Clinical studies can change everything

The idea of a clinical study had appealed to me over the years. Offering my mind and body for the sake of others really sounds noble, but even though true, I want to learn about any avenues that could make me able to help diabetics live a fuller and richer life.

By definition defines the clinical trial as, “trials to evaluate the effectiveness and safety in medications or medical devices by monitoring their affects a large group of people.” states that, “clinical study involves research using human volunteers (also called participants) that are intended to add to medical knowledge.” [Look out for humanist feel of that!]

So in comes and email from my local chapter of JDRF Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Directed to me by my ally in communication and local outreach manager, I interpreted the email as a seed being planted in fertile soil (odd expression). I had been thinking about how I could be more involved with the “community” and dedicate my life towards advancing wellness, so why not follow one’s curiosity to see what grows.

It took about 36 hours for me to decide to call the contact person of the study. Based on this  flyer I can only interpret so much as a first look at researching hospital. 

I’ll explain what this basically means below, but the designer in me had to create a new flyer; one which would probably make me respond in a matter of minutes or just make other people scared pant-less.

Either way, visual impact aside, here is what details I know based on the initial flyer:

There’re qualifiers:
Type I diabetes (the tall dark and handsome insulin dependent type)
Age 18 to 30
On an insulin pump (a medical device that reduces needle injections)
A1c less than 8.5% (a percentage of sugar attached to one’s blood cells over time)

There is an artificial pancreas involved:
    Artificial pancreas is a diabetic industry terms, normally meaning a reactive set of devices that communicate with each other to minimize and eliminate human (self) interaction. —Hence the cool robot organ on the new flier.

There is a drug involved:
    Sitagliptin, a drug that I’ve not heard of before although after reviewing, it is approved for type II diabetics (the common and insulin resistant type) used to control high blood sugar after meals.

There is a poor compensation plan considering the time commitment alone.

Call to action: Simply call

In meeting the criteria and being relatively close to the location, as well as being really curious about the process I decided to call.

Speaking with the leading fellow of this study gave me some new specifications and next steps for the process, I already knew I wanted to take part in. I felt comfortable with the research, it agreed with my moral compass, and could help millions of people —awesome. We scheduled the first step, which was the screening, and from there I’ll know if I am a match for the study.

A couple weeks later, I meet the kind fellow facilitating the study and participant funnel. This intro part of the study starts with a screening interview-style blood drawing. I’m told this is a blind a ‘double blind study’ so that means both the doctor or patient don’t know the drug vs placebo and I will remain anonymous. [how mysterious] 

The questions were relatively standard regarding diabetes background, certain features and functions of my current maintenance, and random questions about personal life.  One question I can’t remember although I could only recall an odd wording similar to when the comedian Mitch Hedberg tells the joke of medical questions before a physical. “… they asked me a lot of medical questions. And they were, like, yes and no questions, but they were very strangely worded. Like, 'Have you ever tried sugar -- or PCP?'

The questions, forms, and signatures would then be filed to my no-name, number only folder, and get me started for ‘the standard’ diabetes blood workup. This screening visit was paid with a small stipend for my time and blood. I technically signed a release for my blood to be used for future research so my cranberry concoction can live on for way more than $80/hr! [not really sure who is successful or screwed at this rate]

Now that the questions were over, it became time for vitals and the blood work which will decide my fate regarding my acceptance as an active participant of the study. It turns out, having confidence and trust in the person stabbing you with needles is a serious interpersonal relationship that must be developed. Unfortunately, I did not trust the nurse who the timid hands and a shaky voice. She tried to tie the elastic blue tourniquet like a bow; not a solid approach if you have done this frequently. In the pre-stick moments I realized my veins have feelings and can react to people and situations as well. This is more so established by our brains sending signals of ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ to our body, but once that butterfly clipped pierced my blue canals my circulatory system was pissed! It didn’t want to cooperate for the four vials I needed to fill.

Thankfully after a few breathes, my fist was open, the blue band was off, and I had a gauze/Band-Aid combo in bend my elbow—the screening was over.

Now like an unaware high school senior taking an SATs assuming that it matters towards their future, I waited and wonder if I tested properly… if I will be accepted…


A personal growth journey

There were a series of events that occurred the past couple years which allowed me to think about what I wanted out of life. Now over the past year, I've been intensely committed to improving myself through the study of personal growth material, to challenge and develop a deeper understanding of myself.

It definitely wasn’t as serious as that evil dad from the Twisted Sister Video, but I did ask myself, “What do you wanna do with your life?”

This is such an easy question to avoid and forget about completely. It also may seem mildly intimidating, since commonly we don’t realize we have a choice in the matter. The idea of doing something with one’s life is exactly that –you must do something with it. 

This task of figuring out your mission, finding your purpose, following your passion, and seeking curiosity takes time, effort, patience, and persistence. Making the time and commitment to doing this will force you into new habits and potentially make you feel uncomfortable, but hopefully really freaking excited!

I will share a few ideas that stand out for me in (loosely) summarizing self-discovery.

Ask; Listen; Think; Determine

Ask; Listen; Think; Determine

1. Ask yourself good questions.

Not ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions (although those are helpful), but instead ask, “How would I feel if I …? What would it look like if we… What will ____help me understand? What do I want do in the next 3 years? Who do I want to be come for my [partner, family, community]?

2. Be quiet with yourself.

Make time, set a ritual, and value yourself enough to just sit still for at least 5-10 minutes everyday. Call it a meditation or a time to relax it really doesn’t matter although once the outside world slows down you get to hear the inside world. You can get those good questions answered and understand where to go next. 

3. Think, and then think why you think.

As one starts to think about themselves you’ll realize that some thoughts have a common thread, or some ideas sound inherently restrictive. Understand why you feel or believe that certain response, and you may come to the realization that those feelings or beliefs are not true or doesn’t help you at all. The majority of “truths” and ideas are most of the time not true at all, or just something that someone else told you to believe.

4. If this then that.

If your beliefs don’t matter or serve you anymore, you have the ability to make your own opinion about it. This is when personal development gets interesting because you must look at yourself as an individual that can develop new ideas, habits, education, and so on. You’re not defined by anything unless you believe that’s all you know. If you want to be redefined by [blank] then, you must do, think, believe, or act like [blank].

The key to personal growth and helping yourself is that, one must learn to understand oneself in several ways –within a job, career, family, or relationship, and way beyond that. 

This key point gives me the work-around answer to, “What do you want to do with your life?” I want to spend the rest of my life understand myself and what make me happy so I can help other people. I’ve been liking fluffy and vague wording nowadays although I really believe that we do need to understand ourselves to know where we are going and why.

The reason I’m even sharing this post is to develop the context of why I have chosen to start a personal mission to restore my health. I’ve been diagnosed with 2 autoimmune diseases and I think a diagnosis is a one-sided opinion of a doctor given the present results. With that said, I don’t believe my current results are who I am, and I have the ability to think whatever I choose about my body. I have chosen to embrace my conditions and a will try everything I can to personally grow myself into a perfectly happy healthy life. 

My post are intended to reveal several sides of my character but more importantly I’m looking to develop my own content and understanding to help others to develop their own, regarding self-image, health, diabetes, lifestyle, and wellness.