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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I don't know about you, but when I fancy a little something between meals, there's only one thing I do...

Which explains why I've spent the day eating chocolate gateau and Quality Street with a load of diabetes experts. There were cream cakes too, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

I think it's a cow playing football.Needless to say, if you're going to overdose on sugar, the one place you want to do it is at the national headquarters of the world's leading manufacturer of insulin. And as luck would have it, I've spent the day at Novo Nordisk in Crawley. They make Actrapid, Novorapid, Insulatard, Mixtard and Glucagen, so having spent 2008 picking those five products off the shelves of a walk-in pharmacy fridge, I felt fully justified in accepting their cake.

Puppy FatThe event was our NHS Trust's annual 'Diabetes Away Day', a chance for everyone involved in diabetes care from Brighton to Haywards Heath to get together, discuss important issues, and get answers to pertinent questions. Questions like "Where did they find the bloke on the left?".

Lectures came with such titles as 'Monogenic Diabetes - A Progress Report', 'Diabetes & Cancer', and my particular favourite, 'THINK GLUCOSE'. I did very little else all day. By the time I'd finished lunch, I needed twenty units of insulin.

In 2008, Novo Nordisk were awarded fifth place in the 'Best Workplace in the UK' competition, and having seen their catering facilities, I can't say I'm surprised. Although I'm not sure I'd get much work done with all the free croissants on offer. Their HQ is the kind of plush, impressive building which makes you wish you'd got into the pharmaceuticals industry instead of the NHS. Frankly it was more luxurious than most of the hotels I've stayed in. Which probably isn't saying much. On the downside, they keep security so tight that you need an escort with an ID badge just to go to the toilet. The chances of a crazed hyperglycaemic making it out of there with a stolen NovoPen are minimal.

Anyhoo, despite wearing shoes with big heels, a lot of the information went straight over my head. But I still enjoyed the day. Whenever I spend time with consultants and specialist nurses, I realise firstly how little I know, secondly how much I've learnt, and thirdly how lucky I am to be there. I sat next to the hospital's senior endocrinologist, which I'm sure can't be right for someone who was turned down by the SeaLife Centre.

But all good things must come to an end. For a week at least. I've got four days annual leave, so having filled my brain with knowledge and stuffed my blood with sugar, I'll be vegging out on the sofa until Wednesday.