A friend drew my attention to an article ‘The Data That Turned the World Upside Down’ which talked about the impact of “big data” on the recent US Presidential election and the UK’s EU referendum. (It is quite a long article!). Big data seems to be an aggregation of vast volumes of little bits of data such as posts on Facebook or shopping on Amazon or searches on Google. Apparently Big Data allows microtargeted marketing – the big cheese of one big data company claims “We have profiled the personality of every adult in the United States of America—220 million people,” – now I suspect that there may be one or two people who don’t have internet access or own a smart phone so their profiles may be a little sketchy. They claim that this allows them to put out a different message for every voter targeted at their individual concerns. The other line in the article which caught my eye was “Aleksandr Kogan then moved to Singapore, married, and changed his name to Dr. Spectre.”
If that all seems a bit surreal think back to village life one or two hundred years ago when you would know everyone in the village and their likes and dislikes. It is just that the ginormous amounts of data available at the click of a mouse have expanded our boundaries beyond the village walls, but most of us have better things to do than analysing them.
Little data is of more interest to me – platelet counts, blood glucose levels and PSA numbers. It is a few weeks to my next PSA figure but I have continued to try to get blood out of a stone (well finger actually) which is still a higher figure than I want but is showing a downward trend. I had another consultation with haematology last week which being half term meant that we were accompanied by granddaughters who were very patient (whereas I was just the patient). Later in the week I was taken by their concern for me when I was clambering through an adventure playground (at their request I might add). Not only did they keep saying “Mind your head gumgum” but also they held their hands out to stop me bumping my head as I climbed through gaps not designed for grown-ups.
Unlike the Cancer side of CCHU where you see the same consultant each time, on the Haematology side there are two or three consultants and a more junior doctor in the clinic and you see whoever picks up your file first. However they do discuss each case outside the clinic and may confer during the consultation (especially if it is one of the more junior members of the team that you have seen). Although my platelet levels had dropped from the previous high of 72 to 45 this appeared to be acceptable even though it is well below the “normal” level of 150+. The doctor said she would only be concerned if it dropped below 20 (the consultant set the level at 10) in which case some form of intervention might be required. Should I require surgery and the platelet level still be below 50 then they may need topping up. So instead of going back in three or four weeks my next visit will be in three months unless I start showing signs of bruising or bleeding in which case I should see my GP. So the platelet roller coaster continues.