There’s something so strange about walking into a room where everyone already seems to know you.
That’s what happened when I arrived at the NeuroMetrix office. It’s where they make the Quell device, which I first wrote about back in 2015 when they launched their KickStarter campaign. My contact there, the lovely Emily Adekore, rescued me from wandering around the building like a homeless person and brought me to meet the rest of the team.
The idea behind the day was a Meet and Greet for local Quell users — a luncheon for us to meet with the company, to get to know the people who actually make the device, and to ask any questions we might have. Some of us did on-camera testimonials for promotional purposes. I use this thing every day, so why not help out?
It was a swirl of people when I first walked in, and many of them said they’d read my blog, which was like, What? Wow. WOW. I mean, it makes sense, but wow. I’ve been with them since the beginning of their product launch — but they’ve also been with me.
There were many customer care reps already at work with their headsets, but I was swept into an office with a wonderful professional makeup artist at the ready (!!!) who prettied me up for the video interview. (!!!!!!!!!)
It was definitely far more elaborate than I’d anticipated.
After the makeup session, I was introduced to the appropriately hipster video production team, who were all younger than I am. I sat on a stool with an enormous microphone hovering over my head, and my mind immediately went blank when the guy asked me my name and where I was from.
“Um.” Who am I? “I’m Jennifer Kain Kilgore. I’m an attorney editor, I work from home, and, uh–” and then I just stopped. Yeah, I’m great at interviews. I went to journalism school. In my defense, usually I’m the one doing the interviewing.
Just… that boom mic, man.
This might be forced perspective.
We worked our way through a standard battery of questions — who I was, how I got to be in pain, what it’s like, what treatments I’ve tried, whether they worked, and how the Quell’s helped. I was surprised to hear that one of the interviewers, a healthy-looking 26-year-old youngin’, has arthritis. Everybody’s got something, folks.
It was great to be dressed up, to be in front of a camera, to be helping. They gave me the newest edition of the Quell for my efforts, which has an updated band that doesn’t catch on clothing and also has cool changes to the app, so I’ve been told. I’ve tried the band since I’ve been home, and not having it snag on the inside of my pants has been incredible. (It’s a small irritation that builds up over time.)
Emily was also kind enough to let me borrow a conference room because one of my clients scheduled a teleconference right before the official Meet and Greet, which I couldn’t miss. She even supplied sustenance in the form of fruit and coffee, and she made sure nobody bothered me for the hour I listened to a guy talk about pricing in the legal industry.
The Meet and Greet
Then it was onward to the official Meet and Greet! My husband arrived to join me at this point, as many partners and caregivers seemed to be. This is where everybody came together, all the locals who use the device. I was shocked to see how many people made it. My husband and I were curious to see who would on a workday for a luncheon, and my God, people made the time. There was a man at our table who told anyone would listen that the Quell gave him “ZERO PAIN! After three weeks, there was ZERO PAIN!” Meanwhile, he’d had three back surgeries that apparently made his skin look like a zipper.
It was a mix of people who said the Quell turned the volume on their pain down somewhat or all the way down, depending on what condition it was treating. For me, it’s been somewhat, and I’m okay with that. I know it’s a treatment modality that I have to use in conjunction with other things. As long as it allows me to do things that I couldn’t do before, that’s enough for me. If I have to pair it with some other treatments, so what? At least I can do things. I can garden. I can walk in the woods with my husband. I can swim. Maybe I can’t do everything I could do before my car accidents, but I can do more than I could do before I wore the Quell.
See? I’m out and about, and I’m wearing the Quell under those pants.
Anyway, Emily set up one hell of a luncheon. There was tons of great food, and she even had catering set aside a special gluten-free/dairy-free/nut-free/everything-free bag of food for yours truly, since I’m allergic to lots of things. (AND THERE WAS A COOKIE.) There were great swag bags for everyone to take home, filled with Quell electrodes, coffee cups, journals, pens, things like that.
We listened to Frank McGillin, senior VP and general manager, talk about the device and ways the team has been trying to improve it. They take feedback very seriously and constantly reach out to users via their email, Facebook, and Twitter. The marketing team had provided prompts for everyone attending to write what we liked about the Quell, what we didn’t like, how we’d improve it (I obviously went for aesthetics, because I want to get my sexy on sometimes and a black line in the middle of your calf can ruin the way a dress or skirt looks when you’re paler than Casper the Friendly Ghost. Biiiiiig issue, I know). The entire team was in the room, down to engineers who’ve actually worked on insane projects like robotic legs.
Then Shai Gozani, PhD, MD, CEO, president, and director took the floor. He was very mellow, super intelligent, and had to pipe up a lot to reach the people in the back of the room. Shai explained the history of the company and the tech of the Quell in a way that us plebs could understand, including how it’s more comparable to a nerve stimulator than a TENS device in that it reaches more of the body than a localized area, and in that it’s far stronger than a TENS. Obviously some people still need implanted nerve stimulators, but that’s a small percentage of the chronic pain population, and there’s 100 million people in the world with chronic pain. The rest of us need something to use in the meantime.
Surprisingly, NeuroMetrix has been around for much longer than I’d thought. Quell rose to prominence in 2015, but the company itself had been around since 1996, beginning in diagnostics before moving to therapeutics. They worked solely in prescription devices before deciding to try an over-the-counter device, which led to the Quell.
I wasn’t able to stick around after the talk to mingle with everyone, but I had a fantastic time nonetheless. It was wonderful to meet the team behind the device that I use on a daily basis and to know that they are truly aiming to help people. I know that some people look at the Quell and think it’s too good to be true, and I wish I could just shake them by the shoulders and say, “JUST TRY IT!” You can just return it if it doesn’t work! What’s the worst that can happen? It doesn’t work and your hopes get dashed — again? That happens all the time with chronic pain patients. I was there! I know what it’s like!
That was the whole point of the luncheon — they wanted to tell us about the device, yes, but they also wanted to hear what we had to say. That was marvelous for me to see. More health tech companies should take pointers from NeuroMetrix and learn by their example. Then we’d have a more compassionate health care system — one that actually listens to patients. What a remarkable idea!