Long time no write, you guys! The last year or so was definitely the strangest and most challenging year in many people’s lives, myself included. But for some reason, I found it difficult to write about anything. That is until today when my friend Vera shared with me her Health Metrics Dashboard on her Fitbit app where she easily correlated her reactions to her Pfizer vaccine. That got me super excited and I rushed to check my own Fitbit app.
You see, on Saturday, April 3, I received my first dose of the Pfizer CoVID-19 vaccine at a local CVS store in Half Moon Bay, CA. Funny thing is that I had no reactions whatsoever. Nothing on the day. No feelings on the following day, either. Majority of my friends including Vera felt the so-called protein spikes with symptoms of mild fever, body aches, and fatigue. I on the other hand felt nothing. Maybe the Internet trolls are right. Maybe I got a placebo!! A hoax vaccine for a hoax disease!
Not so fast, Internet trolls! While it’s true that I didn’t feel anything, my Fitbit is telling me that my body reacted just the same. My resting heart rate graph showed that my RHR spiked the day after I took the vaccine. In fact it broke out of my 30-day personal range. The same was true with my breathing rate (BR) which also exceeded my 30-day personal range. The third telling metric, my heart rate variability (HRV), dropped precipitously the following day to the bottom of my 30-day personal range as well. These three health metrics on my HMD behaved in similar manner as suggested by an early CoVID-19 detection study. But unlike in the study, my metrics returned to normal after two days since I wasn’t really sick. That makes perfect sense!
I have admired the EDC lifestyle for a while now. EDC is about the minimalist expression. EDC is about life’s basic functions. People need security and peace of mind which are enviable foundations for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It makes sense. But until recently, my entire EDC arsenal has only consisted of the Original Slimmy by Koyono, the Massdrop Brass AAA Pocket Flashlight, and the Fitbit Alta HR (of course!)
Well, let’s just say things in my EDC world have escalated quickly.
Three weeks or so ago, I had to go on a hunt because my kids needed something called a fidget spinner. Having failed to deliver them a Unicorn Frappuncino (that’s a whole another story), Super Dad cannot fail again, right!? After calling and visiting several area Walgreens stores, we finally found it. My kids were satisfied. And I was forever changed.
Most of my coworkers and friends are skeptical. But there is an inherit attraction about a good fidget spinner. Craftsmanship is first and foremost. That’s obvious. But there is a very visceral connection between humans and metals, too. Put a good looking piece of aluminum, copper, titanium, tungsten, brass, or stainless steel in your hand. Feel its weight and temperature and connect with it for a moment. Right? Also the design language is unmistakably universal when it’s done right. It doesn’t matter whether the fidget spinner is made in Russia, China, Vietnam, or the good old USA. You understand it. Last but not least, I’m talking about functionality. Having a piece of well-designed and perfectly-machined fidget spinner in your hand, you can spin away all your nervousness and worries and focus on what’s important at the moment. For me, that’s writing this blog. Right now!
Finally a fidget spinner is legit EDC. It fits perfectly in your pocket unobtrusively. With so many awesome fidget spinners to choose from nowadays (or you can design your own), it is great for personal expression. As a mental focusing tool, its utility is undeniable. Most EDC gear is about tactical, physical utility. Fidget spinners are all of that and they help you get tactical about your emotions, too. You’ll want to carry something like that everyday, right? Right!
Fidget spinner is legit EDC.
Before I started tracking my RBPM, I had no idea that it’s so much correlated to my overall health. Even though I was just laying in bed all day when I was sick, my resting heart rate went from 64bpm to all way up to 80bpm in just a few days. Clearly my body was fighting valiantly and my one health metric confirmed it for me!
Come to think of it, as an engineer, I know so much more about the machines that I work with in the data centers but I hardly know anything about the most important machine of all aka my body. At Fitbit and at Twitter, we routinely collect thousands and thousands of metrics about any single machine every minute of every day but we hardly know anything about our own bodies. Here’s a video of a short talk about the Observability Team at Twitter talking about how many metrics or times series they collect very minute. (Hint: it’s in the billions!)
So why do we know so much about computers in data centers but so little about ourselves? Wouldn’t it be nice to have metrics collected continuously about our bodies so we can analyze their patterns and create alerts for potential health issues? Wouldn’t knowing exactly how our bodies have been behaving make it easier for doctors to treat us when we’re sick? Today Fitness tracker is just in its very infant stage. I can’t wait until the day when we know as much about our bodies as we do about the machines around us. Digital health metrics are coming! Mark my word. 🙂
Since Twitter and I parted ways last June, I had a relaxing four months of funemployment where I was basically chilling and keeping it cool. I took my kids to school. I didn’t exercise or anything at first. I just kept it cool. I drank coffee with friends after dropping my kids off and maintained a manageable lunch schedule before picking my kids up again at the end of the day. Yeah I took some trips with family and friends and read a lot of comic books too. Cool comic books like The Walking Dead and Pretty Deadly. In other words, life was dead cool.
Then I went to talk to a few friendly folks at a company called Fitbit on September 2 and unexpectedly they gifted me a fitness tracker with a heart rate monitor! I went out for a run the very next day with my Charge HR and had a blast. All of a sudden I was running like three times a week! I decided it was time I got #MovingOn! Thanks to keeping it cool all summer, my resting heart rate was a cool 72bpm. And with regular exercises, I got it down an even cooler 67bpm! Cool!
But alas, that’s when life took a turn. I was so happy with my Charge HR, I started working at Fitbit. And once I started working, I stopped working out. And on top of that, I was stressing out because I wasn’t working out. Three months of indolence and stress kicked my resting heart rate up to a very uncool 82bpm. Then I remember, dude, you gotta keep it cool, right!? So I signed up for a cool gym and started working out again in February. And after two months or so, I’m happy to report that my resting heart rate is now back at a cool 65bpm! Very very cool.
So what’s the lesson here? You have to follow your heart. More importantly, with the right Fitbit tracker, you can also follow your heart rate too. And that’s real cool!