BLOG: Memorial Day, minus the Indianapolis 500
For the first time since 1945, there will be no Indianapolis 500 this May. The annual event has been postponed until August, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
I lived in Indianapolis when I was doing my endocrinology fellowship at Indiana University in the mid 1990s.
I have developed a relationship with each of the cities that I lived or stayed in over my lifetime, with periods ranging from 1 month (Larnaca, Cyprus) to 15 years (East Lansing, Michigan). In total, I have lived in 11 cities in the Middle East and the U.S., not counting cities that I have visited for business or pleasure in Asia, Africa, Europe, North, Central and South America.
I have published, elsewhere, about living in so many cities, and about moving the kids with me so many times! I salute my wife and kids who endured with me during all these relocations.
Our 2-year residence in Indy turned into another wonderful love relationship with a lovely town.
So, what is my relationship with the Indianapolis 500?
While I am overall a sports-loving individual, and I do practice some sports — mostly biking and Ping-Pong — I am not a particular fan of car racing. In fact, I feel that car racing is a very dangerous sport; however, I do respect people who are fans. It is certainly a matter of personal taste.
At a recent meeting of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, Anne Peters, MD, the famous diabetes expert at USC’s Westside Center for Diabetes in Beverly Hills, shared the case of a famous NASCAR driver with type 1 diabetes during a lecture. The driver was using an insulin pump and glucose sensor. Dr. Peters described how she would attend the NASCAR race and sit at the speedway while the driver would race at 200+ MPH. She and engineers would develop special equipment to mount the glucose sensor’s reader to the dashboard, so the driver would see his blood glucose level in real-time during the race. The main concern is hypoglycemia, so the driver would consume sugar when his blood glucose would drop. It was an amazing story.
Living in Indianapolis, I happened to live close to the Motor Speedway, where the Indianapolis 500 takes place.
During the race season — starting days before Memorial Day — we would hear the roaring sounds of the racing cars from our apartment. For the first year, since we did not pay attention to the big event, our family of five drove, by coincidence, close to the speedway around the time of the event’s end. We got stuck in the local traffic for a few hours, just blocks from our apartment!
In addition to my indirect relationship with the Indianapolis 500, I immensely enjoyed my stay in Indianapolis. The fellowship times at IU were amongst the best in my educational journey; I trained with many endocrine experts in various specialties: diabetes, obesity, bone, hypertension, with those whose names you would spot in textbooks and practice guidelines.
While IU is perhaps similar to any other Big Ten school in the nation, its advantage is that it is next door to Ely Lilly, one of the largest and oldest national pharmaceutical companies. IU would be the first research collaborator for Ely Lilly throughout the decades of medication development, in various medical specialties, including diabetes and osteoporosis.
Being an endocrine fellow at IU, I had the opportunity to interact with many Eli Lilly endocrinologists; these great scientists and clinical experts would volunteer as faculty members at our endocrinology division. They would staff our clinics.
Eli Lilly and IU are just two of the many landmarks in Indy. I can list many others in a blink, including, the Colts, the Pacers, the NCAA headquarters, the Central Canal, the Victory Field and the RCA arena. Major medical landmarks in Indy, besides IU and Eli Lilly, include the Diabetes Prevention Program’s headquarters and the Diabetes Care journal’s editorial office.
And the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and its legendary Memorial Day Indianapolis 500 race.
But alas, this year’s Memorial Day is going to be without the Indianapolis 500!