Debugging My Allergy
chronic condition | food tracking
Thomas Blomseth Christiansen
Thomas Chistiansen of Mymee spent three years using a QS approach to reduce his allergies. He recorded his symptoms, intake of food, water, and supplements, as well as sleep, urination, and elimination. Through his careful 9,4000 observations, Thomas has been able to get rid of the eczema on his hands and can now manage through allergy season without any medication. In the talk, he discusses about how his allergies change with traveling, how he has changed his diet, and other interesting insights.
Mymee | pen and paper
My name is Thomas Blomseth Christianson and I’m a cofounder of Mymee and today I’ll talk to you about how I’ve been debugging my allergy for the last three to five years and I’ve been using Mymee. And since the beginning of May I’ve made more than 9,400 observations of myself, my condition, and my daily life and what you see now id based on that.
So I’ve been logging some symptoms of my allergy and the main symptom is sneezing and then sometimes I feel cold like I’m getting the flu and I also feel tired. I’ve had some eczema on my hands so you see a lot of photos there. I’ve been logging my food intake, my water, beverages and also supplements. So you see some of the photos of some of the food I’ve been eating since the beginning of May and also water consumption and beverages. Then
I’ve been monitoring some bodily functions like sleep, urination, elimination of bowel movements, and I know when I did what and where and I’ve made some major personal results by doing this kind of personal improvement.
The summer of 2000 was the first summer in 30 years where I could enjoy the smell of grass and for 30 years I also had this red sensitive skin around my eyes. I can now control the eczema of my hands without any medication, and then just generally my energy level and quality of life have improved significantly.
So the story behind this, some five years ago in my mid 30s my allergies started getting worse, and I went to see my doctor and I wasn’t quite satisfied with the kind of method or approach that they applied. I come from this tradition and also working as a management consultant in a processing improvement for a software company and I learned some real problem solving doing software and also from Toyota that they picked something up from America. So I said let’s start using that kind of method for my own health because I’m not getting the help.
So after 2008 I started doing some mind mapping of my condition and also on other kinds of things I was tracking and then I’m writing this kind of hypothesis that I’m seeing the systems close to the capacity that you see with service and you see with traffic, so I stated recently about my immune defense system. So looking as a software developer I thought there must be a part monitoring incoming material a part with the system state, then the system must be correlating what is coming in and what the overall body state. Then during a lifetime the immune defense system is also building this threat database of threats, and this is the adaptive part of the immune defense system.
My idea was that perhaps there is a way of making the immune defense system to recalculate the threat level assigned to these threats that it’s been calculating. The hypothesis was if I kept my body in overall good state during the grass pollen season, then perhaps I could reprogram my system not to be afraid of grass pollen.
That was the main experiment and the auxiliary was that I found out doing other experiments that my digestion and my immune defense system have something to do with each other. So I said well I try to keep my digestion in a good state in the summer, and this was what I saw. This is all my sneezes this summer, so I recorded every single sneeze, when it was and where it was.
And what I saw was this totally new dynamic this summer and I had never seen it before. I didn’t take any medication, and down here we have Mountain View at the Quantified Self conference I had my first symptoms outside the computer history museum and that’s the kind of fist peak you see there. But what happened was that at the computer center here the symptoms kind of disappeared.
Then I went back to New York and then I got a new peak. But the symptoms kind of wear off after a couple of days. And then in mid-June I went back to my native Denmark to Copenhagen and then we see this big peak and I interpret that that I am going back to the grass pollen that my system got afraid of when I was a kid at that time we had grass pollen in Denmark.
And we have two other peaks down there, and that’s when I went back to my hometown and to my parent’s cabin where there’s a lot of grass pollen and as a kid I had my worst symptoms at that place. But what you see there is also it kind of drops off and I stop sneezing after a couple of days. Then I spent five and a half weeks at the cabin and we had this condition where there is a lot of grass out there.
So what you see now is if you correlate that to the general grass pollen in Denmark, please note that when my symptoms went up when I went back to Copenhagen and back to my hometown then the grass pollen levels are going up and in Denmark in general. So that is what I wanted out of this. Then you see the question mark is me returning to my apartment in Copenhagen and I start sneezing, so there’s something in my apartment and that’s kind of the next project to find out what it is.
So the main learning from me and by doing this suddenly I went from symptoms to empowering data, something that I used to be something I was subjected to the symptoms, now it’s empowering data. Now I feel like the hunter following the trail and every time I sneeze now it’s the symptom and this is my system revealing something about itself and that’s where I get the empowering data in making new experiments. So what we’re trying to do is to make an app that can empower people to do these kind of experiments to uncover the hidden causes of health concerns.