Why I'm Not Quantifying My Asthma This October

Every so often I get re-sparked into quantifying my life. I feel like I’ve done this a few years in a row in September or October, but in reality, I think I started doing this a few years in a row, and never really wrote about it, probably because I wasn’t successful at consistent lifelogging. A dig through my blog archives and my abandoned quantified self (QS) sub-blog from 2015 indicates I only seriously tried this in 2015 (likely as a distraction from leaving my then-job), and it didn’t include asthma.

Conversely, in 2016, I was only quantifying meditation, my quest from being able to plank 55 seconds to 3 minutes and 15 seconds, daily blogging, and not trending any of the above. I was really just logging goal progress—not that I don’t also need to do that more.

This year, I decided to go on another QS adventure for October. I made a conscious decision, though, to not quantify my asthma.

Why I’m not quantifying my asthma this October

Asthma is a natural thing to track for me—and it can be important to when trying to gather insights about patterns in your symptoms and identifying triggers, especially early on. In fact, my inhaler use logs itself thanks to the Propeller health system (Disclosure: Propeller has sent 6 sensors to me for free and I give them honest feedback every so often).

But that’s all I do. I rarely check peak flows, I don’t log trigger exposures except what is probably still ticking into a Google sheet automagically via IFTTT, and my first and so far last Quantified Asthma endeavour is discussed here, on Asthma.net.

While things with asthma can change, I’ve learned what I need to know for now about my own asthma—I know how to manage and respond to things. Quantifying asthma for me at this point in my life focuses me on logging things I cannot change—it’s no longer productive, and now it’s just nerdy fun. This October, I’m quantifying choice, not circumstance.

Choosing better

Everything I do for my health impacts my asthma, even if “indirectly." I feel better when I exercise, I want to eat better, I focus better—especially given the effects of exercise on ADHD—but I also have more focused energy. What I eat and how much I move, among other things, are both choices—unlike asthma. I’m choosing to focus on tracking things I can choose, using that data for motivation to choose better, and have a global positive impact on my health, not just the chronic disease part of it.

This month, in a spreadsheet, I’m taking notes on data collected both actively (nutrition, exercise) and passively (step count). Amusingly (to me), I’ve misplaced my Fitbit charger and it’s been dead since September 29, so I’ll be comparing steps and workouts between my Apple Watch and Fitbit’s Mobile Track until I find or acquire a charger. Since Mobile Track and my Charge 2 are going to count differently, I’ll have these as two different data streams (unless I create an alternate Fitbit account for continuing Mobile Track).

Due to the lack of Fitbit, I won’t be logging sleep (especially since I forgot to “wake up” on Sleep Cycle this morning—they got rid of the red bar that tells me it’s still running!), though I’d like to see its impact on mood and focus which I am logging numerically. I’m also tracking money spent, meditation time (so far at 0) and words written. Unlike asthma, ALL of these “measurables” are things I have control of and choice about.

Trending results

As someone who didn’t even have to take statistics or data analysis in university and thus has little knowledge of this area, I’ll again be using Data Sense to glean insights into what I track this month as I did for Quantified Asthma.

Though I did Quantified Asthma for fun, and just to see what I could build with no coding knowledge, I was aware I was logging for the sake of logging and seeing if that system worked. This time, I’m logging for the sake of Quantified Self—for “self knowledge through numbers.”1

What parts of asthma do you log?

Do you track your asthma? How about nutrition, driving mileage, exercise, steps? What apps and devices do you use to log or interpret your self-tracking data? Let me know in the comments!

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