Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tough week

Like most humans, I live through disappointment on occasion in my life.  When I was looking for a faculty job, every email or phone call rejecting me hurt me pretty bad.  In my personal life, an argument with a friend cuts into me pretty deep.  I can only put on the facade of a happy-go-lucky person so much.  Luckily, I have a pretty good support network to pull me through these kinds of things.  I highly recommend you have a good network for when life diverts one way or another.  It's better than any drug, vice, or otherwise.  But this week a few personal and professional things cut kind of deep.  This post doesn't have any insight, advice, or whatever, and I was thinking about not publishing it, but I hate letting words go to waste, sooooooo........

This part week I started a study overseas introducing a 'humanitarian-use' type of device.  This was for patients with no other option; so it gives us data on the device while giving people a chance.  I recognize that some patients will have complications with therapies I have developed, but I rationalize it with the fact that lots more will live and often have much better lives.  The good greatly outweighs the bad.  And when I heard about someone losing their life because of a complication I had a strong leadership team above me, and great friends around me, to help me stay strong.  

For the past week I've been coping with a 0% survival from this device.  A major unforeseen problem that even physicians had no idea was coming.  From past experience it takes time to dull things that happen like this.  The first thing I thought of after getting to the airport was that I really can't wait to get into academics so my work will not (directly) enter the clinic.  I won't have an impact on patients directly.  Sure, my research is very translational, but I can't help but think that I'll never have to experience something like this again.  My biggest beef with academics in the medical devices field is they claim to know devices, design, medical science, and engineering well, but most have never actually had a direct impact on patients or designed a devices used by a physician.  Nearly every engineering class I took has been useless in designing medical devices.  My background in physics, on the other hand, is something I use every day.  But I'm pretty okay with this trade-off.  My beef with academic research is warranted to disconnect myself.  I'm now a little more okay with being disconnected from clinical work.  The more disconnected I am from real medical device design, the less likely I'll be to deal with this kind of pain.

The CTO of my company was on the flight next to me and could tell that I was hit hard.  This is my first real failure here.  I've had failures, but with far less impactful ramifications.  He told me something like, "Suck it up.  These are the things that happen on the cutting edge. You will always be disappointed at some point.  The key is not to drown it, but reflect on it.  Remember the good, identify what needs to be changed, and be grateful for where you're at."  I responded with, "I'll try".  Then slept for 12 straight hours.