000: Introduction, What to Expect, and Meghan Alonso’s Story

This episode is an introduction to the Inspired by Imua podcast, covers what to expect when listening, and dives deep into what inspires Meghan Alonso to help others through their journey of medical product development.

  • What is Inspired by Imua and what does Imua mean?
  • Meghan M. Alonso’s personal story and what drives her passion to help medical device companies
  • What you can expect from this podcast.

Links to Things Mentioned in This Episode:

The Purpose Driven Life
Dr. Erik Kolberg
Four Seasons Lanai
Joint Medical
Ooh La La Dance Company
Steadman Philippon Research Institute

Dancing on National TV:
Pictured in the peacock costumes:

Quotes:

“Imua means to advance forward with passion”

“Imua is the perfect word to describe the medical device world”

“There are always rough waves ahead in medical device product development”

Social Connecting:

Host: Meghan Alonso

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Company: Imua Services/Inspired by Imua

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Podcast Transcription:

E Komo Mai and aloha! That’s “welcome and hello,” in Hawaiian, by the way. I’m Meghan Alonso, and mahalo for joining me for my first-ever episode of inspiredbyimua.com. You’re probably wondering what is imua, and how do you even spell that? While I’m a Texas girl at heart that loves my barbecue, I consider my soul to be Hawaiian. I’m definitely full of the Aloha spirit. I chose the word imua, because it’s a Hawaiian word that means to advance forward with passion, to continue on despite rough waves. I think this is the perfect word to describe the medical product development process, because there are always tons of waves to face. This podcast will be coming at you through the airwaves weekly, and will provide you with insight, resources, and guidance to help you master those medical device development waves and also hang ten.

 

Whether you’ve got a technology you want to commercialize, or maybe you’re in a lab working off a few grants wondering, “What do I do next?” you’re in the midst of product development, or maybe you even work for a large company where medical product development is pretty bureaucratic. This podcast is for you.

 

I’m taking a three-pronged approach with this, and I’ll be interviewing a few different types of people. Number one, people in companies just like you that are either going through medical device development, or they’ve just finished and launched their product. They’ll be able to give you insight into some of those rough waves that they’ve encountered, their tricks in the trade, and hopefully you can apply some of that insight to your specific situation.

 

Number two, I’ll be talking with experts in the industry. They can give you guidance, and help you solve those problems that you’re going through. They can also help you to identify partners to outsource and collaborate with. It’s pretty advantageous, this day and age, to have experts on your team without the expense of hiring them full-time.

 

Lastly, I’ll be talking with patients whose lives have been changed by medical products. This’ll help you to keep inspired, and to keep reminding you why you even paddled out into this crazy ocean in the first place.

 

Now that you know the format of the show, I’ll tell you why I wanted to start this. Over the past few years of helping companies through medical product development, I’ve noticed the need for a central platform where medical device entrepreneurs and companies going through development can leverage expertise, receive guidance, find needed resources. When I talked with people and found out what they needed before, I would send them to several different websites, and introduce them to several different people. Now, instead of that, I created that one central platform. All you need to do is go there and visit. It’s inspiredbyimua.com. That’s I-M-U-A.

 

Here’s a peek into my background and personal life, just so you get to know me and learn why this is my mission. My family and I have definitely faced some rough waves ourselves, in the form of medical issues. Because of the hard work people like you have done, we’ve been able to overcome some of those battles. We’re still facing others, so please keep working. My waves started when I was born. I had a folded retina in my left eye, so I couldn’t see out of that eye. When I was three, it totally detached and I got glaucoma. It was a pretty traumatic experience. I was rushed to the hospital. I remember waking up in the middle of the night, having to take eye drops just to control the pressure, and, oh yeah, going to the doctor as a three-year-old toddler running around in their office with all the elderly patients, that was pretty interesting. Those were the type of people that got glaucoma, not the three-year-olds.

 

I had a silver pupil in that eye, and a kid at school actually bullied me every day and called me cat-eye. One day, I got sick of that and kicked him between his legs, and I never heard from him again. When I was in college, I got a big infection in that eye, so I had to have it removed, and I now have a prosthetic. It was custom-made and hand-painted, it was actually a pretty cool process to watch. It’s just for me, and it looks pretty great. You can tell if you’re really looking, but not many people can tell. Giving a shout-out to Dr. Erik Kolberg in San Diego for his hard work on that.

 

I’m also unique because I have half an extra vertebrae between L4 and L5. It’s kind of wedge-shaped. Because of that, I have scoliosis, I have spinal stenosis, I have disc herniations, a rotated pelvis, and a tilted pelvis also. When I was young, I really wanted to dance and do gymnastics, but I wasn’t sure about how my doctor would feel about that, since it puts your back in some pretty awkward positions. Luckily, my orthopedic doctor said, “Hey, that’s a great idea, because it will help you keep your back muscles strong and flexible.” Some movements were painful on my back, but I kept through it, and I did gymnastics all the way through college at Texas A&M. Gig ’em, Aggies! I’m still so strong today, and I really like that I had that discipline, exercise regime. I still had the occasional back and hip pain, but I keep it at bay with all the exercises that I do.

 

The biggest set of waves my family has had to face came when I was in high school. My brother got extremely sick, and the doctors didn’t really know what was going on with him. He had blood test after blood test. Eventually they found out he was hepatitis C-positive. In those situations, they decide to test the whole family. It actually turned out that I was positive, along with my mom, too. The doctors think she contracted it from a blood transfusion in 1974 that she had, and then passed it to us in utero. Between the three of us, we’ve been through seven different treatments, five of which involved a low-dose of chemo called Interferon. We kept pushing through it, we kept pushing through all those waves of the flu-like symptoms, the fever and chills, the hair loss, the weight loss, the anemia, the depression, upset stomach, and just feeling crappy. The good news in all that is that we are all clear of the virus, thank God and the hard-working people to develop live-saving drugs.

 

Now onto some fun details about my life. My times of gymnastics, along with sailing and surfing at Texas A&M, I was just infatuated with Hawaii. I enrolled in a graduate program there at University of Hawaii that ended up not really being for me. I dropped out after one semester, but I really wanted to stay in Hawaii. I stayed there, I’ve been able to surf all over the islands, and I got to work at one of the most beautiful hotels in the world. The Four Seasons Lanai at Manele Bay. Larry Ellison purchased the island of Lanai a few years ago, and just finished a huge renovation, by the way. You should go check it out if you can actually afford it. He’s increased the prices quite a bit.

 

I loved the hotel industry, but I figured out that I didn’t want to work in it long-term. I again had an attempt at grad school, this time successful. I enrolled in a exercise science Masters program through University of Houston, and then settled in San Diego, where they have the best weather on the mainland without going to Hawaii. I was working helping athletes to reach their full potential. By full potential, I mean that human performance aspect that high-level professional athletes focus on. Getting their pole-vault a fraction of an inch higher, their hundred-meter time a nanosecond faster, achieving a shoulder angle a degree more on the uneven bars to create a prettier line for the judges. I was so blessed I was able to work with some incredible gymnasts, some high school athletes, the San Diego State University women’s pole-vaulting team, University of California at San Diego athletes, and even some Olympic pole-vaulters from the training center down in Chula Vista.

 

Some of those athletes got injured, and I not only had to help them reach their full potential, but I had to help manage their injuries at the same time. That’s when the light bulb clicked for me. I slightly switched my focus after that, and I went to work for an orthopedic rehab clinic. I was exposed to a lot more diverse patient population. Young, old, all different kinds of injuries. It was there that I was exposed to medical devices. I had three patients post-knee replacement surgery, and they each had a different rehab protocol. I asked the PT, and she explained that they each had different hardware. That was so awesome for me to see how each knee was different for different patient needs. I knew I wanted to switch over to the device side after that, but this was 2008 and the economy was going down the tubes.

 

Shortly after, I was given the opportunity to start another orthopedic rehab clinic, Joint Medical, from the ground up. That was really fun. I was running rehab and their marketing, and I had an initial marketing budget of a hundred dollars. They are now in three locations, they serve several patients and have changed lots of lives. That was a really fun journey, but it was time for me to move on. In the midst of refocusing my career, I got to live out one of my childhood dreams, dancing on TV. I was part of Ooh-La-La Dance Company salsa dancing. 20 hours per week and going on dance tours all over the world. We went to LA, San Francisco, Vegas, Denver, New York, Spain, and Morocco too. That’s in addition to all the venues we were at in San Diego. We were even part of America’s Got Talent season six. That’s where the TV came into play.

 

My back and hip pain was increasing. In addition to my back problems, I found out that I had slight hip dysplasia, and I had torn both of my acetabular labrums. That’s the lining of the hip socket. My right one was especially irritated with all of the salsa dancing.

 

I decided to go to the best labral tear surgeon, actually the pioneer of that surgery, Dr. Marc Philippon at the Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado. He was able to repair that tear and in between my physical therapy appointments, I was like a kid in a candy store because not only do they do surgery at the Steadman clinic but downstairs they have the Steadman Research Institute. They test different surgical techniques, medical devices, and they also conduct studies all around orthopedics. When I was there they had a study on hockey players’ hip injuries because a lot of them get that same injury that I had.

 

In 2012 I finally moved over to the medical device industry. I know this is exactly where I’m supposed to be. All of my passions align from health care, to innovation, to biomedical engineering, wellness, medicine, and I get to have relationships with really cool people all around the world. I’m able to see how people’s lives are changed because of medical innovation and the benefits of all the hard work that goes into these products.

 

I really do think this is my life’s purpose and what God is calling me to do (helping those through medical device development). A few years ago I read a purpose driven life, I do have my own mission statement. It’s written by Rick Warren and I think God is using me and my passion to work in this area. I’m here to help you master the waves of medical product development and hang 10 too. I can’t wait for you to join me on the next episode and in the mean time go check out inspiredbyimua.com again that’s I-M-U-A and Imua!

 

 

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