I’ve had to take a couple of days to really wrap my head around how powerful of an experience I had at the Feinstein Institute on Thursday. It was everything I could have dreamed of it being, and more.
When I first arrived, I was met in the lobby by the institute’s marketing consultant, Jonathan Cohen. He was incredibly welcoming and sweet, and we had such a nice conversation about what the day would hold. Soon after, he went down the hall to get Dr. Tracey. As I sat in the conference room, I could hear Dr. Tracey’s voice coming down the hall, and I suddenly felt an immense panic set in — I was moments away from shaking the hand of the researcher that gave me my life. However, my anxiety dissipated immediately — Dr. Tracey is extremely down to earth and kind. Sitting there with Dr. Tracey, Jonathan, and later, Dr. Becker, it was like I had always known these awesome individuals. I was immediately at ease. We spoke for a while, and he stayed much longer than the half hour that his schedule allowed — which I was so grateful for. I told them how I named my device “Murph” and why I did so (because of Murphy’s Law, and that anything that can happen, will happen), and then I inwardly giggled later in the conversation when Dr. Tracey referred to my device as “Murph” without missing a beat — almost like he had been calling all of the devices “Murph.” I gave Dr. Tracey a gift that was given to me years ago — I’ll share a more detailed post later about what that gift was, and why I wanted him to have it. They all asked if Sean was coming, which I loved that they all thought of him — but my incredible husband told me that he felt that it was important that I get “one on one” time with the team — how lucky am I with this guy?
Soon after, Dr. Lance Becker, the Chair of Emergency Medicine, came in to visit with us as well, and getting to sit at the table with Dr. Becker, Dr. Tracey, and Jonathan was such a surreal experience for me. I felt like I was in the presence of the modern day Einsteins and Edisons of the 21st century. We talked, they asked me about my story, we laughed, and we all got pretty emotional when discussing a few parts of my story — it was such an honor to be able to share these moments with them.
After that, Chad Bouton, the Director of the Center for Bioelectronic Medicine, came in to meet with me. We talked for a few minutes, shared stories about life and our mutual health struggles that we’ve both endured, and what we’ve both learned as a result of what we’ve been through. Soon after, we took a walk down to the bioelectronic labs, and each lab blew me away more than the last.
The first lab we walked into had two very sweet gentlemen that showed me a slideshow of the work that they are doing. Basically, they measure Vagus Nerve data almost the same way that you view radio waves, except they manipulate the radio waves of the Vagus Nerve to determine what those waves do, and why. It was fascinating.
Another lab I went into had a few sweetheart researchers that are working on the next generation of Vagus Nerve Stimulators. The one they are working on was ASTOUNDING to me. It was this tiny chip, probably not much bigger than my pinky fingernail, and basically, the one researcher described to me that this chip sends out 16 signals from the Vagus Nerve into the body (my device only sends three signals out into the body) — but it not only does that, it also RECORDS information that the body sends back, and the settings can be customized using a smartphone. FURTHER, this particular chip will not require the type of battery that I have now, and will likely not even require surgery — it will be injected into the patient’s Vagus Nerve using a special syringe of some sort. It was fascinating.
Another two labs I went into knocked my socks off just as much — holy smokes — these amazing humans have figured out how to not only give MOVEMENT back to quadriplegics but also the sense of TOUCH! Further, they have developed prosthetics for amputees that allow the amputee to not only use the prosthetic naturally just like a normal hand — but also FEEL through the prosthetic.
By the end of the day, I had taken in so much information and was so blown away by what I saw that my head was spinning and I’m pretty sure my eyes were super glazed over and glassy — I am an empath, and when I take in information, I feel that information very, very heavily. It was one of the most memorable and powerful days of my life, so much so that I had to really digest all of it for a couple of days before being able to relay it.
The future of medicine is beautiful. Science — science itself, is beautiful. It makes me tear up thinking about the lives that will be changed because of what I saw there.
In the highlight reel of my life, my day at Feinstein will be in my top favorite memories — I left there in awe of the work being done, the kindness I saw in every single person that I had the joy to interact with, and the passion I saw in their eyes for their work. Dr. Tracey built something incredibly special and I don’t know if he and his team are told often enough how rare and unique this institute is — and it’s all due to their heart and dedication to this field, and their dream of eradicating physical suffering. Is there a more beautiful and noble cause than that?