Today my friend Sara asked me about my favourite asthma tracker app. If you’ve read my post, Technology, Self-Tracking and Asthma on Asthma.Net you’ll know that answer. (Disclosure: they pay me money but don’t influence my views, which is a sweet gig).

Pretend spoiler alert: I don’t like any asthma apps out there. (If you’re looking for one, though, read the article. I tried to look at a variety of aspects from price to what data was collected to design/user friendliness.)

So, with no coding skills what-so-ever, I set out to build my own solution. (I seem to do that.) I’m still working on it, and it’s far from perfect, but here’s what I’ve got so far. Keep in mind, I’ve got dozens of hours of trial and error behind this, and once I got it down, I used it (in the fragments created to that point) for maybe about six weeks before I hit a lapse, or burned out on it. I think, also, it will be easier (maybe not as effective, but easier) when I’m not at the cabin every weekend.

Element One: Google Forms/Google Sheets.
I started this whole thing off with a simple form for myself to fill out regarding my asthma symptoms (1-5 scale) and meds, trigger exposure, as well as my peak flow, FEV1, and oxygen saturation (cause why not?). I tried to tie symptom logging to taking my meds, as well as when I felt an increase in symptoms, so that it wasn’t biased by only reporting increased symptoms (which it still is, of course) and attaining a “baseline”. Unfortunately, I started this project when I was having a bit of a struggle with my asthma control (thanks a lot, rain and humidity).

I also used DO Button from IFTTT for a time to log my Ventolin use. Then I realized this was complicating things as I had to log each puff separately. This is where I began using QR codes.

Element Two: QR Codes.
I usually do not like QR Codes for whatever reason. I really would have preferred to use NFC tags, but, the iPhone 6 doesn’t feature a NFC tag reader like Android does (and whatever future iteration does, it’s ApplePay specific). So, QR Codes have to suffice.

http://i0.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8858/28632516841_d84d5bf912.jpg?resize=500%2C375&ssl=1

I created individual, colour coded (note the border) QR codes for each of my inhalers (and my Concerta bottle. And the nasal spray I realize I haven’t taken in forever). I made them small enough and simply attached these to my inhalers with tape (I had to scratch the shininess of the tape away but it worked okay after that, and after I learned not to put the codes on curves in the inhalers, which is difficult with Qvar). The QR codes link to individual Google Forms for each medication. I hit the corresponding button for the number of puffs taken (or, in the case of Concerta, one pill), and then hit submit.

My Ventolin (the blue inhaler above) you’ll notice has two QR codes attached. the one on the cap is for the Ventolin itself, the one on the side is for the symptom logging sheet. The peak flow meter has the link to the sheet to log PEF and FEV1. I also have the symptom barcode by my bed (where my peak flow meter usually lives and where I usually stand to take peak flows).

http://i1.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8698/28677949016_bb0d9defd3.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1

It’s not perfect, but it’s kind of fun. And fun, in a twisted, nerdy sort of way is the motivator here. If it’s not nerdy fun, on my terms, it’s not happening. I log for myself, and my doctors don’t really pay much attention to my PEF/FEV1 results, nor do they ask I take them. Which I am okay with, since it lets me not get burned out on numbers.

I got Launch Center Pro for iOS for this reason, so I can swipe down from the Today(/Notifications) Panel and hit one button to launch NeoReader (my favourite of the free QR code scanner apps I’ve found), which I outfitted with a cute pink rocket ship icon thanks to Launch Center Pro. Because I have to make it fun, of course. What’s not fun about a pink rocket ship?

NeoReader also has a history option, so if I’m somewhere the code isn’t reading well (like the cabin), or the light is dim (sometimes with the tape the bright iPhone light doesn’t help) I can pop it open from history. Usually the code works and is faster, though. But, like all QR codes, sometimes it just doesn’t scan. I also had to cover the pharmacy provided barcodes with tape because often NeoReader tried to pick up the pharmacy barcodes instead of my QR code.

http://i1.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8437/28094826083_1db53eff2e.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1

I now have all of these QR codes importing data into different pages on the same Google Sheet.

Element Three: IFTTT.
For like, years now, I’ve had weather pushing itself to Google Drive for this reason. I also, I think, have humidity reports going there so I can correlate my asthma symptoms with humidity percentages and temperature.  

What I’d like to add.
A better summary of what I’d like to add next will be in an upcoming Asthma.Net post called “Quantified Asthma”. However, aside from NFC tags (which is kind of impossible unless I get my hands on an Android device—if anybody has one kicking around they want to send my way for Quantified Self purposes, let me know ;)), I’d like to be able to pull pollen counts automagically from somewhere but that looks impossible from Canada (I don’t have pollen/mold allergies per my testing, but it would be interesting to see if these have any impact on my breathing anyways, like particulate matter). 

Finding trends.
Like I said, I had a pretty crappy bout of breathing going on when I started this project. But, I’d like to grab a week or two a month where I log (since I can’t expect myself to do it all the time without burning out) so I can see differences between seasons. I used Datasense, Sheets and Excel to play with my data, but Datasense is hands down my favourite. I haven’t taken a single data analysis course, so, this aspect has got to be pretty user friendly for me, and, Datasense is a lifesaver for that. Thanks, Intel!

So, that’s it for now. 

Eleven years ago this week, I went to camp for the first time. Eleven years ago right now, I would have been asleep after my first day at camp. Determined to ignore the bible aspect of bible camp, I hung out with a group of girls who were maybe or maybe not any more interested in God than my own interest level of zero. A handful of these individuals, I still have on Facebook—all very different people than they were eleven years ago. Like I was, like I am. I left there still hardened. I didn’t believe God existed, but I think I left camp with a bible of my own. That bible, I am pretty sure, came camping with me the next week, whether or not I opened it I can’t recall. It still sits on my bookshelf, now amidst a handful of other bibles.

Over the coming weeks my heart began—or continued—to question and the frozenness began to melt away. Exactly a month later, I felt my world turning upside-down, and then Jesus reached in and righted it.

Now. This past week, this past weekend, my heart has been stirring again. Questioning. Opening. Eleven years later, here I am: alive, with as many questions and okay with it, and for the first time in awhile, actually ready to explore, actually ready to attempt to try this again. Excited about it, smiling about it.

it’s okay to breathe as deep as you pray
your future with Me is safe
you sing with My heart when you pray

here you are down at My feet again
handing it over to Me again
right where i want you to be again
I love you, please see and believe again

I love that you’re never satisfied
with face value, wisdom, and happy lies
you take what they say and go back and cry
you’re so close to Me that you nearly died

they don’t have to understand you,
be still.
wait and know I understand you,
be still.
be still.

here you are down at My feet again
handing it over to Me again
right where I want you to be again
I love you, I love you, I love you
here you are down at My feet
handing it over to Me
right where I want you to be again
I love you, please see and believe again 

right where I want you to be again
see and believe. 

again, flyleaf (austin city limits version)

Again. Again again again. As many times as I wander, I will surely come back one more time.

my hands are burning again tonight
my heart’s awake but i don’t feel right
oh, i can feel the heat rise.
if i could stand up and face this light
tearing apart my old disguise
but i can’t open my eyes

still i see You

my mouth is cold, my body whole
i may explode, but You feel like forever
and i am temporal, You’re a temple
i may explode,  but You feel like forever
i’m falling over and into You
i am consumed, but You feel like forever

i can’t stop shaking as You come close
i wanna run, but i want You most
is this what it means to die?
i hold my breath as i wait on You
longing to follow Your every move
i’ve never been so alive

still i see You

my mouth is cold, my body whole
i may explode, but You feel like forever
and i am temporal, You’re a temple
i may explode,  but You feel like forever
i’m falling over and into You
i am consumed, and i know You’re forever
yeah, i know You’re forever,
oh God, it feels like forever

i am consumed and You feel like forever
but You feel like forever
i’m falling over and into You
i am consumed
and You feel like forever.

feels like forever, lacey sturm.

We know this, that our old self was crucified with Him, so that the body of sin would be rendered powerless, so that we would no longer be enslaved by sin; for the One who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him.

Romans 6:6-8 (MOUNCE)

Teach me and I will be silent; Make me understand how I have gone astray.

Job 6:24 (ESV)

contemplating You is like a dream
i never wanna wake up when i finally see
a perfect circle turn in orbit
following a perfect path,
from Your perfect hands
when i look into Your eyes,
it’s a world i can’t believe
i can see my destiny to be like You.
whispering fingertips, lay Your fingerprints all over everything. 

whispering fingertips, flyleaf