Advocate for data. Advocate for your loved ones.
For those of you who don’t know, my Grandma Joanne is the most kind-hearted, loving, and selfless person I’ve known. Whether it’s her children, her neighbors, or even her gardener, she constantly gives and thinks of others’ needs before her own.
Ever since I was little, she always took care of me, whether it was taking me to Best Buy to get the latest video games or taking me to Sweet Factory.
Upon reflection, I can tell you that no one truly cares for you like your grandma does.
I’m sharing this story in hopes of showing you the value of data. With the emergence of consumer biosensors (smart scales, blood pressure monitors, glucose meters, sleep trackers, etc.) and mobile technologies, life-threatening issues can be prevented. I firmly believe that data can be used to save lives and I ask that you reflect on this story and advocate for your loved ones.
Six months ago, my Grandma had throat surgery. After various post-operative checkups, everything seemed to be fine. Doctors had noticed increased weight loss and established a basic care plan, but that was it. Unfortunately, when she was at home, doctors weren’t able to see the dramatic rate at which she continued to lose weight.
As an analogy, imagine the team that ensured Apollo 11 landed successfully on the moon. Did they spend 10 minutes assessing the rocket and tell Commander Armstrong to fly North? No. They spent billions of dollars ensuring every second of the mission went to plan. If something went wrong along the way, a team of experts assessed the situation and executed a solution. Failure was not an option.
Unfortunately, my Grandma did not have a team of experts analyzing her condition remotely to ensure her recovery was successful.
March 11, 2016
It was 5:06pm on a typical evening. I was busy writing emails, coding, and doing whatever else a young entrepreneur does in his free time to make his company succeed. I can remember that I was on the phone with a potential partner when my mom got a call. A few minutes later she came into my room shaking.
“Grandma is in the ICU on life support.”
What went from a night of building turned into a night of breaking. My mom and I drove to Palm Desert to be with my Grandma, unsure of what to expect. When we arrived, my Grandma was still conscious, but she was being heavily sedated. As I mustered up the courage to go into the room, she saw me, smiled, and gave me a feeble wave.
That’s when the gravity of the situation set in and I couldn’t hold back my tears. It turns out that my Grandma was admitted to the ICU at just over 90 pounds. Since her surgery, she had lost over 25% of her body weight due to various preventable issues. For an elderly person, this is extremely dangerous because they don’t have enough strength to fight off illnesses, including pneumonia.
Over the next six days, there were many ups and downs. There was hope. But most importantly, there was love. Seeing my family come together and be there for each other is a testament to my Grandma’s kind heart.
March 17, 2016
It’s not easy losing a loved one. It’s also not easy seeing loved ones lose a loved one. Human connection is a powerful force, and when that connection is lost, the strength of that connection becomes apparent.
We can’t change what happened, but I encourage others to reflect on this experience. For people recovering from surgery and family members thereof, I ask you to advocate for data. Life-threatening issues can be prevented, including the drastic weight loss and underlying conditions that ultimately led to my Grandma’s admission to the ICU. The data collected from consumer biosensors, when presented to the right people, at the right time, in the right context, will save lives.
As an entrepreneur, I define success as building a sustainable and profitable business. However, as a human, I define success as being selfless. And to that end, my Grandma’s life was a success.
Thank you, Grandma.