A homerun for Novo Nordisk, but a strike-out for Jessica Apple.
I spent the weekend in Copenhagen taking part in Novo Nordisk’s DAWN2 Global Results Meeting. Before I say anything else, I want to note that I was honored to be a part of the meeting and being there was a wonderful experience. Improving the lives of people with diabetes is my passion, and that’s what DAWN is all about, so I was truly excited to be a part of the meeting.
All About DAWN
The original DAWN (Diabetes, Attitudes, Wishes, and Needs) Study was created by Novo Nordisk in 2001 because more than half of people with diabetes were not achieving good health and quality of life, despite the availability of effective medical treatments. Novo Nordisk partnered with the International Diabetes Federation and an international advisory panel of leading diabetes experts and patient advocates to launch DAWN, the largest study of its kind (interviews with 5,426 patients and almost 4,000 health care providers) with the aim of uncovering the psychosocial challenges faced by people with diabetes and the people helping them, and exploring new avenues for improving care. Five goals were set based on the results of DAWN. You can see those here.
A decade after DAWN came DAWN2, which builds on the data from DAWN, but defines new and important elements. In a nutshell, the DAWN2 study initiative provides new authoritative global scientific insights about unmet needs of people with diabetes, family members, healthcare professionals as well the related health care systems and policies. Hopefully, the study will provide a usable foundation to create solutions to the real challenges faced by people with diabetes and those who care for them.
I can’t share any of the DAWN2 results with you yet. They will be formally released by Novo Nordisk in the near future. So for now I’ll just give you a little run down of the non-DAWN aspects of my weekend.
I had never been to Denmark and while I knew I wouldn’t have time for much sightseeing, I figured that at least in the hotel, which looked modern and stylish in pictures, I’d get to see some of that famed Danish design.
I entered my room, put down my things, and went to quickly clean up before grabbing something to eat (I was starving!), and found that the very small bathroom sink had a very long faucet. The faucet stuck out so far from the wall that if you were to bend your face over the sink in order to splash water on it, you would smack your forehead and nose into the faucet. Then there was the toilet seat challenge – or in other words – why doesn’t the toilet seat fully cover the toilet bowl?
Moving on now to cuisine, I’ve got three words for you: smoked, pickled, and dried. I never like to eat in hotel restaurants, but this hotel was far from town and it was dark and getting late, so it seemed wise to stay in. The main hotel restaurant (situated behind a large statue of a golden toad – Hans Christian Andersen thing?) was full. I went to the hotel tapas bar where the menu was sparse.
There were no veggies, my staples. I decided to pass on the pork cheek, smoked herring, and duck gizzard. I ordered the bite of cheese, and the artichoke tapenade which was canned artichokes thrown into a blender with mayo. It was a portion size so small that if it caught on and became popular, would cure the type 2 diabetes and obesity epidemic within a month. Since I don’t eat bread (carbs), I had to dip smoked almonds (I hate smoked anything) into my pickled mayo tapenade, or eat it on a spoon like baby food. I went in hungry. I went out hungry.
I woke up early on Friday morning and skipped breakfast in order to have a chance to see a little of Copenhagen before the meeting began. I walked to a nearby metro station and tried to buy a ticket from the ticket machine. There should have been instructions in English, but the UK button was broken. I asked the woman next to me for help and it seemed I was trying to buy either a child’s or a dog’s ticket. But it actually didn’t matter because when I pulled out my Danish 100 kroner bill, I couldn’t find a place to stick it into the machine. “Coins only,” someone said. (This is the point where I got a little panicky. I had no coins and there was nowhere to get change. The hotel and metro stop were in the middle of nowhere.) I noticed a slot for credit cards so I stuck mine in. Nothing happened. I asked for help again. “It says you need to put your pin card in,” a kind Danish woman told me. Pin code? I don’t have a pin code for my credit card.
So there I was, alone, freezing my ass off under a totally gray sky in the middle of nowhere, and not only was I by far the shortest person around, I was also the only one without a pin code. I had no choice but to retreat to the hotel, where I found the world’s most expensive taxi and got a ride into town. I arrived in town 45 minutes later than planned. The wind was harsh and I was cold. It was early and everything was closed. The first thing I noticed in a store window was a bag for sale and a sign next to it that said “ugle.” Then I saw a whole pig hanging in a butcher shop’s window, then a place called “Eat Me.”
I ended my quick little walk around Copenhagen without seeing much, but at least I had found a supermarket. I chose some of the food I like to eat and was excited to take it back to the hotel and finally have something to fill me up. But when I went to pay, I took out my credit card, and I thought I was going to lose it when the cashier told me I needed a pin code. My cash was gone, all spent on my $50 cab ride into town. No food, again.
I did succeed in getting the metro back to the hotel, washed up by carefully tilting my head to side in order to get water on my face and only splashed a few handfuls on myself and on the floor, and hurried down to the beginning of the DAWN2 meeting. I had failed as a tourist, but hopefully I’d do better as patient representative.
As I mentioned above, the results of DAWN2 will be out soon. The meeting was really interesting, and I met amazing people from all over the world. I also spoke in front everyone (big deal for me), though as soon as I opened my mouth I became intensely nervous and forgot everything I wanted to say. Anyway, I mumbled my way through it, trying to put words together and form sentences, something that comes easily to me at a keyboard, but not in front of a crowd. As idiotic as I may have sounded, trying to buy a dog’s ticket for the metro was worse.
While I have a lot of thoughts on the DAWN2 Study and its results, I have to wait to share them with you. But here are two big takeaways I can tell you. First, people in Copenhagen love their herring (my great grandfather did, too. He also enjoyed fish eyes). Second, Novo Nordisk REALLY cares about us. The effort that has gone into their research, and their passion to make the lives of people with diabetes better couldn’t be any clearer.
And one more thing – on my flight home I sat next to a guy who owned body piercing stores. I commented that he didn’t have any piercings. And then he said, suggestively, with an eyebrow raised, “Maybe I do have some.” And my stomach turned a little. And then it turned a little more when he stuck out his tongue to show me that he didn’t have a piercing there. He stuck out his tongue several more times as he spoke about piercing others’ tongues. When he asked me what I do for a living I said I work with needles, too.
*My travel expenses, including hotel and herring, were paid for by Novo Nordisk. The opinions expressed here are 100% mine.