Another day, another inexplicable headache. What did I do to deserve such cruel and unusual punishment? The date is mid-2012 and I am suffering with my umpteenth mystery headache. I had been getting these wonderful additions to my life for three years or so by then.
A brief medical history
I’ve always been more headache-prone than most, but they had still been rare. The normal reasons: watching TV too much, playing videogames too much, boozing too much, jumping around to loud music too much, you get the idea.
No, these new ones were different. Previously a couple of paracetamol (or as many know it, Tylenol) would suffice. These new beasts laughed in the face of paracetamol. And I needn’t have done any of the previously-mentioned awesome things to bring about the headache.
I went to many medical professionals for help. I learnt a lot of snazzy medical words, and had tons of tests done. CT scans, MRIs, things rammed up my nose (Google tells me this may be a sinusoscopy). Lots of colourful pills prescribed. Despite all of this I was still in the dark. At least the scans told me there was nothing to be immediately worried about.
Get busy tracking, or get busy… not tracking…
I decided to attempt tracking my headaches, as doctors would ask me the same question over and over: ‘how frequent/painful are they?’. How long is piece of string? 4.5 centimetres. But I had no definite answer for the headache question. I wanted one, so I decided to track them. I’m not sure why, but I decided that Microsoft Outlook would be the absolute best choice. I was forced to sit in front of it all day, so I figured it would do the job. So I lumbered along, tracking details in the calendar, always ignoring the obvious facts that this was a HORRIBLE method.
After doing this for a little while, I snapped. There was no way in hell I’d be able to get anything useful out of all those calendar entries I’d made. I checked out the Google Play store (It wasn’t called that then. I’m pretty sure it was called something more sensible before.) to see what was out there. I had a few basic criteria. It had to be:
- able to track the headache as it happened
- able to export the data to something like a CSV
Confident that there must be ‘an app for that’ I jumped into Google Play. Maybe I’d be able to find something that tracked a few other things as well as headaches, for fun and to maximise the benefits.
I searched and searched. Not to disparage what I found, but none of them suited my (I now assumed very particular) needs. Most of them wouldn’t allow export, and tracked headaches as ‘whole events’. By this I mean you would have to, in one record, state the beginning, middle and end of your headache. Now, my headaches are more like rolling waves of never-ending pain which can often last for days. Bet you’re jealous. So the idea of me entering the headache when it ‘finishes’ two days later, remembering all the peaks and troughs, was not gonna happen. I usually struggle to remember what I had for dinner the night before, so…
I looked for websites that would do the job, even though I really wanted an app for it. I wanted the freedom to quickly jot down records wherever I was. With websites that’s still possible, but it can be a pain. I’m afraid I’ve adapted a bit too well to the new society where if it ain’t done in 5 seconds, fuggedaboutit. I couldn’t find many headache-tracking options, and by this point I had formulated a pretty good idea of what I wanted, so was quite picky.
Not finding any options that satisfied, I was left with two options. Keep tracking manually (maybe using a more sensible option like Excel) or… sharpen my coding skills and make something myself. Now, the second option sounded like it might actually make my headaches worse, but a big part of me was very excited to do it.
At this point I found out how chronic problems such as this can be real agents of change. You feel a huge motivation to get the problem fixed, by whatever means necessary. And self-coding what I wanted was pretty extreme (for me). Luckily I had previous coding experience from my Master’s degree, but those skills were rusty (to put it politely). A large amount of work would be required to get me back up to speed. Not to mention that some of the languages I’d be using were completely new to me.
And that’s how I started on the long road to creating something much bigger called healthstored. If you made it this far, thank you! I’ll post up various bits about healthstored and my journey here, so check back soon for more. In the meantime, if you want to sign up for early access to healthstored, please go here.