My partner recommended Bearable to me to track my symptoms because I had yet another unexplained episode of vertigo. I had been getting these vertigo episodes since October 2020. Before that, I’d never experienced these kinds of symptoms before. What was happening was my eyesight and balance would flip 180° every 30 seconds, making it incredibility hard to function, with the episodes lasting about three weeks each time before returning to my baseline symptoms.Thus, after the third experience of this, I took my partner’s advice and downloaded Bearable so I could start curating data and track my symptoms for clues.
Curating Data: How To Collect Data With Bearable
Curating data with Bearable is a fairly straightforward because you’re able to collect a fairly wide amount of data in a highly customisable way. It’ll also follow the calendar and automatically change to the new date, so you don’t have to worry about that.
Bearable has several sections which are customisable; Mood, Symptoms, Factors, Sleep, Meds/Supplements, Food Diary, Health Measurements, Energy Levels, Self Improvement, Bowel Movements, Gratitude, and Extra Notes. In each of these sections, there is a list of pre-made tags and options you can use, but you can also create your own.
There is also a section for checking out the insights generated by the data you’ve been tracking with the Bearable app, which’ll give you some data in a graph format while others will appear as a list with percentages next to them.
The different sections
This section allows you to pick a rating on a scale of one-ten on where your mood currently is, with one being the worst and ten being the best. After you’ve selected your rating for your mood, you can then pick a tag to further expand your mood data. You’re also able to add notes.
They split this section into several subsections that you can choose to activate or deactivate. These subsections are; Physical Health, Mental, Digestive, Acute Illness, Other, and Reproductive. However, you can add new subsections of your own creation as well. Each of the subsections comes with a list of pre-made symptoms to track, but you can add your own to expand the list or remove the pre-made ones if you wish.
The factors section also has several subsections, which are:
General – This covers stuff like how busy your day was and your screen time.
Places – Where you’ve gone during the day, such as the office or shopping mall.
Hobbies – This one’s pretty self-explanatory, but you’ll find hobbies here, such as reading and meditation.
Active – This is where you’ll find your fitness or lack thereof, stuff, such as low activity options and yoga.
Social – Allows you to track how social you’ve been, with options for friends and family.
Appointments – Has options such as doctor and dentist in this section.
Chores – This one will allow you to track when you did your chores and what chores you did.
Personal Care – This one’s very useful for tracking your personal hygiene if you’re depressed, with options like shower and flossing.
Social Media – This option allows you to track if you’re using social media too much.
Period – Allows you to track your menstrual symptoms.
Weather – This could be useful to work as a modifier for your other symptoms you’re tracking and if you have seasonal depression.
Again, all these sections come with pre-made options you can remove or add at will. You’re also able to add your own options. However, you only have two choices on how to decide on the timeframe for this section. You can either have it broken down into four six-hour chucks or set it to be all day. The former allows for better tracking of your data than the latter, but it all depends how detailed you want your data to be. You can also add a note with each symptom to add extra detail as well.
You can import your number of hours of sleep here, which is easier if you’re a heavy sleeper, or you can input if from Google Health or your Fitbit using the FitToFit app. You also have the option to note how good your sleep was on a scale of one to five, with one being awful and five being great.
You can also input the time you went to bed and got out of bed, as well as when you took a nap using three options, am, mid (afternoon), and pm. Lastly, you can pick to add additional information from a selection of pre-made tags or use ones you’ve added yourself, and you can also add a note for additional information.
This section allows you to add all the medications and supplements you’re taking and log the time you’ve taken them. This is useful if you’re bad at remembering if you’ve taken your medication or not or if you want to track other symptoms based on new medication or changes to medication.
If you go to the More tab and then click Reminders, you can set a notification for each of the medications and supplements that you have listed in this section. Thus, Bearable makes it super easy to make sure you never forget to take your medication.
They split this section into three time frames, am, mid (afternoon), and pm. Tapping either of these allows you to log a meal you’ve eaten or a snack. There’s also a glass of water icon in this section which you can tap to increase or decrease the amount of water you’ve drunk by 250ml. The glass tops at 2L, but it’ll still track it if you go over that amount.
Below that, there’s a collection of pre-made tags, or you can create your own tags to track information you might like to track with a quick glance, such as if you ate a lot of sugar or junk food that day.
There are six health measurements you can track here as a basic user, but there are more available if you’re a premium user. You can also import data from Google Health or your Fitbit using the FitToFit app here too.
Tapping this section will create a timestamp note for you. All you need to do is pick your energy level from one to five, with one being awful and five being great.
There are seven pre-made options to rate yourself on a ranking of one to five for basic users, but there are more options available for premium users. One is worst and five is best on this scale.
Opening this section will create a timestamp to log your bowel movement, whereby you can pick hardness/softness of your stool on a sliding scale and pick some tags from the pre-made ones available or the ones you added yourself. You’re also able to add additional notes.
This is a simple journal type section where you can add a note about what you’re grateful for, which will be time-stamped.
I don’t know what’s in this section as this section is only for premium users and I was only ever a free user. If you have experience of being a premium user and have used this section, then please share this information in the comments section below.
My Experience With Curating Data With Bearable
The first time my partner suggested I try the Bearable app, I tried it briefly, before deleting it. I just couldn’t be bothered to sort through all customisations for it to suit my needs. However, my partner talked me into giving it a second chance. I’ve been using it every day since.
At first I didn’t start tracking everything, as my mine reason for using Bearable was to track my blood glucose levels using my GlucoMen Areo. Although at first I had issues with my original GlucoMen Areo, but after contacting GlucoMen and explaining the issues I was having with my device, they sent me a replacement for free. Once I got the replacement, I could log my blood glucose data in the Bearable app. Thus, I’d taken my first step in curating data for my doctors.
There was one downside to me curating data with my GlucoMen Areo, and that’s how frequently I bruised my fingers. For some reason, I could only produce enough blood from one small area on my ring finger, so it became painful pretty quickly. Before deciding I was going to curate my health data for my doctors, I hadn’t really bothered doing any finger pricks for my reactive hypoglycemia because I really dislike doing it.
Because of my difficulties in producing enough blood for my glucose test, I generated a lot of failed results, even after several tries. It took me a while to find the sweet spot that worked for the finger prick. It would have been nice if I could track the failed attempts to get enough blood for my glucose test, but doing that screws up the findings. The failed attempts could be useful data because there might be a reason behind why I can’t always get enough blood, which seems to happen when I’m feeling at my worse. Instead, I added that information to the notes section of either my Health Measurements section or Mood section, depending on if I could eventually get a reading from the blood glucose test.
As the days went by, I started tacking more and more information. I eventually started tracking my general symptoms as I kept getting unexpected ones. I’d started getting palpitations and stabbing chest pains, which is rare since starting on bisoprolol 7.5mg, so I started tracking those and other symptoms. Just in case.
With the help of a couple of exceptional people, I bought a Braun ExactFit 3 blood pressure monitor and started tracking that data with the Bearable app. Then, after selling my bass guitar, I got a cheap exercise bike so I could run some exercise tolerance tests to mimic the ones I did at the hospital to see if I have PoTS. It was sad to see my bass guitar go. I’ve had my bass since the 90s, but getting answers for my health was more important to me.
I ran several tests using the exercise bike, taking my BPM (beats per minute) before starting the exercise session, right after finishing the session, and then again 10 minutes after the session. I also took my blood glucose each time I took my BPM to provide as detailed a picture as I can while curating data for my doctors. Hopefully, it’ll provide something useful.
One of the last things I tracked was my food and water consumption, because you never know if that might be useful. Plus, I always have dry lips and mouth, so I wondered if I was actually drinking enough water. Turns out I drink enough, so god knows why I always have dry lips and mouth. Well, the latter could partly be because of the medication I’m on.
Anyway, tracking my water consumption with the Bearable app allowed me to conclude that I was drinking enough water. Or rather, when I knew for sure I was drinking enough water over this time period, my symptoms didn’t appear to be affected. It also showed me that no matter how much water I drank, it didn’t seem to affect any of my symptoms. I had been wanting to track how much water I was drinking for quite a while, but I kept losing track or forgetting. The Bearable app helped me to make sure my water intake was enough, which allowed me to compare it to my symptoms. Thus, it allowed me to see that the amount of water I’m drinking doesn’t seem to apply to my symptoms, so that’s something else I can cross off the list.
Tracking my food and my blood glucose levels also showed me that the increase in my dizziness and balance symptoms that would sweep across my brain like a wave didn’t appear to be related. I could have a blood glucose of 5.4mmol/L one time and feel fine, but 5.4mmol/L a different time and feel awful. I could even have a blood glucose level of 7.7mmol/L and feel awful. What this told me was that my relationship between my dizziness and balance issues and my blood glucose levels was complex.
I couldn’t rule out a connection between blood glucose and some, but not all, of my issues with dizziness and balance, because of what happened when I went keto before the pandemic. Although going keto brought out the worst in my eating disorders, I reached a state where would go days without a hypo, dizziness, or balance issues.
However, I was also only eating once every three days without my hypos making me eat. Maintaining that diet was also extremely depressing because of the obsessional thinking about what to eat to stay keto. Although I’d never felt so good as when I was keto, every attempt to try it again stopped before I started. I just can’t go back to living like that. It was all-consuming and limiting.
So what does this mean? Well, given that I’m drinking enough water, my blood glucose doesn’t predict my episodes, and my blood pressure seems ok (although I’m not sure I’m reading the number right), then it surely has to be my persistent postural-perceptual dizziness (PPPD). Either that, or I have something else they have not tested me for, which is possible. But given what happened when I went keto, which throws a wrench in the data, I’m no closer to knowing what’s wrong with me. It’s just a lot of little things adding up to make a bigger unmanageable problem.
The findings likely mean my reactive hypoglycemia might be unique in its presentation, which I should probably worry about. That would explain why I felt fine during my five-hour glucose test when my blood glucose levels dropped to 3.5mmol/L, which caused them to stop my test after only three and a half hours.
When I first started curating data on Bearable, there wasn’t a way to combine it with my Fitbit data from my Charge 4. However, they eventually provided a way to overcome that. Bearable brought out another app to help integrate the data with their app called FitToFit. I got a Fitbit at my partner’s request because they thought I might benefit from having one, so it annoyed me they couldn’t function together from the get go.
There were several problems with the FitToFit app, however. Such as the app saying it would take five hours to transfer the data, but it took almost 24 hours to complete. The BPM data works fine with the app, but the sleep data is misleading. The sleep data on Bearable only shows hours I was in bed, not how long I slept, the type of sleep I had, or how frequently I woke up. As a result, I’m going to have to send a copy of my Bearable and Fitbit data as two separate data sets, rather than as one completely integrated data set.
Due to the sleep data from my Fitbit didn’t transfer correctly with the FitToFit app, tracking time I was in bed rather than my sleep, the sleep data in Bearable would be wrong by 1-3 hours, but I don’t get why it’s so wrong. I asked Bearable if they could explain it and basically it’s how the app interpreted Fitbit‘s data. It’s just interprets it wrongly.
Because the app wasn’t fully compatible with my Fitbit‘s data, I un-synced it. I talked to the Bearable team about this issue, but they didn’t say if they were going to bring out a patch or not. Then Bearable subsequently stopped replying to my attempts to follow up on the issue I pointed out to them.
Collecting all my health data in one place with Bearable was really easy to do, but exporting the data was a little different. Every time I clicked to export my data, is would just freeze, so eventually I just left my phone for a while to wait if it would unfreeze itself, which it did eventually and allowed me to export my data.
When I could finally get my data to export from the Bearable app, the data wasn’t in a consistent order. My ‘Mood’ data was never in the same place for each day. All the data sets could be in different places from one day to another. For example, ‘Sleep Quality’ and my ‘Meds/Supplement’ for each day could be at the bottom of the list one day and the top of the list on the following day. Thus, I had to do a lot of re-arranging in Excel to give it the order it was missing.
Curating Data With Bearable: Review
Curating data with Bearable is really easy thanks to being able to customise pretty much all the data you’re hoping to track. I can’t imagine it’d work as a symptom tracker otherwise. The Bearable app was great for easily noticing patterns and connections, or lack thereof, between my symptoms and my tests, even without the need to export the data or having to take a detailed look at the app. But as great as it is to customise the data you’re collecting and being able to set notifications to take your medications, there are a few problems.
One such problem with curating data with Bearable is how nice it’d be to put the exact time for a lot of the things you’re recording, like you can for your medication, blood glucose, and blood pressure. There are several sections where this would be helpful, like the ‘Food Diary’ section. This would be useful for people like me with reactive hypoglycemia, as well as people with diabetes and regular hypoglycaemia. Instead, you get three sections to pick from, morning, afternoon, and evening. These simplistic options don’t really help track your food and blood glucose levels to detect patterns of which foods hold you or cause you to drop sooner. For example, people with reactive hypoglycemia have to eat little and often, for some, this could mean eating every three-five hours, which is hard to track with the current interface.
Another problem with curating data with Bearable is the time slots for sections like ‘Factors’ and ‘Symptoms’ which are split into six-hour blocks. I’d rather have a more accurate time so I can track my symptoms, because accuracy is important with curating data for my doctors. As a result, I’ve added notes to go along with the symptoms in both the ‘Symptoms’ and ‘Mood’ sections, so I can add some basic accuracy there instead.
This one’s a more mild inconvenience, but in the ‘Meds/Supplements’ section, you can’t use the same name of a medication or supplement twice and then enter a different dose. Instead, I had to add a dose amount to the name because I changed from 7.5mg of bisoprolol to 6.25 (one 5mg and one 1.25mg pill). Thus, I had to amend their labels to include the dose so I could add them. I went down to 6.25mg with the aim of then dropping to 5mg as my new normal dose to see if that’ll help with my exercise tolerance whilst still managing my arrhythmias and chest pains.
All in all, the Bearable app is really useful for curating data, be it for health, mental health, or both kinds of data, even with Fitbit‘s compatibility issue and the lack of order when you export your Bearable data. Thus, having to waste time creating order for your exported data. As a result, I give Bearable a 4/5. If they address the issues I’ve talked about in this article, then I would revise it to a 5/5.
If you’d like to download the Bearable app and try it yourself, then click the buttons below.
The following two amazing people donated to my GoFundMe to help me buy a blood pressure monitor in time to generate data for my specialist doctor’s appointment to help finish my diagnosis. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to gather important data about my heart. After telling my ENT dizziness clinic doctor about how I was curating data for my autonomic specialist, they too requested a copy of the data.
Books2Read – Taryn Allie
Taryn Allie is an author of two poetry books titled ‘The Book of Bad Poetry‘ and ‘The Book of Not So Bad Poetry‘. Both books are available from most eBook stores. They’ve also just started blogging again; you can find their blog at: https://cosmictaryn.co.za.
A personal blog, writing about my personal life, thoughts and feelings. This includes, but not limited to, mental health, web development, work, community building, music, gaming and much more.
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Unwanted Life readers.