Jump to content
TomBAvoider

Health Diary

Recommended Posts

Out of curiosity: does anyone keep a health diary? I started a health diary in early 2008, and have kept it up, so I have a solid 8 years so far. 

 

The diary is daily, and electronic in form - I'm on a mac, and the software is Journler (unfortunately no longer being developed - but still working perfectly well). I have generated a format wherein I use acronyms and various tricks so that recording the daily info doesn't take too long. For example, instead of recording all the supplements I take on a given day, I write something like SUP030915 where 03/09/2015 is the date on which I changed the supplement mix for whatever reason (and I record that), and I don't have to repeat the whole list as it is available to just go to that date and there it is in full. I copy and paste from day to day so most fields are the same. I record all kinds of things, including amount and quality of sleep (and some TMI like bowel function), if I have any health complaints on a given day (say, headache), doctor visits and what the doctor said and tested, weight, blood pressure and pulse, changes to diet, coffee intake or anything else, exercise time and amount, medication or OTC stuff I might take on a given day, and so on for any health-related stuff. But since I have it all in a grid, it's very efficient to fill out all the info - takes no more than 3 minutes a day.

 

I find it very useful as a record of my health history (in addition to all the test results kept separately). I can go to any given day and tell you what happened health-wise. I can see patterns. Journler has very robust search functions, so I can perform a search and aggregate results (especially that from the beginning I was sure to use codified terms and used tags so that searches are easier). 

 

I only wish I had started this years earlier. In any case, I take a laptop to my doctor, and when the doc suggests something or asks about something, I can often astonish them by actually having a record - so no more vague stuff like "well, maybe you did X, cut back on this behavior and see" - "actually doc, I have this here graph showing that this cannot be correlated" - jaw drops. It takes a lot of guesswork out of trying to correlate any symptom with diet or lifestyle factors, since I can go back almost 10 years and just check. I had a foot problem, and the podiatrist was blown away by my being able to shoot down all his suggestions by simply going back in my records, and being able to say confidently "nope, doesn't look like it's correlated, I didn't change shoes until a month later" - since it's rare that a patient comes to him so well prepared with their health history.

 

In any case, I'm just curious as to what folks do here. Maybe we can share tricks, or give tips about what's worth recording etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been using an Android app on my phone, sportractive, to track by gps my walks and bike rides and find the history features handy for reviewing to see how my performance is changing.

 

I have a digital blood pressure/pulse monitor that keeps a log.

 

And I've been using CRON-O-METER to track diet and weight.

 

I haven't been tracking supplements or much of anything else, such as indoor exercises, episodic cold exposure, etc.

 

I imagine more thorough tracking/logging would be of value and especially pulling data from all sources into a single data base.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[...]

 

I imagine more thorough tracking/logging would be of value and especially pulling data from all sources into a single data base.

 

Absolutely. Prior to 2008, I tracked various aspects of my diet in various places (notebooks, computer db), same for exercise and supplement regimens - all over the place, medical records were crammed into a drawer etc. When I wanted to trace how something impacted me (say, eating eggs), it would take me hours just to assemble the info into one place! When I switched to the diary system, things improved dramatically. The key for me, in keeping up with the diary, was developing routines, and also codes. Short codes cut down how much time is spent in writing things down and templates and checklists allow to just check off (or not) for whatever health or diet behavior on that day. It becomes a habit, and at the end of the day I spend 2-3 minutes (more or less depending on what was going on) on updating the diary. It is invaluable when I want to trace the effects of something, or even just random symptoms (headache, muscle soreness, transient bone/joint pain and whatnot - f.ex. I can tell you I had a headache at 2:45 PM PST, 06/08/2008). I have it all on my computer and can bring a laptop to the doctor if needed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While glancing in the bathroom mirror last night before bed I was wondering if I'm showing any enhanced muscle definition from when I embarked on this odyssey to regain health at the beginning of May.  And I thought of this discussion on tracking and the idea that there are so many things to track and many ways of tracking them.

 

I thought perhaps a picture really can be worth a thousand words and wondered if anyone here has attempted to track their efforts photographically.  My phone's camera works well enough and is close at hand.  It would be fairly easy to take a picture once a week, and I set a reminder alarm on the phone to do so, hopefully overcoming the greatest hurdle.

 

Just curious if anyone else has tried something similar, and if so have you found it worthwhile and are you continuing to do it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Both my wife and I are avid photographers (although I've not had much time to do photography in recent years), and so have quite a bit of pro-level camera gear. We're also both of Northern European extraction, and skin/eyes/hair on the fair side, while living here in Southern California with pretty intense UV most of the year. We also like to hike and outdoor activities (even though we use a lot of protection). So skin cancer and photoaging are big concerns. Several years ago, it occurred to me that for people in our position, it might be useful to have baseline documentation of the skin for comparison purposes - it's not easy to otherwise determine if that mole you have on the back has changed size or appearance etc. What we did was to take high-resolution photos of the whole skin which we've stored on DVDs - which reminds me, I should do a backup! 

 

The other thing is that in the late 90's I embarked on a project to photograph my wife (fully clothed), one photo, once a day in the same portrait position. I didn't have any deadline in mind, but kept it up for 3 years, before travel and the like caused the project to peter out. I have reviewed those photos a couple of years ago, and it's astonishing how you can see the aging process even within a span of 3 years - if you keep the parameters the same (i.e., same lighting, same position, same lens and camera settings etc.). It just wasn't practical to keep up with it, given our lifestyle, but sometimes I wish I had done this for much longer - quite a document!

 

But more on topic - you are right that it might be a good idea to incorporate photography as a record of health markers. Visible injuries and skin conditions are two things which come to mind, along with things like red eyes etc. I haven't thought of it in detail, but I think you have a good idea there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why not use your phone to continuously video record every remaining day of your life? I do, since 2012, using one of the basic "dashcam" apps. I also use desktop recording software on my PC to record everything I do and view. All of it runs about 160 GB of video per day including offsite backup copy. There also for example is an MIT scientist who installed a whole-house video recording system to record his child's learning process. This is becoming more common, for example with cops wearing body cameras.

 

Yes it's handy to occasionally refer back to something specific for comparison purposes, or even something everyday like figuring out where you left an item in your house. But primarily in the long term I expect to be able to feed it all into some future personality simulation AI software and create a fairly close simulation of myself. This would be useful for many things like perhaps doing work for me, but also I see it as allowing some part of me able to survive biological death. Since I'm also being cryonically vitrified if/when my meat body dies, this extensive data record might also help future science to reconstruct any brain damage/memory loss caused by that process. Who knows? I figure it's better to have too much data rather than just letting my brain's lossy memory lose virtually everything I experience each day. Hard drives are cheap enough now that a project like this doesn't cost very much per month.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow BrianA,

 

160GB of video per day. That's quite a bit. How do you mount your phone camera to record your day? I like the idea of life logging, and perhaps you or others might learn something from your video someday, perhaps even how to create a digital reconstruction of you.

 

Back in the mid 2000s, I wore a tiny camera looped over my ear for six months, recording snippets of my day to a tiny battery-powered DVR hooked to my belt. I captured some fun and memorable moments when my kids were young. But at the time at least, it creeped many people out (including my wife) to know I had a camera that might be recording them at any time. Sort of like the recent response many people had to Google Glass. Do you ever get dirty looks from people when they find out you are recording them?

 

--Dean

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought for sure that your message would include the below, Dean.  Ah, those were the days, my friend.

 

http://deanpomerleau.tripod.com/pictures/index.htm

Dean Pomerleau's Photo Gallery

I have several pictures of my wonderful family.

I've recently tried growing a beard, to flesh out my face. Here is a recent picture of me chopping vegetables.

I've also taken images of myself as I have progressed with my practice of CR. I began improving my diet in January of 2000. My initial weight was 170lbs. In February of 2000, I started CR in earnest. A single picture from each date is shown below.  Click on the date to see more photos.

image1_small.jpg  7/27/00       7 months after starting CR, ~140lbs, BMI 21.0

image1_small.jpg  10/31/00     10 months after starting CR, 136lbs, BMI 20.4

img1_small.jpg  4/17/01       16 months after starting CR, 130lbs, BMI 19.5

image1_small.jpg  8/23/01       20 months after starting CR, 126lbs, BMI 18.9

img1_small.jpg  4/29/02       30 months after starting CR, 123lbs, BMI 18.5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At home or work I just pop my phone into a phone tripod type stand. I switched recently to the LG G5 phone which has dual rear cameras, one of which is a very wide angle so can capture the entire room from a corner; this phone also is one of the few remaining that support swappable internal batteries, which is important due to continual all day recording being very tough on battery longevity and also allows me to record indefinitely away from a power outlet as long as I bring enough spare batteries. In the car I use a windshield mount. I am looking into the new 360 degree cameras so I can capture not just typical dashcam scenery but also my reactions to it. I use a 200 GB micro sd card in the phone... these have recently dropped as low as $60.. enough to hold around 3 days of video, although I usually dump it to my laptop for encrypting to my LAN storage array daily.

 

When exercising, I currently use an armband holder, but may eventually switch to a dedicated "action camera". Otherwise when out and about I use a belt holster that rotates, so phone is oriented horizontal and I wear it somewhat oddly up front over my belt buckle. It gets the occasional odd glance from passer-bys, but no one really questions it. The holster's slight droop points the camera down a bit at the ground so it isn't obviously pointing up at people - the LG G5 wide angle lens helps here to still capture the whole scene. So in answer to how people respond when I tell them, the answer is I usually don't tell them. Obviously I do disable recording in non-public areas where the law does not allow recording, and also in movie theaters (they seem to be touchy :-). Only close friends who I interact with daily are aware they're being recorded, most tend to get over it within a day and just act normally. I have one high school friend who works fairly high up in politics, and surprise surprise she is the most touchy about being recorded...

 

Did you know various public agencies are now doing audio surveillance on mass transit? It was in the news lately... Everyone just needs to deal with the fact that in the very near future you will not be able to go anywhere in public without a complete record of your activities.

 

P.S. For a twilight zone-esque take on all this, see a couple of Black Mirror episodes: Be Right Back, The Entire History of You.

Edited by BrianA

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×