Day Thirty Seven – A Second Breakfast

I’ve been pleasantly surprised the past few mornings with the luck I’ve had with the bus.  I waited about one minute at the stop before my bus arrived, and I only had to stand for one block or so before I got to sit down right by the back door.  With Taylor Swift’s 1989 album playing through my headphones, I was ready to take on the last day of this work week.  (I get to go to her concert TOMORROW!!!  I’m only a little excited… :))

It was only an hour into working on more spreadsheets that one of my coworkers, Nortso, asked if I was going to head downstairs.  There was the first second breakfast going on in the cafeteria.  I decided to come along with her, and I was pleased with all of the breakfast food set along the counter.  The next thirty minutes or so I spent eating a cinnamon roll while chatting away with several other Novo Nordisk workers.  At one point, I was asked about my pump and the conversation was focused on upcoming diabetic treatments.  Needless to say, I thrived on this conversation topic and enjoyed every minute of my time with my coworkers.  Overall, the second breakfast was a huge success.  I’d say there were about forty employees that stopped what they were doing to grab some of the delicious food.  It was a neat idea, and they are planning on doing this the first Friday of every month in the future.

The rest of my day was spent organizing data and crunching numbers.  I began working on some PowerPoint slides to show Mark all that I’ve done when he comes back from vacation.  I don’t know what was going on, but in the middle of the afternoon someone’s phone or computer was playing all different kinds of music.  It was interesting trying to focus on fibrotic drug targets while hearing the music of a horror film I watched in middle school, Dead Silence, in the background.  I did look out for any creepy dolls (those who’ve seen the movie will get it) but thankfully there were none to be found!

Next week will be my last full workweek, and I’ll actually be home in Iowa two weeks from now.  The countdown is on its way, but I have a few more fun things to do while I’m still in Seattle.  Tomorrow I’ll go downtown for Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour, and a week from now I’ll be on my way to see Mount Saint Helens.  Can’t wait!

Enjoy the weekend,

Ashley

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Day Thirty Six – Setting Sail

This morning went quite smoothly with not too many eventful happenings.  I even managed to time getting on the bus so that when my stop came I was already standing by the exit, instead of awkwardly shuffling around and saying excuse me about a dozen times.

PV was busy with meetings all day, which meant I had a lot of time to kill.  I already finished up all that we had planned for me to do during this week before lunchtime today.  I went through about all of my previous spreadsheets (there are a ton!) and organized them, whether that would be altering the information or alphabetizing the data inputted in the spreadsheet.  It wasn’t until about an hour before I left that I was able to stop by PV’s office to ask what I could be doing next.  My next task is very similar to what I did previously, and will not take as much time since I spent this morning organizing everything.  I’m glad that there was some benefit to my reorganizing!

I got off of work a little earlier than usual to join PV in sailing a friend’s boat.  There are sailing races along the Puget Sound every Thursday, and I was able to tag along for the last race of the summer.  We made a quick stop at his house, where I was able to meet his wife and adorable son.  When we arrived at the marina, I gawked at how breath-taking the scenery was.  It was a clear day, which meant that we could see Mount Rainier.  I looked around to see hundreds of sailboats, water surrounded by mountains, and downtown Seattle.  We made our way down to the dock where PV’s friend, Theresa, had her boat.  I met her, along with three others (Pat, Joe, and another lady whose name I can’t recall), and hopped on.

View from the marina overlooking the Puget Sound, downtown Seattle, and Mount Rainier.

View from the marina overlooking the Puget Sound, downtown Seattle, and Mount Rainier.

At 7:00, the big sailboats started their race, and the smaller boats followed behind five minutes later.  We were on one of the smallest boats, but all six of us were still able to have room to sit comfortably and enjoy the ride.  It was pretty clear that we had no shot of winning, but to be honest, we had no intention to.  As Theresa called it, we were a cruising ship and just out to have a good time.  To say I enjoyed the ride would be an enormous understatement.  There’s something about being on the water that I love, especially around happy, go-lucky people.  I don’t know how many times I was teased by Joe for being from Iowa, but the number of times I laughed made up for it by a long shot.

I’m pretty sure we ended up dead last, but we cut it short to go grab some hot dogs.  There were so many people there, and everyone seemed to be having a great time.  After finishing our free meal, I said goodbye to my new friends and made my way back to PV’s car.  Since it was getting dark and I was over four miles away from my apartment, I was glad that PV was willing to drive me back.  I’m now back safe and sound, and I could not be more thankful for such a wonderful day.

Feeling blessed,

Ashley

Day Thiry Five – An End in Sight

It turned out that checking my blood sugar before walking back home saved me from yet another dangerous low.  At 69, I grabbed a leftover hoagie bun from the lunch on Tuesday and made my way back to my apartment.  Listening to a playlist of only Taylor Swift songs, I reflected on my day between sneaking bites between other pedestrians.

I was very thankful to have no issues with the bus this morning.  Time flew by this morning as I continued to work on my task of organizing all of the drug targets.  It look longer than I had planned to finish this, and I ended up emailing my final spreadsheet around 2:00 this afternoon.  I think what took me awhile was that I had a lot of information that lacked the same style of organization.  All of my previous spreadsheets were not recorded in the same way; I had changed my formatting as I learned more and more about the process.  Therefore, what I had thought was a drug target at the beginning of my internship actually was a mechanism.  It’s close, but it meant that I had to redo the targets for about 75 or so drugs.  For example, a common mistake was that I put down a pathway when there really wasn’t a true specified target.  After identifying all of these, I then had to find their corresponding symbols, which finally led me to being able to compare with the lists provided by my boss.  By the time I was done, I had a slight headache and didn’t want to look at a computer screen for quite some time.

I’m slowly starting to realize that my summer here is almost over.  I’ve always been one to appreciate where I’m at, instead of wishing I was in the past or in the future.  I hope to enjoy the rest of my time here in Seattle (which will be quite easy with things like the Taylor Swift concert this weekend!).  I’m not ready to say goodbye, but when the time comes, I know I’ll be prepared to go to the next chapter of my life.

Until then,

Ashley

Day Thirty Four – False Alarm

It was another busy day at work today.  My current project is comparing drug targets from a dozen or so of my spreadsheets to two lists of targets Novo Nordisk is currently or was previously working on.  To be honest, I am a little uncertain on what is expected, and that has made this task a little harder.  I’ve already asked for some clarification, but for whatever reason, I can’t quite get what the desired outcome is.  I spent all day on this task, and I think I should be done by lunch tomorrow.  We’ll see…

Midway through the afternoon, the fire alarm went off.  One of the ladies nearby mentioned that it was a drill.  I got up from my desk and joined the rest of the building by making our way to our designated spot across the street.  I kid you not, I was there for about 30 seconds when someone called that it was a false alarm.  After climbing back up the five flights of stairs to my desk, I opened up my email to see that someone sent an email when all of us were outside saying that we can ignore the alarm.  Thanks for the heads up, I thought.  On the bright side, I was glad to get in some exercise instead of being cooped up in my chair all afternoon.

I was hoping to talk with Matthias, the guru on everything related to type-one diabetes this afternoon.  He is always very busy and I’ve only seen him at Novo Nordisk about two times in the thirty four days I’ve been here.  I walked by his office to hear him speaking with another employee, so I decided to come back later.  However, he didn’t come back by the time I left this afternoon.  I’m hoping that somehow I’ll have the chance to have a conversation with him before I head back to Iowa!

On a side note, I walked back from work today and was shocked when I checked my blood sugar.  It was the lowest it’s been in awhile, a whopping 30.  Yikes!  I am amazed that I didn’t notice when I was on my way to my apartment.  Quite honestly, it’s pretty scary to think that I’ve had diabetes for over 12 years and don’t notice my body going into a dangerous low.  I’m much better now, after scarfing down some bars my roommate sent in the mail, but I’ll definitely have to make sure to check before walking the 1.5 mile route again!

Yours truly,

Ashley

Day Thirty Three – Small World

I was about halfway down the block this morning when I realized that I forgot my work ID badge.  I hustled back and grabbed it, and to my dismay I turned the corner to see the bus pulling away.  Half an hour later, I finally got on a bus to go downtown.  Things were not looking too great, but I kept a positive attitude as I walked to my desk.

I checked my email to find that I almost forgot to print my concert tickets for this weekend.  For those who don’t know, I decided to go out on a whim and buy tickets to a concert at CenturyLink Field.  But these aren’t just any tickets, they’re for my favorite artist, whose songs I’ve sung along to and memorized since 7th grade.  Yes, I’m going to see Taylor Swift this Saturday!  I can hardly wait!

It was odd to have Mark gone today, but I ended up getting to know PV pretty well.  Right before I was ready to grab my lunch and take a break, he stopped by my desk to ask if I wanted to try one of the restaurants downtown.  I glanced at the squished peanut butter sandwich in my purse, my usual meal, and couldn’t say yes fast enough.  He treated me out to a organic restaurant, where I learned all about his family, previous work, and much more.  I love kids, so I enjoyed hearing about the adoption process he and his wife went through with his son.  I’ve considered adopting in the future, and it was good to have a realistic look on what it takes.

Probably my favorite part of chatting with PV regarded how he came to the work he does now at Novo Nordisk.  With a type-one diabetic brother and a long family history of type-two, I learned that diabetes has a special place in his heart.  Not only that, but PV decided to go into immunology due to all of the various infections he contracted as a kid.  As he listed all of them, (typhus and malaria to name a few) I was more shocked than anything that he was alive today.  It’s pretty neat to me whenever people are able to use their unfavorable circumstances and turn them into a successful life later on.  I am glad I have the opportunity to work for someone so passionate about what he does!

Later, PV walked me through some PowerPoint slides regarding some previous studies.  One particular one was over type-one diabetes.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I recognized one of the four study participants.  I met Tanner, a varsity swimmer at Ball State, at the Students with Diabetes Conference this May.  We even had a few short conversations and maybe even a group activity together.  Such a small world!

Even though this morning got off to a rough start, it was a very good day overall.  I have a hard time completely grasping that I’ll leave this beautiful city in a few short weeks.  Can I stay here a little longer?

Until Tuesday,

Ashley

Day Thirty Two – It’s Friday

Lately, Fridays have been very light in terms of hours worked for me at Novo Nordisk.  Today I exceeded my usual hour limit for the last day of the week by working a whopping 7.17 hours.  That’s more than I’ve worked the last two Fridays combined.  I guess that’s not a completely accurate portrayal because two weeks ago I had the MCAT, and last week I left early to head over to a friend’s house for the weekend.  Nevertheless, it was strange to work longer than usual, even if it was still less than the usual 8 hour workday.

This morning I prepped for the afternoon meeting by finishing up the remaining 49 drugs on my most recent spreadsheet.  Miraculously, I was done with that before 10:45.  I had to laugh at the response from Mark when I sent him the spreadsheet with the 111 drugs.  Usually I receive a very nice or great, how about you now… but this time I read his message that went along the lines of Wow!  That’s a lot of work…  Yes, I agree.

The meeting went very well in the afternoon.  We met in the conference room that has the best views.  Imagine trying to focus on biological markers of nephropathy when you’re surrounded by views of the Space Needle, Olympic Mountains, Lake Union, etc.  I somehow managed to focus on the task at hand, and I learned all that I will work on when Mark is gone for vacation.

Speaking of vacation, Mark and PV both separately mentioned that I should take a day off from work.  PV invited me to go sailing on his boat, go to the aquarium with his kids, and visit a museum by the University of Washington.  Meanwhile, Mark suggested that several of us from work go to either Mt. Rainier or Mt. St. Helens the last weekend before I leave, my choice.  I think I’ve worked my way onto both of their good sides!

I’m excited for the weekend, although it’ll be quite warm.  I plan on heading back over to my friend’s place to go kayaking, which is one of the main things I wanted to do this summer.  It should be a great time!

Happy Friday,

Ashley

Day Thirty One – Flying By

When I walked across the crosswalk to get to Novo Nordisk, I was surprised to see a familiar face.  Marcos, another intern, was just ahead of me as we walked in.  We chatted on the elevator about the joys of riding the bus before we got off to start work for the day.  It was my first conversation with Marcos, and I appreciated getting to know him a little more, even if it was for a minute or two.

I knew I had a lot to do as I sat down at my desk.  My latest assignment is making a spreadsheet for all the drugs related to oxidative stress.  I just finished a spreadsheet for a similar indication with 22 drugs, so I am quite familiar with the process.  However, there are 111 drugs for oxidative stress.  One hundred and eleven.  I spent all day recording the information we need regarding these drugs, and I only completed 62 of the 111.  Yikes.

My workload was interrupted when Mark called me down to tissue culture.  Joe is gone on vacation, and he specifically told me how to do the procedure for RNA extraction.  I grabbed my notes and headed downstairs.  When we got into the lab, it appeared that our hood was taken.  We found an open one in the back, but it took us some time to get everything set up.  Everything went very well, aside from one small mishap.  I had my hands full when handling the final product, and when I reached across my body to throw away part of the tube containing the product, I accidentally spilled 2/3 of the liquid onto the floor.  Thankfully, Mark has the exact same sample that we can use in the future, so it wasn’t anything too detrimental.  I’m hoping for some better luck next time!

The final noteworthy part of today was that all of the interns had to take a photo.  It was while we waited for the last intern to come to our designated meeting place that I found out that tomorrow is Rohit’s last day.  I am blown away with how fast this summer is now going!  It won’t be too long until I’ll be looking at cornfields instead of mountains, but until then I’ll enjoy each moment I have this summer in Seattle.

Peace out,

Ashley

Day Thirty – Team Bonding

I felt quite odd this morning when I walked out of my apartment in jeans shorts and a t-shirt. I’m sure some of the regulars at the bus stop were confused when they saw me lacking my usual business attire. Today was the day for team bonding at Safeco Field, and I was not about to wear a dress to a baseball game.

For an hour and a half before we left, I met with the team to discuss where we were standing thus far. Both Mark and Joe are going on vacation in the next week so we needed to make sure PV was on the same page for when it’ll be just him to supervise me. I quickly realized there is a lot for me still to do. I honestly can’t remember them all, but I’m always happy to be busy. I definitely won’t be bored from having too little to do!

We headed out to make our way to the game after our meeting. Lunch was at a neat Chinese place in the International District. The food was brought about in carts, where you would just call the server over whenever you saw something you wanted to try. Everything I had was amazing! My favorite was a glazed bun filled with pork covered in a barbecue-like sauce. So good!

It was a perfect day for a game. I glanced around the parking garage to see mountains, even Mt. Rainier, and the skyline of Seattle. We made our way in and had spots in the second tier by first base. Unfortunately, the Mariners continued their streak and lost the game, despite the fact that their best pitcher started. I still had a great time bonding with my team, and I was so grateful for the chance to see a professional sports game.

View from my seat at Safeco Field.

View from my seat at Safeco Field.

It’s been an incredible day, and I’m very excited for where the rest of my time in Seattle takes me.

Sincerely,

Ashley

Day Twenty Nine – Walking on Sunshine

I was pleasantly surprised to have a seat in the bus on my way to work this morning.  With my seat in the very back of the bus, I had a prime location for people watching.  The man to my right was flipping through a notepad filled with various restaurant entrees while another man was pondering which emoticon to send to his girlfriend via a Facebook message.  I looked out the bus window to see the mountains, which was a first in several days.  It appears to me that most Seattleites are, in part, vampires because they cannot handle the sun.  Every one of them walked about squinting with their sunglasses on, wishing to find some shade.  I, however, loved every minute of my time outside.

I met with Mark earlier this morning to discuss my next steps as an intern.  He pulled up an email from PV dated a few weeks ago with a checklist of items for me to work on while I’m in Seattle.  I still have four weeks left, but as I glanced at this checklist it occurred to me that over 90% of it has been completed.  I wanted to bask in this accomplishment, but Mark quickly assigned me my next task.  I’m now making spreadsheets for drugs with functions linked to the diabetic nephropathy drugs, as indicated by the software I used in previous weeks.  It’ll take me the remainder of the week to finish this task, but I’m very excited to see all of the progress made thus far!

Tomorrow I’ll join the Diabetic Complications unit for some “team bonding.”  We’re going to watch a baseball game between the Mariners play the Diamondbacks.  I’m looking forward to having a fun day tomorrow!

Hoping it doesn’t rain,

Ashley

Day Twenty Eight – Grateful

After a fun weekend on the Kitsap Peninsula, I wasn’t quite ready to go back to work this morning.  Nevertheless, I hopped on the bus and made my way to Novo Nordisk.

As I walked in, Tony was wishing PV a good day.  I met up with him on fifth floor and asked him about his vacation.  After we chatted for a minute or two, he pulled out four chocolate bars and told me I had first pick since he saw me first.  Not a bad way to start the work week, if you ask me!

The chocolate bar I received as I entered work this morning.  Thanks PV!

The chocolate bar I received as I entered work this morning. Thanks PV!

Work seemed to go in periods of either dragging on or flying by.  I had a long list of items to get done from Friday, and by the end of the day I was able to complete them all.  The periods that flew by today were spent in tissue culture.  It was fun to be able to go through the process of splitting cells without having to ask so many questions along the way.  Even in the course of a week or so I can see that I’ve learned so much from being in the lab.  I definitely enjoy feeling like a true scientist!

I additionally spent time in the lab through RNA work with Joe.  This afternoon we followed a neat procedure where we collected RNA from the mouse retinal endothelial cells.  I learned more about the RNA collection process and the importance of sterility.  Overall, I had a great time and felt more comfortable with various lab procedures than I had before.

Tonight I had dinner at Mark’s house.  I met his wife and three dogs, ate the best meal I’ve had in Seattle, and even took his dogs on a walk around the neighborhood.  I’m finding that the best part of working at Novo Nordisk is beyond the science; it’s the people.  They truly have made me feel like a part of their family, and I could not be more thankful.  I am looking forward to the remaining four weeks I have in this beautiful city.

Truly blessed,

Ashley