This post will be quite lengthy. The short version, if you don’t have much time, is that the panel I moderated at Medicine X is now archived and available on the Stanford Medicine X YouTube channel. When you have the time, you should check out all the other great content over there. As of this post, there are a number of interviews, panels, and features. Hopefully the rest of the ignite talks will make it up there too.
This story starts in March, when the powers that be asked that I moderate a Google Hangout of Medicine X ePatient scholars from 2012. I might have written about that experience, but just in case you missed it, here you go.
I suppose spending the previous 5 months collecting featured ePatients and speakers from the 2012 conference for my podcast garnered enough attention from Dr. Chu and the rest of the advisory board, suggesting that I was quite enthusiastic about the conference. When the offer came in to moderate this Hangout, I knew this was a big deal. It was a big deal for us, the ePatients because this would be our best opportunity to sell the experience to onlookers and potential ePatients thinking about applying to attend the 2013 conference. It was a big deal for each of the participants in the hangout, as an opportunity to further share their story and connect with patient communities outside of their own. And it was a big deal for me, to prove that I belonged with these advocacy titans, that I could handle the conversation, and that I was willing to step up to the challenge.
I learned a lot podcasting with the folks at Talking About Games, most notably how to keep a conversation with multiple people going while giving everyone an equal opportunity to speak. Looking back on that Hangout, I think I did okay. Combining the Hangout with all of the podcasts, I guess I made a strong case for myself to be part of Medicine X beyond my Twitter activity (even if I didn’t know it at the time).
Nick Dawson approached me a few months prior to the conference asking if I would be interested in moderating a panel. Initially I was terrified of the spotlight, metaphorically because contrary to my social media activity I don’t crave the spotlight, and literally because the lights up on stage are quite bright. But Nick made a strong case for the idea of the panel and the themes that would be covered on Friday, so I said yes. At the end of the day, it would have been unthinkable for me to turn down an opportunity to shape the conversation instead of simply comment on it all weekend.
I previously wrote about the weeks leading up to the panel and how relieved I was to watch everyone interact after asking one simple question. It’s worth repeating that I drew my comfort and (moments of) poise from each of them. I knew that once we got started, everything would be fine. These men and women have shared their stories before, and I felt confident that they would shine on stage. All we had to do was get there.
Our schedule Friday morning was quite hectic considering we were the second scheduled speakers of the conference. Opening remarks from Dr. Chu started at 8:00am and our panel was scheduled to start at 9:05. What I didn’t expect was the makeup and photo portrait session at 8:30, and the fact that there would be five of us getting mic’d up. Our makeup person, while skilled, was incredibly thorough. And while this wouldn’t necessarily be a problem for two bald-ish men, having three women, with three different hair styles, and three different complexions meant we spent more time than I had hoped getting prepped. It should be worth noting that the entire time this process is happening, I was shaking. I wasn’t afraid of what would happen on stage – again, I knew we would be fine once we got started. But the time spent dealing with makeup was taking away from the time required to get our microphones set up. It’s a wonder I kept still for my own portrait.
I was the last person to get their microphone set up and as the seconds ticked off the countdown clock I grew rather impatient with the whole process. If you’re reading this, microphone guy, I’m sorry if I was rude. It wasn’t you, it was me.
Before our panel started, the program director asked if I wanted to have my name announced first, giving me time to walk on stage and then introduce my panelists. With one amputee and another ePatient dealing with some serious pain while we were on stage (Emily said she was at an 8), I knew it was smarter to have everyone on stage from the outset. Once I got the green light, I stumbled through my opening monologue and let my panel introduce themselves. After the first official question things, as I expected, moved along swimingly. It was my job to make my panel look good and after watching the replay a few times I feel confident that I allowed each of these ePatients to spend a moment in the spotlight. (Even if my Dexcom tried to steal the show.)
After everything finished and I took some time to scroll back through my mentions and #MedX tweets to see what worked and what didn’t work. I don’t know if I’ll ever have an opportunity to do this again, but if I do I won’t ever forget to properly mention Twitter names again. And if I have to introduce myself, I need to say “I’m at iam_spartacus”.
I received a number of comments and compliments after the panel and during breaks between sessions throughout the rest of the conference. While I accept that I played a role in the success of our panel, I still maintain that everyone else deserves the credit. Our objective was to show off the wide-reaching definition of what it means to be an “ePatient” and set the tone for how the rest of the conference would go. I don’t know if we were successful with the second objective, but I know for damn sure we fulfilled objective #1. They killed it.
Again, big thanks to Dr. Chu and the rest of the Advisory Board for choosing to have me be a bigger part of the conference. And an even bigger thanks to everyone on the panel who trusted that I would guide us through the fastest 45 minutes of our collective lives.
Disclosure: I was awarded a partial scholarship to attend Medicine X this year. All other expenses, including the remainder of the registration was paid out of pocket. In case there was any doubt, I’m writing about this stuff for me.