, whether they come from Bath, Medway, Derby or Leicester. Optimism bristled irrespective of their profession..Doctor, nurse or pharmacist....and you know what? The parts will add up to the sum, I promise you it will.And I may have something else to hopefully offer to the world of diabetes...an interesting meeting with a passionate John Sjolund...who knows what may come of that...we shall see...but something I have always wanted to do.

And finally, after 5 days, it was time to leave...leave the Windy City behind...leave the city of the BlackHawks..a city which rejoiced after winning the Stanley Cup sparking some amazing scenes on the streets. Thank you Nicky, Gary, Lisa, Dani et al for making the whole time so enjoyable.

So...back to the grind again. Recharged batteries, some new things learnt, some deals in mind, some old friendships renewed, some friendships strengthened, some new friends gained....it has been worth its weight in gold.

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