Introduction- The Humalog Sales Rep that got diabetes

Hi my name is Tony Song,

I am not entirely new on the tudiabetes site as I joined in October 2009 but not very active I wanted to be more engaged and thus wanted to formally introduce myself.

I have had diabetes for about 6 years. The first time that I noticed anything was in 2003 when I was working as a sales representative for Eli Lilly selling Humalog Insulin (Talk about full circle). At least once or twice a month I would have these sudden sweats and a feeling of weakness when calling on my endocrinologists. I thought nothing of it and chalked it up to stress or not eating lunch but after some time past on my next check up my lab test came back elevated cholesterol but not to the point of medication and blood pressure creeping up as well, Classic start to metabolic syndrome but blood sugar still in range.

I found out later from talking with a diabetes educators that my sweats and feelings of weakness was probably low blood sugar caused by the start of my journey with diabetes.

In 2004 I left Elli Lilly (by the way one of the best company's I every worked for) to start something for my own. I noticed that in big corporation you’re just an employee, the days of stability is long gone. One day the company is doing the best it has in its history, the next a patent expires and fears of layoff are rumored. That is the corporate life, it comes with the career. I wanted to see if I could start something that I would have more control over for my future than what Eli Lilly could offer me at the time.

During my time with Lilly I learned much about the disease state of diabetes but more importantly I learned about the doctors who took care of patients living with diabetes. I saw feeling of frustration, happiness, anger, accomplishment and sometime a sense of complete failure and giving up in these doctors for their patients. I asked some of the doctors why they were having such a hard time with their patients. The answer I got most frequently was that they were "non-compliant". I asked the doctors what would help them become more "compliant". Some doctors felt that education was the key and that patient partnership was increased when their patient received education. Not all doctors felt this way though, Some doctors flat out said that their patients were too dumb to understand diabetes. WHAT!!! Talk about giving up on the patient.

I really don't like the word "non-complaint", that word to me is just a cope out for a healthcare professionals to dismiss a person for not being in control of their diabetes and brushing them off as a failure instead of sitting down with the person and not only find the clinical solutions but also asking why the patient was not able to do the things that was needed to control their diabetes. The emotional, behavioral and even financial side to diabetes is equally if not more important to discuss than the clinical. I like the saying patient partnership instead of “compliance”,

Well I took this key idea about educating people with diabetes to create better patient partnerships to our next big adventure. My wife and I took our savings, 401 and everything we had to start a unique business, Kelley is a pharmacist and I had the connections in the diabetes community and we started Diabetes Care Pharmacy in West Covina a one stop shop for people living with diabetes, All medications, supplies, products and most importantly access to quality education to hopefully make a real difference in peoples lives.

The road has not been easy but we have had a mild degree of success. We started delivering testing supplies to areas outside our city and in all parts of California, the extra revenue helped us to expand our diabetes program from a one table class to now a 1000 square foot program conference room in our West Covina facility and a new state of the art second generation program center in the city of Pasadena. We have educated 1000’s of people and have seen the difference that we made in both clinical outcomes but also on quality of life, I am so proud of the work that our team has done. But all the hard work, stress and not looking after my self took a toll on me early on.

My cholesterol, blood pressure and eventually my blood sugar all rose from the daily stress and long hours that starting a business takes out of you and developed signs of prediabetes in 2004 and diabetes in 2007. So now I am Type 2. I sometimes think that fate had it all written out for me. That starting a diabetes company and then getting diabetes was somehow meant to be? I’m not quite sure about that but what I do know is that I have a better understand of diabetes now more than every before because I personaly live with it.

I recently put some resources into our website and started a personal video blog of my experiences with my diabetes to see if I can help others looking for answers. If your interested please check it out and comment to let me know what you think I only have 10 episodes but its a start.... . As for my diabetes, I live with diabetes and it is a challenge, I know that I may not win every battle but I intend to win the war. My goal is to be a example of good control but still hold on to my quality of life. It is a total balancing act..

I would like to ask the tudiabetes community if most people have been referred to a formal diabetes education program ( at least 6 hours of education) and if it really helped. If it did not, what was it about the program that was did not work for you?

BTW….Kelley is still mad at me for leaving Lilly when we did as my team the “Beach Combers” West Coast Endocrine Business Unit, won an all expense trip to Cancun for our performance for the year. We were slated to go on July but did not make it as I quit to start our dream business in June. I promised Kelley that I would make it up to her and she is still waiting… I WILL.. I PROMISE.