We're a little crazy, about science!

The big pitch

Today was the day we pitched a proposal to two of the doctors that can help make my “big idea” a reality. It did not go anything like I planned, some of what happened was funny, some of it was horrific, but mostly it went how it needed to go. Things never go as you plan them, but this was just completely off the rails.

The plan was simple, meet with two doctors to discuss an idea I had, a “big idea” (here’s the day I had big idea!) that would hopefully lead to a lot of big advancements in the field. When I had the idea my mind went wild with the implications and I knew I had something when I pitched the idea to hospital-PI and he kept throwing more and more money at me as the discussion progressed. When we approached the head of the department he too was excited and threw his resources at the project, so needless to say, we have a lot of people incredibly excited about big idea.

The problem is I have, excuse me for saying it like this, bigger plans for big idea (there’s a whole lot of big in this post). Much bigger plans, so big in fact that none of the people we were talking with had the resources to make it happen. So I went back to hospital-PI and proposed we approach someone else who had the resources to make what I want to try, happen.

Now like I said yesterday (here), there is more than one pathway for me to make this goal a reality. I discovered today that both the doctors who could help us with this would be attending the meeting. Not a problem since the second doctor is surgeon-PI and we have a great relationship, seriously he said some of the nicest things about me in a letter of support that I had ever heard. Really helped the ol’ ego. And I’m getting off topic, anyway since he was going to attend I felt a little better about the whole situation since he gets what I’m trying to do in the general sense and in the end he really supported the project and what it could mean, which I find exciting.

But like any good story we should start at the beginning and that starts early afternoon when hospital-PI arrived. We had an experiment that was scheduled for early morning that got pushed back to late morning. This wouldn’t be a problem, but the experiment is long and we would miss the meeting with our potential collaborator.

The experiment is a new protocol that I’m getting involved with so I couldn’t be left alone to do it, instead the worst case scenario plan was that I would meet with the doctors and do the project pitch myself (technically two projects were pitched, but mine is the exciting one… maybe that’s me being bias though). The timeline got bumped again last minute so he could potentially make the meeting, but we would have to meet later in the day, about an hour after the original meeting was scheduled.

It turns out that wasn’t a problem, but the doctor had some other stuff on the schedule, as a doctor tends to have, so he may not have a lot of time to talk about it. I felt good about everything and the last communication I had with hospital-PI was that he would text me when he was finished so we could meet at the office of the doctor we were making our pitch to. Anxious, but trying to remain calm, I refrained from texting every five minutes asking for a status update when the time approached. This is where things started making a hard left turn into chaos.

Being the incredibly intelligent individual I am I thought, maybe I should eat something before we head over to distract from the fact that we need to meet like right this second with the doctor. I had time since I was waiting for hospital-PI to give me the word to head to that office across the hospital.

Not even five minutes into eating surgeon-PI comes into the room to see if I was going, but “I was obviously busy.” Already off to a good start. I explained I was just grabbing a bite waiting for hospital-PI to text, but that I was going. He said they were already talking and that we would be starting soon, so I dropped my lunch and ran out the door. In hindsight, eating that close to the meeting was a horrible idea. It was embarrassing and slightly funny, if you’re not me anyway.

When we arrive, hospital-PI is nowhere in sight, but the doctor we were meeting with was already waiting for us. So surgeon-PI turns to me and suggests I make the big pitch. No computer, no slides, no prototype, I just had to go and try to sell this from memory. The worst part, hospital-PI barely showed me the slides he made (two short slides one for each project with the proposed timeline and number of participants we wanted). Literally I was half paying attention when he showed me because I had two other things going on at once (one of which was another meeting via zoom).

The good news is I spit out a number when he specifically asked how many participants we wanted to enroll for the other project (not big idea). Reader, my memory is lukewarm garbage on a good day. I once asked hospital-PI if he wanted me to attend the meeting he had on Wednesday and he responded with, “you mean the meeting today?” Yes, it was Wednesday, thanks brain. Well I will say that I’m as shocked as anyone when it later turned out the number that came out of my mouth was somehow the correct number.

The meeting itself was a blur of horribly explained ideas and apparently the company funding the first project, who’s name I had never heard, was definitely not pronounced the way I said it… oops. However, I think it went well and our potential collaborator, who we’ve had a somewhat rocky relationship with, seemed genuinely interested in the possibilities for big idea. Surgeon-PI even backed me up and proposed we use big idea in a way that I proposed to hospital-PI. Hospital-PI is hesitant about using it in that manner, but it’s probably the most exciting way to use it, so he reluctantly agreed to let us try if we all decide to work together.

The meeting ended with me explicitly saying that no one has ever done what I’m proposing with big idea. This shocked both of the doctors who we were discussing it with, but I think if anything sells them on the idea, it will be that little fact, so I’m happy I took the time to say it. You forget sometimes that others have no clue about what you’re suggesting and the state of the art, or at least I forget that.

While I wont know if the doctor will take our offer of collaboration serious or if he is even interested for awhile, I am hopeful. Things are slowly moving forward for the project and words can’t even describe how happy I am to have this chance.

Like I said yesterday, I tend to feel like my ideas are “bigger” than they really are. I gave the example of my knee joint yesterday, but truthfully the whole robot design was (in my opinion) cutting edge and I’m still sad and somewhat surprised it never got noticed or adopted.

The difference in this case is that I can already see the people I work with (and don’t work with!) get excited about this idea. It has a lot of potential to help people in the future. If I’m being honest, which as always I promise to do around here, even if big idea doesn’t get the attention I think it deserves, my project does ultimately help people, then it will be more than worth it.

I said big things would be happening this year, and I meant it. Fingers crossed!


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