Ever wonder what it's like "working for the other side?" Michelle M. felt compelled to share her story of "straddling the fence" with me, and I share it with you today. Read on.
So what's it like being BOTH a "PWD" and a "PSR"?
What? You don't know what a "PSR" is? Let me elaborate. I am, what most everybody hates to love and at the same time loves to hate... a pharmaceutical sales representative. Oh, and I should probably mention that I am equally as lucky since I am also a person with diabetes. Like you, I wear the "red badge of courage," carry the burden of a disease that has a mind of its own, yet is far more controllable than many will admit.
As a person with Type 1 insulin-dependent diabetes, I am fiercely independent. I refuse to let my disease control me and strive to control it. I am a "good" diabetic, checking myself an average of 10 times per day. With my career, comes the blessing of knowledge exposure and the expectation to own it. That being said, I have tried most everything that is out there: CGM (continuous glucose monitoring), all of the "analog or mealtime" insulins and even the most recent "advance" with untethered insulin pumps. I have even tried Symlin and its counterpart Exenatide (which of course is "off-label"). I have a strong opinion by way of my travels and the knowledge that I have picked up which has given me deep-rooted opinions. I expect nothing but success from myself since I must lead by example with the career that I have chosen. I by no means write to suggest that my experience should be indicative of what you expect, but I do write to tell each and every diabetic, type 1 or type 2, to be your own champion!
I recently had an opportunity to listen to an Endocrinologist speak to myself and my peers at one of our meetings. Throughout his presentation, I kept thinking, "tell me something I don't already know", "give me something new". To my surprise, I walked away with something that was so basic yet I am willing to bet that 98% of us don't do it. What is it you ask? S imply stated, how many times do you find yourself behind the wheel driving down the road, NOT having checked your blood sugar...? Yeah, I'm talking to you. Many of us swear that we know when we are "low" and we can recognize the symptoms, which may or may not be true. I recognize when I'm low, but I've started to test that much more since my job revolves around driving in my car from office to office throughout the day. Without that "knowledge" of where your sugars are when you are behind that wheel, you risk the chance of hurting yourself, your family and those around you, not to mention their families. Bottom line, you owe it to yourself and those driving their cars around you -- not to mention all of those families involved. Thus, my lesson -— test yourself and if you don't like to test with the frequency that I do, invest in CGM, it's worth it. I share with you the following story of a former colleague of mine:
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diabetes educator who herself had diabetes and from what I was told recently
hyperglycemia unawareness. She lost her
life right before Christmas while behind the wheel of her car. While thankfully she only "bumped" a few cars
around her (as again I was told), her car careened off the road long after the
off ramp she was looking for. She left
behind her husband and two children after retiring from her full time job just
two weeks before this incident. She
won't get to see her recently engaged child get married and she will never see
the grandchildren she desperately wanted. Simply stated, hers was a life cut short.
And now, the other part of who I am, that being a pharmaceutical sales representative. The basis for my job is to bring information to the physician, to be a resource to your doctor. I am also supposed to partner with your doctors staff all in the name of making it better for you as a patient. We bring samples and supplies for the physicians so that they will get the clinical experience, and thereby expertise with our medications in addition to giving the patients a "leg up" when having to start a new medication. While there are many reps out there that seem to monopolize your doctor's time, we are not all alike. I sympathize with you for what it may in fact appear to be or for that matter actually be... somebody who is taking your time up with the doc and making the doctor run late. Just remember: some may do that, but there are others like me that are respectful of you as the patient, the staff and physician, because I know just what it's like to be you and I respect that. I'm different because I hold myself to a higher standard. I am empowered by my job in pharmaceuticals because the information is with me each and every day. I want for each diabetic patient to own their disease with the same determination that I have. I want each of you to be successful in the management of your disease. Bottom line is that I expect a lot from myself as the pharmaceutical rep because I walk in your shoes, and you as the patient should too.
next time you see one of us, stop for a moment and think. Value me for more than the samples I bring
and the time I take in the office. Also,
be your own champion and ask the questions, learn and challenge your docs, they
deserve it as much as you deserve the highest standard of care a diabetic
patient can get!
-- Michelle M. in CA