The Symptom Sleuth Origin Story

Chapter I : The first case

It was a chilly Monday afternoon. It was just after Christmas, a little girl's 2020 was ending with the worst eczema flare up she had ever had. The rash spread to her face. It hurt. As if she wasn't already self-conscious enough, her family began to notice and comment.

Her mom worried: "When she goes back to school, will those kids comment too?"

As an adult with eczema, I sympathized with the burn and listed some likely suspects: "my eczema flares when I wash the dishes or when it is really hot. But it could be anything: what she eats, what she drinks, her lotions, your water, etc."  The worried mom's reaction:

"So... you mean, track everything?" 

I thought back to my younger cousin who struggled with eczema her whole life. I remember that she was constantly applying creams, avoiding so many delicious foods -- just in case; family members and classmates teased her, and she form alliances with other eczema kids against the bullying. A common story. Some adults know their triggers by now, but what if they could have been uncovered earlier? 


I called that cousin and The Symptom Sleuth was born. 

Chapter II : The plot thickens

I was chasing down the eczema case; every witness I interviewed had a story to tell. One witness envisioned a tool to manage Multiple Sclerosis because MS sufferers have a wide range of symptoms, are often asked "how does it affect you" by friends who can't understand, and are often asked "how are your symptoms" by their doctors. My partner, convinced his joint pains are signs of developing arthritis, thought The Symptoms Log was just what he needed to solve his cold case. 

Chapter III : Open for business

As we talked to more witnesses, the use cases came pouring in. 

To help more people, we hope to expand our line with your ideas like

  • pages for people who already have their own journal, want to mix+match sections, or rearrange pages
  • an app for people who don't want to carry a note book
  • condition specific products like an MS Manager that includes management of MS fatigue and the Spoon Theory
  • adapting the Trigger Tracker for anxiety and depression
  • another line of data science tools for kids to practice data collection, data visualization and analysis, and the scientific method
Most importantly, we hope to be able to build a charitable component to support organizations that help people with these chronic conditions.