Smart Technology Helps Me Outsmart Scleroderma

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by Lisa Weber |

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With medications, doctors’ appointments, and the hustle and bustle of everyday life, there’s no way I could remember it all if I didn’t have reminders. Most days I’m lucky if I remember to grab my car keys the first time I walk out of the house.

I’ve come to rely on smart technology to simplify some challenges of my chronically ill life. Honestly, I would need a personal assistant to follow me around if it weren’t for smart technology.

Synced calendars

I love my calendar app on my smartphone. Besides the obvious, my favorite part is being able to sync it with my husband’s. That means we can see and add events to the same calendar.

My husband and I use the synced feature to remind each other of daily schedules. Whether it’s a doctor’s appointment or picking up laundry detergent, everything gets added to our calendar. This handy tool keeps us on task. There’s even a feature where we can set alerts, so no one forgets anything important.

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Without our calendar, I’m positive we would have forgotten to pick up a kid at some point. I’ve definitely been saved a few times by a “pick up Chloe at soccer” alert that popped up on my phone.

My BFF, Alexa

There are so many smart devices available now. I don’t claim to know the best ones, but I can speak on how Amazon’s devices help me.

No matter how much I love my calendar, I try very hard to stay disconnected from my phone when I’m at home. Instead, I rely on the Echo Dot’s Alexa feature to remind me to take my pills and to alert me when I should leave for an appointment. I just have to remember to name the timers. It definitely frazzles me when the reminder tune starts playing, but I can’t remember what it’s for.

Apps to maintain checklists

I remember my college dorm room having colorful sticky notes all over my walls, little notes to remind me to mail a bill or email a professor.

Back then, my notes weren’t as important as they are today. These days, if I forget to pack my medications for an overnight trip, I will suffer and possibly risk health setbacks. So I’ve forgone the sticky note strategy and replaced them with digital note apps. As long as my phone stays charged, notes don’t get lost under piles of clutter.

Currently, I have two notes pinned to the front page of my phone. One is a list of questions to ask my doctors and the other’s a checklist of everything I need to pack for an upcoming trip. Since I’ll be away at the tail end of winter (March), I can’t forget things like my insulated gloves.

Smart home devices

I’m still learning about smart home technology, but I’ve started to find ways it helps me when my body doesn’t want to cooperate.

We installed a smart lock on our front door, and it’s helped in ways I hadn’t even considered. I’ll be honest, I originally bought it because I thought it was cool to ditch the keys. But this convenient device has saved me during my worst moments.

From the comforts of my bed, I can let family inside through the app on my phone. And my kids use passcodes, so there’s no pounding at the door when they forget their keys. It may seem silly to some, but when the pain is debilitating or I’m shivering uncontrollably, staying inside the blanket cocoon I built around my body is priceless.

Other home devices that make my life easier include voice- and motion-activated lights. These tools are helpful when every step is a challenge or when I have to quickly navigate an emergency trip to the bathroom at night.

Smartwatches and health trackers

I finally splurged and bought a smartwatch that tracks my heart rate and oxygen saturation levels. It also alerts me if anything becomes irregular. When I’m out for a long walk, I like the peace of knowing that I can check my vitals regularly and update my husband when necessary.

I also use the step-counter feature to set weekly goals. I live by Newton’s first law, which explains how a body in motion stays in motion. Exercise is important, but it’s easy to fall victim to laziness when I’m in pain. Having an attainable goal keeps me accountable and reminds me to fight for a healthier version of myself.

I’m always searching for ways that technology can simplify my challenging life. Perhaps some of you have suggestions that could help others. Please feel free to share the ways you use technology to ease the burden of living with a chronic disease.


Note: Scleroderma News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Scleroderma News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to scleroderma.

Comments

Ranjan Ahuja avatar

Ranjan Ahuja

Great topic and suggestions Lisa. I'm going to look into those motion activated lights!

Here are the things that really help me out:

The Galaxy Note series of phones offers a built-in stylus, which saves my sore fingertips, and also allows me to use the device without removing my gloves, which I wear all the time when not at home. (The Note series was discontinued this year but the S series now has the stylus built in.)

Voice recognition! One thing I like about Android phones is their free voice typing feature, which I am using right now to dictate, and which usually requires minimal correction once you get used to it. I think this can be installed/enabled on Apple devices also.

A Bluetooth headset (neckband style): lets me make and answer calls hands-free, plus gives me the freedom to multitask, which I have to do since everything takes me so long.

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