Everything begins somewhere. Somewhere with an idea. So it was..me and Mayank Patel- trainees together, friends for long, comic book affectionados...the conversation one day turned towards fusing that idea with the work we both do. Now for those of you don't know Mayank, picture an anti-Partha and you have it. Think of the brashness, the arrogance that drips from me...reverse that, mix it with an endearing smile, a zen like sense of calmness and you have Dr Mayank Patel.
So it was an idea...and the game was afoot. Thanks to the connections of life and mostly due to Neil Black in far away Londonderry, the chance arose to meet yet another young chap called Danny McLoughlin..a bundle of infectious energy with a scorching talent for drawing (if you haven't read his comic book on cancer...you have missed out )....the game was now definitely afoot. Then came the quick fire round of use of Twitter to find a few folks with Type 1 diabetes who shared the passion for comics...and up stepped Jen, Laura, Joe and Andy.
The rest? Time flew by..and the awesome foursome worked with Danny...we kept our involvement to a minimum ...I don't have type 1 diabetes, how indeed does one form a story about that? But when the final product did come along, the sense has been one of joy, happiness and sheer sense of achievement. I love what the comic book has come to be and thank you to so many on behalf of Mayank and I for all the kind words and suggestions...indeed we have been most touched. Most importantly has been the priceless feedback from patients and their carers...if even one person benefits from it, the job is indeed done.
Where next? Well, there indeed is no limit if we want to take it further. A song based on the comic? Virtual reality use to use the comic as an educational tool? (Would YOU as a HCP want to know how it feels to be in hospital and miss your insulin? Would a patient want to understand the impact of alcohol on blood sugars?) , translate the comic into other languages? Perhaps even take the comic in a different direction...use another character in the comic to show another aspect....who knows...maybe.
All said and done, it's been an enthral ling experience. To many who feel innovation doesn't move fast enough, all I can say? Stick to it..it does..we did a TED style event, we have done a comic book..all based on ideas and the sheer belief that we will indeed finish it. Keep at it- and don't keep waiting for permission. If you believe it will help patients, the only permission you need is that of the patients. The system will bend to your will- it always has in my experience. Whether it be our Super Six Diabetes model or any initiative that we have believed will help, the system will bend to passion, drive and a united team effort. Go do it.
Finally,a footnote. Along with the appreciations, there have also been a few barbs about whether the comic book is a profit making exercise. If you must know, none of the patients charged a dime...they did so voluntarily. We did pay Danny and his company for the work- and that money came partly from the charitable funds of Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust & University Hospitals Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. The rest, Mayank and I paid from our own pockets. Normally I wouldn't have mentioned it, but the pettiness, albeit not surprising in today's world, makes me do so- and hopefully sets the record straight. I have moved to a zero tolerance of twattery but it's important patients & carers knows the facts too. It is a free resource for anyone to use- as simple as that.
So, thank you to all- and thank you to many others for helping to spread the word. Read it, pass it on and keep suggestions coming as to what you may want for the sequel! Till then, beyond the comic book, have faith, fix your aim, check with the patients who you want to help...and go forth and have fun. For those with Type 1 diabetes? Rest assured, there's more fun stuff to come.