Drowning puppies in Lake Geneva

By | 21 March, 2011
Bloggers in front of the Medtronic lair

Bloggers in front of the Medtronic lair

Readers of your soaraway Shoot Up will recall that m’colleague and I were invited this weekend (along with a bunch of other European bloggers) to Medtronic’s Swiss lair to discuss all things diabetes. Which was nice.

The general consensus of received opinion is that giant medical companies are pure evil – crushing patients beneath the heal of their cruel jack boots in an all-consuming passion for profit. Dark rumours also circulate that companies like Medtronic delight in causing unnecessary and pointless suffering to puppies by drowning them. Just for kicks.

I have to confess that the latter rumour was started and circulated exclusively by me; but, you know, no smoke without a fire. I’m sure I glanced a lorry load of tiny, mewling Labradors being carted in through the back door of their lair. When I asked about it, I was threatened by jump-suited minions, so I just kept schtum.

Anyway, Medtronic aren’t pure evil. They’re a business like any other. They’re not a charity who make medical devices just to get a warm glow; they do it to make money and there’s nothing wrong with that. Working with “expert patients” and “thought leaders”, and whatever they called us, is a Good Thing for both the company and us unwashed masses.

The way that I see it is that if Medtronic get useful feedback about, say, pumps from the sharp end they’ll make better products. If they make better products we get to use said better products, have a better life and they make more cash. We all win, don’t we?

Anyway, let’s get past all this opinionated guff! Let me tell you about the meeting itself.

As always, the informal chat over dinner was the best bit; both with our fellow bloggers and diabetics and with the Medtronic staff. They told us about their plans and latest products and we told them what we thought. All good wholesome stuff. We also had a brief chance to meet the big cheese of Medtronic diabetes – Julie Foster (Vice President Diabetes International) – who gave a charming and inspiring speech. Which was, of course, met with boarish heckling from two people who shall remain nameless (I apologised directly to Julie for Mike’s terrible and shocking behaviour).

The next day we had presentations in the Medtronic lair from Product Manager Julien Vandewalle, who told us about the latest in CGM developments, which was exciting for those who use CGM (Alison’s gone into more detail about this in her post). We then had a very interesting presentation by Hannah Gough (Clinical Study Manager) about the latest medical studies being carried out by Medtronic.

After sushi (yeah, I know, la-de-dah, eh?) Aurélie Duplais talked to us about blogging and the Internet after which we broke off into groups for a discussion on supporting the diabetes body and the diabetes mind. Which was all very interesting, controversial and, actually, reasonably well–informed.

Stopping only for a picture of a monstrous group hug (I mean, really!) we then jetted back to our respective homes.

So all-in-all a very worthwhile and informative weekend. I hope we represented your views at least moderately accurately. Thanks, again, for Medtronic for putting us up (and putting up with us) and thanks to my fellow bloggers, with whom I had some great conversations and debates – amongst them I felt like a complete dunce in terms of diabetes knowledge and opinion!

In fact, if you want some further, non-Shoot Up reading I’d check out my fellow bloggers here:



So at the end of the day we all won. Aside, of course, from those poor puppies.

14 thoughts on “Drowning puppies in Lake Geneva

  1. Adrienne

    Loved the group hug, first huge hug I had experienced, I think Jessica even snuck in the middle there. Thanks for making us feel so welcome and I hope I am asked back again as I really enjoyed it and learnt so much.

  2. Tim Post author

    No, no, no! If I would have known there was going to be a group hug I would have stayed in Scotland! 😉

  3. Scott S

    Interesting to read about this, because Medtronic will be hosting a North American summit very similar to this in Los Angeles on April 1, so it will be interesting to compare notes!

  4. Tim Post author

    It *will* be interesting Scott to compare and contrast both sides of the pond. Are you going to the LA one?

  5. Anna

    I still don’t understand your resistence to the big group hug. It’s a given in these kinds of situations. Haven’t you ever read a blog from over the pond before???

    It was great to meet you guys and love the write up.

    Here’s hoping the next one isn’t in Scunthorpe


  6. Mike

    @tim thank for taking the time out to apologies to VP Julie and her minions for my said behavior.. Thank’s also for the Fruit Pastilles. 【ツ】

    @annamac More group hugs are a must and I’m sure if we met in sunnier climes then Tim would be in the middle!

  7. Michael

    This is great. Thanks for sharing the tales of the MM gathering across the pond, and it will be interesting to see how all of that translates to the one set for California in the coming weeks. I do like seeing Minimed following in the footsteps of others who have done this and engaged the online/Adult Type 1 community, from these events to their new blog and so on. Thank you for spreading the good word and reminding us that MM and other big companies “aren’t evil.”

  8. Tim Post author

    Gah! Sorry Lesley – I knew I would forget someone! I’ve added you to the list – sorry!

  9. Scott S

    Belated follow-up, yes, I’ll be attending Medtronic’s LA event at the end of the week. But a little thing like work has kept me busy preparing so I can leave without worry, so my follow-up has been a tad delinquent! My apologies for the slow response!

  10. Tim Post author

    Thanks Scott – have fun and do let us know how you get on your side of the pond! 🙂

  11. Mike

    Gert big pond in all.. **See, I can even write Bristolian** 🙂
    @sstrumello Hope you guys have a great time, and benefit from the forum as much as @tim and I appreciated Medtronic’s hospitality.


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