I’m a bit behind with my blog posts, so I’m going to catch up by writing a load over the next few days. At the end of August I attended the “Quantified Self” meet up in London. I said before that these people were a load of “geeks” who quantify a load of stuff about themselves, either for interest or to help them understand themselves or train for a goal. Of course, I mean geek in a good way – since getting diabetes I have become even more of a geek than I already was.
The evening was really good fun. I met a load of interesting people both before and after the formal session. I met someone who was attempting to create tailored career advice from a huge database of personal traits and job satisfaction for different jobs, an ultra marathon running cell biologist (a very useful person for a diabetic who likes running to talk to), someone who is an expert in virtual currency (bitcoin), a programming expert, a PhD student etc. Meeting all these people and having a load of stimulating discussions wouldn’t have happened before I received the “gift of diabetes”. Haha.
During the main part of the session, people can give presentations on how they are “quantifying themselves”. I saw three entertaining and informative presentations. The most relevant to me was probably the cell biologist who is training for an ultra marathon. He is quantifying a load of personal data to track progress. Running distance and speeds, of course, but also weight, VO2 Max, waist line etc. I was particularly impressed that one of his criteria for his quantified self programme was that he would spend no more than ten minutes a day tracking his personal data. Given that diabetes is so time-consuming (I spend well over an hour a day thinking about it, doing maths, changing needles etc.) minimising the time impact on my day is a worthy aim!
The quantify self presentations can be seen here. The most amazing one (unfortunately I wasn’t there to see it) was given by Dr Ian Clements, who had bladder cancer and decided to track a load of personal data about himself because he was frustrated with the infrequency of medical check ups to diagnose the progress of his cancer. Amazingly he found a statistically relevant correlation between the difference of fat in each leg and the progress of his cancer.
So Dr Clements has joined a long list of people who inspire me. (Having watched the Athletics World Championships recently, Mo Farah is another one. What a legend!)
So back to someone less impressive: me! I’m now some of the way through my computer programme which I use to analyse the data generated by my diabetes app. I’ve produced loads of charts which I’ll probably post on here over time. The one at the top of this post is my favourite (at the moment anyway) because it shows my blood sugar control. I take many glucose readings at different times of the day, but I always take one when I wake up, before each meal, and when I go to sleep. So at least five a day. To give a graphical representation of my blood sugar range, I’ve calculated the average of my five readings for each day and the “standard deviation” of the five readings (the standard deviation is a measure of variability – if it’s high it means the readings a very variable, if it’s low it means the readings are all at very similar levels). I can then do a bit of maths which calculates some ranges.
In the chart above, 90% of my blood glucose readings should be somewhere in the coloured bars. 50% of my readings should be between the two darker blue bars in the middle. I don’t know for sure, but I think the blood glucose range I’ve had isn’t that far from what a normal person would have (Matthew Beard who gave the QS presentation on running did a blood glucose test on himself – he’s not a diabetic – and after drinking a bottle of lucozade his blood sugar varied from just above 4 to just below 8). If I can keep it in this range, my risk of heart disease shouldn’t be any different from a normal person (more on this later).
So a month and a half into having diabetes – well done me! I’m sure it won’t be possible to control blood sugar this consistently at all times, but it’s a good start.