DIY Healthcare: Using Technology to Take control of Our Healthcare

At BDYHAX 2018 with Destiny Augustine

What do we do when our standard healthcare leaves us without a cure? or even worse, what do we do when the approaches taken to “improve” a malady lead to a worsening of the situation? Destiny Augustine was a speaker at BDYHAX 2018 and led a talk about just that: how technology can help or guide us in order to take charge of our health; especially in these times when (at least in the US) healthcare costs are sometimes too high for some to even get treatment.

Having been diagnosed with failure to thrive as a baby, Destiny grew up suffering from several chronic illnesses, leading her to meet with dozens of doctors, take countless blood panels and tests, and try out many treatments. Unfortunately, as it so often happens, many of the treatments actually made her conditions worse.

Going Natural

Finally, Destiny chose to consult naturopaths to find natural ways to fix her issues. She approached her health by applying more natural methods like changing her diet, taking herbs and supplements, consulting Eastern medicine, and at the same time, she began experimenting with nootropics (more on that below). All of which were much more helpful than the traditional Western medical approach.

[While most of us may be familiar with most of those lifestyle changes, not everybody has heard about nootropics.  Nootropics are supplements meant to support and enhance brain functions like memory, creativity, motivation, attention, planning, and so on. There are also some that help stabilize mood and relieve stress. There are both synthetic and natural nootropics, allowing you to choose the one you feel most comfortable with. I suggest doing research to find what fits you, or maybe even come up with your own! At least until DIYMBU has a full nootropic article to help.]

Know Yourself and Take Control: Enter DNA Testing

Destiny then decided to take a DNA test with 23andMe.com, which led her to follow-up with third parties to get more in-depth reports about her genetic makeup. By doing so, Destiny discovered that she had genetic mutations which caused her to improperly absorb vitamin B and D, and render her unable to break down neurotransmitters and drugs. What that meant was that the all the treatment drugs she had been given throughout the years had just been building up in her system, effectively making her sicker instead of helping.

Armed with the information she gleaned from her personalized findings, she modified her diet further to include proteins earlier in the day and eat lots of greens, which are necessary for her to deal with the mutation which doesn’t allow her to absorb vitamin D.

If you are or have ever been in Destiny’s situation, you can imagine what a relief it must be to finally be able to understand and properly manage your condition.  A simple DNA test sounds simple enough and well worth the cost.

Use All the Tools

Destiny then went on to talk about her experience with doctor apps like Teladoc, Amwell, and others and how they are beneficial to those who don’t have access to healthcare. A per-consultation fee whenever needed is easier and much cheaper for many than costly health insurance and going to a specialist in person, especially when all that is needed is a prescription or refill for an already known condition. However, availability and requirements may vary by state, so check your local laws to see what is available to you.

Besides doctor apps, Destiny recommends websites like selfdecode.com (other resources at the end of the post) which analyze all of your genetic data and then provide you with reports and articles relating to your specific genetic information. She also recommends getting a couple of reports from different sources and cross-referencing them to get as full of a picture as possible. 

Other ways to monitor our health and stay on top of things is by using wearable tech like fitness monitoring watches and the like to keep track of our vitals, activity level, sleep patterns and more, so that when we do see a doctor we can report this data to them and help them make an even more informed diagnosis.

Let’s DIY Until the World Catches Up

Just knowing her genetic makeup would have saved Destiny so many years of suffering through illnesses and side-effects. Wouldn’t it be grand if, when we go see a medical specialist, they actually took a look at what exactly we’re made of to properly treat us?  Instead of giving everyone a cookie cutter screening and treatments, we would all benefit greatly from healthcare specifically tailored to our genes.

Until that becomes a reality, though, we can take the DIY approach and take charge of our own health by finding this information on our own using genetic testing services and other tools as they become available, as well as taking advantage of things like doctor apps to get healthcare when we otherwise don’t have access.

I personally identified to an extent with Destiny’s situation, as I was diagnosed with a large ovarian cyst by a Western doctor who declared my ovary would need to be removed. As an otherwise healthy 30-year-old woman, that was absolutely out of the question. Like Destiny, I took matters into my own hands. I researched and learned some basics of Chinese Medicine to begin treating myself with alternative methods, and I eventually was able to treat my issues and got rid of the cyst with herbs, diet modification, and meditation. Perhaps genetic testing would explain the underlying cause of my problem and tell me whether I should be taking other precautions for the future.

Genetic testing and analysis isn’t cheap, but it could end up being cheaper than trying painful and expensive treatments for chronic conditions over and over again without success. Even just bringing your doctor those reports would be helpful and save you time and money.

I hope this was as interesting and eye-opening as it was for me! Do you DIY you healthcare? Will you try it? I will! Share your story and thoughts in the comments!

Genetic Health Analysis Resource List

selfdecode.com Easier to use and understand, send reports on nutrition, supplements and more.

geneticgenie.com – More complete than selfdecode, but more technical.

promethese.com – Creates a DNA profile and finds published data about specific genetic variations. Technical.

nutrahacker.com – Similar to selfdecode, you receive reports and are connected with relevant nutrition information for your particular genes.

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