The Technology That Keeps (sick) People Connected

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This post has been on my mind for a while, but as I’ve just sold a phone that’s been with me through some of the most difficult times in my life, I’m reminded about just how fortunate we are to have access to these portable devices when we are sick.

The Benefits of Mobile Devices

I’ve spent a lot of time bedridden (or sofa bound, depending on the year), and I honestly think that my electronic devices have helped me to keep my sanity. Back in 2008, when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, mobile devices were a bit crude by today’s standard; small, non-HD displays, slow internet connections (if you even had one on your phone), iPads weren’t a “thing” yet, and smartphones didn’t do much.

When I started to work from home, I was at a point in my Crohn’s journey where sitting for any length of time was painful and difficult (thanks to my perianal disease), so I had invested in a tablet.  It allowed me to do pretty much anything I needed to do on my pc, but in a more comfortable position (often laying down), and it quickly became one of my most useful “gadgets” in the home.

Sofa surfing Crohn's
A few tablets, a smartphone and a couple of bottles of probiotics – what else could I have wanted?!

Then, as smartphones became more advanced, and as tablets became harder for me to use due to my failing health, I upgraded my phone. It’s actually pretty amazing how much you can do on a smartphone! Heck, many of the blog posts you see on this site were written in part, or ENTIRELY on my phone! But as someone who was too ill to leave the house, it became my only connection to the outside world.

I know that many of us, especially the younger generation, takes this technology for granted, but I can’t express how lucky I am, and how grateful I am, to have access to these things.

I’m sure many of your can relate. Just looking at the web stats on this site, I can see a huge shift towards tablet and mobile phone use, and I know that part of it – specifically with my audience – is because it’s the only technology that allows easy access to the internet.

How many of you reading this post are too sick to leave home or are in a hospital right now? I’m willing to bet that more than a few of you are.

How Technology Can Improve Your Life as a Patient

Here are some of the ways that technology has improved my quality of life with Crohn’s Disease and an ostomy:

  • Keeping track of my symptoms.
  • Recording my nutrient intake and keeping a food diary.
  • Accessing online support groups and forums, especially when I’ve been too sick to leave the house.
  • Scheduling ostomy appliance changes, and keeping track of my supplies.
  • Ordering medical and ostomy supplies online.
  • Monitoring my physical activity (i.e. steps taken) using a Fitbit or similar activity tracker; recording my pulse rate or oxygen saturation levels in my blood (via my phone’s O2 sensor).
  • Actively monitoring UV levels through my phone’s sensor (important if you are meds that make your skin photo-sensitive).

Along with those, there are countless other ways in which we can use this technology to help improve our mental health (i.e. meditation apps), share ideas with others (i.e. social media), keep us entertained (i.e. music, video and games), learn more about how to manage our illness (i.e. YouTube videos or health websites) and even find new ways to improve public awareness and education.

We are even starting to see the rise of “telemedicine”, where you can basically have a video call with your doctor for appointments that don’t require a physical exam. How cool is that?!

wall of technology
All those screens! But if you look closely on the far right, you’ll see the book “Crohn’s and Colitis: Understanding and Managing IBD” by Hillary Steinhart =)

Closing Thoughts

If you’re struggling with your health, and you’ve been losing touch with the outside world, invest in some useful technology to help you get by.

Even if you aren’t in a flare, or severely ill, use technology to help improve your life in other ways! But, it’s also important to know when to turn your devices OFF and unplug from the internet – just to get a bit of a mental break from time to time.

Further Reading

So I’m curious to know how many of you have used technology specifically to help manage your illness or cope with having an illness.

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2 thoughts on “The Technology That Keeps (sick) People Connected

  1. When I had my colonectomy I bought a new “mini”. I thought I ‘didn’t he going back to working part-time after my j-pouch surgeries. I have other health problems and when added in with my UC made it impossible to,work full-time.

    The hp mini’s keyboard is 85% 5here size of a regular keyboard. While I couldn’t do much more than Internet stuff with it I think I wore it out the 3 years I used it. It was replaced with a laptop as my big box computer was on it’s last leg. Plus I found it difficult to use it much as sitting at the desk wasn’t comfortable anymore.

    T

    • Options were limited when I started getting sick, but right now I would say to anyone who needs tech that’s low-maintenance and easy to use to get a Chromebook! Laptop form factor, but such a nice user experience.

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