Earlier this year I started tracking my symptoms, triggers, and activity in a simple Bullet Journal. After about a month of tracking I decided to have a look for patterns.
I took my raw data and entered it all into an MS Excel Spreadsheet. Next, I added up the total values of the groups and graphed them. I noticed a couple of patterns emerging, but something was messing with them…so I looked for anomalies, controlled for those, and played with the charts a while longer. Surprisingly, after only 4 weeks of consistent tracking I was able to identify 2 major patterns to help me predict, plan, and manage my symptoms better!
Pattern number 1 – the big picture pattern
The number and severity of my symptoms on any given day are proportional to the activity of the day 2 days prior plus the activity of that day. So if I have an active or stressful day on Monday, I need to have a gentle day on Wednesday or I will have an increase in symptoms.
I already new that there was a 48 hour delay on many symptoms, but it surprised me to see just how nicely the data fitted this pattern. It wasn’t a perfect fit, but I think there is a lot of ‘noise’ in my records still, in terms of the triggers I record and the way I account for activity.
Pattern number 2 – dehydration
This is one that was only easy to spot because it’s Summer, so I can see the effect of heat, and of hydration plus heat. I noticed that the days when I drank A LOT of water (as in, 2L and upwards) and/or sports drinks I tended to have fewer symptoms than on days when I drank very little or moderate amounts (say, 1L or less). So I started making an effort to drink more water.
A week or 2 after doing my analysis, I came across this article, which basically says that I have 20% less blood volume than I should, which contributes to a lot of my symptoms. Low blood volume means low blood pressure, low body temperature, high heart rate, difficulty with temperature regulation, headaches, fatigue etc. The recommendation is to drink at least 2L daily of electrolyte solution, such as sports drinks or the drink they give you when you’ve been very sick. They don’t recommend water alone, as that can dilute the blood too much, leading to increased urination and making the blood volume problem even worse.
So, I didn’t really learn anything new that I wouldn’t have learned anyway, but my methodology and analysis appears to be fairly valid, so I will keep tracking and see if I can find any more patterns.