This guest blog post was written by MVP Leon Tribe as part of our Humans of IT Guest Blogger Series. This is his story of overcoming adversity by leveraging technology to manage chronic diseases and live a better life. In fact, he shares about how Power Platform literally saves his life each day as someone who lives with Type 1 Diabetes.
A little over three years ago, I was presenting at Microsoft Ignite 2017 on the Gold Coast of Queensland, Australia - it had been quite the coup. Traditionally a .NET developer's conference, my co-presenter Doug Daley and I convinced the organizers to let us speak on Microsoft Dynamics CRM instead (one of the pre-cursors to today's Power Platform). To my knowledge this was the first time a Dynamics presentation was given at the Australian Microsoft Ignite conference.
What I did not know at the time was that I was very ill. I was permanently exhausted, my joints ached and my hair was falling out in patches. More importantly for the talk, I was permanently thirsty and had the urge to drink constantly (the drink in the photo was more than just a prop!). Also, I had the urge to pee literally every half an hour. For an hour-long talk, this presented a problem and meant my presentation could generate interest for all the wrong reasons.
I was a mess. Fortunately the stage wasn't. I made it through the presentation and, when I returned to my hometown of Sydney, Australia, I went straight to see a doctor. After a raft of tests and a trip to the emergency room, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. In short, my immune system saw my pancreas as the enemy. This meant I could not produce enough insulin to meet the needs of my unhealthy diet. My blood was becoming increasingly sugary and acidic, and it was literally killing me. Things had to change, and change quick.
There is no remission/cure for Type 1 Diabetes, but there is still plenty that can be done to help manage it. For example, my diet changed overnight. Sugary drinks were out as well as most carbohydrates. Lean meats and non-starchy vegetables became the new norm. Exercise also became part of my routine, rather than an unattended item on my to-do list.
This is me with my 'dia-buddy,' Bruce Sithole, proudly showing off the glucose monitors on our arms and the completion medals for the 'Gong Ride' (a 80km/50-mile charity ride to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis, another immune disorder).
With Type 1 Diabetes, my technology focus also shifted. The Type 1 Diabetes community has a rich tradition in open source hacking. The 'loopers' hack the devices used to manage Type 1 Diabetes so they talk to each other for better management. They take the glucose monitor you see on my arm in the photo above and take the data up into the cloud. From there, they bring it back down to manage their insulin pump. If their blood is too sugary, the data tells the pump to issue more insulin and vice versa. Without the ability to close the loop, it is up to the individual to pass the information from one device to the other. As Type 1 Diabetes is often diagnosed in very young children, this is not practical for them or their school teachers. Also, without looping, it is necessary for parents of Type 1 children to get up multiple times in the night to check their child's blood sugar levels. Looping manages the health of Type 1 children and the sanity of their parents.
For me, the open source community means I have a watch which tells me my blood sugar any time I need to know it.
Also, my family can ask Alexa what my blood sugar level is regardless of where I am in the world. It provides convenience and piece of mind.
With my knowledge of the Power Platform, I saw how it could also be used to help manage the disease. The open source technology took my data from my monitor to an online MongoDB database. Using Power Automate, it was possible, without any code, to copy it to an Excel spreadsheet in One Drive for analysis.
With the data available to me, at any time, on any device, I can review it and make changes to my routine, if needed, or raise concerns with my health care team when I next see them.
To take this to the next level, my plan is to connect Power BI directly to the data source for more sophisticated analysis and to use Azure cognitive Service's Anomaly Detection Service for the automatic detection of when my blood is unusually high or low.
I am optimistic for the future. I see the potential for technology to help manage and solve so many problems in the world. What excites me the most about the Power Platform is it provides access to technology that, in many cases, was simply unavailable, even with code, a few years ago. There will always be a place for code but, by putting this technology into the hands of an increasingly diverse range of people, innovation will come from their collective wisdom. Without needing a line of code, they are still empowered to solve the problems that affect them and, by extension, the problems of the world. It truly is a fantastic time to be alive.
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