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Biohacking Medical

Day 483 and Medical Logistics

As you probably know, everything about the American medical system is a pain in the ass. I was expecting a delivery last night of a medicine that needs to be refrigerated. I went to bed assuming it never came. I woke up this morning to find it has been left out outside all night.

A $5000 dollar dose biologics injection (that’s only $150 in Europe) got left at door I don’t use without a knock. Thank god it didn’t get porch pirated as I cannot afford to replace it. I discovered the medicine this morning when going out for an espresso as it was left in dry ice by the basement door. Just a little chaos for the start of a day filled with other medical logistics.

Today is the day I pick up my prescription refills for the month. I have to do it once a month instead of a convenient quarterly by post situation as I take several controlled substances of which I’m not allowed to have more than a 30 day supply. It’s a real pain in the ass to travel for this reason as it has to be organized around when my insurance and the government will allow me to do so. If I want to be on the road for six weeks or go to Europe for more than a month I’m shit out of luck.

I take a lot of prescriptions to manage my chronic illness. I wish I didn’t need any of them. If I’m honest I put a lot of effort into wellness and lifestyle as part of a long term effort to ween off the pharmaceuticals like my biologic anti-inflammatory injections. I don’t want to be left for dead in a crisis as I’ve got no illusions that we will protect the sick and vulnerable. I protect myself.

I have to do the pharmacy dance now whether I like it or not. I have to take half a day to make sure everything comes in on the same day and in time for any mitigating factors like travel. I maintain a spreadsheet to keep it all organized. I have to use up valuable energy and focus on something that your average Canadian or German would find comically foreign. And that’s just the way it is and probably will be for sometime.

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Biohacking Chronic Disease

Day 463 and Caretaking

My husband has a a weak immune system. He used to get colds once a month or whenever he would travel. I, on the other hand, have a wildly overactive immune system. I never get colds.

His immune system doesn’t fight shit off well, whereas mine seemingly never ever stops reacting. I have an auto-immune disorder which is marginally worse than getting colds so on balance Alex does more caretaking of me than I do of him. But it wasn’t always that way.

I used to take care of his regular colds when we first got together. When he married me and we lived together, he slowly absorbed my overly active immune system, eventually cutting down on his colds to a couple times a year. And yes this is weirdly a thing that happens. Your partner affects your gut biome. My health sadly got kinda worse over the course of our relationship. I doubt Alex’s shitty immune response made my life any worse (if anything I would be thrilled for mine to chill out and I take drugs to subdue it) but arguably him getting my overly active immune system has done wonders for him.

I stopped being a caretaker for him. He became a caretaker for me. It was an interesting transition I didn’t really clock at the time. Alex was used to constantly being sick for years but through exposure to me he kinda forgot how much it sucks. This was further exacerbated when the pandemic hit and we stopped being exposed basically any infections.

Alex went two years without a cold. It was miraculous! Alex really enjoys his identity as a health person. Hell he thrived as an active Colorado outdoorsman in a way he never did as an indoor New Yorker. But travel and life is rebooting and it would seem Alex’s old weak immune system is so out of practice it doesn’t do well with crowds and travel and public appearances. We’ve been in Miami less than a week and he’s sick as a dog. Thankfully it’s not Covid. But guess who got to remember what it was like to be a caretaker again? Yeah, I’m responsible for Theraflu and nose spray. I didn’t do any of the conference I’d planned for the day and had to cancel on a bunch of plans but honestly it’s not so bad. Caretaking is an act of love after all.

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Biohacking Travel

Day 455 and Jet Lag

I rolled into Denver around 420pm yesterday and I felt excellent about my timing. My ten hour flight from Frankfurt was quite pleasurable. There is something about long haul flights that are existentially quite satisfying, especially if the onboard wifi isn’t working, as one feels free from the outside world for the duration.

It was midnight in Germany when I landed so I made sure to have a coffee an hour or so before touchdown to keep me up for my time zone adjustment. My goal was to make it to 9pm Mountain Time so I could immediately adjust to my new time zone.

A slightly silly goal as I’ll be moving back two time zones in just a couple days as I’m headed to Miami. But I’m a day bird not a lark or an owl so I need my days to be productive. So staying up “all night” was on the agenda.

I managed to stay awake till about 845pm by keeping busy with unpacking and dinner and catching up on all the “couples shows” that I can only watch with Alex. Ironically about half of what I unpacked is going to get repacked shortly but I needed to do some sorting and replenishment. So I did my best to keep the adrenaline pushing me to activity. And it seems to have worked.

I was up this morning at 5:30am feeling rested and basically functional. The only issue I noticed was hunger. I was starving. I immediately got in the car and went to the good bagel place. I got a second bagel with plans to eat it tomorrow and then ended up having a second breakfast around 10am. And yes I still ate lunch at 1pm. And I’m starving now. Just absolutely ravenous all day.

My tracking apps seem to think my body is experiencing jet lag. Gyroscope said it was contributing to a lower health score and “shortening my lifespan” so that was anxiety inducing. I went for an hour long walk and my Whoop buzzed twenty minutes in. Apparently to indicate I’d hit my target strain. A leisurely stroll netted new a 8.8 score when I typically barely break a 4. Their system maxes out at 20 I think but I rarely get higher than a 10-12. And then Welltory gave me reds across stress, health and energy.

I suspect some of this is due to being back at altitude as a month is long enough to lose your acclimation. But in general I seem to be perfectly fine on my time zone and I felt mostly functional all day. I kept it light. Tomorrow when I plan to work longer hours will be the rest test.

Categories
Biohacking

Day 441 and Circadian Nightmare

I am all for remote work and distributed teams. My husband has been working with distributed teams long before the pandemic hit as Stack Overflow was an early adopter of the “hire the best talent no matter where” trend.

But it does come with challenges. He contends that it’s helpful to have no more than six hours of time zones between core teams. And I’m really starting to see why. I’m really struggling to keep a decent sleep pattern and collaborate with Californians. So I’ve tried to stay up later so I’d have more working hours on American time zones. Plus I have a regular time with my therapist and for group therapy on Mondays that is 10pm and midnight in GMT+1. So I’ve got to stay up a bit later for that too.

I figured if I could wake up at 10am and go to sleep at 1am that would work great. I got myself a nice eye mask. I close the blinds. But hot damn if my body cannot tell that this is not when I should be sleeping. I can manage to stay up later but I’m still waking up with the sun. I cannot seem to sleep in past 8am.

So I think I’m going to give up this Circadian nightmare as I’m going to rack up a huge deficit. I’m just not a night owl. I’m a day person.

Categories
Biohacking

Day 434 and Taking a Toll

I’ve been feeling engaged and energetic. The combination of a new environment (I’m in Frankfurt) and one of the most dynamic & chaotic investing environments has had me on focused.

But it would seem that my body would like me to maybe take a step back from from the current moment and care for it. As you may know I’m an avid biohacker. This is a screenshot from my Welltory HRV app which is part of my stack. And it is not thrilled with now I’m coping.

That means I should go to bed early and maybe take a day or two off till my metrics improve. So I’ll keep this post on the short side.

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Biohacking

Day 374 and Intolerable

I’ve always been prone to extremes. I don’t like to do things half way. Half-assing things is pointless when you’ve got a whole ass. But sometimes this tendency to pull a “Peaches” and go full on even if it physically harms me.

I’ll look for any excuse to push myself. If a diet app tells me to eat whole foods I’ll stress myself on the perfect blend of clean eating. If it’s good to walk 7,000 steps a day I’ll set a goal for 12,000. If I want to write more I’ll commit myself to writing every single fucking day for a whole year. Commitment isn’t my problem. Excess is my issue.

On Friday I had physical therapy for my ligament tear. The therapist was working on evening out the tension points I had from overcompensating. She told me to work a lacrosse ball into my muscles until the pain wasn’t tolerable.

Now for most people this would be good advice. You’ve got to release the tension and work out the tenderness in the fascia. For me it ended up being terrible advice. I pushed so hard I have enormous bruises up and down my leg. But the poor therapist had no idea I’m so dedicated to extremes I’m willing to hurt myself to follow advice. The average person probably shies away from the necessary pressure. Me on the other hand? I’ll push till my body gives up on me.

Categories
Biohacking Emotional Work

Day 368 and Eating Disorder Season

Warning! Before you go any further this post will discuss food, emotional relationships with food, disordered eating, diets and diet culture.

Today is the first Monday of the New Year. That means it is weight loss season online. Despite me having many positive healthy habits including walking, weight lifting, meditation, supplements, sleep hygiene and a moderately nutritious eating routine I found myself upgrading my wellness applications and panicking at stepping on a scale. January is the month where the “wellness” industrial complex gets you. Even though I spend a small fortune on my health even I am vulnerable to the season’s exhortations.

December was a little rough for me so I put on some fat and lost muscle mass. I had an injury that kept me off my feet and then I had Covid. So my routines got a little fucked. Also two towns next door completely burned down in a terrifying urban firestorm. So like it was ok that I lost some progress.

But rather than reintroduce slowly and moderately my good habits, I’m finding myself desperately tempted to go over board on January changes. I spent $199 upgrading Gyroscope to get their nutrition tracking and a health coach. Despite knowing full well what I need to do in order eat better. The trouble is that I fucking hate doing it. So I thought let’s try a health coach why not!

I’ve had a mixed relationship to food my entire life. One of the defining traumas of my childhood was my pediatrician telling my mother I needed to eat more dairy. I hated the stuff and refused milk & yogurt as small child. My doctor’s solution (and I am not making this up sadly) was to not allow me any food till I ate dairy.

My mother attempted to follow his instructions but was stymied by the fact that I wouldn’t budge. I was a stubborn child. I didn’t care that I would be allowed to eat if I just had a spoonful of yogurt or a sip of milk apparently. I went on a full hunger strike. Fearing the worst as her daughter went days without eating, my mother eventually caved but the damage was done. Baby’s first eating disorder!

I continue to have all or nothing attitudes on food. I love to fast because it’s a total solution. I feel in control. My inner child continues to see it as an act of setting emotional and physical boundaries when the adults around me overwhelmed mine. Is also happen to hate running kind of caloric deficit. I’ve got health challenges that do better if I’m at maintenance calories.

Now I’ve successfully managed to heal an out of control immune system and I’ve overcome a significant rheumatoid condition so you’d think “being fat” wouldn’t be a worry of mine. I am proudly an avid biohacker. I actually enjoy taking care of my body these days. But it’s so very easy to slip up in a culture where we treat our bodies as moral failures. Just take a look at Covid discourse and you will see America’s obsession with categorizing each other’s health decisions as “good” and “bad”!

So I urge you to be gentle with yourself in this environment. I’ve written extensively about how to slowly introduce healthier habits in ways that are measurable and kind to yourself. Because I know how hard it is to do so. There is a joke in fitness communities that you should only ever trust a former fatty because the naturally slim just don’t get it. It’s insulting and moralizing in its own way, but it’s also a bit true. Trust your health to the chronically ill as they know how to survive the system.

January can feel like eating disorder season (or at least the first two weeks or so) and it’s alright to participate in your own wellness experiments just as it’s alright to do nothing at all. Be gentle with yourself. I know it’s a tall order. I just spent $200 in a panic about being fat so I know of which I speak. Good habits and a healthy body aren’t made in the first week of the year. That actually takes a lifetime.

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Biohacking Finance Internet Culture Medical Startups

Day 350 and Web3 Healthcare

Imagine you’ve got a disease with a clear biomarker. I’ve got an autoimmune condition called ankylosing spondylitis. One of the ways to spot it on a blood test is to look for an elevated CRP or sed rate.

Maybe I want to find a way to connect with other patients. I provide proof of biomarker to join an autoimmune discord just like you provide proof of ownership of an NFT like they do in the Bored Ape Yacht Club. Maybe I want to join a group of other patients who are pooling their medical data so they can stop being in an N of 1 and have a chance to participate in new research for my own disease. I could join AutoimmuneDAO and contribute to funding, meme-ing, and researching my condition. If we discover a treatment protocol or drug through our DAO we’d have ownership in it. Imagine a token for your own patient DAO. This isn’t as crazy as it sounds. VitaDAO is doing this for longevity research. This is the future that web3 can bring to healthcare.

Quantified self and biohacking have improved my health significantly. But on its own my personal health data has little value. You would maybe pay me a few cents for my biometrics. The real value of that data is in the aggregate. That’s why I pay Whoop to manage my HRV data and why they won’t offer data interoperability.

The value is in the algorithm. But without me and without my data it wouldn’t be worth anything. They have a product and an algorithm because of my biometrics. And yet we’ve found no way to meaningfully integrate ownership and interoperability in healthcare yet.

Let me give an an example. There are multiple companies that make their money by recruiting clinical trial candidates. Why? Because you need aggregate data to run a study. Those companies have the same basic data analytic team as a marketing team at a direct to consumer product company. They know how much a patient (or customer) is worth and the cost to acquire them. You are worth a lot because you represent a demographic that has value in its totality. And yet most clinical trials fail to recruit people because patients just don’t see a benefit to participating. You’ve got no ownership or upside and the costs are significant. So science suffers.

But what if instead of being valuable to marketing and recruiters you could own a portion of the aggregate? Being a token holding biomarker “proof of disease” validated member of a patient research DAO flips the incentives. A breakthrough on a disease that treats you and you’d also own some of the proceeds of it’s intellectual property. Whoever brings web3 to healthcare is going to be doing a significant good for humanity. Web3 can improve diseases, move forward science and get us all paid.

Categories
Biohacking Emotional Work

Day 349 and Vibing

When I injured my ankle two weeks ago I was angry. I had been so focused on doing things. Every day was packed with obligations and routines. Walking, supplements, weight lifting, stretching and appointments all took up huge portions of my day. So I wasn’t exactly thrilled to add in an entirely new thing to my day. I was worried it would set me back on my progress both at work and with my health.

And yet it’s been delightful. I’ve just kind of let things happen. I’ve been in bed. I haven’t been pushing to get in steps or raise my heart rate. I’m just vibing. Whatever the day brings I’m taking it in.

And I feel fantastic. My mind is sharp. I’m moving forward all the projects and investments I prioritize. It feels like by pulling back on all my other routines because I needed my ligaments to heal I’ve suddenly improved everything else in my life. It feels like life is fun again. That I’m spending my time on things that make me happy.

It reminds me of a favorite line from my therapist. “Be a human being not a human doing.” Was it possible in my efforts to improve my resting heart rate or put gains on my lifts that I was affecting my happiness and my intellect? By trying to improve myself had I been making myself miserable? Once again I’m learning that just letting myself live is the best way to achieve my goals. If you feel stuck maybe just chill and vibe for a bit?

Categories
Biohacking Chronic Disease Medical

Day 343 and You Don’t Have to Feel This Way

Modernity is tough on our bodies. We sit hunched over glowing screens for hours and we call that necessary. We rationalize ignoring our meat sacks as logical. Cartesian logic like “I think therefor I am” is a convenient an excuse for disembodied living. Except eventually it will catch up to you. Maybe not for a while but it will. Maybe you’ve noticed feeling shittier recently.

I’ll tell you how it starts. You feel sluggish. So you stimulate your system. Maybe you drink more coffee and eat more sugar. Then you notice you don’t sleep as well. That makes you even more tired. So you stop moving as much as you did before. You don’t track any of this so it’s hard to notice till the effects compound. Then you notice aches and pains and you think well maybe it is just getting older. Maybe you start to have a back problem and friends tell you they have the same problem.

It’s the slow downward spiral of misery and it’s probably happening to you. It happened to me fast and hard but the path is the same. We accept feeling badly. We accept that deterioration is a fact of life because we’ve got to work and take care of the kids (if you are lucky enough to afford a family). We just accept lower standards of living because we get worn down.

It just doesn’t have to be like that. This shitty quality of life doesn’t have to be the new normal. Fuck the doctors who can’t diagnose you. It’s systemic. You’d be lucky to find one things so broken because it’s a place to start. Most people are justly subtly broken. But it’s not reached the acute stage where our medical system finally kicks in. Doesn’t mean what you feel isn’t real.

The shitty part is next. You’ve got to do the work. You’ve got to change your life. No doctor or health practitioner is coming to save you. They an give you a piece of the puzzle but you’ve got to assemble it. If you commit to getting well it’s going to cost you willpower. Because the path out is hard work. It’s nutrition, sleep, lifting heavy things, going outside everyday, taking supplements and vitamins, meditation and mindfulness. Frankly it’s a lot. I spend a third of my day on it so I can live what’s left well. But I no longer feel subtly shitty all the damn time.